Plough Plane Binding/Pinching in Cut

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    I have a Record 044 plough plane which I purchased off of Ebay a few years ago. I generally have had good success using it to make grooves up until my current project. My current project calls for 3/8″ wide by 3/8″ deep grooves whereas my past projects have all used narrower grooves. After flattening the back of the 3/8″ cutter and sharpening it, I have noticed that the plane is “getting stuck” as soon as I get more than a few strokes deep into the groove. I can push the plane through the cut, and it cuts wood cleanly, but there is a lot of friction on the cutter both when I take a stroke and when I place the plane onto the work so that the cutter contacts the bottom of the groove.

    I have checked and confirmed that the cross-section of the cutter is trapezoidal, and re-sharpened the iron a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t made an error in my sharpening. This problem occurs whether I take a light shaving or a heavy one, so I don’t think that the depth of cut is the issue here.

    This problem has not occurred using the narrower cutters with the plane in the past, so I suspect something is off with this particular cutter rather than the rest of the plane. I have also confirmed that the plane’s fence is parallel to the body and that the depth stop is correctly set.

    Any advice on troubleshooting this issue would be greatly appreciated!

    Mike Conner

    I also have an 044 and have sometimes found using a cutting gauge or knife to pre-score the groove to be very helpful when running the larger channels. Assuming everything else is set correctly, and your iron isn’t slightly bowed, that usually does the trick for me.

    On occasion I’ve also gone back to a honing guide just to make sure the angle is absolutely dead to rights if I’m having trouble.

    I hope this might be helpful, but it seems you’ve done most everything I try first.


    Colin Scowen

    My plough plane, a 13-050 has a little screw that is used to adjust the toe in on the two sides that hold the cutter. I sometimes need to adjust that to get a better passage of the plane as I go deeper. It’s not on all the types, and I don’t know if it is on a 44, but it has helped me in the past.

    Colin, Czech Rep.


    Short of having the plane available to see, it’s difficult to say.
    We should assume that the skates are both flat, aligned and geometrically aligned.
    If it is stopping short in the groove after a couple of strokes I would initially look again at the blade. I think that it is not correctly aligned below the skates and that the corners may be slightly rounded over…… this will stop an otherwise sharp blade in its tracks.

    You’re right that it should be trapezoidal in section – all the older blades were (not so with modern copies which tend to be rectangular).
    So, as well as flatting the back and sharpening the front of the bevel It is essential that the lower half inch of each side is cleaned on a stone so that the edge (or the aris) at the blade’s back is straight and keen. This is for two reasons: first, this ensures a good contact on the groove walls as it descends, secondly it provides a keen corner at each side of the blade’s edge.
    When this is done and you re-mount the blade, advance it and sight along the two skates, there should be an equal amount protruding below each skate and a very small amount protruding each side. Pin-sharp corners are essential.
    Try that and see if it works……
    Good luck

    Harvey Kimsey

    I’ve had exactly this issue with my Veritas plow plane. I believe it’s due to the sides of the cutter, which are square to the face of the cutter, binding in the groove. I have since ground a slight bevel on the sides of the cutter, being careful however not to change the dimensions of the cutter. I’m not concerned with getting the sides sharp, just beveled enough to provide some relief in the cut. In tough or uncooperating wood, the other thing that helps is Paul’s method of using a marking knife to score the sides before plowing further. This works amazingly well if there’s a knot in your path.

    Larry Geib

    The folks above are right. Without seeing the plane or at least some pictures of what is going on it’s tough to give advice.

    Start here:
    Paul also has video, but we are only allowed one link

    If you still have problems , the most likely issues are that the iron isn’t sticking out the right side of the shoe, assuming you know how to sharpen with a clearance angle. And start at the end of the grove and work back. Trying to take full length shavings is counterproductive. Wait until you are experienced to try that.

    The overriding principle is that it is the FENCE , not the shoe that registers the cut. You can plane without the shoe touching the sides at all. You won’t have success if the side of the shoe binds. Sometimes a tapered wooden fence guide can be used to align the fence and shoe.

    And as the irons get wider, you need to pay more attention to holding the plane vertically.


    Thanks for all the responses!

    The grain of the wood I was working with was not the problem — it is American cherry, with nice straight grain.

    It turned out that while the sides of the cutter were slightly relieved to give a trapezoidal cross-section, one of the sides of the cutter was slightly bellied, which meant that when I tightened the plane’s set screw to hold it in place, the cutter shifted and ended up presenting one corner of the edge deeper than the other, which was pulling the plane out of vertical as I took my shavings. One fix which helped significantly was to tighten the set screw just enough to hold the cutter, but not cranking it all the way down — this let me make sure the cutter was not skewed with one corner deeper than the other. Now that I know what I’m up against, I expect that if I take some more time to fettle with the cutter to remove that belly and to make sure the edges are meeting the back of the cutter with a clean edge it will fix it even further — I just didn’t have time last night to do that fettling.

    Thanks again for the advice, without it I don’t think I would have successfully troubleshooted this!



    That’s good. The fact that you’ve discovered the problem.

    Presumably you may be able to correct the shape if the misalignment is not too severe – failing that replacements are readily available.

    If I recall, the steel on the majority of plough plane blades is not too hard that it cannot be ground on a coarse plate or even with a good single cut file, nowhere as near hard as , say a decent chisel……. be sure to preserve the very slight slope if it’s on the side-edge!
    Good luck

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