Difference between shoulder plane and rabbeting block plane?

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Forum topic by mikecorwin posted 09-21-2012 06:27 PM 1654 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 2549 days

09-21-2012 06:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shoulder plane block plane

What is the difference between a shoulder plane and a rabbeting block plane? Where would you rather use one over the other?

7 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2969 days

#1 posted 09-21-2012 07:37 PM

I have a Stanley SW #92 which is a shoulder plane.
I use it for trimming the shoulders and cheeks of tennons.
I wish I had a rabbiting block for the cheek work because the cutter is wider.

Also, the block looks like a more comfortable plane to hold and work with and it would be useful for more kinds of work.

If I had a rabbiting block, I think the only time I would use the shoulder plane would be where I need the narrow body, like in a dado or something. But, then a router plane would be better for that.

Come to think of it, I don’t know why I bought a shoulder plane other than it was on sale.

Your mileage may vary, but that’s the difference from my point of view.

View Loren's profile


10390 posts in 3646 days

#2 posted 09-21-2012 07:42 PM

Mass. Fine shoulder planes have concentrated mass which helps them
make demanding paring cuts on end grain. You can also use them
on their sides referencing off a tenon cheek to cut the shoulder
perfectly square. You can push the plane or flip it over and pull
in towards you, which is not as friendly a method with a skew-blade
plane, assuming you have access on both sides, the acute and
obtuse corners of the iron cut differently in terms of feel and

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2349 days

#3 posted 09-21-2012 07:52 PM

Shoulder planes can clean up dados.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Don W's profile

Don W

18715 posts in 2565 days

#4 posted 09-21-2012 07:54 PM

Sounds like its been said , but I’ll reiterate. Shoulder plane for shoulders, block for cheeks. Wider blade for wider cut like on the check and lots of side reference and weight for the shoulders

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3156 days

#5 posted 09-21-2012 08:01 PM

I use my LN rabbet-block most of the time. But sometimes, a part maybe small enough where I can’t clamp it down (I don’t have a nice workbench for that). Then, I might use the shoulder plane (new Sweetheart #92) because I can do it in my hands (holding it down only with my left hand and trimming with my right). As Loren says, the mass makes a difference.

Don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s kinda a “feel” thing. If I can’t do it with the LN, then I resort to the SW.

-- jay,

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3156 days

#6 posted 09-21-2012 08:10 PM

Oh, and I like what Loren said about using the shoulder plane by pulling it towards you…I did that on a box top I made the other day.

And while I’m thinking of it, sometimes the width of the work is too narrow to keep the rabbet-block plane reliably square. That’s a prime job for the 92.

-- jay,

View mikecorwin's profile


15 posts in 2549 days

#7 posted 09-22-2012 03:10 AM

Thanks everyone! Good advice, never really thought about how it might be hard to balance the rabbeting block plane on a tenon shoulder. Gonna check out both at the Lie Nielsen tool event in my town next week!

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