How To Set Up And Use A Bullnose Plane

How to set up and use bullnose WWMC

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This little-used terrier of a plane has many different uses, not the least of which is the final fitting of awkward to reach places like the insides of cabinets to ease the fit of elements such as doors and drawers. This video shows how to use the bullnose and set one up, and will help you to make a more educated assessment as to whether you might want to own one or not.

32 Comments

  1. Nathan Fletcher-Jones on 17 December 2020 at 11:40 am

    Hi Paul, I have a Stanley no.75 bull nose rabbet plane. It doesn’t have the same blade stopper so I find when I’m trying to take a shaving the blade slips back no matter how tight I cinch it. Do you know this plane and would you say it’s worth persevering with.
    Best to you,
    Nathan

  2. Al Burke on 17 December 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Great video. Thanks Paul. I just wondered if you had any thoughts or recommendations regarding the position of the cap iron relative to the blade edge? My thinking was that for heavier cuts the cap iron is positioned closer to the bevel to provide extra support to the blade?

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 22 December 2020 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Al,

      Paul says:

      No, this theory isn’t really of any value. You can set your cap iron any distance between almost zero and 4mm and it will work. The nearer the cap iron is to the cutting edge, the smaller the shaving you can take. Generally, I recommend about a 1/32” (1mm).

      Izzy

  3. Benjamin Sokol on 17 December 2020 at 12:20 pm

    There is no assessment, only Zuul.

    Want.

  4. tim ziegler on 17 December 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you Paul. Your tool reviews are always very helpful.

  5. Michael Eleftheriou on 17 December 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Yes, I have the same problem: I’ve pretty much written it off as useless…
    Id love to be persuaded otherwise, though.

    Thanks,
    Michael

  6. Salko Safic on 17 December 2020 at 1:27 pm

    The bullnose is one of those tools that some use and some don’t. I’ve never had use for it other than one single project.

  7. Ray51 on 17 December 2020 at 2:00 pm

    I acquired a vintage Record 311 shoulder plane a few years ago from a friend. The plane can be adapted as both a shoulder and as a bullnose plane. I don’t use it very often but it is handy for tight places.

  8. Christopher Manning on 17 December 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Like Ray51, I have a Record 311, so should I need a bullnose I can adapt it. It’s my favourite shoulder plane, too. It’d be interesting to know Paul’s opinion on the 311?

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 22 December 2020 at 3:51 pm

      Hi,

      Paul says:

      I don’t use them often enough to draw comparison as I actually rely on my Veritas shoulder plane. The 311 is basically the bullnose plane with the longer forepart to the sole thus creating the shoulder plane. It depends on what you’re using it for, but it’s a good plane.

      Izzy

  9. Patrick Sadr on 17 December 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Hey Paul, thanks for doing this Video!! I actually emailed you a few weeks ago because I was using it and realized the cutter could use a sharpening.

    It was then that I realized it was a little tricky to get the cutter out and then set back up properly. I looked all over the internet for info on setting one up and sharpening but was surprised to find none. The closest thing I found was a vid you made a while back and briefly touched on using one.

    2 questions remain Sir.

    -which notch do you set your blade too?

    -how do “you” sharpen your cutter? I assume freehand……when I went to sharpen mine on the diamond plate board…..I just followed the existing bevels degree.

    Such a cool little plane. So fitting you referring to it as a Terrier!! An English one at that, if I may add….lol

    Cheers Paul and thanks for getting after this!!

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 22 December 2020 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Patrick,

      Paul says:
      It depends on how much the blade is protruding through and how much thread is left on your adjuster.

      That sounds great, that’s all you need to do. I do it freehand.

      Izzy

  10. David Marienau on 17 December 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for the instruction. I have a bullnose plane that was given to me, but now I feel confident that I can use it.

  11. Rich Lofts on 17 December 2020 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks for your review on bullnose planes Paul. I don’t own one but I do use two shoulder planes (large and small) and an antique moving fillister plane and would like to make a point about the blade protrusion on the sides.

    Early on I frequently had trouble with these planes leaving a small shoulder in the corner of my rebates that got worse with each passing stroke, even when I thought I had the blade’s edge adjusted flush with the plane’s side. I would need to stop periodically and chisel away the shoulder before carrying on until one day I learned that the blade’s edge needs to protrude ever so slightly from the plane’s side that rides against the rebate wall in order to achieve a clean crisp corner off the plane. This may sound a bit counterintuitive but it’s absolutely true.

    A protrusion of about 1/64” or maybe even less is about all it takes, and I note that this is what I get on both sides of my shoulder planes when the blades are perfectly centered across the plane’s bodies. In this way you can run the planes in either direction without having to readjust the blades protrusion.

  12. Ray51 on 17 December 2020 at 6:33 pm

    Christopher Manning, the Record 311 when complete has three components. The plane body with the cutter and two toes. To use the plane as a bullnose plane you remove the toe from the shoulder plane setup and attach the small toe for the bullnose setup. If you remove both toes you can use the plane as a chisel plane. I understand the smaller toe for the bullnose application is sometimes lost since it is a seperate piece. You might find one on Ebay or a used tool dealer but you may need to refine the fit. Maybe acquiring the Stanley 90 bullnose plane might be better.

    http://www.record-planes.com/record-no-311-bull-nose-shoulder-rabbet-plane/

  13. Joe Aversa on 17 December 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Great video as always. Wonder if Paul could let us know which make and model he is demonstrating. I have a Stanley 75 which is a bevel down bullnose and next to useless.

