Value of handed skew planes

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by BalloonKiller posted 03-17-2011 04:36 AM 1783 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BalloonKiller's profile


4 posts in 2655 days

03-17-2011 04:36 AM

Looking at Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen planes I see that both offer skew planes in a right and left handed version. Both claim that selection of which to use depends on grain direction for the piece being worked. Does anyone find that not having the proper skew direction affects the outcome? Are there precautions that you take to avoid issues, other than buying a second plane? Are there any situations where you’ve wished you had or been glad that you had the second plane? Is it more difficult to use the opposite handed plane from your dominant hand?

9 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3738 days

#1 posted 03-26-2011 05:07 PM

In my limited experience I have had occaission where I wish I could have planed from ‘the other side’. Having said this I managed to work with the tools I had so I can see where a skewed plane would be an advantage; is it worth the money? I can’t answer that as I’m a very amateur hobbyiest who can’t really justify the cost of any of my tools (but my dear wife indulges me anyway!:-)

I have planed with my non-dominant hand and I suspect it is just a skill you have to practice, it felt odd but I could see it becoming easier with practice.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3986 days

#2 posted 03-26-2011 06:03 PM

There is a reason behind R and L versions. Sure, you can work around by gymnastics and contortions. You could just use a well sharpened chisel, but having the appropriate tool is always the easiest.


View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2997 days

#3 posted 03-26-2011 06:18 PM

I can’t help but wonder how much I would even use a skew plane. I often need to plane a particular tough spot or a knot or some end grain or a dowel at a skewed angle, but I just turn my regular plane at an angle and let’er slice away . . . guess that wouldn’t work if I was up against a vertical obstruction, but I never had that happen. Am I missing somethng here?

View Paul C.'s profile

Paul C.

154 posts in 3271 days

#4 posted 03-26-2011 06:54 PM

I have to admit to heresy. Since most of the stuff I would plane would be hidden (like in a rabbet) I am not convinced I would care about tear-out where it can’t be seen. Am I missing something?

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3674 days

#5 posted 03-26-2011 07:04 PM

In planes without a chipbreaker, tear-out is a bit difficult to control. Many
skewed planes I’ve seen being made today are single-iron, low-angle designs,
which does lend some advantages but also makes managing squirrelly grain
more difficult.

If you’re looking at the planes with the integrated fences, you can’t change
the angle to the cut much because the fence gets in the way, so when you
hit a tough patch of grain you either have to power through it and fix the
problem later, or use another tool.

The side-rabbet planes are a different thing and have a specific purpose for
working into stopped areas. Having them go both ways comes very handy
when trimming rabbets and grooves.

View JuniorJoiner's profile


487 posts in 3466 days

#6 posted 03-26-2011 07:10 PM

I have left and right lie-Nielsen versions, I rarely if ever use them. Being block planes they would not be helpful for smoothing difficult grain. Not much to say, really, they are pretty, but not necessary for most of my work.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3023 days

#7 posted 03-26-2011 09:16 PM

If I only used hand tools I would say a left and a right would be a nice convenience ! I have stanley #39’s that I use to clean my dado’s and rabbets. I also have #46’s that have skewed blades. The skewed blade is nice cutting with. And crank49 is correct about using the larger #4,#5,#6,#7,#8 on an angle.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View whitewulf's profile


454 posts in 2963 days

#8 posted 03-26-2011 09:29 PM

IMHO a skew is unnecessary, unless it is a rebate also. Then only if you are left handed is this important!

-- "ButI'mMuchBetterNow"

View TJU's profile


72 posts in 2682 days

#9 posted 03-26-2011 10:46 PM

I recently thought about this because I wanted a wide block plane for the cheeks of my tenons. I went with the rabbeting block plane from lie-nielsen. Skewing the blade only lowers the cutting angle, which I don’t think is necessary for most applications (except end grain). Also, the rabbeting block plane is already a low angle and you can use it left or right handed. In the end it was also cheaper and easier to sharpen the blade. It works great and If you change the bevel on the blade you can change the cutting angle. It doesn’t have a fence but you can always just clamp on a straight edge as a guide when rabbeting.


-- Although the voices aren't real they have some pretty good ideas.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics