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Block plane vs shoulder plane

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morpheus83uk

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Hello,

I have a stanley block plane which I need to sharpen the blade on. But I am wondering I have a couple of projects coming up which are going to require mortice and tenon joints. I am wondering if it's worth investing in a shoulder plane or will the block plane do the job?

If a shoulder plane would be needed does anyone have any advice on what to buy?

Thanks

James
 

thetyreman

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I wouldn't say one is better than the other, shoulder planes have to be precision tools and dead square, if you are talking about squaring a tenon then it's always best to get it dead square from using a knifewall, I saw to the line then chisel any remaining fluff being careful not to undercut, so far I've not had an urge to buy a shoulder plane and I had a lie neilsen block plane that I sold, admittedly it was very very nicely made and a quality tool but I hardly ever used it.
 

richarddownunder

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I'm sure others with more shoulder plane experience will chime in, but for me, I only occasionally use my shoulder planes, but they are handy when you need to precisely flatten a tenon or slightly alter a rebate - I guess I just don't do many tenons. Really, block and shoulder planes are intended for different jobs. Some folk don't use block planes much. I find them invaluable for small stuff. I wouldn't think a block plane would be nearly as good as a shoulder plane for fine-tuning tenons - for a start it wont get into the corners. I have 2 shoulder planes, both of which work well. One is a Record 73 (which I was very lucky to find in great nick and at a reasonable price) and the other a Clifton 420. In hindsight, I might have got their 3110 model https://www.flinn-garlick-saws.co.uk/ac ... Plane.html as it seems more versatile, but haven't any experience with them. Decent shoulder planes tend to be expensive - they have to be precisely made.

This might be of interest...https://paulsellers.com/2016/06/plane-n ... der-plane/


Cheers
Richard
 

morpheus83uk

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Thank you both for your responses.

I do like to chisel away when doing shoulders of tendons but as my sawing is lacking I end up making a bit of a mess. Practice i know but still need something for a good finish.

After reading the paul sellers blog post i may look at investing in a small one. Does anyone have any suggestions on a small shoulder plane?

Thanks

James
 

MikeG.

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morpheus83uk":1atuqgn9 said:
...I have a stanley block plane which I need to sharpen the blade on. But I am wondering I have a couple of projects coming up which are going to require mortice and tenon joints. I am wondering if it's worth investing in a shoulder plane or will the block plane do the job?

If a shoulder plane would be needed does anyone have any advice on what to buy?
You don't need a plane at all for tenons. You need a chisel, that's all. I've been cutting tenons all my adult life and I don't own a shoulder plane.
 

Woody2Shoes

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Hi as already said, a decent chisel is fine in most cases.
If you're keen to spend money then I would strongly recommend one of these: https://www.workshopheaven.com/quangshe ... ype-3.html
As has already been alluded to, a shoulder plane will ruthlessly expose any weaknesses in your sharpening and setup of a narrow blade. I have a Veritas medium-sized shoulder plane and it's a gem, but I honestly use it infrequently - to be fair, when I do use it I'm glad I did!
 

AJB Temple

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Well I use a shoulder plane a lot. I find it invaluable for quickly truing up large tenons, and for taking a chamfer off corners prior to glue up (on large work). Mine is a Veritas and I also have a small bronze one as well bought because I liked it. One or other is always on my bench or nearby.

I agree that you can do it all with a chisel, but the plane is super quick.

I also have a Clifton 420 (ex eBay) which is a superb quality tool. It cuts right to the edge and I use it mainly when I want to trim up rebates, which I have been doing a lot of recently. I agree that the adjustable version (bull nose and chisel plane too) seems more flexible; but in practice I find chisel planes less easy to use than a chisel!
 

Yojevol

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How about a Rebating Block Plane? Since upgrading from my bog standard low angle Stanley to a LN rebate type (a bit of an indulgence, I admit) I rarely use my shoulder planes. I find it very useful in all sorts of tight situations. Probably my most used plane.
Brian
 

AndyT

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Maybe I can help by adding another option?

