Skew rabbet + plow plane or combination plane?

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    Happy new year Paul and everyone!

    I would like to cut rabbets and dados/grooves to make cabinets and drawers. My usual method used to be to use a power router to cut rabbets to join the pieces for the carcase and to make the drawers using simple lock rabbet joints. I no longer want the hassle and health risk of using power routers with the difficult set up, noise and dust. So I’ve been looking at the Veritas skew rabbet plane and the small plow plane as a much more pleasant, and faster, option. Alternatively, I’m also considering getting just the Veritas combination plane that can do all of that, plus make reeds, etc. The rabbet blade for it however is a straight blade and not angled. The combo plane costs only slightly less than the 2 others if I buy the extra 4 blades that come with the plow. What’s my better option? Thanks.

    Greg Nuckols

    I have the Veritas combination plane and find that it works really well; however, it does have some limitations working cross-grain. With the straight blade (not skewed) for rabbeting, the surface on a cross-grain cut can be rough unless I take a really light cut (at least for the final few passes).

    I don’t own a skew rabbet plane, and so I can’t directly compare the two. For me the combination plane is fine, and I don’t expect I will feel the need to obtain a skew rabbet.

    Larry Geib

    I don’t have either Veritas plane, but I do have comparable plough planes and the Stanley #289 the Veritas skew plane is based on. The short answer is you really need both planes. The Veritas small plough or t he combination plane may not do everything on your list well.

    The small plough should be fine for rebates, and simple reeding, fluting and beading. You will have to find cutters, as I believe Veritas still doesn’t have a complete line. Some Stanley cutters will fit. As important I think, is the ability to match plane (T&G) , which the small plane will do, though not with a large tongue. . More complex profiles theoretically possible with a combo plane, but I’d lean towards moulding planes or H&R planes. Even just a few will allow many profiles and do a better job.

    Be aware that the small Veritas plough plane has no knickers, so cutting Dados ( housing grooves) require the extra step of scoring the edges of the dado as you go, which adds considerable time to that task. Older plough planes by record and Stanley ( Record 044, Stanley’s 45 and newer Stanley 50’s ) do have these nickers.
    If you feel you just have to have a new Veritas with nickers, your only choice is their combination plane for $150 more.. it’s also a bulkier plane and cutters will cost you ( stanley 45 irons will fit)
    But if a lot of dados are in your future, I don’t think the small plough is for you.

    I don’t think you should count on the small plough as a general purpose rebate plane. It has no mouth which means rougher cuts in contrary or cross grain, and it you want wider rebates you have to purchase the wide blade attachment .The plough plane comes with cutters to 3/8”. I don’t see the wide cutter widths listed , but they certainly aren’t 1”5/8. It possibly maxes out at around 3/4”. Maybe not that.
    While it will do rebates respectably in well behaved wood, an actual rebate plane with a mouth is a better tool.

    The Skew filletster will not only cut a wider rebate (1” 5/8) with less fuss, but it makes a respectable panel raiser
    Here’s is an article which includes doing that with the Veritas plane :

    Iin addition to the #289 skew rebate plane I own, I have the #78 which is not skewed. In my opinion the skew filletster is the superior tool for any cross grain or contrary grain work. It’s not even close in those situations. The sanding and cleanup you have to do afterwards is much less.. properly set up, it also ejects shavings much more easily, forming a spiral shaving much like a spill plane. The filletster with a straight cutter tends to clog a bit and the plane body breaks the shavings into a mass which often clogs the mouth. This is also so with the plough or combo planes.

    Attached is samples of shavings and rebate. With the 289 skew filletster plane .

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Larry Geib.

    Your location in the world may determine what older tools you may source, but it’s possible to keep basic rebates simple. Older tools are often very serviceable and still much cheaper, in the main, than the modern versions. Rarer old planes are often expensive and scarce because you’re competing with collectors and there are few in the wild any more…….

