Stanley 78 rabbet / rebate


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    Here’s a Stanley 78 on which the front of the sole is cocked over relative to the rear of the sole. In the photo, you can see that it is kicked over and twisted out of line.

    You can see there’s a gap between the angle iron and the front portion of the sole. The gap grows along its length. It’s over by 0.01″ to 0.012″ at the place where the gap is smallest, right by the mouth, and increases substantially as you go further along the sole.

    I’m trying to decide if this matters. I’ve never been happy with how this thing cuts, and now wonder if this is why.

    What does yours look like? Is it dead on, or is this normal manufacturing tolerance.

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by Ed.

    Mine was near new in the box when i got it and it is flat both on the sides and bottom. I had troubles with it until i radiused the top of the capiron. It was square for about a 1/16 inch. That made a heap of difference


    Thanks, @deanbecker. I should add that the sole is flat on the bottom because I’ve lapped it flat.

    When you say you radiused the cap iron, I’m guessing you took the lever cap that holds the blade down, flipped it over, and lapped the radius that was already cast into the lever cap, perhaps to get the shaving to eject better? Is that what you mean?


    Yep. Thats what i ment. There is a small chip deflector on the top inside, i polished that and rounded the flat on the front of it the raised portion, i guess should be called a chip deflector had a flat on its front as well, mine does not do fine shaveings well they bunch up and it does not do real heavy ones wither but when it gets set just right it cuts like a dream.

    Larry Geib

    You can also slightly radius and smooth the bottom of the ‘bridge that connects the front and back of the plane. Just having it smooth is more important than a real sharp edge, so don’t go hog wild. A little black paint ( or Japanimg, depending on your OCD issues) will set things right again.
    Also take care that you set the cap iron to the right. I even tilt mine a little so the lip on it throws shavings left.

    Whether the kink matters or needs fixing depends how you use the tool. If you are using it as a rebate plane ( no fence) then obviously it’s important that your plane be straight on the right side if you are right handed, as that side is the one you will be using to guide the plane in a score line and set to the rebate wall. The left side will be very easy to get straight, because there isn’t much material to remove.

    There is plenty of material, and it’s not at all important that the two sides be parallel. What is only slightly important is that the rear of the plane not be wider than the front of the plane if you work it in tight quarters, and you don’t lap away so much you lose the seat for the clover nicker. You might have to get in there with a dremel to make sure the nicker is flush with the edge of the plane when you use it cross grain.
    If you know to use a graver, you can also remove metal in the nicker recess that way. Cast iron is pretty soft.
    2) the lapping you do should leave the side at 90° to the sole of the plane.

    Things change a little if you are using it with the fence as a moving plane. I’d still lap it just because, but if you use the plane with a fence, the side profile doesn’t really matter much, because you don’t guide the tool with the side of the plane. You can sometimes just stick the cutter a little to the right so none of the sidewall of the plane contacts the rebate side wall, but you might get a bit more tear out that way.

    The picture below shows my 78 and my 289, which is a similar plane with a skew iron. I use the 78 as a rebate plane because I don’t have a fence for it. I picked up the plane for $5 for parts, then realized that under the rust was a pretty nice plane. It even turns out to have a little history that makes it unique.

    I use my 289 as my filletster plane, and you might notice a couple ( other than it has clover nickers, pretty rare for that plane).

    First, there is much less metal that needs to be lapped and much more recessed area that doesn’t need lapping. This was intentional in the design to make that easier. The other thing you might pick up from the bottom view of that plane is that the rear of the sole is about 1/16” narrower than the front of the plane and it matters not at all in use. In fact, it is fairly common in the planes that have gone trough my hands.

    If you were able to measure my 289 carefully, you’d also find my post that holds the fence isn’t perpendicular to the right side of the plane. If you put the metal fence on the work, the rear of my plane would stick out to the right more than the cutter and prevent the fence from doing its job. So when I added the wood fence, I tapered it so the fence and side of plane are parallel, and that may be your issue.