I assume you are a relative beginner. It's probably true to say that sawing perfect tenons is trickier than cutting dovetails, and it's normal when starting out to cut tenons fat and trim them back to the right size. It's obviously not as efficient as fitting straight from the saw but it gets you a good result.

To cut back to size, you can indeed use a chisel, and that's a good approach.
You can also use a plane, but not right into the corner unless it's a more specialised plane than you have, hence your question.

But if you do buy a shoulder plane for this job, I predict that you won't use it much, as you get better with the saw anyway.

So I suggest you buy a router. I know this would be easier advice to follow if the secondhand price hadn't gone up so much lately, but that has happened because YouTube woodworkers such as Paul Sellers have majored on demonstrating what was in Robert Wearing's books, and shown people that a router is an easy tool to use to do this job. You can reference off a second piece of wood of the same thickness as your workpiece and trim down a few thou at a time, ending with a perfectly flat, true surface.

And you'll also have a tool which opens up the possibility of cuts that are harder to do without one, such as accurate housings and rebates, through or stopped.

Veritas make a very attractive model (if you can find it in stock) and the price is apparently not far off what good used Stanley 71s are going for. Or if you can get or make a cutter, build your own.
Even MikeG has seen the need for one!
 

That would work

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AndyT":ir7sqqpc said:
Maybe I can help by adding another option?

I assume you are a relative beginner. It's probably true to say that sawing perfect tenons is trickier than cutting dovetails, and it's normal when starting out to cut tenons fat and trim them back to the right size. It's obviously not as efficient as fitting straight from the saw but it gets you a good result.

To cut back to size, you can indeed use a chisel, and that's a good approach.
You can also use a plane, but not right into the corner unless it's a more specialised plane than you have, hence your question.

But if you do buy a shoulder plane for this job, I predict that you won't use it much, as you get better with the saw anyway.

So I suggest you buy a router. I know this would be easier advice to follow if the secondhand price hadn't gone up so much lately, but that has happened because YouTube woodworkers such as Paul Sellers have majored on demonstrating what was in Robert Wearing's books, and shown people that a router is an easy tool to use to do this job. You can reference off a second piece of wood of the same thickness as your workpiece and trim down a few thou at a time, ending with a perfectly flat, true surface.

And you'll also have a tool which opens up the possibility of cuts that are harder to do without one, such as accurate housings and rebates, through or stopped.

Veritas make a very attractive model (if you can find it in stock) and the price is apparently not far off what good used Stanley 71s are going for. Or if you can get or make a cutter, build your own.
Even MikeG has seen the need for one!
I second the use of a router (a hand one!). A good trick is to leave a piece on the end that is not cut down to the tenon, then you can run the router on this side as well.... so in other words its like you are making a Tee bridle joint but at the end you cut the the end off and it becomes a tenon) I am pretty sure that Paul Sellers demonstrates this method. I do have a shoulder plane, a Record 73, it is nice but not essential, in fact the only time I would say its required would be for trimming a long shoulder say on a clamped end (breadboard) tenon.
 

Max Power

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MikeG.":3s044usv said:
You don't need a plane at all for tenons. You need a chisel, that's all. I've been cutting tenons all my adult life and I don't own a shoulder plane.
The same could be said of a lot of tools, I've seen a sharp axe accomplish all sorts in the right hands, it doesn't mean they don't have a purpose though
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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I use shoulder planes far more for squaring or fine tuning rebates than for tenon shoulders. Mainly I finish shoulders with a chisel and cheeks with a router plane or rasp. I would not want to be without a couple of shoulder planes - 1/2" and 3/4" are my go to sizes.

I do have a LN rabbet block plane. This is used to clean out drawer cases, if there has been movement and the floor or sides is no longer coplanar. It does not take the place of either a shoulder plane or standard block plane.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

D_W

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echo what Mike said above. I haven't cut as many tenons, but I struggle to find any use for a shoulder plane, and at this point, own only a norris 7 just in case I want to make one for fun.

Anything that a shoulder plane does in long wood is far better done by a rabbet plane.

