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Thread: On router planes...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
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    Big Bend/Panhandle, FL
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    On router planes...

    Hi all,

    I am very much a hobbyist and only in the last year or so did I take the plunge into the hand tool world. I recently completed a large built-in book case project using a mix of powered and hand tools. The bookcase housing features thru dadoes for the shelving that I cut using a back saw and removed the waste with a chisel. They are not museum quality, but they look okay. The doors are fairly straight forward poplar frame and plywood panels. (Don't judge me too harshly over the choice of plywood, I had to finish the project because we thought we had guests staying with us and my wife wanted the project completed and room put back together.) My M&T joinery still needs work and it took a good deal of trimming, but they eventually came together and passed my bar for acceptable. In addition to the 24 dadoes and 16 tenons for doors, I also opted for stopped grooves for the panels. While trimming the tenons to fit, laboriously cutting the 8 stopped grooves (I used a plow plane to hog out most of the waste), and never being thrilled about the thru dadoes, it occurred to me that a router plane would probably make the work easier and maybe even more enjoyable. My question to myself and now to anyone is: For those that have and use a router plane, how often do you reach for it? I know a lot has been said on this forum about the venerable router plane, but is it a go to tool you? I know only I can decide for myself if the tool is worth the expense and time learning to use it properly, but I would like your input.

    If I decide to buy a router plane, based on hundreds of posts here, I think the Veritas plane is the probably the best option. I enjoy working with vintage tools (the historian in me takes great pleasure is using a tool that is 100+ years old), but the given the current price of Stanley 71's and 71 1/2's or Record 071's, the Veritas large router plane makes sense to me. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
    Last edited by Tim Best; 06-03-2020 at 10:15 PM. Reason: Edited to include plow plane use

  2. #2
    I bought a Stanley 71 plane in 1997 for some carving work, and I won a Veritas router in a contest in 2006. I don't think I have ever used a router plane in the situations you are envisioning.

    A plow, a moving fillister (fenced rabbet). a rabbet plane, and a dado plane would be more valuable for cabinetmaking.

    I don't think I have ever used stopped grooves in a frame and panel door; there are better alternatives. I have never used a router to trim tenons. I avoid stopped dadoes, but if you do choose to make them, cleaning up the bottom is not the time consuming part.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Odessa, Tx
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    117
    I love my 71 1/2 stanley. It might not be a must have tool but I enjoy using it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    New England
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    1,783
    I have a Veritas router plane, I love it, I will never part with it, but I would not ever call it a 'go to' tool. It is a specialty tool. Warren nailed it in his comments. Other (Veritas ;-) ) tools are likely to be more useful towards what you are doing. On a stopped dado, just use a chisel and learn how to rock the bevel down to control the cut.
    But for hinge mortises especially, a router plane is perfect. Even there, if you're good with a chisel, you are all set. I also have the mini router plane and while the entire mini line is made as a bit of a lark, they are also all perfectly functional. I used it to make a rather delicate repair to a nice project and after taking great pains to match the grain, 99.9% of viewers will never notice it.
    So I would not call it a go-to tool but I would call it a really nice tool to have if you can afford it.

    It's kind of funny when you think about. When you're young and too poor to afford these fancy specialty tools, you are forced to develop mastery over the chisel and plane. Then later, when you can afford them, you don't really need them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
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    When I had no idea what it was, my brother-on-law gave me his Type 4 Stanley No. 71 from 1892 – 1895 in pristine condition. I have since acquired six irons for it (still don't have the spear point 1/2 or the 3/4). I was delighted with its usefulness with finishing off tenons that were otherwise not necessarily parallel to the side of the rails, so now they fit perfectly. I plan to use the narrow blades soon to make some stop grooves in dovetailed box sides, and to shine up the mortises for some Brusso knife hinges.

    Is it a go-to tool? Once in a while, and when that time rolls around it's a gem.

  6. #6
    I normally use my router plane to clean up or maybe deepen dados and grooves that I have done on the table saw if I don't want to set up the saw again. I'm not a hand tool purist (or power tool purist for that matter), and I don't see the need to make dados by hand. It's a handy tool to have, but I could live without it if I had to. I like old tools, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a LN or LV equivalent if it was cheaper. I'd like to get a 271 some day, but the prices on those are sometimes more than the LN/LV ones, so I will likely get one of those instead.

    At the risk of agreeing with Warren again I would also say a Stanley #78 (the moving filister plane) is more useful than a router plane. I probably use that most of all my non-bench/block planes. It works good for cleaning up and/or enlarging rabbets, and works as a shoulder plane and a bullnose plane in a pinch. Looks like LN/LV doesn't make an equivalent, so you might need to go vintage on one of those. Fortunately Stanley made tons of them and they are readily available on the auction site. You do need to make sure all the parts are there, as they are notorious for missing bits. They are still made today, but I don't know what the quality is.

