How to Use a Plow Plane: A Plow Plane is a type of plane that is used for creating grooves and dadoes in wood. It can be a great addition to any woodworker’s tool collection, and is a tool that every woodworker should know how to use. In this article, we will discuss the basics of using a Plow Plane, including how to set it up and how to use it.
If you are new to woodworking, or if you are simply looking for a refresher on the basics of using a Plow Plane, then this article is for you. We will discuss everything you need to know in order to get started with using this handy tool. Let’s get started!
How to set up a Plow Plane
The first thing you need to do when setting up your Plow Plane is to adjust the blade to the desired width. To do this, simply loosen the adjustment knob and move the blade until it is set at the width you want. Once the blade is adjusted, tighten the knob so that the blade will stay in place.
How to use a Plow Plane
Next, you need to set the Plow Plane’s fence to the desired position. The fence is a piece of metal that extends from the Plow Plane and can be adjusted so that you can easily create grooves or dadoes of any width. Typically, you will want to set your Plow Plane’s fence to match the width of your Plow Plane blade.
Tips for using a Plow Plane
Once your Plow Plane is set up, it’s time to start using it! To do this, simply run the Plow Plane along the surface of the wood in order to cut a groove or dado into it. Be sure to keep firm pressure on the Plow Plane as you use it, and take care not to move your hands or arm while you are working with it – this can result in injury.
Things to keep in mind when using a Plow Plane
Overall, using a Plow Plane is a great way to create grooves and dadoes in your wood projects. By following these simple steps, you can get started with this useful tool and begin creating beautiful pieces of woodwork that will impress all of your friends and family!
How to Use a Plow Plane
Plow planes are some of the easiest joinery planes to use , once you know a few tricks to getting good results. I struggled with the tools until Don McConnell (now a planemaker at Clark & Williams) set me straight years ago with one simple piece of advice:
“Each hand should have a separate job,” he said. “One hand holds the fence. The other pushes the tool forward.”
Before that point, both of my hands were engaged in job sharing. My hand on the fence was also pushing forward. My hand on the tote was twisting the tool to keep the fence tight on the work.
Editor’s note: This article was first published on our site in 2009. The original photos were lost in the digital void, so we re-shot them featuring Logan Wittmer as the hand model.
Here are the other things I’ve learned about gripping a plow plane over the years:
1. It’s a bit like sawing.
The hand that holds the tote (or the stock) should be directly lined up with the cut and should swing free. Sometimes this means getting your body over the work (a low bench is helpful here). If your forearm is not in line with the skate of the tool, it’s gonna be a roughie.
2. It’s a bit like jointing an edge.
For my fence hand, I wrap the web between my thumb and index finger around the stems (sometimes called posts) of the tool. I reach my fingers around the fence and touch the work and the front edge of the bench if possible. My thumb is pressing down. If you joint edges of boards by hand, you’ll recognize this hand position immediately.
3. Workholding: Keep it Simple
There are lots of ways to hold your work for plowing. If your end vise and dogs are positioned near the front edge of the bench, you can usually pinch things directly between dogs. You also can use a sticking board, which is a little shelf that holds your work.
Or you can do what I do: Clamp a batten to the benchtop to brace the edge of your workpiece. And plow into the tip of a holdfast. This is very quick for plowing drawer parts , there’s no clamping and unclamping and you can work with a bunch of different lengths easily.
4. Set the Fence
Set your plow’s fence so it is parallel to the skate and the desired distance from your cutter. The most common cut I make is a 1/4″-wide groove that’s 1/4″ from the fence. Conveniently, the brass section on my folding rule is exactly 1/4″ long, so it’s easy to set things at a glance.
5. Begin at the End
You can use a plow plane like a bench plane and make full strokes that run from the near end to the far end. But I have found this to be sometimes troublesome. Sometimes the cutter will follow the grain in the board and the tool’s fence will drift away from the work. The results are ugly.
Instead, I start at the far end of the board and make short cuts. Each succeeding cut gets a little longer until I am making full-length cuts. The advantage to this is that if your plane wanders, it will only be for a short distance and the next cut will correct the error.
After you are making full-length cuts there’s little danger of the tool wandering.
The shavings should be fairly thick, you don’t want to do this all day. These shavings are .015″ thick. I could probably go a little thicker in pine.
Results and Then…
When the tool stops cutting, you stop stroking. The edges of the groove might be a little furry , that’s typical even for the best work. That’s why I wait to smooth plane my pieces after I have grooved them. That removes the fur.