Review By: I.Ball
Category: Old Wooden Planes
Tool Type: Wooden Planes
Plane Type: Hollow & Rounds
The old British wooden hollow and round planes are simple moulding planes
which have a convex sole (the round plane) and a concave sole (the hollow plane).
The planes produce the opposite profile to the shapes of the plane's profile so a round plane (convex) will produce a hollow (concave) and a hollow plane (concave) will produce a round (convex).
The hollow and round planes were usually supplied as a matching pair consisting of one round plane and one hollow plane.
Each plane has a number on the rear of the plane to indicate the size of the plane and to help with matching the corresponding hollow and round planes.
A pair of hollow and round planes of the same size would have the same number on
Sizes 1 and 2 are the narrowest sized planes with sizes 17 and 18 being the widest sized planes.
The planes were generally made in numbers 1-18; some were produced with numbers 19 and 20 also.
The more common numbered planes are the even numbered planes.
An even numbered half set consisted of 18 planes which were made up of hollow and round pair numbers: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18.
An odd numbered half set consisted of 18 planes which were made up of hollow and round pair numbers: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17.
A full set of hollow and rounds planes consists of 36 planes which is made up of all of the even numbered planes and all of the odd numbered planes.
The planes were produced with a squared mouth (the most common) and with a skewed
The sizes of the hollow and round planes usually ranged from sizes 3mm (1/8 inch) to 38mm (1 1/2 inch). There doesn't appear to be a uniform sizing system between manufacturers and particularly so on the early hollow and round planes.
This is even more so with the curvature of the planes. It is for these reasons it is more desirable to buy an original matching pair of hollow and rounds (or original half set).
This said, if a non-original pairing is made which are checked for size and curvature then this is of the same effect. Furthermore it depends on the use of the planes as to whether it makes any difference whether they are matching or even a pair.
Hollow and round planes can be used to plane the same profiles as virtually all shaped moulding planes can form.
This is not usually the preferred method as it is a lot quicker and easier to use a moulding plane which has the profile already set however in theory it is possible.
There are many, many manufacturers of old hollow and round planes, below is a list of some of the makers:
Atkin & Sons
Cowell & Chapman
Kirk & Asling
The manufacturer's mark (if present) can virtually always be found on the front nose of the plane. If the plane is quite mucky or you hadn't realised, this is the place to look to identify who made it. Most planes also have an owner's name or many owner's names stamped into the front of the plane; these can often be easily spotted as they have been stamped more than once on the plane.
If you wish to delve deeper there are a few books out there to help identify the age of the plane(s).
The authority of these books (at the time of writing this) has to be Jane Rees 'British Planemakers - 4th Edition'. The 'British Planemakers fom 1700 - Third Edition' is also good if you come across a secondhand copy.
(Things To Look Out For)
When buying old hollow and round planes it is worth being aware of the following:
Woodworm: if the plane has live woodworm it would be very prudent to treat the plane in order to protect any other wooden items in the vicinity of the wooden plane.
Jammed Wedge: if the wedge can't be removed then the plane is non-functional.
Replaced Wedge: a good replacement wedge should be fine, a poor replacement wedge may result in the blade not being able to be secured properly and may devalue the plane if the plane has any real value.
Cracked Wedge: if the wedge has a hairline crack then there will be an increased chance the wedge will break if the wedge ever became jammed.
Pitted Blade: if the cutting face of the blade has lots of heavy pitting this will make sharpening the blade to a good edge more tricky. Obviously a blade face completely free of any pitting / markings is ideal however due to the age of many of these planes it is quite common to have some pitting / marking.
Cutter Profile: check the profile of the blade's cutting edge matches the profile of the sole of the plane.
There are a couple of specialist makers of new hollow and rounds planes, these include:
Philly Planes (England)
<1700 - 1940's>
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