Which shoulder plane for today's plywood

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Forum topic by jcwalleye posted 12-01-2010 06:43 AM 2854 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jcwalleye's profile


306 posts in 3073 days

12-01-2010 06:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: shoulder plane plane

A good shoulder plane would be handy for first, cleaning up tenons and rabbits and secondarily cleaning up dadoes. Is it correct that for cleaning up dadoes on today’s undersized plywood a ¾” wide blade is just too wide? If so then the medium, Veritas with an 11/16” blade, seems better designed for today? It seems so simple but before plunking this kind of money down, I want it to be right.

A quick search shows what’s currently on the market:

Lee Neilson:
Small 5/8” w blade $165
Medium ¾” blade $ 195
Large 1 ¼” blade $250

Small ½” blade $169
Medium 11/16” blade $179
Large 1 ¼” blade $219

92 SweetHeart 3/4” blade $125
93 Rabbet plane 1” blade $130

Cliftons are even more expensive. Are there other shoulder planes a person should consider?

Anybody know of discounts on the Veritas?

-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--

6 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3074 days

#1 posted 12-01-2010 03:50 PM

I encourage you to check out used shoulder planes on eBay and elsewhere. There are some excellent older planes available.

Personally, I just bought an iron for a shoulder plane and I am about to make my own. Check out You can buy complete kits. I prefer to just buy the iron and supply my own wood. There’s a good video on making the shoulder plane.

FYI – I’ve already made my own Jack/smoothing plan and a picture is in my projects on this site.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3663 days

#2 posted 12-01-2010 04:50 PM

I have a Stanley #92 (not the new Sweetheart, but the older version made in Sheffield, England). It is a handy little tool and can be found on the used tool market for $50 – $100.

You might also check out ... Brian G. made a shoulder plane using a bench chisel.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3663 days

#3 posted 12-01-2010 05:12 PM

A second thought … no matter which shoulder plane you choose, the most important thing is the blade.

With a decent blade that is kept sharp, and some fettling, a garage sale special can do just about as well as the higher end planes on the market. And without proper care and sharpening, the higher end planes won’t deliver the performance you expected when you bought them.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Loren's profile


10401 posts in 3648 days

#4 posted 12-01-2010 07:18 PM

A shoulder plane is not the tool for dado cleanup.

A dado plane is. You can get wooden ones on Ebay in different
widths, or the old Stanley ones. Some of them have cross-grain
nickers, which a shoulder plane never does from what I’ve seen.

Dado bottoms are easy to clean up with a crank-necked chisel,
which are neat tools to have and will go places a plane won’t as

Widening dados with a plane that isn’t meant for it is tricky. You
can get a few different styles of metal ones. They are commonly
called side-rabbet planes. There’s also an old style of side rabbet
plane made of wood. It’s named after some bird. Most nobody
knows what they are for these days.

P.S. from owning some different shoulder planes I can saw that in
most cases, heavier is better. Small shoulder planes have their uses,
but if you are just going to get one, I’d get a big, heavy one. Such
a plane is very useful for general furniture-scale work.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2880 days

#5 posted 12-01-2010 07:29 PM

I agree with both Rich and Gerry here. The planes you listed are expensive because they are supposed to be either completely ready to go or close to it right out of the box. If money is at all an issue I would suggest looking for an older Stanley on ebay or making your own. Like Gerry said, a good sharp blade is the key.

I don’t own a shoulder plane but I often use my old Stanley #75 bull nose plane when I can on rabbits and dados. With the blade sharpened correct the thing cuts great on plywood and any other wood…

There are advantages to buying a new one like the ones you listed and I think you would be happy with any of the ones you listed.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Ole's profile


67 posts in 3077 days

#6 posted 12-01-2010 07:51 PM

If cleaning up the bottom of a dado is what you want you should consider a router plane. It references off the top of your workpiece and will make the depth consistent. They are available commercially, as antiques, or you can very easily make your own. Allen wrenches make good blanks for blades that can be held in a very simple wooden body.

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