Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So you want to learn how to use a sash fillister?

This question came up recently on one of the woodworking forums I frequent.  I took a few photos demonstrating why you need a sash fillister for sash work.  It doesn't see much work outside of that specialty, but it can come in handy for moldings.

The glazing rabbet

The molding (ovolo in this case)
Sash requires a glazing rabbet and a molding profile.  The molding goes on the inside of the window, the part that faces the interior of the house.  The rabbet is cut on the outside, so that the "ugly" putty and visual heaviness of the square edges goes outside the home.  To achieve a good looking sash, it is important that all the moldings line up perfectly.

A good looking sash joint.
The glazing rabbets are not nearly as aesthetically important, so any potential error (always possible when working with hand planed stock) is thrown to the outside. The only practical way to achieve this is to only work from one face. Because of the importance of the molding, the reference face is always the inside face.  All layout and joinery must be done from this side.

The sash fillister references the front face to cut the glazing rabbet
 To cut the glazing rabbet, therefore, you need a sash fillister. This plane references the inside face, using the fence, and cuts with the inside left corner of the iron to cut the rabbet. It "leapfrogs" the area into which the molding is cut (rabbets are usually cut before the molding, this is just a demo piece that I had made before).

This is why a moving fillister doesn't work.
 A moving fillister can be used to cut the glazing rabbet, if you reference the "wrong" face and cut against the grain.  As you might guess, the molding plane works best when planing with the grain, so the aesthetically important molding demands that the grain run in a friendly fashion for that cut. If you cut with a moving fillister from the back face, you run the wrong way and you risk tearing out.  Admittedly, this isn't all that important, but it sure is easier work to plane the right way.

So, if you want to make sash by hand, you need a sash fillister.  If you just want to buy a neat old plane, you need a sash fillister.  If you want to power abrade your work into submission and set up your dado stack to cut your glazing rabbet, you probably don't need a sash fillister.

11 comments:

  1. Good writeup Zach! I don't make sash...yet. I want to make my own when I build a stand alone shop one day. But I do want a set of sash planes...just because I want a set of sash planes. I'm thinking about the American version though - single plane to cut the glazing rabbet and stick the molding at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Bob! I bet you'll like sash work, once you try it. I've got a couple stick and rabbet planes that I never use. Email me your address (zacharydillinger@gmail.com), and I'll send you one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Zach,
    Which do you like better the combo stick and rabbit or using two separate planes? I envy your skill at sash making with hand tools. I used power tools to make the sashes for a cabin I rebuilt for a museum a few years back and to this day I hate the way they look. It really takes a lot of skill to make them right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm definitely in favor of two seperate planes. They fit more with the period I'm interested in, and the style of my ancestors (British). Sash making really isn't that hard, if you don't have a lot of muntins. If you make a 12 light sash, that's a pain! A basic divided window doesn't take much work. If people are interested, I'll do a more in-depth "how to"

      Delete
  4. Hi Zach,

    Thanks for this great info.....I love the idea of learning to make my own windows and have just started to look for the planes I'll need, while trying to figure out the process. Any tutorials you could offer would be great! I've watch Roy Underhill's episodes on windows a couple times and they're a good start, but leave a bit to be desired when it comes to step by step! Hard to do that in a 27 minutes show!

    Anyway, thanks again...you make it look easy!

    Cheers,
    Derek

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Derek, I will work something up. Meanwhile, if you have any specific questions, feel free to email me.

      Delete
  5. The Stanly 45 has a sash iron with it's compliment of blades but it cuts the stick and rabbet at the same time. I believe the "ugly" putty is on the outside to keep water out as well. I sometimes use my sash fillister on the ends of boards that need to fit in a rabbet. Making sash is a great demonstration. Mike

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, the 45 does have a set of sash cutters. I don't have one, so I can't speak to how well they work. The "ugly" putty is definitely on the outside for water-tightness. It wouldn't do to have the glass and wood face the outside without a good layer of putty to protect it. The small amount that beds the glass to the muntins wouldn't do enough.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for the info and taking the time to document the process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy to be able to offer a little bit of what I know. Handmaking window sash isn't common any more, and I'd like to see it out there a little more.

      Delete
  7. Hi Zach,

    Very clear info in this article - thanks!
    Did you ever produce any tutorials on sash making as mentioned in the comments? I can't see a way to search your site to find anything.

    thanks,
    Matt

    ReplyDelete