    And if it turns out it’s the nose of the fence is what is not parallel to the fence, you really don’t have to do much at all except to make your wood fence reach the front of the plane, which I do anyway on all my fenced planes.

    In fact, I tapered the wood fence so much that it actually sticks out about 1/32” so that when I apply pressure on the fence, the rear of the plane can’t contact the rebate sidewall.

    If you have other planes like a Stanley 50, Record 043, or Stanley 45, the same principle applies. Fettle your wood fence so it is eithe parallel to the skate or right side, or even extends to the right that 1/32” I mentioned at the rear of the plane.

    So it’s really the fence you should be concerned with. In use, your left hand guides the plane to the right. The right hand only provides forward motion.

    All you really have to do is determine that none of the side of the plane sticks out past the cutter ( which should be a hair proud of the side of the plane)
    It took me a long time to work this out in pre-internet years


    Thank you for the detailed info. I need to read it a couple times and digest it. Here are a few things for now. First, you picked up on what led me to finding this issue: I’m playing with making mouldings with hollows and rounds using Bickford’s methods. This requires cutting a number of rabbets. One trick is to strike a gauge line at the rabbet location and then put the corner (edge) of the rabbet plane sole into the gauge line. If you tilt the rabbet plane over a bit, and if the plane is fettled well, believe it or not you can run in the gauge line without a fence. It takes a sensitive touch, but it’s definitely possible. As you get deeper, you lay the plane down and go to depth. Usually, this is done with a wooden rebate plane, but I was playing with the 78. I suspect I need a much truer edge to make this all work.

    Have a look at your photo that shows your fence from the bottom. On my plane, the edge of the sole away from the fence, i.e., the edge that would run in the corner of the rebate, is concave from toe to heel. So, that means the blade won’t reach into the corner of the rebate if setup per normal, and I think that’s why I get ragged rebates with this plane. You probably could kick the blade way out sideways and make it work, but I’m not sure. So, whether you use the plane’s fence or a batten, I think you’re in trouble on this side with this plane and I suspect that’s what I’ve been experiencing.

    Now consider using the other side, i.e., move the plane’s fence to the other side. Now, the edge of the plane is convex from toe to heel. I think this side would be okay for cutting rebates with this plane when guided by its own fence. This would be a left handed setup, though.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by Ed.
    Larry Geib

    On my plane, the edge of the sole away from the fence, i.e., the edge that would run in the corner of the rebate, is concave from toe to heel. So, that means the blade won’t reach into the corner of the rebate if setup per normal, and I think that’s why I get ragged rebates with this plane.

    Yeah, I figured that might be one of your application problems. To read you right, the toe and heel touch the rebate sidewall before the cheek of the mouth of the plane does.

    That’s a pretty easy fix. You can remove metal without worrying about the nicker much.when that part of the plane starts getting sanded, you are almost done. Just make sure you are keeping everything 90° to the sole.
    The lapping process isn’t any harder than Paul’s video for lapping a bench plane.

    And if you are left handed your work is easier. You can lap all you want because a 78 has no nicker on the left side of the plane ( the side you have your straightedge on) and much less metal to remove.

    And I use my 78 the same way you want to ( prepping hollow and round work) and it works great. On the endgrain sides of a panel I get less tearout with the skewed 289 and sometimes don’t even need the nicker, but the 78 works fine on most domestic Woods. You just have to keep scoring with a knife for each couple cuts until you get down a bit.

    And try honing the side of the cutter on the 78. You want a sharp edge right where it does the actual cutting of the shaving, think of it as a v tool when you are tilting the plane.

    And you want to make sure there is relief so the point both meets the sidewall and even sticks out a couple thou past the rest of the cutter.

    If you are using the plane without the fence, you definitely want that edge straight. And lapping that side will also get you a nice sharp edge – sharper than most wooden rebate planes, which is definitely a good thing.

