© Richard Nissen 2019. Created by Tree Duck Design

Planes were the key to any craftsman’s equipment.  Nowadays we would use routers to make mouldings in wood.  In the 19th century routers did not exist and all mouldings were made with wooden moulding planes.


Beading planes






G Nissen has four of these ¼”, 2/8” (this is the same size I wonder why we have two) ½” and 5/8”


They cut a bead of the edge of a piece of timber.  This makes it look nice and just finishes off the edge of a piece of timber.  You need different sizes depending on the width and size of the timber.  Beads often appear on the edges of simple door frames


Ovulo moulding planes


Georg Nissen had several of these planes which create a very popular moulding for skirtings and frames in one go.  Moulding planes cannot be too large as they would then become to difficult  to be pushed by a craftsman.


Georg Nissen leaves us two marked ½” and 5/8” planes.  The 5/8” plane has the two right angled diagonal lines on the foot to orientate the plane on the stock.



Hollow and rounds planes

These planes come in a variety of sizes and can be used to make any mouldings.  By combining the hollow and rounds with his other planes he could have made a huge selection of shapes.


See the book “Mouldings In Practice” by Matthew Sheldon Bickford,  which shows how they were used.


Below is a image of a complete set of hollow and round planes, as would be necessary for a furniture maker.  But craftsmen like Georg Nissen making houses would not have need anything like this many.


He had three of each including a matched pair (hollow and rounds) of No 14s (1”) and No 16 (1 ¼”)


Rabbet Planes


These are another critical element to making mouldings.  They cut rebates (square shoulders) from wood and as the blade is slightly larger than the sole they can cut up to an edge whereas a normal plane can only plane a bare piece of timber where the plane is wider than the piece of timber.


Georg Nissen had three of these planes 7/8”, 1 ½” AND 1 ¾”.  Obviously the wider planes are for wider cuts. His 1 ½” plane has two 7/8” holes in it to take the width fence as you can see from the picture above- see the far plane in this shot.


Tongue and Groove

Georg Nissen has a matched pair, as one must.  One plane makes the groove and the other the corresponding tongue.  These were critical for enabling carpenters to join smaller widths of timber to each other to make a wider piece of timber.  This method would be necessary for making the fields (central part) of doors for instance.



Scrub Plane

This plane was used to scrub down rough timber so that it could be planed flat.  These days saw mills plane timber to precise dimensions and this plane is seldom used.  However in Georg Nissen’s day this plane was critical to clean up his raw timber in order to plane it.


Scrub planes are narrow with rounded blades.  They are narrow so that you can push them.  However, they take off a lot of material fast.


The one in Georg Nissen’s box is a very old handmade one and one that predates his visit to America.  It looks as if it was made in the 18th century using a German design.  I think that he took this plane to America with him, perhaps as a present given him on his departure from Norway.


The one in the box was missing its blade and unable to be used, so I built a copy in order to use one and see how it operated. Mine is the one below. I replaced the blade  and wedge of the old one as both were missing. The bottom is very worn to an angle (not flat but at a bevel) almost certainly from much hard work.


See a modern scrub plane in use: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6osskqppymU


The Jack plane

A jack plane is the general-purpose bench plane, used for general smoothing of edges and sizing timber to the correct size.  Jack planes are usually about 12–15 inches long. When preparing stock, the jack plane is used after the scrub plane and before the jointer plane and smoothing plane. The name is related to the saying "jack of all trades" as jack planes can be made to perform some of the work of both smoothing and jointer planes, especially on smaller pieces of work.


Georg Nissen’s  jack plane is 16 ins long (40cms)

The handle of a wooden jack plane is a tote peg that fits the hand nicely.  See the image below: the Jack plane at the top and jointer on the bottom.


The jointer plane


The jointer plane is used to flatten the face of a board. Its long length is designed to 'ride over' the undulations of an uneven surface, skimming off the peaks, gradually creating a flat surface. In thicknessing or preparing rough stock, the jointer plane is usually preceded by the jack plane and followed by the smoothing plane

Jointer planes are typically 20 to 24 inches (510 to 610 mm) long


Georg Nissen’s jointer is 22 ins long (56 cms)


The handle of wooden jointer planes as this one is are enclosed like a saw, see above.