To the extent that I've ever needed to do something to a shoulder that's smaller than a practical chisel cut, a file or float is more capable and less fiddly (and faster).
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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To the extent that I've ever needed to do something to a shoulder that's smaller than a practical chisel cut, a file or float is more capable and less fiddly (and faster).
David, you will have to explain that. I have no idea how you would fine tune a rebate with a file or float. I certainly would not do that. A shoulder plane is perfect here.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

D_W

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rebates are planed with a rabbet plane. It's just a better plane for rabbets than a shoulder plane as there's far less friction, skew is commonly available and they can exhaust their own shavings without faffing around with them (any significant work with a shoulder plane in a rebate is much friction and stopping to poke your finger through to push shavings out).

On shoulders with a float (my favorite for the job being a nicholson super shear file), you slighly under cut the tenon shoulder inside the outer perimeter and then use the super shear to take material off and test fit.

I've not experienced much shoulder tuning on door and frame type stuff if the mark is made properly and deeply. Perhaps dropping the back side of a tenon a small amount, but this is done quickly with a super shear (and I've done it just fine with a plane bed float, which is flexible to some extent).

super shears can be difficult to find for a decent price, but sometimes they show up unused on ebay for about $15. They have a huge number of other uses that a shoulder plane doesn't have. Spelching isn't an issue with them because of the way they leave the cut (if you used a heavy hand, I'm sure you could coax some).

It's not for lack of trying - I've had LN and LV shoulder planes, as well as the lovely norris and a couple of slaters. They are fun to look at. I could devise a way to make them part of the making process, but a deep line and a chisel has won out. The first time I saw someone do this quickly was someone here in the states (I can't recall his name) who builds furniture professionally and he had a shallow paring chisel for the work and pared right to the line on the outside of the shoulder - something I was afraid of overcutting before then, but if you look at it while you're doing it, it's never been a problem.

It may be tempting to guess that I haven't cut many shoulders, but all of my kitchen frames are M&T and a third of the doors are, and every other door or frame I've made has been M&T. I've never made an M&T with any machines.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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David, you associating "rebate" with a case. There are more rebates around than this, and far more delicate.

Here is a drawer bottom with a rebate (made with a moving fillister) ...



It will need to fit into a slip. Test fit ...



Fine tune with a shoulder plane ...



This is a common use when I build drawers. Just one example.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

D_W

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I use a rabbet plane for rebates like that. Same as using a moving Fillister for larger rebates vs the myriad of metal planes available. The difference in resistance is enormous.

Ulmia also made a double iron rabbet plane and the tool itself is a wingnut contraption where the sole is imprecise, but the double iron makes up for it in spades.

The case that I'm making is tongue and groove. For whatever reason, the Stanley t&g plane that I use likes to cut the tongue a bit fat. I know why, but don't use it enough to address it. I cleaned up the tongues and shoulders with a rabbet plane. The lack of top side weight on the wooden planes also makes them easier to use on small work like that.

We all have our methods but I'm extremely lazy and will continue to try more things even for something like the terrible sole resistance on the otherwise wonderful lv skew rabbet plane. They are a very distant second to an older good shape moving Fillister, much like a shoulder and rabbet plane compared.

Most advice is to get the shoulder plane as a matter of getting work done, but I'd bet few get used much.

I counted 76 m&t joints in the kitchen, some are on angles. If someone would've asked how many m&t joints I've cut before thinking about it, I'd probably have said 20. It takes a little while to remember what spell of laziness caused each change.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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David, if you need to fine tune the fit of a T&G, which plane would you use to adjust this ... a rabbet plane?! That is such a coarse cutter. It has little of the delicacy and precision of a shoulder plane.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

D_W

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A chisel and a float for that (small tenon). It's done faster than I can fetch a shoulder plane and check its cut. If it's a long cut, a rabbet plane. It's pretty easy set a rabbet plane to take what's essentially a nothing shaving. You do it the same way you'd set an infill, loosen the wedge and push the plane along slowly as you're tightening the wedge and it will be set at zero or very near.

I'm ashamed to say that I have the wonderful Norris shoulder and haven't used it yet. It's missed at least 100 tenons and more feet than that in rabbets and tongues.
 

D_W

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Shoulder planes rust when you forget about them, too. If the norris does a little, nobody will know for sure that it was my neglect!
 
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