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.

85 Comments

  1. Ecky H on 31 August 2018 at 11:16 am

    Great! 🙂

    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!

    E.

    • Sarrienne Cousland on 31 August 2018 at 4:13 pm

      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.

      • Jean Legare on 31 August 2018 at 6:52 pm

        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.

  2. dpawson on 31 August 2018 at 11:21 am

    More please Paul – how to keep the plane ‘straight’? side movement and ‘waggling’ which I find very difficult.

    • Alan on 8 January 2019 at 12:07 am

      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.

  3. Bill Hall on 31 August 2018 at 11:35 am

    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.

    Thank You

    • SharpPencil on 10 September 2018 at 8:35 am

      Try buy a product called chemical metal ……from a motor spare part shop? Comes in a small yellow tube.

    • Alan on 8 January 2019 at 12:16 am

      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.

  4. Örjan on 31 August 2018 at 12:22 pm

    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?

    Kind regards,

    Örjan

    • Philip Adams on 31 August 2018 at 5:08 pm

      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.

      • Örjan on 1 September 2018 at 3:13 pm

        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.

        Kind regards,

        Örjan

        • Ray Deftereos on 4 September 2018 at 12:10 pm

          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.

          • Örjan on 5 September 2018 at 12:55 pm

            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.



  5. Kim Allen on 31 August 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you so much for your time and effort to produce these excellent learning opportunities.

  6. Ian Jefferson on 31 August 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Paul,

    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.

    • garnettmcmillan on 31 August 2018 at 11:21 pm

      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?

      • Ian Jefferson on 7 September 2018 at 12:55 pm

        Hi Garnett,

        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.

    • Philip Adams on 11 September 2018 at 12:45 pm

      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.

  7. larryl49 on 31 August 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks Paul. For clarifying the sharpening angle we went taught that in wood work class in the 60s.
    Many thanks Larry.

  8. kevin winsor on 31 August 2018 at 2:43 pm

    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.

  9. Randy Ririe on 31 August 2018 at 3:47 pm

    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

  10. robertparsons81 on 31 August 2018 at 4:27 pm

    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.

  11. David Marienau on 31 August 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Very helpful. Good confidence builder. Thanks.

  12. Jeffrey Howe on 31 August 2018 at 5:15 pm

    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!

    • Brian A on 1 September 2018 at 4:50 am

      $299 is a big ticket item for woodworkers. Do you think Veritas would consider suppling us with 35% discount coupons?

    • SharpPencil on 10 September 2018 at 8:46 am

      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

  13. Julio T. on 31 August 2018 at 6:54 pm

    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.

  14. Tad on 31 August 2018 at 11:33 pm

    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.

    • Keith Walton on 1 September 2018 at 12:04 am

      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

    • Brian A on 1 September 2018 at 1:41 am

      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).

  15. Nathan Fletcher-Jones on 1 September 2018 at 12:06 am

    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 .
    Thanks Paul,

    Nathan

    • Philip Adams on 5 September 2018 at 4:53 pm

      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.

      • Nathan Fletcher-Jones on 30 September 2018 at 11:48 pm

        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.

  16. abtuser on 1 September 2018 at 2:25 am

    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!

  17. red58impala on 1 September 2018 at 2:35 am

    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.

  18. Justin Brown on 1 September 2018 at 3:21 am

    Fantastic!

    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!

    • David Wood on 1 September 2018 at 2:08 pm

      Doesn’t Veritas supply an instruction booklet. I am thinking of purchasing one of these planes. Thanks for the video Paul

  19. btyreman on 1 September 2018 at 12:26 pm

    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.

  20. fudoka on 1 September 2018 at 12:43 pm

    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?

  21. David Wood on 1 September 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Doesn’t Veritas supply an instruction booklet. I am thinking of purchasing one of these planes. Thanks for the video Paul

    • harry wheeler on 1 September 2018 at 2:47 pm

      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.

    • Ed on 1 September 2018 at 6:37 pm

      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.

      • Harvey Kimsey on 2 September 2018 at 10:51 pm

        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.

        • harry wheeler on 2 September 2018 at 11:07 pm

          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.