One hard thing to acquire when making a moulding plane is the material for boxing. For any of you that are not familiar with the term boxing it has to do with the wood that is inserted into high wear portions of the sole with a very hard wearing wood. The traditional wood was almost exclusively Boxwood (Buxus Sempervirens). The boxing wood is placed in such a way that it orients the end grain of the wood toward the sole of the plane. It is inserted on a bias to the sole that is parallel with the bed angle or the wear angle.
Moulding planes that would have this in particular are those with quirks of some sort that need a sharp area of a profile to project from the sole. Side bead planes are a good example of this. However, the sharp edge of a plane that receives high wear such as a rabbit or filister plane would commonly be boxed since its edge would be presented to the work repeatedly. At other times you may see the inside corner of a complex profile moulding plane’s integrated fence being boxed since the fence would be pressed against the stock to keep the profile in position during the cut.
|Cove with fence boxing and side bead with boxed quirk|
|Rabbit plane with persimmon boxed edge|
So where can you get boxing wood? It is a real challenge. So I am going to help you identify some wood that is native to the US that you may be able to find that is appropriate for boxing. I am also going to share a source of Buxus Sempervirens that is sold here in the US currently.
First off is a native source that is the only North American tree in the Ebony family. It may be a surprise but it is Persimmon (Diospyros Virginiana). This wood is possibly in your backyard or neighboring forest and you didn’t even know it. It often goes unnoticed because the forest grown trees may not bear fruit since they don’t receive enough sunlight if they are in the understory growth with taller trees around. These trees often don’t grow in groups and are sparsely populated in the forest. This could be due to an animal such as a deer eating the fruit and then the seed germinates wherever the droppings land. Generally I find the trees growing along the tree line to an open area or a path through the woods rather than out in the middle of the forest.
Here are some pictures of the most important way to identify the tree, the bark. You need to know what the bark looks like because very likely the tree that is big enough for you to cut down for lumber will be too tall to see the leaves well. The forest grown trees will be slim and tall with the foliage grouped near the top. Also the best time to cut most trees is during the winter months while the foliage is lost.
|~9″ø Persimmon bark|
|~14″ø Persimmon bark|
|Plain sawn Persimmon|