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Why are shoulder planes so expensive (even secondhand)?

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Gerard Scanlan

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Can anyone explain why shoulder planes are so expensive? They go for princely sums on Ebay. Axminster make a 'cheap' 29 quid job is it any good? I saw a used Axminster one fetch 26 pounds on Ebay last night! Is that just ebay madness. And finally is a shoulder plane so much more effective than paring a tennon joint with a chisel?
I am really hoping Jacob sees this post because he has regulary provided advice on how to save cash for buying wood rather than spending it all on flashy tools.
 

AndyT

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Here's my theory. They are more expensive to make as they have more metal in; they need more machining, and are made in smaller numbers. They have never sold to the ordinary chippie or diy user, so are a lot less common than bench planes and rebate planes.
I managed without a shoulder plane for years, but fairly recently bought a cheap Record 073 for £49 and also made myself a small metal shoulder plane. (https://www.ukworkshop.co.uk/forums/another-home-made-shoulder-plane-t26321.html)

In my experience, it is perfectly possible to manage without one, but if you have one there will be times when it is just the right tool. The extra mass and precision can really help. You might only make a single pass with it, but it makes a difference.

That said, my two are strictly utilitarian objects as is the Stanley / Axi pattern, but the hand-made infill pattern planes are works of art in themselves and I expect some of the value comes from people appreciating that the only way they can afford something with that many hours of work in it, is to buy an old one.
 

Cheshirechappie

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On the expense question, I think AndyT has hit the nail on the head with the point about difficulty of machining - they must be right so-and-so's to produce, and even more so to produce properly.

On fitting tenons, I agree with you that some skill with a decent chisel will do all that's needed in all but very limited circumstances. I have a vague feeling that shoulder planes are really intended to trim shoulders rather than fit the cheeks of a tenon to a mortice. Again, some careful paring will do the job, but it's easier to get the shoulder straight with a flat-soled plane. However, as they are usually much longer than the tenon or shoulder, I find it difficult to stop them rounding off the work.

I do own a couple, but use them mostly for long-grain work like trimming rebates, at which they are superb. I have cut rebates entirely with them, but as they're rather fine-mouthed, it's a slow job. The Clifton 3-in-1 is a handy tool here, having shims to adjust the mouth width. I've also got an old Preston bull-nose, which I don't 'need', but tend to use a lot like a block plane because it's a bit lighter and fits the hand better.

I don't know about the Axminster one, but I generally take the view that (with some exceptions) cheap tools are cheap for a reason. That's just bitter experience of other tools, though - for all I know the Axi one may be fine.
 

GazPal

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The best advice I can offer is for you to sit on the idea of buying one for a good while and only pick one up if you can justify it's purchase. Having said that, I'm a confirmed shoulder plane user and find them extremely handy for both end grain and refining rebate work if necessary.

Jacob (Among a few others including myself) I believe still owns a Record 073 and perhaps a few other shoulder planes. Rounding-over shouldn't be a problem if keeping the blade set fine and working steadily through the cut from each end to avoid splintering, but I've yet to use a shoulder plane to trim tenon cheeks while tending to prefer a simple occasional tidy up using a chisel.

Expense is all in the materials (Malleable iron and good blades/irons) and machining accuracy/tight dimensional tolerances, but you can get by without if you keep chisels sharp and/or opt to use a well set up wooden rebate plane (Skew or square mouthed). Job specific rebate planes excel at their intended purpose and I tend to hog out timber using a square mouth, then refine the work using a skew mouthed plane if necessary.
 

AndyT

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I meant to say that if your need is to pare tenon cheeks to fit a mortice, I find the best way is to use a hand router such as the Stanley 71. Put one side onto the face of the workpiece, press down firmly and take little swinging cuts, gradually advancing the cutter to sneak up to the line. Or you can bridge across to another piece of the same thickness. I'd recommend anyone to get a 71 before a shoulder plane.
 

marcros

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andy, great thread that I hadn't seen before. I was thinking the other day- do you think it would be possible to use rectangular brass box section (with one side removed to make a channel) as a starting point, or even sheet, scored and folded to shape? I was thinking of a small plane- perhaps an inch in width.
 

