Simple and functional, these moulding planes perform as they should.
by Megan Fitzpatrick
Jeremiah Wilding is relatively new to the wooden planemaker brethren, but his planes perform as if he’s been making them for decades – and he’s offering them at a price that won’t break the bank.
I tested a J. Wilding No. 6 (3⁄8″ radius) hollow and round pair; they perform on par with M.S. Bickford and Old Street Tool planes – but there are some stylistic differences (more on that in a minute).
The mouths are right, ejecting shavings neatly and consistently, and the wedges hold tight with a perfect fit against the blind side. And they are comfortable in the hand.
Wilding offers his planes sharpened and unsharpened. So I got the hollow sharpened, and it worked perfectly, producing crisp shavings with an absolute minimum of fuss. The round came unsharpened, and had a significant scratch in the business end of the tapered iron – it took me about 20 minutes of flattening the back on a #1,000-grit waterstone before I could move on to honing and polishing the back, then sharpening with sandpaper wrapped around a dowel before finishing with a slipstone.
So unless you just love sharpening, for the $15 price differential per pair, I’d recommend having them delivered sharp. (Sure, you’ll have to sharpen after using them, but you’ll know better what you’re aiming for.)
So how do the J. Wilding planes differ from the M.S. Bickford and Old Street Tool planes? Well, they’re a Toyota to the other makers’ Mercedes. Both are reliable, comfortable in use and do the job they’re meant to do, but the Toyota is much simpler in the detailing.
Instead of wide chamfers and eyes on the ends, and elegant coves and fillets on the steps (the side of a wooden moulding plane where it juts out to the width of the sole), J. Wilding planes have simple, narrow chamfers and a flat at the step, which reduces the amount of detail work that goes into each. The top of the wedge is also less ornamental. And the planes are 1⁄2″ shorter (91⁄2″ rather than 10″) – all of which makes them look more like 19th-century British planes than the more elaborate high-end 18th-century look of the other two makers’ tools.
Plus, Wilding’s planes are quartersawn maple rather than the traditional beech, which he says is easier and less expensive to dry properly for planemaking.
Wilding started out as a period furniture maker, and his attention to detail shows in his planes – the differences are in aesthetics, not in function.
The hollows and rounds are available in 1⁄8″, 1⁄4″, 3⁄8″, 1⁄2″, 5⁄8″, 3⁄4″, 11⁄4″ and 11⁄2″. Nos. 2-10 (1⁄8″-5⁄8″) are $260 per pair unsharpened/$285 sharpened; Nos. 12-18 (3⁄4″-11⁄2″) are $285 per pair unsharpened/$300 sharpened. Wilding also offers quarter and half sets of hollows and rounds, as well as other wooden moulding and joinery planes.
From the April 2017 issue, #231