Plough Plane: Sharpening, Setup & Use
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Need to run some grooves and not sure where to start? Paul shows how to sharpen and prepare the plough plane for use, before showing the basics of how to cut a groove.
Didn’t know about that trapezoid profile of the plough plane blades yet and the explanation for the “going backwards” ploughing technique dawned a light on me.
Thank you for that very educational video!
Great to see this tool revisited, Paul – I’d love to see a Part 2 to this video, maybe expanded to cover rebate and especially combination planes, explaining common problems and methods to fix them… Perhaps things like hand positions, keeping the plane controlled and upright, making sure the fence is parallel, what to do with tearout, knots and the plane stepping out when rebating.
I would agree with that. Having used a plow plane a few times, most of my mistakes have had to do with not keeping it plumb (which is especially hard when ploughing a groove on a wider board), or having starting the cut when the sole isn’t flat down (resulting in a deeper groove at both ends of the cut).
I was hoping I’d be able to learn a few more tips regarding those aspects.
More please Paul – how to keep the plane ‘straight’? side movement and ‘waggling’ which I find very difficult.
Fixing a deeper and longer wooden Fence helps. The screw-holes under the Bridge are for fixing one. Then use your left hand, pressing towards the right, to keep everything aligned. Once you’re started, maintaining alignment becomes easier.
I just had the opportunity to purchase a Record 044 off eBay so this was perfect timing and coincidently specific to the same plough plane I bought! I wasn’t sure about the sharpening so I appreciate that you covered that.
The weld on my depth stop has come apart at the weld so once I figure out how to reattach it, I should be set.
Try buy a product called chemical metal ……from a motor spare part shop? Comes in a small yellow tube.
It’s a common fault Bill. Enlarge the Bottom side of the hole slightly with a countersink. Secure the post upright in your vice. Fit the Depth-stop sole. Then simply peen over the end of the post with a nail-punch & hammer. File/sand it smooth. You can use a bolt, or a window -arm post, as a makeshift depth-stop at a pinch.
Thank’s for the demonstration, very instructive!
You mention that you can buy blades individual or i packs. I do have a 044 myself, with a set of cutters, in imperial widths, but they don’t exactly fit millimeter sized plywood that I sometimes use. It is mentioned in the plane’s manual that there exists mm sized cutters, but I haven’t been able to find such.
Do you know a source for millimeter sized blades?
Paul quite often buys additional plough plane blades on eBay. As far as getting plough plane blades to exact width, it often involves grinding a spare blade to dedicate it for that use, so it’s worth getting some cheap spares if possible.
Thank’s for the advise! For that task, Paul’s information about the blades being trapezoidal in cross section seems crucial.
Previously I thought that the reason that the 044’s on eBay and elsewhere oft come with one cutter only was that the other blades had gone missing during lengthly storage. Now I speculate that they might have been reshaped and are in use with another plane.
Ray iles makes plough plane blades suitable for the records, I’m not sure if this is in your price range / overkill, but its worth taking a look at if you need some blades.
Thank you for the suggestion.
Yes, I have been looking at these blades, primary because I find it hard to divorce the blades from another 044…. Quite silly considering that most planes are just collecting dust and rust, but that’s how I feel abut it.
Thank you so much for your time and effort to produce these excellent learning opportunities.
Thanks for this review. I purchased an 043 and an 044 as well as as craftsman combination plane after seeing one of your earlier videos on the use of the plough. The 043 worked right out of the box and I made up a few cutters for it out of tool steel, O1 I think.
The O44 though would not cut a good groove for me. As it turned out something in the casting or machining was keeping the blade below or dead flush with the right hand side of the skate. Digging around these forums I found a discussion about the blade location and using a shim on the upper part of the blade I was able to get a few thousands of protrusion on the RHS of the skate.
The plane without this change would cut a kind of staircase groove. Each pass the cutter would cut more to the left.
I wonder if you have encountered this and if so how you would have corrected the issue? Initially I was quite disappointed about the 044 after having such a great experience with the 043. I suspect this was a factory defect as the 044 had few signs of use so I guess was set aside in frustration. Now it cuts fine although the original defect remains.
