The Fillister Plane

Fillister Plane Keyframe

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Paul has been using the fillister plane for over 50 years because of its versatility, compactness and reliable neatness. The fillister plane is simply a rebate or rabbet plane and can be called such in the day-to-day of benchwork. In this video Paul gives you a detailed look at the plane’s mechanics and efficiency when rebating.

Click here to read more about the fillister plane


  1. SharpPencil on 18 July 2019 at 11:21 am

    Hi Paul ….thank you for that. I have my poor mans rebate plane as per your instruction, with a fillister and depth stop, keep meaning to fit a nicker for cross grain……..IT WORKS A TREAT……THANK YOU
    I picked up a WODEN rebate plane from a 95 yr ex carpenter, with his permission, when clearing his beloved work shop.
    The body was void of depth and width stops but I found these scattered in different boxes.
    The body was slightly rusty with a badly sharpened iron. I cleaned off back to shiney metal and fitted a new iron.
    The nicker on these, as you know, is in the form of a conical disc. This will need sharpening all round??
    QUESTION TO YOU PAUL ….PLEASE….is do I sharpen all round or part of.
    Thank you John

    • hank norton on 18 July 2019 at 4:56 pm

      Damn looks like it’s upgrade or hit the road thanks for that

      • Michael Chafe on 18 July 2019 at 10:38 pm

        Sharpen it so it does not change in thickness. The blade should be flush with the side of the plane when the screw is tightened. This is an expendable and part after a lot of use and a little to much sharpening the cutter needs to be replaced, I modified a marking disk from a gauge as a replacement nicker.

        • SharpPencil on 19 July 2019 at 12:56 pm

          Micheal…thanks….I follow what you are saying.
          I suppose I should just tickle a little at a time only on the very edge NOT on the conical face as this could make cutter uneven in its seating.
          Can I ask please what you mean by a “marking gauge”
          The Stanley 3 pronged nicker Paul shows….I have never looked on rear and always thought it was 3 cutting edges…..thanks john

    • Izzy Berger on 19 July 2019 at 12:59 pm

      Hi John,

      Paul says:

      You can sharpen all or part of that round disc and keep rotating it until you get to the sharp edge point.

      Kind Regards,

      • Terry Southgate on 20 July 2019 at 4:54 am

        I sharpened the knicer on the flat side of the cutter.

        • SharpPencil on 21 July 2019 at 3:15 pm

          Hi Terry…..if you sharpen on the flat side i.e. Outside face, does this not reduce thickness of nicker eventually leaving cutting edge below face of plane body? How has it affected your upmto now
          Thanks john

          • Terry Southgate on 11 August 2019 at 4:59 pm

            Hi John: Yes your right, but it rarely needs sharpening , so its good for years.

  2. william mammarella on 18 July 2019 at 11:31 am

    As always Paul is so good at what he does; he makes everything look easy.

    • SPowers on 23 July 2019 at 12:55 pm

      Don’t get discouraged by using these planes. Remember Paul has the luxury of editing out sections of film which show the more difficult parts of setting up such a plane (such as that damn depth adjuster)!

  3. Francois Lafaix on 18 July 2019 at 11:34 am

    Thanks Paul for a great and very clear video. I don’t know if you plan a further video or blog on it, but it might be worth getting into what the front ‘bullnose’ mounting position is for (and how it performs!), possible improvements (such as a wooden fence), whether one can use the plane with the fence on the right to accommodate grain or user preference (this loses the benefit of the depth shoe and cross grain cutting spur)… most of which you have covered in elsewhere.

    While at it, I also like how this plane can be converted to a rough scrub plane (even if the plane misses the fence attachment, spur cutter or depth shoe) by just shaping and sharpening a/the blade differently, as you have explained in a youtube video.

    • SharpPencil on 18 July 2019 at 11:59 am

      Francois……I have several wooden rebate planes, all with a skewed iron ( iron set at an angle) these work really fast.
      Look on eBay for one? It’s easy to screw to side an adjustable depth stop and by increasing with of body, possible to fit an adjustable width of cut stop ( fillister)
      Best John

  4. Adam on 18 July 2019 at 11:37 am

    Thank you for a fantastic video, as always.

    I’ve just finished restoring my Pa’s Stanley so this is perfect timing.


  5. allanmacsmith on 18 July 2019 at 11:40 am

    Love these tool videos. As someone who understands stuff better when I can see it in action, it’s great to see what different tools are actually used for. I find myself often confused by the sheer volume of different tools there are, some hugely different and some only subtly different. For example, with Stanley starting at the no. 1 and going into triple digits I wouldn’t know where to start. This is an invaluable resource, thank you.