    Joe Aversa

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 22 December 2020 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Joe,

      Paul says:
      I can’t believe that Stanley ever made this plane, nor those who copied their manufacturer. You’re correct to say this plane is useless, it doesn’t even make a useful paperweight. My model plane is an adjustable Stanley #90.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

  14. Jamie Bergen on 17 December 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you Paul. I hope to acquire a bullnose plane one of these days.
    Until then I’ll continue to use my Stanley 140 skew-blade block plane for shoulder-tenon and rebate cleanout work.
    By taking off the side plate I’m able to get down in the inside corner with the end of the cutting edge.
    It works a treat, but because of the skewed blade it’s more directional. (And the blade angle makes it trickier to sharpen)

  15. Chris Stubbs on 17 December 2020 at 10:34 pm

    Hi Paul, thank you for your continuing inspiraton over recent years. I have tuned up most of my hand planes as per your instruction by flattening the sole etc. and to great effect. My Stanley 90 which I’ve had for 30 years or more also has a sole problem, the toe of the sole is not at the same “height” as the rest of the sole, it differs by about 0.012″ the toe is in fresh air when in use. My question is should i level the sole and possibly improve it’s performance or would I be wasting my time?

    Chris Stubbs

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 22 December 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Paul says:
      Often it’s difficult to say whether you should level the fore part of the bullnose plane with the rear part of the sole. The shavings generally are so thing it makes little difference, but in theory when you push the plane from the end of the board, that minute step down would mean the fore part of the plane is supported as the rear part of the plane settles onto the newly formed rebate. My bullnose planes are all level, front and back, but I can’t say that makes it better.

      Izzy

  16. Dan Batts on 18 December 2020 at 6:21 pm

    Nice video as always. I have a wooden rabbet plane that has the option of placing the plane iron in the front to use it as a bull nose. Thanks for the continued sharing of your knowledge.

  17. Al on 19 December 2020 at 3:05 pm

    I have the same question about the cap iron position. I have been setting fairly far forward (which seems to work for me), but in this video, you seem to have set further back.

  18. P McC on 20 December 2020 at 10:07 am

    FWIW… I don’t understand the criticisms of the Stanley #75 bullnose plane. If the blade is sharp and properly installed bevel UP it performs well. A little tricky to adjust, I use a small hammer, as shown by Paul. I haven’t had the blade loosen in use. I did spend some time ‘tuning’ the plane so all parts are square and flat. It is not as sophisticated as the plane Paul uses. A little cruder but a useful tool.

  19. Christopher Manning on 20 December 2020 at 11:41 am

    I was lucky enough to buy my 311 complete and still boxed, Ray51, but losing the bullnose toepiece is quite easy to do, and I’ve done it several times!

    Good point about checking the fit of replacement parts, though. I seem to remember Ray Iles telling me that they were surface ground as an assembly, so it’s important that something which in theory should line up does so in reality!

  20. Al Burke on 1 January 2021 at 9:39 am

    Thanks

  21. Christian Rapp on 14 January 2021 at 10:52 am

    Just got an old Nr 90 from Ebay UK. Just wondering if Paul mentioned (I do not think so) – at which angle should it be sharpened?
    And not sure if I am confusing something – the old ones were made in UK or US? On my blade it says Stanley Made in USA but maybe the blade is newer?
    Thanks in advance
    Christian

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 27 January 2021 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Christian,

      Paul says:
      All cutting irons in all planes are sharpened best between 25-35 degrees with 30 degrees being optimal.

      Izzy

  22. Raleigh Holtam on 29 August 2021 at 3:46 pm

    I just bought a Stanley #90 (1920s era). After sharpening and making sure the cutting edge was square with the sides of the blade, I discovered that the plane cuts more on one side than the other. I discovered that the sole of the plane is flat but the “wedge” (frog?) that the blade sits on is thicker on one side than the other causing the blade to sit lower to the sole on the side that cuts deeper. It’s only a fraction of an inch but it creates a shaving that is thick on one side, thin on the other. Should I just sharpen the blade out of square to compensate? Seems like that would be easier than trying to alter the sole to bring it into parallel with the end of the wedge. BTW, tapping the blade on one side for lateral adjustment didn’t work.

  23. Larry Geib on 29 August 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Is the sole square with the sides of the plane?

  24. Raleigh Holtam on 30 August 2021 at 12:04 am

    Good point. I checked against both sides. The sole is definitely thicker on the side that cuts shallow, which is what the thin end of the wedge indicates. I guess I need to square the sole up with the sides, correct?

  25. Larry Geib on 30 August 2021 at 12:36 am

    I’d square the sole with the sides and see where you are after that..

    It’s possible, but less likely, that somebody also ground the sides out of square. You are ultimately trying to get the sole to register with the frog.

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