I have the exact same problem: a staircase effect in the groove.
The blade tip doesn’t protrude past the right edge of the skate on any of my blades!
Is this a defect or am I doing something wrong?
If you have an 044 it has a side screw that clamps the blade tight against a machined recess on the body of the plane.
My solution was to place a shim on the side of the plane body above that screw. This has the effect of tipping the blade towards the right. Placing a shim below that screw tips the blade to the left.
In my case the amount was very small. There were mixed recommendations in other forums on this site about how much protrusion was needed. In my case a 0.005″ (5 thou) shim was used. That is basically two pieces of paper thickness. I think aluminum flashing might be thin enough though thicker than 5 thousands.
I considered filing the recess or even milling it to allow the blade to protrude but hesitated to do such a permanent modification. I’d be curious to hear what Paul or others have done to correct this problem.
The other issue you might find is that someone may have sharpened the side of the blade towards the cutting edge. As Paul noted in the video there is a small relief angle on the blade sides. I put one on my some of my home made blades but not all so I’m not sure how necessary this is. I doubled checked my blades to make sure they were full width at the cutting edge.
Good luck. Post a reply with your solution. Once the plough is set up correctly it is a total joy to use and compared to using a power router fast, clean and simple.
Hello Ian, it certainly is possible. Things that Paul recommends checking is that the cutter is straight. You could also file into the groove with the corner of a fine saw file to nudge it over a little. This may help. Some great info there Ian, thanks.
Thanks Paul. For clarifying the sharpening angle we went taught that in wood work class in the 60s.
Many thanks Larry.
Thanks for the great instruction. I bought a complete package at an antique shop last summer but have yet to use it. I’m headed to the shop now to practice.
Thank you Paul. Once again another fine video. I own a Stanley no 50 that came with 17 cutters which include beading blades. I used the plane last night to cut a dado in the bottom of a fireplace mantel to accept a 1/4” bottom once it’s assembled. In the past I would have used my tablesaw or router table. I found the plough plane was faster to set up, less noise and zero sawdust flying around my shop. I’m very happy with the plane. I was happier to wake up this morning and find this great video to watch. Thank you again, Randy
Thanks to Paul and the team great video I started with a Stanley 50 not for me it had to go, I picked up a 050 instead much better great tool ,take care all.
Very helpful. Good confidence builder. Thanks.
I’ve wanted a plough plane for a while. I have a 100+ year old wooden “fixed” plough plane. That is, it doesn’t have the ability to accept multiple sized blades so, the width is fixed. It makes a groove 3/8 in. wide and does have a depth stop and a knicker blade with two points on either side. It works fairly well. However, Veritas is making a small 044 style plough plane for under $300. Definitely on my wish list!
$299 is a big ticket item for woodworkers. Do you think Veritas would consider suppling us with 35% discount coupons?
I am selling on eBay a pair of vintage wooden plough planes with width stop……lovely tools only at £8 at the moment with 6 days to go
Thank you for this video, Paul (and thanks to your team, too). I had read how to tune and set the Plough Plane in your book, but still I had some doubts. This video is the perfect complement.
Paul, I know you are showing the sharpening for consistency and beginners, but is there a reason someone should not sharpen freehand? I don’t trust my guide to be straight and square (it wasn’t for plane blades), so I just all my blades freehand. Is that causing me a possible problem I’m not aware of?
Keep these type of videos coming, they’re great.
They’re so small and thin they’re not easy to keep square, and he doesn’t use a camber which almost natural happens freehand
I might add, as Prof Sellers has said at one point and I’m paraphrasing, that freehand is fine for wide plane blades like the stanley 4 and 5 and so on, and even beneficial due to the natural camber. So you are ok doing most of your plane blades freehand, just not this one for reasons Keith and PS have mentioned. (full disclosure: I don’t actually own a plough plane, but I’ve seen some videos. I do own a Stanley Bedrock, however, and always sharpen it freehand).