    For getting that score line, titemark makes an oversized scoring cutter that will fit on any wheel gauge that has a 5/16” shaft. I find that great for establishing the score line for the plane. It only costs $12

    I use my regular wheel gauge ( a Tite Mark) then I follow it with an older and cheaper gauge with the scoring cutter that I can set right in the original score to enlarge it. Then I follow with the rebate plane.

    The picture below shows the regular cutter on the Tite Mark and Glenn Drake’s scoring cutter on the other gauge.


    I started lapping this on 60 grit paper and found a crack, so it’s pretty clear now that this tool was dropped. Despite the crack, the tool seems strong and stable, so I’ll keep going. Here’s a photo. Ignore the blue sharpie witness mark.

    With regard to the clover spur, it’s fairly thick and the screw head is below the surface of the spur (countersunk well), so I’m just leaving the spur mounted during the lapping and letting it get thinner, at least for now.

    Larry, if you have a dovetail plane, give that a try for a few passes in the gauge line. It tracks well. A snipes bill is ideal, but they are expensive and I don’t have one, so I tried the dovetail plane and am finding it helpful, but it’s early days. I’ll play with the scoring cutter. I bought one with my titemark with this in mind, but haven’t tried it yet, so I’m glad to hear it works. Try the dovetail plane, if you have one, right in the Titemark gauge line (no scoring blade) and let me know what you think.

    Back to lapping….

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by Ed.
    Larry Geib

    Bad luck about the crack. Chances are you”ll still get plenty of use from the plane. I’m assuming theirs is the rear frog opening and not the front. Ycuo a a little lucky in that most of the crack is in the stunned chip ejector area of the casting. If the casting is post1910 it will have three ribs connecting the back and front of the casting, which is a stronger design and was designed that way to add strength.

    If it’s the front, don’t worry about it. It will only break if you drop the plane again our hit a bolt or something ( don’t do that) round the nose a little so it doesn’t ever catch.

    If it is the main frog area, it will probably still hold, but you can increase the chances the crack won’t increase if you drill a small hole at the very end of the crack to relieve stress it’s pretty standard practice an 1/8” or number 10 ( the size of the other holes on the cheek of the plane) would be enough. If you are neat enough, it will look like it’s supposed to be there. Drill at slow speed and lube or water bathe it, and use a quality hss bit.
    And if you want to disguise it, you can pour a little low temperature solder or pewter in the hole.
    Or you can use one of the Eutectic low temperature metals that melt in boiling water in there
    ( woods metal, fields metal, cerrolow, etc. Some of these are sold in hobby shops. )

    Here is a video of a guy drilling a stop hole in the coweling of his garden tractor.

    I did it to my #7 jointer near the mouth years ago and the crack hasn’t traveled.

    I don’t have a dovetail plane and I’m working on making a half set of hollows and rounds which will take a couple years at the rate I’m going. After those, a pair of snipes bills and a proper wood low angle rebate/shoulder plane are on the list. And I’m trying to decide if I want to tackle a brass and steel infill mitre plane. I figure it’s the only way I’ll get one.

    But the scoring cutter works even on wood that has early/late wood variation and since I retired speed is not an issue. So it will do for now.

    Good luck whatever you decide. Post a pics of the final result.


    Per request, here are photos. I lapped the plane a couple days ago, right after our exchange, so you can already see some oxidation. The crack is at what I think you’d call the main frog (not the bullnose). Drilling sounds like a good idea, but is there any chance this will cause things to move so that I’ll need to lap it again? If so, I may just live with what I have. Currently, the nicker side is perfect. The off side is perfect at the mouth and just a thou or two off at the very front, which doesn’t matter. The sole needs more lapping. It is a hair off of square, but it’s close enough that a few test cuts came out well. I think it is close enough that the error can be absorbed in the blade. I’d be compulsive and lap this out, but I had trouble with some slight numbness in one hand after lapping the side, so I think I’ll let it go for now.