  7. #7
    I've been using a router plane primarily to trim tenons. It makes fitting tenons easy and fast -- without it, fitting tenons would take me much longer. I'm sure there are members here who are much more skilled at making tenons with a saw and chisel, but this is what works for me.

    I don't have a shoulder plane or rabbet block plane or any other plane that would work for tenons. With the router plane, it's easy to ensure that the tenon is centered, and parallel to the faces -- things that are not guaranteed if you use a shoulder plane or rabbet plane. Keep in mind, though, that if your tenon is angled, the router plane will be useless on the angled sides.

    Using a router plane to trim a tenon really doesn't require much skill, and that's fine with me, given the time I have available for woodworking.

    I debated for a long while whether a large router plane was worth it, but then I decided to just make one. Derek Cohen has a great article about making one here: https://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMa...uterPlane.html

    His is very nice, but you can go much simpler, and make one in a couple of hours.

    Hardware needed: an eye bolt, washer, wing nut, and a Veritas 1/2" router plane blade. Total cost: about $20. I used a piece of scrap walnut for the body, cut off a strip and put it on top rear.

    IMG_8789.jpg

    IMG_9308.jpg


    Dimensions are about 8x3.5 inches, and the strip on top is about 1 inch wide. The hole is 1.5 inches in diameter. As router planes go, it is very wide, so that I never have to worry about it hanging out too far off the edge of a workpiece and losing parallel.

    This is a closer look at the parts cut out for the blade and eye bolt. I cut out the mortise for the eye bolt with a narrow chisel.
    IMG_6829.jpg


    Fine adjustment can be done this way: loosen the nut, then move the router so the edge of the blade is slightly beyond the edge of the workpiece, then tighten the nut. The bottom of the blade is angled, so the farther you move the blade past the edge of the tenon, the lower the blade will go. Here it is with the blade resting slightly past the edge of a tenon.
    IMG_2021.jpg

    Another way to do fine adjustment is to rest the blade on the tenon, loosen the nut, push down on the blade a bit, then tighten the nut. This may not make much sense until you've actually done it, this will move the blade down ever so slightly, due to play in the parts and compression in the wood workpiece.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Texas Hill Country
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    599
    Winston, That's excellent. Very nice router plane you've made there! I am going to tuck that idea away. Thanks for sharing.

  9. #9
    Winston, your plane looks like it would be better at cleaning up tenons than a standard Stanley #71 or similar plane I was having trouble picturing how you would do that with a router plane, but your version looks like it would be more stable on the end of a board than the #71.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Here is an old thread on a shop made tenon router > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?36807 <

    The images are hosted on photobucket so they might be difficult to see the images but you can get the idea.

    If made well, it will likely do tenon work better than a store bought router.

    Stopped dados for shelves are nice and can look a lot better than through dados:

    Dado - Stopped vs Through Shelves.jpg

    Making a stopped dado with a plane or a saw & chisel isn't terribly hard. Either way it helps to chop out the end for the saw dust or the nose of the dado plane.

    Here is the saw & chisel method > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?208154

    Here is with a dado plane > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?278928

    Once the sidewalls are chopped out a long chisel or a cranked neck chisel makes quick work of it. It helps to avoid chip out by using a chisel smaller than the dado.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
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    361
    Quote Originally Posted by Winston Chang View Post
    I've been using a router plane primarily to trim tenons. It makes fitting tenons easy and fast -- without it, fitting tenons would take me much longer. I'm sure there are members here who are much more skilled at making tenons with a saw and chisel, but this is what works for me.

    I don't have a shoulder plane or rabbet block plane or any other plane that would work for tenons. With the router plane, it's easy to ensure that the tenon is centered, and parallel to the faces -- things that are not guaranteed if you use a shoulder plane or rabbet plane. Keep in mind, though, that if your tenon is angled, the router plane will be useless on the angled sides.

    Using a router plane to trim a tenon really doesn't require much skill, and that's fine with me, given the time I have available for woodworking.

    I debated for a long while whether a large router plane was worth it, but then I decided to just make one. Derek Cohen has a great article about making one here: https://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMa...uterPlane.html

    His is very nice, but you can go much simpler, and make one in a couple of hours.

    Hardware needed: an eye bolt, washer, wing nut, and a Veritas 1/2" router plane blade. Total cost: about $20. I used a piece of scrap walnut for the body, cut off a strip and put it on top rear.

