Monthly Archives: February 2013

Tool Focus – Plow Plane

Veritas Small Plow Plane

Veritas Small Plow Plane

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  I have only been able to finish two more legs for the Arts and Crafts end tables I’m building.  Instead of boring you with a rehash of how I’m making the legs, I decided to provide some details about the tools I’m using.

This week, I’m focusing on the plow plane.

Skate and depth stop

Skate and depth stop

Plow planes are designed to cut grooves in the same direction as the grain of a board.  Mine is the Veritas Small Plow Plane from Lee Valley Tools.  The plane is equipped with a fence and depth stop to control the position and depth of the groove.  The fence, depth stop, and iron are all set using thumbscrews.

The plane will accommodate irons in a variety of widths to allow grooves of different widths.  I currently have irons in the following widths: 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, and 3/8″.  The only size I have used on the table legs so far is the 1/4″.

To accommodate all these sizes of irons, the plane uses a thin skate (so called because is looks like the blade of an ice skate) that registers against the right wall of the groove.

Fence and iron

Fence, skate, and iron

Iron

Iron

With most planes, especially those used to flatten and straighten boards, you start at the near end of the board and plane in long passes to the far end.  The plow plane is used differently.  To start plowing a groove, you start a short distance from the opposite or far end of the board and make a short cut to the end of the board.  Then with each pass, you move towards the near end a couple of inches and make another pass all the way to the far end.  Eventually, you will be making a full pass from the near end to the far end as you would with most planes.  Starting at the far end helps to prevent the groove from wandering along the length of the board.

In use, the plane is held with the left hand pressing the fence into the board to control the position of the groove.  The right hand pushes the plane forward, in the direction of the groove.  Very little downward pressure should be used.  The weight of your hands and the plane are more than enough for the plane to cut.

If you have questions about the plow plane, please leave a comment below.  Depending on the progress I make on the tables over the next week, I plan to write a post on my rabbet plane.

Arts and Crafts End Tables – Leg Construction

Finished Table Legs

Finished Table Legs

This week I was able to get two more legs profiled and glued up.  Now I only have five more for the two end tables I’m building.  Here are the steps I used to shape the profiles.

Leg component blank before profiling.

Leg component blank before profiling

1. Use a plow plane to plow a groove in the face of the component blank.

Plow a groove on the face.

Plow a groove on the face.

2. Plow a groove in the edge of the blank that is furthest from the face groove.

Plow a groove on the edge of the blank.

Plow a groove on the edge of the blank.

3. Use a rabbet plane to shorten the wall of the edge groove on the same side as the face groove.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the edge.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the edge.

4. Shorten the wall of the face groove nearest the edge.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the face.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the face.

5.  Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest to the face groove.

Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest the face groove.

Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest the face groove.

6. Use a shoulder plane to bevel both edges at 45°.

Bevel both edges at 45°

Bevel both edges at 45°

7.  Fit each mating piece so that the profiles lock together.  When they fit properly, glue and clamp.

Glued up legs

Glued up legs

I hope you’ve found this step by step walk-through useful.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

Next week I hope to finish at least two more legs.  More next time…

Spontaneous Shop Project – Stud Mounted Storage Box

This week I didn’t work on the End Table project at all. Instead, a spontaneous shop project came up. I keep most of my tools in the utility room in our basement. The walls inside the utility room are unfinished, so the studs are exposed.

For the past year or so, I’ve been been hanging my drafting triangles, french curves, dividers, and other design tools hanging from nails on a couple of the studs inside the door.

Before

Before

This arrangement has been frustrating because if I move something, the triangles and french curves fall off the nail and I have to stop what I’m doing to pick everything up. On Monday, I had finally had enough.

To solve the problem, I made an open topped box that would fit between the studs to hold all these tools. I used some scrap poplar that I had in my shop. I wanted the front to overlap the studs so I could mount it with screws. I attached the front to the sides using through tenons. The sides and the back are dovetailed. The bottom is a floating panel in a grove in all four vertical components.

Here are some pictures…

Front

Front

Back

Back

Then I installed the box with four screws into the stud and put all the tools in the box.

Installed

After

After

Overall, this was a quick, easy project. It will really help to improve the efficiency of my shop.

I’d love to hear about the spontaneous projects you have done. Please leave a comment below.