Building a plow plane
Building the 1/4″ plow plane
Once again I needed a tool and decided to build it rather than buy it or use the power tool equivalent. I have done this before with a molding plane. This weekend that tool was a 1/4″ plow plane patterned after the groove cutting half of a tongue a groove matched set.
Originally I was going to put on an adjustable fence and a depth stop. But as the build went on I realized that the vast majority of grooves I need to cut are 1/4″ wide and 3/8″ deep and 1/4″ away from the edge of the work. So I built this “one trick pony” of a plow plane. And so far I like it.
Also, I have realized that making this type of plane is not really hard at all. In fact I really like building them. This one took about 3 hours all told. It is made with a slice off of an old stanley plane blade. I cut a 1/4″ strip off of it with a dremel cutting wheel. Then I cleaned it up on the bench grinder. Once I had the blade I built the plane around it.
Step one is cutting the parts.
This is a Krenov style plane but instead of 3 parts, this one needs four.
A solid 1/2″ thick piece for the far side of the plane I used soft maple.
A 1/4″ piece cut in 2 pieces at a 47 degree angle. Cut the other face about 6 degrees steeper.
Cut a wedge that matches the V between the two pieces that you just cut as in the picture on the left.
Then cut a 1/4″ piece that will be the spacer between the plow and the fence.
Then cut a 1/2″ piece that is wider than the others by 3/4″ or so for the fence.
The only real trick to gluing up this plane is gluing up the first two pieces. As you can see from the picture on the right I glued up the first two pieces with the wedge and blade in place. If you have cut all of your pieces slightly over-size then it can save you a lot of headache to glue up with your wedge and blade in place and perfectly mated. Even if that means that the two angle cut pieces are slightly out of align with the solid piece. You can correct this in a couple of seconds with a plane after the glue dries. Doing it this way is far faster than gluing up and trying to do the final fitting of the wedge later.
Before you glue up the rest you will want to bore the chip ejection hole as shown in the picture on the left. Notice that the drill cuts into the wedge as well. This will also be very helpful later. All you have to do is cut the wedge blank just below the cutout from the drill.
Now is the time to flip this assembly over and shape the chip ejector chute on the far side of the plane. A combination of chisels, a round rasp, and a half round file should get you most of the way there. If you look closely at the finished picture you will notice that I cut through the web near the throat and opened that area up a bit. This will help the chips to pass through the throat much better.
Cut through the web at the same angle as the bed of the blade. But make sure to stay away from the bed by the thickness of the blade. This is not as difficult as it sounds, and if you do it right it will create a clear path for the chips to begin their journey up into the ejection chute and off to the side.
The more you do at this stage the easier it is so it is worth the time to get this ejection chute as close to perfect as possible at this stage.
Once this is done you are ready to glue up the other two pieces. I would do this one at a time though, squaring up with a plane after each glue up.
That will take you to the point at the left. You will notice that I do not have the webbing cut near the throat. When I tested this plane I found out it did nothing but choke that is how I came to the conclusion that I needed to modify the throat. I did this by carefully sawing through the webbing as described earlier. It was much more difficult to do this at this stage of construction which is why I mentioned it in an earlier step.
At this point it is really complete except for the final shaping and adjustments. I chose to go with a very simple rounded block style but if you are feeling more creative the sky’s the limit at this point. Knock yourself out if you like.
Tips for building a plane like this
- Use the thickest blade you can find. I used a slice of an old stanley blade because that is what I had laying around on the day I made this plane. If you are not building from salvage go thick.
- Make sure you reduce the thickness of the skate slightly. It will make it run in the groove much, much easier.
- Use a thicker wedge than the one I used here. This works but I don’t like it. I made that decision on the fly and it was not my best decision.
- I am still debating my decision on not making an adjustable fence. Don’t be surprised if I write another article about how I retrofitted this plane with an adjustable fence. It is more likely though that I will make a mate for this plane and have a dedicated tongue and groove matched set.