Fair warning: If you read this blog entry you might end up with a dog that has decorative details.
If you build furniture of a traditional sort, you should consider owning some beading planes. While beading planes are (in general) quite common, furniture makers use the less-common small ones – usually 1/8”, 3/16” and 1/4”. These planes add shadow lines to traditional work that are sometimes lost on the modern eye.
The margin between backboards or bottom boards, for example, is much nicer if beaded. And any flat expanse is best broken up with a bead when you have drawer fronts and door fronts that are flush to their face frames.
Heck, bead those face frames while you are at it.
I couldn’t imagine building furniture without them. Beading planes are faster than a router or scratch stock and leave a beautiful, ready-to-finish surface without sanding.
The challenge, however, is finding beading planes that are a notch above firewood. This summer I hit several tool emporiums and inspected at least 100 beading planes that were sized for furniture. None was worth buying.
So if you can’t find vintage beading planes, you need to find someone who will make them for you. Phil Edwards at Philly Planes is one excellent source. And you might be able to talk Matt Bickford into making you some. Old Street Tool still isn’t taking orders.
So please take a look at the work by Caleb James, a chairmaker, planemaker and excellent craftsman in Greenville, S.C. I met Caleb in person for the first time in the spring, used his planes and placed an order for two beading planes to round out my set – a 1/8” and a 1/4”.
I’ve had the 1/4” plane for a while, and the 1/8” came today.
They are outstanding. Beyond outstanding, really.
Caleb isn’t taking orders for planes right now as he is clearing out a well-deserved backlog. But bookmark his site and watch for when he opens ordering again. Then pounce.
When your beading planes arrive, you’ll want to put a bead on everything. Even your dog.
— Christopher Schwarz