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What is a moulding plane?

Shop for Woodworking Hand Planes

What it’s used for

Moulding plane in use Moulding planes are used for cutting decorative shapes, known as mouldings, along the edge of a piece of wood.
Moulding on edge of furniture cut with moulding plane The moulding could be on the edge of a table top or one of the edges on a dresser or chair.

Characteristics

Collection of moulding planes

One plane, one moulding

In past times, a traditional cabinet maker’s shop would have many – perhaps hundreds – of moulding planes for the full range of work to be performed.

Sole of wooden moulding plane shaped for one style of moulding This was because originally, each moulding plane could cut just one style of moulding, as its sole, as well as the iron’s cutting edge, were shaped specifically for that style.
Metal combination moulding plane

One plane, many mouldings

In the late 19th century, metal combination planes, with a range of moulding irons, were introduced. These have interchangeable irons for different moulding designs. See What is a combination plane? for more details.

Out of date, but…

Spindle cutter for mouldings Moulding planes are generally considered to be outdated – their work is done these days by electrically-powered spindle moulders and wood shapers, and to some extent by routers fitted with moulding cutters.
Cutting a traditional moulding A few modern-day workshops specialising in reproduction or restoration work still maintain collections of old moulding planes to match original work or to make quality reproductions.

Sharpening moulding planes

Ceramic slip stones As you might have guessed, sharpening moulding irons can be a challenge! Their irregular shape calls for a sharpening device able to cope with varied curves and corners. Ceramic slip stones, or files, are often used.

Number

Combination plane; specialised woodworking planes;; hand planes Stanley does not appear to have made specific metal moulding planes, so there are no model numbers for them. However, their combination planes included irons for making mouldings (see What is a combination plane? for further details, including Stanley numbers).
Wooden moulding plane, specialised planes, woodworking hand planes If you want a dedicated moulding plane, the advice is to seek out second-hand wooden ones in good condition.