Anyone use 1/4" wide (instead of 3/8" ) plane groove for pannel an stub tennon?

Welcome! Forums Project Series Wallclock Anyone use 1/4" wide (instead of 3/8" ) plane groove for pannel an stub tennon?

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    I am just starting to make the wall clock and have cut the pine down to near dimensions.

    I’m rewatching the videos carefully.

    Paul used a 3/8″ groove wide plough plane to house the front and stub tennons. I’ve only got a 1/4″ wide blade for my plough plane. I am tempted to do make a 1/4″ wide groove rather than buy a 3/8″ blade. Has anyone else done this? Would there be any unanticipated downside?

    Many thanks for the input.


    Dan Roper

    Hi Joe,
    In a short answer, yes. I built a vanity for our new bathroom several years ago and when I built the doors, I did the quarter inch tenons and panels. They get a lot more use than your clock will and they have held up just fine. Absolutely no problem. It has been my understanding that if your material is three quarters think then the mortise and tenon should be one third ie. 1/4.

    Good luck with you build



    I’ve built 3 clocks now and have used the 1/4″ for them all. Just the dimensions of your stub tennons will change as well as the thinness of the sides of your face panel. Like Dan said, the clock will see much less use then a cabinet door and will still remain plenty strong.

    Good luck!



    Thanks for the feedback. I will proceed forward with confidence. I’m really looking forward to this build.


    I have to admit that after practicing with my ebay Record 44c on some test pieces and getting a lot of tearout I cheated and used my power router – I feel somewhat “dirty” now….

    I will try again on a second clock after trying to get a sharper edge on the blade. Paul’s went so smooth through the wood with a nice cutting sound. Mine just kept catching and tearing edges even after sharpening and practicing on scrap.

    Hope the 1/4 works out for you!


    Thanks. The 1/4″ worked just fine. I have now built a total of 4 clocks. I received a 3/8″ blade as a gift so I have now used both sizes and both work fine.

    Paul did a more detailed video on plough planes sometime in 2018 that had additional details that helped. I’ve experimented quite a bit to find a good way to get a clean groove. I added a wooden fence onto my plough plane. That give me more purchase and makes it easier to keep it from wobbling as I cut the groove which helps avoid tearout.

    Shallow cuts seem to help. Where possible (design still looks as good), I try and orient the wood so that I am ploughing with the grain instead of it. Also, I am very careful on the first dozen or so passes. I have often run my knife into the walls to help. Some wood species seem easier to plough than others.

    I have gotten to the point where I can make some decent grooves with little (but not zero) tear out. I am nothing special when it comes to skill. I just think it takes a bit of practice to learn how to use the tool properly.


    I’ve found a slightly higher than average angle helps with preventing tearout, and it has to be extremely sharp. I like the ray isles set, superb replacement blades if you have a record no44, I got them because mine came with no blades, highly recommended.


    Thank you for that fantastic idea. It is certainly easy enough to try this and makes sense.

    Kent Hansen

    I have made a couple of the clocks and used ¼” grooves for both…they worked quite nicely without any difficulties. joeleonette, if you’re having tear out problems, I’d recommend two things: 1) try sharpening to a slightly keener edge and 2) reduce your depth of cut so you’re taking less off with each pass…these two things were what “closed the gap” for me when making grooves. Hope it helps!


    If tearout means not getting crisp edges at the top of the groove, another thing to try is to orient the plane and then somewhat lock your right elbow so that you make the movement with your hips and legs. This can reduce the wobbling that contributes to the tearout. Perhaps it would be better to call this gouging the edge of the groove rather than tearout? On the other hand, if by tearout you mean a rough bottom, then it just doesn’t matter and can be ignored.

    Once you have some depth, you can relax more. I must admit, tearout and damage from wobbles is still something that challenges me. I’ll get going oh so carefully, then speed up once I’m down a bit, and then do a little wobble when my attention wanders and spoil the edge. I want to try relieving the back edge of the plow blade more to see if that helps. If the problem is minor, you can sometimes take a pass with your plane to clean up a bit, i.e., lower the surface. In many cases, you can also add a chamfer along the edges of the groove to remove or reduce the problem. A bullnose is good for this.


    Thanks for all the feedback. Since this post I have gotten better. The culprit was wobble that formed gouging rather than tearout. What I found that really helped me was to add a piece of bigger wood to the side fence. The way I clamp things up at the bench and plough, that larger side fence really helps with the wobble. I still need to be careful but things are much better.

    I suspect, as with all hand tools, I should probably spend some time each weekend focusing on one tool and practicing with it more.

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