    I ran a couple rabbets straight out of the titemark gauge line (regular blade, not the scoring blade) and didn’t have much trouble. To the extent that I had trouble, it was from laying the plane down too quickly rather than working deeper as a V plane first.

    Just need to make fence extension now.

    By the way, it was harder to lap the off side, even though it had less material. This was because the off side was convex, so it took extra control to keep from having the hump persist. I probably should have filed slight hollow and gone from there, but didn’t.

    Finally, if you’re curious, the final dimensions produce a taper from toe to heel of about 1/32″. I’m trying to picture why this relief matters and am not picturing the “tight spot” you had in mind. Leveling the floor of a very wide groove?

    You asked about the webbing in the casting, so there’s an extra photo from the off side.




    • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by Ed.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by Ed.
    Larry Geib

    The plane looks good, and more important, is now usable. Congrats.

    The relief is only really important in a few circumstances with the fence. You just don’t want the rear of the plane pushing the fence away from the work.

    And I doubt the stress relief hole would cause any more warping. The stress in that area has already been relieved by the crack.
    As I said, it’s totally optional. If you don’t bang the plane around you are probably fine as you are. It’s not like these planes are getting abused like they were in commercial settings.

    Many of the planes in a shop including mine, had nicks, scratches, and groves in the sole from being used on old door jams and such and going over hidden nails. Now they get babied with just new milled stock.


    @ lorenzojose , Like you, the plan is to make some H&Rs. I’ve made one hollow and have been dragging my feet over moving on with the rest, for no good reason. I need to make a second float, but that’s not such a big deal. As I recall, most of the time went into making and truing the mortise. I was shown to bore with a brace, then chop and clean. How do you approach it?

    For the brass and steel infill mitre plane, you may be able to get a fair bit of the casting from St. James Bay Tools, if they are still in business. I can’t tell if they are.

    Anyway, you said,

    You can also slightly radius and smooth the bottom of the ‘bridge that connects the front and back of the plane.

    but I didn’t understand what you meant. Are you talking about the sweeping curve that is a bit like the side escapement on a H&R? Are you just saying to make sure that edge is smooth to reduce jamming and clogging?

    Larry Geib


    If you turn the plane upside down and look at the bridge that connects the front and the back of the plane, it often has two square edges. Just round the edge on the inside. Leave the one towards the outside alone.
    And also smooth any casting or japanning bumps that might be where the shavings get turned to the left.

    I have seen the St James tool co castings. I’m more interested in making one from scratch. It’s more to see everything involved than needing the plane.

    I’ll do H&R on another post.

    Larry Geib

    As to floats, I haven’t purchased any. I made an edge float from a piece of 1/8 O1 tool steel. You just cut it to a triangle shape and file teeth in it just like a rip saw ( no set) It took me maybe an hour to file the don’t have to heat treat it. I’ll bet a piece of mild steel from the box store would do in a pinch, and would be good practice.

    You can make your own side floats as well, but I just use a “blunt chisel” which is just a long paring chisel ground with a square tip. You can remove lots of wood in a controlled fashion with one. And right at the mouth, I found carefull use of the saw and file on my leatherman Wave works to get right at the tip of the mouth. It’s thinner than my edge float.

    A 1/4” and a 1/8 blunt chisel and the edge float will clean out mst of the sides of a mortise

    Bill Carter has a little tutorial on how to make and use a blunt chisel.

    And if you don’t have a grinder or spare chisel.

    the key is to get a sharp 90° end on the chisel.

    .as to drilling the mortise hole. I have a cheap little ryobi benchtop drill press that does the job. It has come in handy over the years.
    holes on the edge of the mortise and hog out between.

    Larry Geib


    Take a look at this article on making Roubo French style H&R planes.

    This and other articles and plans are on Caleb James’s website.

    The smaller planes I made are this style ( with the square English body like my other planes). Basically the same techniques as Paul’s poor man rebate plane.

    They work just as well as the mortised English type. They require nothing other than a small chisel and what you already have in your kit. You can knock a pair of these up in an afternoon.

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