    • allanmacsmith on 18 July 2019 at 11:45 am

      P.S. Has there been any videos where low angle planes, or bevel up planes, have been used/discussed. Been having a look but can’t seem to spot any. Never quite understood those.


      • Richg on 19 July 2019 at 4:47 am

        Hi have a look for Matt Estlea he has some great videos as well on planes and explains them in detail.

      • Richg on 19 July 2019 at 4:58 am

        If you follow the link above on further reading on the above plane the scroll to the bottom and there is a link to an article Paul did on low angle planes which might interest you as well. I just found it and came back to let you know. All the best richg

  6. Mario Fusaro on 18 July 2019 at 11:42 am

    Great video, Paul. I have an older model that has to be adjusted with a hammer (like a wooden plane). Sharpening the iron is pretty straight forward but the cutter is another story. I was lucky to have an older gentleman show me the way to sharpen this. I think a video on sharpening the cutter would be very helpful to newer users of this plane. I know that if you sharpen this cutter incorrectly, it will be rendered useless.

  7. Trevor Hosken on 18 July 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Brilliant video once again, thanks so much. Did you say that when in the cross grain mode the blade has to be level with the edge of the plane base please?
    Many thanks
    Trevor Hosken

    • Izzy Berger on 19 July 2019 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Trevor,

      Paul says:
      No, the blade should be protruding very slightly.

      Kind Regards,

      • Roger Evans on 30 July 2019 at 11:17 am

        Hi Izzy,
        I think you might be mistaken here. Trevor is asking about cross grain cutting. I’ve just been reading Paul’s long article on this plane where he says that the blade must be set inboard of the side of the plane when cutting across the grain in order to avoid tearing.

        You are a wonderfully inspiring team there. I’d love to visit one day if I’m in your area. Keep up the good work.

        Many thanks.

        • Izzy Berger on 31 July 2019 at 11:53 am

          Hi Rodger,

          Ah yes, you’re right! The blade should be inside, we had misread the question and didn’t realise it was cross grain cutting not with-the-grain cutting.

          Kind Regards,

  8. dusttilldawn on 18 July 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks Paul Enjoyable and informative video but is there any chance you could show us the sharpening of these small cutters or have you already done

    Many Thanks

  9. Erik Simpson on 18 July 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Paul if you get time sometime could you show how to sharpen the little cutter for crossgrain cuts. I have never had much luck doing the sharpening on these

  10. Eric Lundholm on 18 July 2019 at 4:18 pm

    As always very informative, only problem with these planes is that the fence and the depth stop are almost always missing. and when not missing the owners want over $100 for them.

    • Karl Napf on 18 July 2019 at 6:54 pm

      I was lucky enough to find a good one for a reasonable price a while ago, but I guess the market price is exploding right about now. (As has happened recently for router planes.)

    • Donald Kreher on 22 July 2019 at 4:27 am

      Exactly! Well not $100, more like $20. But you find bargains. Like fence and depth stop, but you only need the fence. So now you have to find one to go with the depth stop, which will only fit Sargents and not Stanley. And then there is the depth stop screw which are really hard to find. And the rod has different screw pitch for Sargent, Stanley and Miller falls. And you end up with 5 of these and you only wanted one.

  11. Jeffrey Murray on 18 July 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Paul also has a video on how to modify an extra iron to transform the 78 into a scrub plane. It takes only about 15 minutes to reshape an extra iron and it works like a champ. I bought an extra iron on eBay for about $10 US.

  12. Simon Richardson on 18 July 2019 at 6:51 pm

    So Paul, if that rebate plane is a fillister, what then is a side dillister ?

  13. Simon Richardson on 18 July 2019 at 6:53 pm

    So Paul, if that rebate plane is a fillister, what then is a side fillister ?

  14. Jim Carr on 19 July 2019 at 2:51 am

    I’m assuming you adjust the blade skew by tapping the top side to side?

  15. George Geyer on 19 July 2019 at 5:13 am

    Excellent instruction and demonstration.

  16. mal.adams on 19 July 2019 at 5:50 am

    OK, lets be honest here. How many watched the video and thought, “Nah, my plane doesn’t have one of those (referring to the nicker/cutter on the side for cross grain)”. Pick me, so I went out and checked mine and blow me down, there it was. I never even realised it was there. I took it off and realised that it had never once been sharpened from new, you could still see the original grind marks on it.
    Thanks Paul, both for the lesson in using the plane, and for the lesson in needing to keep my eyes open!

