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Skill Building #8: A Dovetail Tongue and Groove Plane

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 506 days ago 1670 reads 0 times favorited 57 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: An Excellent Tool for Dovetailing Part 8 of Skill Building series Part 9: Oh, my. I'm building the wrong stuff! »

Last time I messed with the Stanley #444, the side walls of groove were pretty ratty. Not that they’d be seen, of course, but the product means the nickers aren’t sufficiently sharp.

A little work on the fine DMT showed it wasn’t flat on the outer surface of either of the two nickers.

I worked each just enough to get the surfaces flat.

Then I carefully worked the primary bevels of each on the fine DMT. They’ve got a ‘camber’ to them already that I don’t think is original, but I’m not removing more material than necessary to get an edge.

A half dozen swipes on the strop had the edges sharp and looking good. The nickers are now the shiniest parts on the plane.

A marking knife made the start line and the plane followed the line pretty well. Kinda like a shoulder plane. And it that regard, I did adjust the iron to get it aligned with the nicker (more out than in, if you know I mean). That adjustment had a big impact on the end result.

The cuts I made here though aren’t the ones needed for a dovetail groove; those require the fence. And that is next time. No, I haven’t successfully made a sliding dovetail joint with this tool yet. It’s clearly Stanley’s most complex hand plane, and I’m humbled by it. Stay tuned.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive



57 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1228 days


#1 posted 506 days ago

“It’s clearly Stanley’s most complex hand plane”

That’s a pretty definitive statement. You really think so?

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9623 posts in 1223 days


#2 posted 506 days ago

I do. But it’s based on not having used (or seen) a #196 in person, the only other that may be as strange.

EDIT: I also don’t have a #55, and that is a bear to get working just right.

The #444, though, has fences that move on purpose, in use. That in itself makes it pretty unique. Imagine running a shoulder plane with a fence that slides up and down the side of the tool while you use it. Oh, and it pivots around a single set screw, too, while cutting under the start point. And this tool’s reliance on nickers is to the extreme.

But what do I know? Maybe the definitive statement is more like an opinion. Good thing is, it should be a safe one in that most simply do not care about this plane or have interest in it. :-) But I do, and felt like blogging my way through the learning curve. I hope it ends with a sliding dovetail joint, but at this point that outcome isn’t certain at all.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1259 days


#3 posted 505 days ago

If it is that crazy and odd in use. Will you do a video when you figure it out? I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the way this works.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Don W's profile

Don W

14672 posts in 1172 days


#4 posted 505 days ago

we’ll be watching.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9623 posts in 1223 days


#5 posted 505 days ago

RG, a video is a good idea and I’ll do it.

Is there a plane in your shop that you’ve spent more than a half hour on without figuring it out / producing results? ie: a smoothing smoother, or jacking jack, or scrub, or rebates with a moving fillister? I’ve logged about three hours with this dovetail plane and have yet to make a joint. It’s not frustrating at all (I like the challenge) but more like fascinating. It’s like starting over…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6753 posts in 1756 days


#6 posted 505 days ago

Pretty cool Smitty. You know this reminds me of something I saw in Toplin’s toolbox book. There is a guy who makes sliding dovetails by first cutting a dado and then making it a dovetail by hand with a side rabbet plane. I dont have a side rabbet plane to try it but it looked like an interesting method.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9623 posts in 1223 days


#7 posted 505 days ago

There simply isn’t a lot of info out there on this plane (that I’ve found, anyway) that includes its use. It’s a collector’s tool, normally. Even a guy on SMC that had three of them didn’t reply to a direct query: Have you used any of them to cut a sliding dovetail joint?

Two different fences, four irons, two rods and two spur blocks on the #444.

Some have decried the woodworking maxim of five ways to do every operation. I suspect a couple of different ways to cut tails with this plane (henceforth referred to as The Beast). It’s clear I need a copy of the dovetail ‘map’ Stanley put inside the lid of the original box, so I’ll search for that tonight. From there it’ll go something like this:

  • Anatomy of a Sliding Dovetail Joint
  • Key Components of the #444
  • Fettling a #444
  • Layout and First Cuts
  • Mates and Finishes
  • Conclusion

All subject to change, of course. But unless someone points it out here, this stuff doesn’t exist out there. Leach did a video that supposedly includes one in use, but I’ve not seen it or heard anyone talk about said video. I guess that’s why I’m finding this such a challenge.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1259 days


#8 posted 505 days ago

I thought a rabbet plane was tricky…this is just beyond me.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1228 days


#9 posted 505 days ago

One word…routah

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9623 posts in 1223 days


#10 posted 505 days ago

^ Elitist.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1720 days


#11 posted 505 days ago

fun toy….. :-)

enjoy Smitty
Dennis

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

9623 posts in 1223 days


#12 posted 505 days ago

^ Classy Guy.

Thanks, Dennis! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1259 days


#13 posted 505 days ago

Chisel and saw for me…at least until Smitty explains how this contraption works.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9623 posts in 1223 days


#14 posted 505 days ago

^ A fine, Galoot-ish approach.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1228 days


#15 posted 505 days ago

Just bustin’ on ya, as usual. I am with Ryan, I am having a bit of trouble conceptualizing how this plane works.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

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