Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Hollows and Rounds


Moulding Planes:
Building Hollows and Rounds

Matt Bickford




The amount of handwork that goes into our craft varies drastically among us. Some use hand tools for all aspects while many of us rely heavily upon machinery.

As we start to progress towards working with our hands we tend to hide our first adornments, dovetails, behind drawer fronts. We allow machines to be in charge of the single element of decoration that embellishes most of our work: the moulding. 

There is a set of tools that allows us to take control of this feature. This set of
tools, hollows and rounds, can be comprised of several pairs of planes that create varying convex and concave radii. A set of hollows and rounds will give you the opportunity to mould the edges of your work in a fashion you want, not limited by the catalogue of options that routers and shapers afford.

In this week-long class we will be bringing a new pair of hollows and rounds to completion while learning the skills of replicating the technology included in these centuries old tools. 

This five-day class is ideal for anybody interested in working with this type of tool; regardless of whether your ultimate set is comprised of 2 pairs or 9, antique or new. In this workshop, Matt Bickford will guide you through the process of making a pair of #8s (8/16” radius) with a side escapement. Students will start with a beech billet and learn the many steps involved in creating a very versatile tool. Among the many skills to be addressed are making an accurate mortise with floats, fitting a wedge, mating an iron to the bed of your plane, addressing a side escapement, heat treating, and attending to the iron’s various edges. The class will focus on making a pair of simple moulding planes, but much of the tooling and processes is directly relatable to making or rehabilitating any wooden plane.

Class Description

Day 1

  • Cut the mouth and escapement with various guides. 
  • Set the mouth and escapement in with a chisel.
  • Turn two precisely drilled holes into square mortise with various planemaker floats.

Much of our time on this first day will be spent with these various floats. We will learn everything from how to choose from the various options to how to joint and sharpen them.

Day 2

  • Opening mouth
  • Initial shaping of the wedge
  • Mating iron to bed

Again, much of our day will be working with floats while we mate the iron of our plane to the body. This skill is essential to a plane’s performance, new or antique.

Day 3

On day 3 we will add the various embellishments to the plane. These carved and planed facets make the tool visually pleasant and comfortable in use. 

We will also make the sole for the round and transfer the shape onto the iron.

Day 4

On day 4 we will create the iron for the round. This includes grinding, shaping and heat treating followed by learning to sharpen a convex shape on stones.

Day 5

On this final day we will repeat the process from Day 4. We will be completing the hollow.


Required Tools

  • 1/8” Push Edge Float
  • Pull Cheek Float
  • Push Side Float
    These floats are available from  Lie Nielson: Planemaker's Floats
    You will be able to rent floats for the Class from Matt for $40 (payable to Matt in class). Please let us know if you like to use Matt's Floats
  • Block rabbet plane (optional)
  • 1/10-1/8” mortise chisel
  • xx slim file with handle
  • Carving mallet or mallet
  • #4 Smooth plane
  • ¾”-1” chisel
  • Crosscut saw
  • Plane adjusting hammer (not a ball peen)
  • Sharpening stones (med. India, hard Arkansas are recommended) 
  • Slip stones (same are recommended)
  • 4-6” double square


There are no specific prerequisites. However, having experience with various hand tools like planes and chisels is ideal. Being able to free hand sharpen a chisel is recommended.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $ 750
Materials Charge: $ 75
Register By: July 27, 2015

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.