Rabbet Plane vs. Jack Plane

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Forum topic by Marcel T posted 03-22-2008 05:57 PM 4570 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Marcel T

146 posts in 3962 days

03-22-2008 05:57 PM

I have the option of buying a jack plane and/or a rabbet plane. I understand these are almost the same, except that the rabbet plane’s iron extends all the way across the plane. If I get the rabbet plane, can I do the same things that I could with the jack plane, AND rabbets?

8 replies so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4199 days

#1 posted 03-22-2008 06:16 PM

Probably not. If you are looking at a #10 1/2 Stanley, carriage makers plane you get similar properties. The 10 1/2 sells for quite a bit and the # 5, jack plane is pretty cheap. I would get both. Rebates can be cut with a plane but I’ve found that a router with the proper bit works better.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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Marcel T

146 posts in 3962 days

#2 posted 03-22-2008 06:19 PM

So no, I cannot use a rabbet plane as a jack plane?

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4020 days

#3 posted 03-23-2008 12:47 AM

Rabbet planes and jack planes are very different. A jack plane helps you prepare stock, whereas a rabbet plane makes rabbets (or rebates). You’d need both, I’d say.

-- Eric at

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Marcel T

146 posts in 3962 days

#4 posted 03-23-2008 01:36 AM

Ok. I just thought that because they looked like they where the exact same plane, except that the rabbet had the iron extending all the way across the plane.
Thanks guys :)

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 3997 days

#5 posted 03-26-2008 10:24 PM

I have just returned from a class in using handplanes at Highland Woodworking in Atlanta. Although I am far from being an expert, the # 5 jack plane is a great all around workhorse. It will certainly serve well to flatten a rough sawn board in preparation for the planer. Even with my level of skill I could use it to joint the edges of boards up to about two feet long for gluing.

Another very useful plane is the block plane, either with the standard angle of the low angle type. This is a great plane for smoothing edge grain, chamfering edges, trimming cabinet doors and many other tasks. Look for one with an adjustable throat. I have a Stanley # 60 1/2. Also demonstrated was an Anant # 78 Duplex Rabbet Plane with an adjustable fence for the purpose of cutting rabbets.

Depending on just how far one wants to go into hand tool woodworking, it is possible to have a dozen or more planes. However, for a start, the #5 Lie-Nielson or the Clifton plane can’t be beat. They are expensive, at around $300, but are ready to go out of the box. Cheaper planes require a fair amount of tuning and work in order to get satisfactory performance.

It goes without saying, if you get involved in handplanes, you will need some sharpening equipment.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Philip Edwards's profile

Philip Edwards

245 posts in 4676 days

#6 posted 03-26-2008 10:34 PM

The Jack Rabbet plane looks real similar to the regular Jack – except the iron goes all the way to the edges of the plane. At first glance you should be able to use the rabbet for both jobs.
But – two things. First, the Rabbet plane is structurally weaker than the jack because of the cut-aways for the iron. The is just two strips of iron holding the plane together – this is a weak point (a lot of vintage #10 1/4’s have been welded back together at this weak point) and the plane isn’t as rigid as the regular Jack. This is pretty important when flattening boards.
Secondly, the iron needs to be sharpened straight across on the Rabbet. It is common to grind a slight camber on Jack plane irons – this allows you to take deeper cuts when roughing out a board. You’d be surprised the difference this makes!
So – to summarise. The Jack Rabbet is a speciality plane – great for certain tasks, not so good for others. The jack plane is a bench necessity – you will use it all the time. Do yourself a favour and get a Jack plane and maybe a shoulder plane or #78 for your rebate work.
Hope this helps

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Marcel T

146 posts in 3962 days

#7 posted 03-26-2008 11:33 PM

Thanks guys! You answered my question perfectly Philip, thanks again :)

View jsheaney's profile


141 posts in 4225 days

#8 posted 03-26-2008 11:47 PM

Also, on a jack plane those strips on either side of the blade are part of the function of the sole. You cannot plane a groove into a board with a jack plane. It isn’t possible, which is good because your purpose is to flatten the board. The purpose of a rabbet plane is to put a groove into a board. The lack of a sole to each side of the blade allows you to do that job.

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

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