Hi Paul, the Stanley 50 just doesn’t seem up the job. I bought it on eBay with only one blade. Should I persevere with it or get a record 043?. The plane has been sharpened and from what I can tell, set up right, it just chokes under the minutely stubborn grain of any other wood but pine..
Great video .
Hello Nathan, the Stanley 50 should work just as well as the Record versions when set up well and is very similar in setup, so I would encourage you to persevere and double check it take it through the steps outlined in the video.
Alright Phil, most of the Stanley tools I have work and well, however I have read some info about the 50 which suggests it was a sub par tool.
I’ll set as per Paul’s vid see how that goes.
Is the plough plane used for cutting across the grain too?
Thanks for your reply.
Love my plow plane. Just getting ready to use it to make a bunch of family Christmas presents. I did just sharpen my 4 and 5 mm blades freehand. Tedious. Forgot I had a side clamping jig that could handle small blades. Thanks for the timely video Paul!
Nicely done Mr. Sellers. I really enjoy the instructional videos. I think you touched on it some in the picture frame videos some years ago, but a video showing how to make moldings/mouldings with one of these would be awesome.
That video came out just in time for me,..as i had just purchased a Veritas plow plane
I did not know those details Paul shared,..that was invaluable!
Doesn’t Veritas supply an instruction booklet. I am thinking of purchasing one of these planes. Thanks for the video Paul
I managed to pick up a rusty old no44 on ebay and cleaned it up, bought some blades and it’s a great tool, I’ve sharpened mine to 35 degrees though, I found that 30 didn’t work as well, but now I’ve seen this video it looks like I’ve had the blade protruding too much, just tried adjusting it back and it cuts way better than before so thanks for the info.
I can’t see which model of honing guide you are using but it looks pretty well identical to the Eclipse 36 I’ve had for decades (apart from the colour – the Eclipse is unpainted).
I’m finding it something of a pig to get the cutters seated flat so I don’t grind the edge on the huh (as we say here in Norfolk). Is it just me?
Doesn’t Veritas supply an instruction booklet. I am thinking of purchasing one of these planes. Thanks for the video Paul
I would think they do. I don’t have their plough plane but every other Veritas device I have came with good instructions. Maybe not the detail about the trapezoidal shape of the blade but I think Paul only included that as information. It isn’t something you would normally need to do something to anyway. The cutters for my Stanley 45 have enough relief that if you lay two of them side by side on a flat surface (bevel up) you can see the gap between the two on the top side. If you don’t have calipers, that’s an easy way to tell if your blades have a side relief bevel ground on them.
Go to the veritas web page for the small plow plane. In the table of products at the bottom of the page, where you would add the item to your cart, you will see a link, “Instr,” that brings up the instruction manual.
My veritas plow blades are not trapezoidal. Dead square as best I can measure. Never been an issue for me that I know of.
I have the Veritas small plow plane and also noticed the cutters are dead square front to back….no relief. I found it got very difficult pushing the plane once any appreciable depth was reached….say 1/4” or so. So I just relieved the back edges of the cutter at the grinder, trying to be careful not to alter the cutting face and edges. It’s a very small alteration but works like a charm. The other thing that really helps is, when grooving in difficult grain, use Paul’s trick of taking your knife and running it along the bottom corners of the groove to help sever the fibers, then continue plowing.
Record and Stanley were making these things long before Veritas was ever thought of, and I have to believe if both of those guys though it was needed, it must be. I really like the quality of Veritas products but I try to keep in mind that they are modern day tool makers, not woodworkers.
Hi gents what about a guide for sharpening router blades?
ebay, eclipse no36
please ignore that last comment, I thought you meant sharpening for the plough plane, I use diamond files for sharpening the router blades on a block of wood.
Hi gents what about a guide for sharpening router blades?
Marcus, Paul did a blog post about it about a year and a half ago. I was just looking at it again today, here is the link:
The common woodworking guide is a clarified version of Paul’s blog which you might find useful: https://commonwoodworking.com/sharpening-a-router-plane/
I picked up a 44 after having seen Paul use it on a previous video. It works just as it’s supposed to. The problem is that it’s uni-directional. I keep thinking that it would have been worth spending more money for one of the combination planes that would have allowed me to attack the piece from either end and avoid tear out.