    The most reached-for-general-purpose plough on my bench is the small Record 043; it originally came with only three narrow blades, but it will work in most woods with wider blades from other ploughs – up to about 5.8 inch wider where it does become a bit laborious. Deeper cuts can be made with bigger ploughs, obviously.

    For this you only need a 1/4 inch wide blade; after marking the top and side edges of the rebates with a knife or cutting gauge, cut the rear wall of the rebate to depth with the plough: the remaining section can then be excavated down to your mark with an ordinary plane, No: 4 or 5, whichever you have. The limit with this method is that the plane will bottom-out when it reaches the base of the plough. You need a plough blade effectively a little wider than the side web of your plane.

    It’s fair to say that the concept of metal skew planes, the Stanley No: 289, No: 46 etc., descended from old-school wooden ‘Badger’ planes, which still crop up from time to time in the UK on the second-hand market.
    In form, a Badger plane resembles an ordinary wooden 15 inch fore-plane, except that the blade is mounted straight across the bed and skewed at about 22 degrees so that the right-hand point aligns at the right-hand edge of the bed – it’ll cut into a vertical rebate wall and continue cutting as the method I outlined above when the base has been reached.

    There are many methods……Good luck

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Hej Nicholas,

    A few thoughts, probably of not that much relevance.

    A potential advantage with the rebate planes might be that they allow for angled fences, which allow some woodworkers (i.e. me) to achieve more consistent results when bevelling panels or edges. Whether this is achievable with the Veritas combination plane, I don’t know.

    Rebate planes are also quite useful for squaring edges. The Veritas jack rebate plane does a very good job as long as the boards aren’t too long. In addition, it can function as a jack, though a second, mildly crowned blade, is required.

    The combination plane and the jack rebate plane can be worked in both directions of a board. The skewed rebate plane and the plough plane are either right or left handed. Sometimes, despite deep notching, unfavourable grain has forced me to pull the right handed plough plane towards med. I’ve been more fortunate when it comes to rebating.

    A different comments exchange made me check the precision of these planes, and with one exception they appear pretty flawless. The accuracy of replacement plough plane blades is, I think, a concern. After having notched for a groove and mortice, using a fixed width 3/8″ double scoring blade, I found that the 3/8″ plough plane blade was clearly wider. The Lie-Nielsen double scoring blade is perfectly congruent to the width of my Lie-Nielsen 3/8″ mortice chisel, and that was very accurate, deviating by ≈0.02 mm. The plough plane blade was off +0.16 mm. That forced me to grind the blade down (positively detest that activity); and to set up a study. I measured the width of all my 26 plough plane blades, taking care to be consistent and with three repetitions. The result was quite interesting, I think. The 1/4″ blades my three plough planes came with were all within <0.05 mm deviation from the nominal; so were also the occasional 8 mm and 10 mm blades. All other blades were off. When comparing all the left handed to the right handed, the left handed ones were statistically significantly more deviating than the right handed (0.114 mm, SE=0.045: p=0.018, 95% CI=0.022 – 0.207). Furthermore, the range of deviation was smaller for the right handed blades, and they were below the nominal widths, which means that they make grooves that can be adjusted, something that does not appear very easy with the too wide grooves by the left handed blades.

    The plough planes are a delight to work with. Both they and the rebate planes could benefit from longer depth stops, and longer and wider fences.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA


    Thank you all for the abundance of amazing information. It has been instrumental in guiding me to my decision. I ended up buying both the Veritas skew rabbet plane and the Veritas small plough plane. I had to take a deep breath before hitting the “pay now” button, but I figured since I will have and use them for the rest of my life, the cost was worth it. Due to COVID-related manufacturing slow-downs, I just received the rabbet plane and the plough plane is scheduled for delivery the first week of April. So I have not had the opportunity to use either yet. But I think getting dedicated planes is the way to go. Thanks again. Can’t wait to try them out!

    Larry Geib


    Now go back and hit th pay button for the 1/4” match cutter and chip deflector. We don’t want you to think the acquisition journey is over. :).

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