Plow Plane or Stanley No 48?

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Forum topic by Waldog posted 02-09-2015 04:27 PM 1528 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1746 days

02-09-2015 04:27 PM

In reading Chris Schwarz’s “Anarchist Tool Chest” he states that one of the essential hand planes is a Plow Plane. I recently discovered the Stanley No. 48 and 49 tongue and groove plane. It cuts both with a 180 degree flip of a fence. It would seem that this would be a better option than Schwarz’s choice of a plow plane. Of course, I’m just a hobby woodworker and Chris is the pro. I really like using my 48. Lie-Neilsen makes an almost identical T&G plane, much nicer than the Stanley. What do you guys think? Am I off course?

4 replies so far

View JayT's profile


5674 posts in 2235 days

#1 posted 02-09-2015 04:34 PM

#48 vs plow plane is a uni-tasker vs a multi-tasker.

A plow plane has much more flexibility than a #48. A plow plane is able to use a variety of cutters that allow you to do different widths of grooves, dadoes and rabbets at various distances from the edge of a board, due to the movable fence. It can also be set up to do T&G with the proper cutters.

If you are doing a lot of T&G, then a 48 is quick and handy, but it’s pretty much limited to that one task on a specific thickness of lumber.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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Richard H

489 posts in 1705 days

#2 posted 02-09-2015 04:40 PM

The 48 and 49 are specialty planes designed to cut a specific tongue and groove joint in specific thickness lumber. They can work slightly outside their designed thickness a bit but are still very specialized tools. I have used them before but don’t own either as they are a little specialized for my tastes and how little room I have.

Wooden Plow planes can cut dadoes and rabbets as well and the metal ones can swap out the irons for different widths. I have the Veritas plow plane which I like for it’s size and left handed option but there are a lot of good antique options to both in metal and wood.

In short a plow plane can do everything a 48 and 49 can do with some additional time and adjustment but a 48 and 49 can’t do everything a plow plane can do. In a perfect world I would have both because tongue and groove joints are pretty common in traditional hand tool joinery but the setup time isn’t so large that I find myself missing not having one at least right now.

View Waldog's profile


4 posts in 1746 days

#3 posted 02-10-2015 02:44 AM

OK guys, thanks for setting me straight. I still love my 48 and 49 planes. I use mine mostly for cabinet back panels and the are a dream to use for their intended purpose. I agree with Mr Hillius, I need both.

The good news is that now I have an excuse to buy a nice plow plane. Thanks for the info.

View Zach Dillinger's profile

Zach Dillinger

26 posts in 3183 days

#4 posted 02-11-2015 01:58 PM

The plow plane is essential to hand work unless you are very skilled with a chisel.

-- Author of "With Saw, Plane and Chisel" and "On Woodworking"

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