Could you please share an example of this bi-directional plough plane?
A Stanley 45 supposedly has that capability. You can reverse the fence, but it’s awkward to use at best and other than as an experiment, I’ve never tried to use mine that way on actual work. This is not a perfect solution, but I try to keep track of grain direction and try to layout the pieces so that I’m plowing with the grain, but that’s not always an option. The 45 and many other models have cutter spurs that are meant for cross grain work, but I have used them to help keep the top edges of the groove or bead from tearing. Torn grain in the bottom of a groove is usually hidden anyway. Torn grain in a bead is a problem. All I know to do with that is sharpen the cutter and take very shallow cuts. Here’s a link that will let you see the manual for several of the Stanley models.
Using a cutting gauge or similar to establish the edge of the groove can be very helpful in avoiding tear-out as well.
I have a Stanley #45 and us it almost exclusively left-handed as I’m left handed. As mentioned , the fence is reversible and there are depth stops and nickers on both sides of the plane. I just used it today to ploughing grooved for 2 raised panel doors that I needed for a cabinet. As usual, it worked like a charm.
Is there any plane that will cut a dado ( cross grain) in the same fashion as the plough plane? I’ve only chopped my dado’s with a chisel and a router plane. Now that I think about it, a router plane with a fence might work.
I started a dado plane thread over here: https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com/discussions/topic/dado-planes/
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I’m trying to view it = as I’ve viewed many other videos from you – using Windows 10 and Firefox 61.0.2.
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Today when I was testing out Pauls technique in the video using short strokes and I was testing it in some pine and as I progressed back on the board the front of the skate dug in and made a notch, the plane would get stuck on unless I lifted it up making it harder to do. Am I just pushing too hard with the short strokes or do I need to slightly round the nose of the skate? Or is it something else?
Paul recommended the following: “Maybe elongate the strokes rather than taking short strokes. And press on the heel rather than the fore part of the plane. You’ll develop your own technique.”
Great video. Very Helpful for the new to me Record 044 I just got in the mail.
One Problem-the depth skate does not hold a consistent depth, I’ve not been able to cut a groove to a specific depth when practicing in pine scraps. The knob does not have a slot for a screw driver, so I hesitate to put the pliers on it to bear down on the skate post. Is this a matter of technique or finesse, or do I need to put more pressure on the skate post. I’ve backed the blade out, so I have a pretty small bit of the blade protruding from the sole.
Any suggestions most welcome.
Hello Blaine. Couple of options that Paul recommends. You could make a slot for a screwdriver using two hacksaw blades in the same hacksaw to make a wide enough groove. Otherwise you could file a flat on the outside face of the stem of the shoe which will give greater registration for the end of the screw to tighten against.
Hope that helps.
It did in that I took the slot advice, screwed my courage to the sticking place, just tightened with the pliers. Worked like a charm! What a beautiful tool! I’ll cut that slot this week. Thanks for the help.
I haven’t seen any thing on the Stanley No 51 Combination plane. Any reason for this?
I own one and use it as a plow as well as a molding plane. Although difficult at first to set up properly, it gets easier with time.
Paul if you could comment on this plane it would be much appreciated.
Correction…Stanley No 55 Combination Plane
Paul discusses the #55 in the comments section of the following post: https://paulsellers.com/2015/09/my-50-plane-moves-over-in-steps-help/
I don’t know how long I can afford to watch your channel Paul! The more I watch the more tools I buy and the more skills I develop. Just purchased a very nice 044 from Ebay….sharpened all the blades to a very nice finish and now have a very useful plough plane. Just need to extend the fence in order to improve it’s lateral stability….something you don’t appear to have a problem with! Maybe it’s just practice hey? Once again thanks.
One last comment. The original blades were ground with a 35 degree angle rather than 30. Probably makes them slightly more durable and less likely to dig in excessively. What are your views Paul ?
