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The Puzzle of the Short Moulding Plane

What was behind the short form of moulding plane sometimes encountered?


The picture below shows two "rounds" (nos 16 and 18) by Hearnshaw of Sheffield. High quality, 12 degree skew irons, set at 55 degrees.

At first sight quite ordinary, until placed alongside a normal length moulder (no 16 round, King and Peach, Hull, 9.25 ins long) when it can be seen that the rounds are "short," actually 7.5 ins long.

Immediate thought is that they've been cut down, but there are a number of things to suggest otherwise. This picture shows that the toe certainly appears to be as it was made, with the maker's mark.

So perhaps the length has been taken from the heel? This picture shows the heel of the 16R and that the back-to-front 16 is a bit odd.

And is the 6 actually a 9 upside-down, because the 6 had been lost/damaged? Confusion from this might account for the back to front numbering. (But the 18 R is also back-to-front).

However, the surface finish and patination look original and are more or less uniform on all surfaces. The shoulders give no sign of being tampered with. And the position of the wedge/iron suggests that the plane has lost material at both toe and heel ie it is conventionally placed. If you line up the wedges of both Hearnshaw and King, the King is approx. + 0.5 ins at toe, + 1.25ins at heel.

So what to make of this? An early Newsletter raised this issue but without apparent conclusion. (See downloadable version of Newsletter No 2, page 38 and Newsletter No 5, page 46)

Members thoughts are requested.

1 Were such planes made for a purpose?
2 Are the two rounds here factory made or have they been cut down and the cutting disguised? (And if so, how and why?)
3 Are others around? If so, by the same maker?

Hugh Thompson

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