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  • Q: What's the difference between a shoulder plane and a rabbet plane?

    I recently purchased a Stanley #90 rabbet plane. After not getting good results trimming a tenon, I read more online and discovered one (I'm sure there's more) difference between a rabbet plane and a shoulder plane - the fact that the blade is near the front of the rabbet plane and just forward of center in the shoulder plane.

    Am I using the rabbet plane wrong or did I just buy the wrong tool for tenon shoulders?

    Also, any recommendations for a good, reasonably priced, shoulder plane? An article I recently read recommended the new Veritas model, ranking them both best overall and best value, but I would like to spend less than the $180 plus shipping that Lee Valley sells their medium sized model for.



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    Best Answer

    Anatole writes:

    What you need depends upon what you're trimming. For trimming the "cheeks" of a tenon, you would traditionally use a block rabbet plane, which has a blade that stretches from one side of the tool, clear to the other - meaning you're able to trim all the way into a corner. For trimming the shoulders of a tenon (the parts that butt up against the mating piece of wood), use a shoulder plane which is similar to the rabbet block plane except for the fact that it's a whole lot skinier and thus better for skinny shoulders. If your rabbet plane wasn't doing the job correctly, I would imagine it means perhaps your plane iron wasn't sharpened correctly.

    3:13 pm November 4, 2010

    All Answers

    Anatole
    Anatole Burkin writes:

    What you need depends upon what you're trimming. For trimming the "cheeks" of a tenon, you would traditionally use a block rabbet plane, which has a blade that stretches from one side of the tool, clear to the other - meaning you're able to trim all the way into a corner. For trimming the shoulders of a tenon (the parts that butt up against the mating piece of wood), use a shoulder plane which is similar to the rabbet block plane except for the fact that it's a whole lot skinier and thus better for skinny shoulders. If your rabbet plane wasn't doing the job correctly, I would imagine it means perhaps your plane iron wasn't sharpened correctly.

    DonStephan
    Don Stephan writes:

    For some time, I didn't know there was a difference, and I struggled with limited success to dress tenons with a shoulder plane, especially tenons wider than the width of a shoulder plane. When I purchased a Lie-Nielsen block rabbet plane, tenons became much easier to trim quickly and accurately. I haven't tried to trim the shoulder of tenons, but if it were necessary, I would first try the shoulder plane. With a backer block of some sort to limit blow-out.