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Shoulder Planes

February 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 227

Most shoulder planes are all-metal to help create a heavy, dense tool that can effectively pre vent or dampen blade chatter. The blade on a plane runs the full width of the body, and the sides and sole of the plane are ground at perfect right angles to each other.

Planes come in widths ranging from 1/2" to slightly over an inch. As on a block plane, the blade is mounted bevel-up and generally has an effective cutting angle of around 37 degrees. This makes it quite good at trimming end grain. Another thing that helps with trimming end grain and making fine cuts in general is an adjustable throat.

On some planes this is adjustable by way of a screw; other planes require that you add or remove shims between the two halves of the body to vary the opening. The blade can be held in place a number of ways. On some larger planes, the blade is often held fast by a lever cap and a locking screw while others use a more traditional lever cap screw that requires a screwdriver. Smaller planes generally use a wedge and are adjusted like any wood-bodied plane: You tap on the front or rear of the body to lower or raise the blade.

Trimming tenons My general rule of thumb for cutting mortise-and-tenon joints is to cut the mortise first and then cut the tenons to fit. If you're chopping the mortises by hand, you'll likely find some variations from mortise to mortise. This means you'll have to trim or fine-tune each tenon to fit: a perfect job for the shoulder plane. Whenever possible, select a plane that's slightly wider than the area you're intending to trim. Make sure to set the plane for a very fine cut and use a razor-sharp blade. As always, take light cuts and make sure to back up the shoulder with a scrap to prevent tear-out.

Smoothing rabbets Smoothing rabbets is another easy task for a shoulder plane. Position the plane so the side of it butts firmly against the shoulder of the rabbet. Use as long a shoulder plane as possible, as this helps flatten out any high spots that a shorter-bodied plane might ride up and over. Just as with a tenon, it's important to back up the trailing edge of the rabbet with a scrap to prevent tear-out.

Cutting a rabbet You'll occasionally hear a plane referred to as a rabbet plane. That's because it can be used very effectively for this task. The disadvantage to using a shoulder plane versus a rabbet plane is that the shoulder plane doesn't have a built-in guide fence or depth gauge. But one will work in a pinch as long as you clamp a scrap block to the work-piece to guide the cut, and check the depth often with a rule. Also, since a shoulder plane doesn't have cutting spurs, it's a good idea to scribe a starting line when planing cross grain.

Cleaning out a dado Another job I often assign to a plane is cleaning out grooves or dadoes. Naturally it's best to use a shoulder plane that matches the width of the groove or dado but you can usually get along just fine with a narrower one as long as you check the bottom for flatness often. Keep the side of the plane pressed firmly against the shoulders of the groove or dado as you plane.

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Source: EzineArticles
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