Gerard Scanlan

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I am interested to read that the shoulder plane is really intend for the shoulders and not the cheeks. Sometimes it takes some one else stating the obvious to actually comprehed 'what's in a name'. #-o . Perhaps it is because I have read so many times in woodworking books that you should shave the tenon cheeks with a shoulder plane. The 71, now there is another little plane that eludes me every time on Ebay. Perhaps I should make a Paul sellers rebate plane afterall. I keep thinking this time I am going to win the auction and in the last 2 seconds I am pipped at the post. :? Now where did I leave those allen keys?
 

AndyT

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marcros":3n5yzag3 said:
andy, great thread that I hadn't seen before. I was thinking the other day- do you think it would be possible to use rectangular brass box section (with one side removed to make a channel) as a starting point, or even sheet, scored and folded to shape? I was thinking of a small plane- perhaps an inch in width.
Certainly possible - HNT Gordon in Australia makes planes like that:



http://www.hntgordon.com.au/prodcat34sh.htm
 

AndyT

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Gerard Scanlan":16rly6tg said:
I am interested to read that the shoulder plane is really intend for the shoulders and not the cheeks. Sometimes it takes some one else stating the obvious to actually comprehed 'what's in a name'. #-o .
This is the conventional use - but for most work, a well-knifed shoulder line and a straight cut is enough. I guess a lot depends on the wood and the use. A painted softwood door will be more forgiving than a museum display case in polished mahogany.

 

GazPal

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AndyT":3jj6i969 said:
This is the conventional use - but for most work, a well-knifed shoulder line and a straight cut is enough. I guess a lot depends on the wood and the use. A painted softwood door will be more forgiving than a museum display case in polished mahogany.

Never a truer word spoken Andy. :)

Use of a #071/071.5 for easing tenon cheeks is a good one, plus the sole can be enlarged to suit work on larger tenons by adding a suitable piece of sheet material or stable wooden stock. Other options include the use of #010/078/778 rebate planes, with the #010 working well when paired with the use of and suitably sized plough plane.

With practice you'll find the need for additional work on tenon cheeks lessening as your saw cutting gains accuracy, but always keep your options open in terms of crafting technique and you'll never find yourself limited in terms of choice or problem solving capacity. :wink:
 

Vann

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AndyT":3e8gvala said:
...if your need is to pare tenon cheeks to fit a mortice, I find the best way is to use a hand router such as the Stanley 71. Put one side onto the face of the workpiece, press down firmly and take little swinging cuts...
I'm sure I've seen that demonstrated on u-tube. I think it was Deneb in one of the Lie-Nielsen clips. You should be able to find a link on the Lie-Nielsen site. (sorry, I'm at work and u-tube is blocked on company computers :evil: ).

Cheers, Vann.
 

bugbear

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jettagreg":oe0qx1ru said:
thanks AndyT, Ive got a wooden hand router might give it a whirl. Learn something new every day
The earliest reference I've seen the the hand-router-on-tenons technique is Robert Wearing, which is quite late for such a simple trick, using a well established tool. Anyone know of an earlier reference?

BugBear
 

Benchwayze

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Use a piece of scrap the same thickness as the rail-stock. Cramp it against the outer end of the shoulder, and put the assemblage upright in the vice.
Works well to stop spelching, and also extends the shoulder for better support, when you are dressing shoulders on narrow stock.
For very narrow shoulders the piece of scrap could be wider than the stock for even more support. When you plane just treat it as one wide shoulder.
HTH :D

Gerrard.
Ref price of shoulder planes.

I bought my Record in the 1960s. I think it cost me close to a week's wages (Around £8.00) (It can be turned into a bull-nose if I wish)
So they have always been pricey.

J :)
 
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