I just checked with Paul, and 30-35 degrees is fine. It’s when people start at 35 and the bevel gets steeper with subsequent sharpening that the issue appears, as the heel of the bevel sometimes contacts the wood first. That is why 30 is the recommended angle, as even if you go a bit steeper it doesn’t cause a problem.
Paul and team
Thanks for another informative video. So much information we never got in shop class… of course ploughing was done with an electric router, but I digress.
I have the Veritas Small plough plane and a Record combination plane and beading irons for both. I would be interested is seeing a video or project using the Beading blades. And a run down on sharpening them. The Record irons were in rough shape when I got it, and I ended up using a small round file to clean up the hollows before sharpening. Wondering whether there is a better way?
Keep up the great work team. It is appreciated by so many.
Thank you for your video suggestion.
You can use appropriately sized dowel with sandpaper wrapped around it and this will both remove the rust and sharpen. Simply change the grit from coarser to finer and you end up with a sharp cutting iron.
Beading irons don’t have to be razor sharp to work ok and often aren’t very dull because they just didn’t get used much.
But you can sometimes sharpen them up nicely by just using a stone and hone on the flat side, so you don’t have to worry about changing the profile.
For that reason I’d suggest you give most of your attention to the flat face.
Oh my goodness! A beautiful tool. This is on my list now.
Paul and Team
Thanks for this video. I have a Stanley #46 Combination plane that I use to plough my grooves. At times it wouldn’t work correctly then other times it would. I saw Paul point out at 6:14 on video about blade slightly protruding skate and now I make sure blade is installed correctly . Works great now.
Hi, i have a stanley 50 combinaiton plane. Looking in the instrucions i saw that i can use the 1/4 tonguing cutter wiht the 1/4 plow cutter in order to make tonguing and groovin but i’ve noticed that the dado 1/4 cutter and the 1/4 tonguing has different measures: the tounging cutter is less than 1/4 so the resulting tongue is to small to make a proper joint. Any suggestion? did i miss something?
The tonguing cutter usually leaves the tongue slightly undersized, or less than the depth of the groove it will fit into, thus ensuring the surface joint line is tight.
Hi, thanks a lot!
Regards to you and Paul
I just bought a record 044 with full set of blades off ebay. I also own two stanley 45’s, a stanley no 50 will full set of blades, and i own a stanley 55 with two sets of blades. My question is with these tools available, would it be worth checking out the Veritas plough plane? Or should I even consider one? Thank you in advance!
No, anyone of these planes will do anything a Veritas will do.
Seems like you have plenty of ploughing options! I wouldn’t think so unless you just really want the Veritas. As a left-hander I really enjoy their left-handed planes, they’re a real luxury.
Hello, I have a Stanley 50 plough plane but cannot use the 3/16 cutter as the two bits of the plane can’t come close enough together to hold the cutter?
Am I being stupid or is there a way round this? why have a cutter that the plane can’t use?
You can use a metal shim in there alongside the blade or even another cutter with the cutting edge offset.
“There is one slight problem with this design of sandwiching the cutter between two castings to hold the cutter in place, and that is that the narrowest two ploughing cutters (1/8″ and 3/16″) aren’t wide enough to be secured in this manner. A holding screw was added when these two cutters were provided starting ca. 1936.”
Here is the PDF of #50 instruction.
Pay special attention to which parts of the plane are used in each operation.
In your case, you use the bolt (J in the diagram) and the wing nut normal used with the sliding section AND NOT THE SLIDING SECTION B.
Other special setups are used with the tongue cutter , and yet a different setup is used for beading adjacent to a tongue.
I had difficulty visualizing how a plow plane works for the longest time. There are two skates and intuitively one would think the cutter has to ride between them to make a centered groove. But the cutter can’t just float in the nether world between the skates and has to be supported within one of them. It is the adjustment of the other skate that positions where the cutter ploughs. I think it is very possible to make an off centered trough on the edge of a board. This is not shown in woodworking videos because it is usually not desirable. Visualization is an essential component to woodworking.