Soooo Frustrated!!

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Forum topic by gljacobs posted 01-30-2012 02:06 AM 1301 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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76 posts in 2686 days

01-30-2012 02:06 AM

My Problem : I’m having extreme difficulty in getting a seamless fit on a shoulder of a tenon using a LN rabbet block plane.

A few notes :
- the piece being tenoned is 7/8” by 1 1/4” in section with a 5/8” integral tenon, and the shoulder depth is 5/16”on the long cheeks and only 1/16” on the short side

-The blade is wider than the sole and I’ve tried sizing it to the width of the plane sole so that constant readjustment of the blade left to right is unnecessary, but with no success. Slow drags across sand paper doesn’t seem to go quick enough and keep it square either. Jig maybe?

-The plane design doesn’t allow for ease of depth adjustment without lateral pivoting of the blade. Causing the blade to be skewed an needing constant adjustment EVERY time the depth is adjusted.

My process :

I rough out the tenon using the nibble method on the table saw using the miter gauge in conjunction with the rip fence.
My table saw is a little less than accurate to put it mildly so I scribe a shoulder line around the stock and saw up the line about a 1/64” or less. I leave the tenon slightly over sized to be hand fit.
I then take the piece to my shooting board and trim the cheeks to a snug fit(keeping in mind even pressure as not to taper the tenon top to bottom or left to right).
Then I trim, slowly, the shoulders and the hardest part is being aware of exactly how much pressure to apply to keep the shoulder square to the adjacent side.

My conclusion :
I realize that my skills and awareness isn’t as keen as I would like them to be to not have post this, so I am ready for the appropriate response that it could be the learning curve of using the plane.
With that said I also know the plane needs to be sized properly to the plane sole to limit the amount of adjustment needed to reduce the amount of movement in the blade.
After that my only other thought is that because the plane side is riding on this small amount of tenon and trimming this short little shoulder that the tippyness( i know, i know, it’s not a word : p ) is messing me up.
My solution to that is to make a shooting board jig to use to reference off of.

So any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, witty zingers and the like will be immensely appreciated and welcomed.
Thanks for reading

7 replies so far

View JAAune's profile (online now)


1799 posts in 2315 days

#1 posted 01-30-2012 02:43 AM

I’m no expert on shoulder planes so I’ll leave that for others to discuss.

What caught my attention is the reference to a not-so-accurate tablesaw. What exactly makes it not accurate? The only issue I can think of offhand that would render a tablesaw useless for fine work would be excessive arbor runout. Bad blades, alignment, fence and miter slot issues are more easily addressed.

While I employ the use of handtools often, I still prefer to get as much accuracy out of the machines as I can to minimize the cleanup work that needs to happen later.

-- See my work at and

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2950 days

#2 posted 01-30-2012 02:55 AM

Garett, the rabbett block plane’s blade is supposed to be just a little proud of the sides of the body. That allows the blade to get snug into the corners of the work. A shoulder plane blade is exactly the same.

The big thing you are looking for here is that the shoulders and the tenon cheeks are at 90 degrees to each other. If they are not, and the error in the angle is more than 90 degrees to the outside of the shoulders, they will not fit tightly.

Personally, I do not use a shoulder plane or rabbet block plane on the shoulders of my work. I use a sharp marking knife to define the shoulder’s edge, then use hand saws to cut them. the last step I do on the shoulders is where I make the money: I use a chisel and pare each shoulder into the tenon to make the shoulders thin at the perimeter. This way, they have to rest tightly up against the other side and close up nicely. Give it a try, it works very well.

-- Mike

View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 2686 days

#3 posted 01-30-2012 03:29 AM

@ Jaaune : The inaccuracy lies manly in the casting. I have a 35” snapon straightedge that’s advertised accurate to .0002” for every foot, so it’s about .0006” accurate over it’s length…supposedly.
So with I tested the top and you can plainly see a VERY big gap toward the two sides…frankly I don’t think you’d even need the straightedge to judge the inaccuracy.
Aside from that you’re very right, it’s just all the tuning I haven’t yet done.
The miter track is off. The fence isn’t bad but it’s probably 3 or 4 thousandths off, the 90 stop is off…and it seems that every time I raise and lower the blade it goes out of 90.

@ paratrooper34 : you’re spot on…if the angles are off than the gaps will appear….this was what I was alluding to when mentioning the learning curve of the use of the plane. Though the learning curve can be augmented should the tuning and/or other adjustments be off. As for the protrusion of the blades from the side, the blade if proud .004 of an inch on either side should be acceptable, but mine was a whooping 1/64”!!
Now this is only double the average but it still was more than I wanted and is very hard to correct freehand.

View Viking's profile


880 posts in 3194 days

#4 posted 01-30-2012 03:49 AM


Cut tenons totally on table saw with no problems. Think JAAune might have a solution.

Good luck.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View JAAune's profile (online now)


1799 posts in 2315 days

#5 posted 01-30-2012 03:57 AM

Unfortunately I have no suggestions on how to deal with a saw top that isn’t flat.

-- See my work at and

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2888 days

#6 posted 01-30-2012 06:28 AM

Sharp paring chisel is a hand tool method. Router table is a machine method.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View gljacobs's profile


76 posts in 2686 days

#7 posted 02-01-2012 04:21 AM

I went back and roughed out the tenon with the table saw and mark out the shoulder with a square and knife and pared back with a chisel and viola! a perfect tenon and a superb fit!! only thing is it takes a bit of time.
KsSlim you are correct sir…my buddy at work had suggested the same thing and you guys are spot on.

My only continued gripe is with the shoulder plane
...isn’t it supposed to be a precision tool
....isn’t it for $175 supposed to slice end grain perfectly and efficiently(when sharpened correctly).
.....isn’t it suppose to gleam in the sunlight and make all my worries go away to a far off place.
To these question I know the answer…except for maybe the last one.

...and that answer is, I think,...drum roll please…Practice.
I suck and I know it.
I was too stubborn to admit it and now my knee hurts and a piece of cherry isn’t broken over it(thankfully…I think)
Now all I have to do is kill about three hundo board feet of poplar perfecting my stroke and ice my knee.
Thanks everyone for their help and insight I sincerely appreciate it.

Yours truly in maple, walnut, and cherry.

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