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.
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.
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.