In need of a shoulder plane!

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Forum topic by Cosmicsniper posted 03-31-2011 07:15 PM 2262 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2202 posts in 3123 days

03-31-2011 07:15 PM


I find myself in need of something that you might traditionally call a shoulder plane. As much as I like my cheap Stanley block plane, I’m thinking of just getting something like the Lie-Nielsen Rabbet Block plane, which would serve double-duty by not only replacing the Stanley, but also give me the “shouldering” ability.

The alternative is to get something like the Veritas shoulder planes, which would give me the ability to do the shoulders – especially tight ones that the block-type plane can’t reach – and cleaning of dado/grooves (very appealing)...but such a plane wouldn’t replace the Stanley anytime soon. Plus, I realize that I’d ultimately want various sizes of Veritas shoulder planes for varying sized dados.

So, my questions to you LJers are…

1.) I’m sure I’ll have them all at some point, but what would you purchase first?
2.) Are there alternatives to these excellent planes?
3.) On the block-type plane, is the “nicker” option useful?
4.) What issues in this comparison might I be forgetting?
5.) What specialty planes do YOU have and what do you find yourself using most often?
6.) I need a good shop apron to put it in…suggestions???

Thanks for your input!!!!

-- jay,

6 replies so far

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2961 days

#1 posted 03-31-2011 07:52 PM

I use #39 stanley plane to clean dado’s (old, and skewed blade) I have different widths I seem to use the 1/2” more than others. The nicker helps if you want to cut new dados across the grain, to clean the edge it is not as important. I have a lot of specialty planes, to pick one that I like more than others is like asking me to pick my favorite child. I love them all.
I carry my block plane in a pouch that I made years ago, specifically to fit the plane, I used deer hide, it held the plane only ! I had one for my plane and one for my calculator.There are alot of companies that make small individual pouchs now, Dewalt, Kuny are names that come to mind.

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

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3709 days

#2 posted 03-31-2011 07:57 PM

As for the shoulder planes, I have a Veritas large shoulder plane and a Lie-Nielsen small shoulder plane. I’m very happy with both. I went with the LN plane on the small one, because it seemed a little more comfortable to hold and work with.

I have a Stanley block plane, which also does what I need it to do. Most of the planes are so specialized in their design, you about have to use them for what they were made for.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2962 days

#3 posted 03-31-2011 08:55 PM

Sounds like you are really asking about for the dadoes and grooves is a side rabbet.

I don’t have one nor have I ever used one. Lie Nielsen sells them for $225 a pair. Look nice but I wouldn’t spend that much for them.

I do have a little wooden plane:

(actually I have the one that has a curved top but it is just cosmetic difference.) It’s a rebate plane but, shhh! Don’t tell anyone, you can cut shoulders with it too. :)These are like $30-$40 new.

I do have one of the little Stanley bullnose rebate planes but I hate it and have not seen it in a few months. It is bumping around somewhere.

Most of the stuff that I have heard of people doing with a shoulder plane, I just do with a chisel. Ehh, close enough.

It just depends on what kind of work you do and your own personal work habits.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3123 days

#4 posted 03-31-2011 09:26 PM

Thanks, guys.

Skarp: Yeah, good point about the router plane. I was just thinking I could do that with a Veritas shoulder plane…which would also do shoulders.

David: I really want to do shoulders (or rabbets). It’s just that I was thinking that if I used something like the medium Veritas shoulder plane, that it’d be able to do both shoulders and dados. My thinking on the LN rabbet-block plane was that I could do shoulders, but also replace my Stanley block plane with it…to use for applications where I want to plane a board when, perhaps, a piece of trim is already butted up against it…think of a kitchen cabinet with a bottom rail. In this case, I might want to smooth out the face-frame a bit while getting as close as possible to the rail. I realize that I could use both types of planes with this, but in such a case I can see the LN being the better choice since the board to be planed might be rather wide.

I guess I should probably pop for both since, yeah, each plane will have a rather unique use. It’s just that I was thinking that the first plane I use would be as versatile as possible and I’m trying to figure which one to purchase first.

Anyway, the more I use my existing planes, the more efficient and precise my woodworking is becoming. I KNOW I’ll end up having every type of plane ever made, but I’m just trying to figure out what everybody thinks about them.

Regardless, thanks for the input! This is an area I’m excited about learning!

-- jay,

View Loren's profile


10260 posts in 3612 days

#5 posted 03-31-2011 11:38 PM

A shoulder plane has a special function. Performance is enhanced
by mass. Most rabbet planes don’t have the concentrated mass of
a dedicated shoulder plane and don’t work as well on end grain.

My opinion is there is no substitute for a big 4 lb. shoulder plane if
you want to do fine joinery.

Rabbet planes and dado planes are useful too, but they don’t
excel in the same cuts a shoulder plane excels at.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3123 days

#6 posted 04-01-2011 03:51 PM

Wow, Loren! I guess that’s why you make the big bucks. I should have thought about weight…why wouldn’t you since it’s a consideration with any other plane???

I think I’m going with the LN rabbet block plane. I like the idea of its versatily and weight. I also realize that if I ever want to clean up dadoes, I’ll go with a router plane…something I’m embarrassed to say I’d never even heard of before researching specialty planes.

I knew the moment I started hand planing that I’d get myself into a lot of financial trouble. It certainly doesn’t help when a ton of knowledgeable LJ are giving such good advice!

Thanks everybody!

-- jay,

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