    IMG_8789.jpg

    IMG_9308.jpg


    Dimensions are about 8x3.5 inches, and the strip on top is about 1 inch wide. The hole is 1.5 inches in diameter. As router planes go, it is very wide, so that I never have to worry about it hanging out too far off the edge of a workpiece and losing parallel.

    This is a closer look at the parts cut out for the blade and eye bolt. I cut out the mortise for the eye bolt with a narrow chisel.
    IMG_6829.jpg


    Fine adjustment can be done this way: loosen the nut, then move the router so the edge of the blade is slightly beyond the edge of the workpiece, then tighten the nut. The bottom of the blade is angled, so the farther you move the blade past the edge of the tenon, the lower the blade will go. Here it is with the blade resting slightly past the edge of a tenon.
    IMG_2021.jpg

    Another way to do fine adjustment is to rest the blade on the tenon, loosen the nut, push down on the blade a bit, then tighten the nut. This may not make much sense until you've actually done it, this will move the blade down ever so slightly, due to play in the parts and compression in the wood workpiece.
    Winston, this design would lend itself well to adding a fence on the bottom to help with grooves parallel to the edge of a drawer side, for example. Nice work!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    7,331
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Best View Post
    Hi all,

    I am very much a hobbyist and only in the last year or so did I take the plunge into the hand tool world. I recently completed a large built-in book case project using a mix of powered and hand tools. The bookcase housing features thru dadoes for the shelving that I cut using a back saw and removed the waste with a chisel. They are not museum quality, but they look okay. The doors are fairly straight forward poplar frame and plywood panels. (Don't judge me too harshly over the choice of plywood, I had to finish the project because we thought we had guests staying with us and my wife wanted the project completed and room put back together.) My M&T joinery still needs work and it took a good deal of trimming, but they eventually came together and passed my bar for acceptable. In addition to the 24 dadoes and 16 tenons for doors, I also opted for stopped grooves for the panels. While trimming the tenons to fit, laboriously cutting the 8 stopped grooves (I used a plow plane to hog out most of the waste), and never being thrilled about the thru dadoes, it occurred to me that a router plane would probably make the work easier and maybe even more enjoyable. My question to myself and now to anyone is: For those that have and use a router plane, how often do you reach for it? I know a lot has been said on this forum about the venerable router plane, but is it a go to tool you? I know only I can decide for myself if the tool is worth the expense and time learning to use it properly, but I would like your input.

    If I decide to buy a router plane, based on hundreds of posts here, I think the Veritas plane is the probably the best option. I enjoy working with vintage tools (the historian in me takes great pleasure is using a tool that is 100+ years old), but the given the current price of Stanley 71's and 71 1/2's or Record 071's, the Veritas large router plane makes sense to me. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
    Hi Tim

    The router plane is a very useful and much used tool in my workshop. It gets used for tuning/sizing tenon cheeks, hinge mortices, through and stopped dados, and through and stopped sliding dovetails. It may also be used with stopped rebates.

    Now some of these joints are not "traditional". I can understand someone preferring not to make a stopped anything - planing through to the other side is more efficient of time. Just add on a bead or a frame at the other side. However, there are times when a stopped dado or stopped sliding dovetail are necessary, and in some furniture designs, these become quite common.

    For example ...

    It requires a set of stopped dados ...





    ... to get to this ...



    ... or this ...



    ... or this ...



    I could keep on going. None of these designs lend themselves to face frames or visible joins.

    The Veritas Large router plane is my first pick for purchase. If you wish to make your own, this is the design I came up with some years back ..



    Article and build notes here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMad...uterPlane.html


    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 06-04-2020 at 2:07 AM.

  13. #13
    A router plane was one of my earlier joinery planes. I think an unfenced wooden rabbet plane was my first, followed by the router plane, which is the Veritas one. And I would also say that the router is the second most used joinery plane after the rabbet plane. I use it mostly for tenons. You can do tenons with other tools, but a router plane makes it easy and absolutely bullet-proof without requiring the kind of experience using only a chisel or even a shoulder plane requires. They are also useful for other odd jobs that come up from time to time, such as the previously discussed (and very rare for me) stopped groove or stopped dado.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Big Bend/Panhandle, FL
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    24
    Thanks all for the input and thoughts. It is always refreshing to read a diverse set of responses. The shop made router plane with a couple of Veritas cutters is probably the way I will go for now. If for no no other reason, just to see how often I reach for it in the next few months.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Best View Post
    Thanks all for the input and thoughts. It is always refreshing to read a diverse set of responses. The shop made router plane with a couple of Veritas cutters is probably the way I will go for now. If for no no other reason, just to see how often I reach for it in the next few months.
    Going the shop made route will allow you to make a few variations for different jobs.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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