  17. Adrian Amoroso on 20 July 2019 at 8:45 am

    I just recently bought one of these from a retiring woodworker and was trying to use it whilst building my plywood workbench. I wish I knew then what I do now 🙂 Thank you, again, Paul! 🙂

  18. Andy Reynolds on 20 July 2019 at 11:41 pm

    My #190 is a bit like this but has no fence. It also has only one bed for the iron, which leads me to a question for Paul … do you ever move the iron to the bullnose bed? If so, what for?

    • Izzy Berger on 25 July 2019 at 11:10 am

      Hi Andy,

      Paul says:
      No, i’ve never used it that I can remember but then I do have a bullnose plane as well.

      Kind Regards,

  19. Daren Wingfield on 21 July 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks very much for the 78 rebate plane video any idea where i could the spur/nicker for the stanley

    • Izzy Berger on 25 July 2019 at 11:11 am

      Hi Daren,

      Paul says:
      Many Stanley parts are still available new from Stanley UK but often it’s cheaper to buy a whole plane on eBay and use the nicker between the two planes.

      Kind Regards,

  20. Daren Wingfield on 21 July 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Purchase the spur /nicker for the stanley 78

  21. Donald Kreher on 22 July 2019 at 4:20 am

    Nice video. I somehow have ended up owning 5 of these 2 Stanley 78, 2 Sargent 79, 1 Union 43. This I just seemed to acquire here and there cheaply from estate sales, garage sales, antique stores. Some I had to find parts for, which is expensive. One of these is a Craftsman made by Stanley and another is a Craftsman made by Sargent. I really only use one. I don’t know how I came by so many. Bu I have restraint now. Plus I found and bought over time the 3 rebate planes made by Sargent numbers 196,197,198. that have no fence. Because they have a cool filigree. Paul dose not mention it but you can remove the fence and depth stop and use it to clean up a tenon shoulder.

    • Kent Cripps on 16 January 2020 at 8:08 pm

      I have 2 different models as well; one is a Record 778 and the other is a Woden 078. Each has subtle differences from each other (and the Stanley and others). These two both have two rods to attach the fence, and this just feels better to me, somehow. The Record’s rods are smooth and held in place by screws in the plane body while the Woden’s rods are screwed into the body. I prefer the screws securing the fence on the Record because they have slotted screws, like the Stanley, while the Woden’s screws have no slot. The Woden uses the same type of depth adjuster as the Stanley, while the Record uses a knurled nut which I find much easier to control. Finally, the Woden came with a front knob that attaches where the blade would be mounted in the bullnose position. The knob makes the plane so much more comfortable to use, and as a bonus, it is easily made and will work on either plane. Overall, I prefer the Record 778 but I always use the front knob on it.

  22. Matt Sims on 22 July 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Right then…
    I’ve just managed to get one of these on eBay for a bargain… all complete and works well!
    But, what’s going on with the front mounting point. The screw and blade fit, but no adjuster…
    What’s all that about?


    • Izzy Berger on 25 July 2019 at 11:12 am

      Hi Matt,

      Paul says:
      The extra expense of engineering and manufacture, would make it prohibitive for something that is used so little. It’s simple enough to micro adjust it with your fingers and just get on with the work.

      Kind Regards,

      • Ed on 25 July 2019 at 1:14 pm

        I can see that being true for the front bullnose position, where you can tap with a hammer, but I owned a 78 look-alike that lacked a depth adjuster for the main position and found it useless. The handle prevented tapping the blade with a hammer for depth adjustment when the blade was in the normal position (not bullnose) and “micro adjust with your fingers” was too fussy. I can do it, but my strong advise to anyone looking for a metal rabbet plane is to select one with a depth adjuster.

  23. Richard 1941 on 24 July 2019 at 5:17 am

    I wonder if these planes come in right-handed and left-handed versions so that we don’t end up trying to plane against the grain in a nasty piece of wood.

    • Craig on 24 July 2019 at 2:56 pm

      Lee Valley skewed rabbet plane.
      The pair will set you back a little over $450.00.

    • Izzy Berger on 25 July 2019 at 11:12 am

      Hi Richard,

      Paul says:
      The fence can be used on both sides so you would just have to eyeball the depth.

      Kind Regards,

    • Christopher Johnston on 20 August 2019 at 6:14 am

      They can be used with either hand , just change the nicker the depth stop and the fence to the OTHER side . The plane is predrilled and tapped on BOTH sides . There is no RH and LH . Just one plane.

  24. Nial Ball on 5 August 2019 at 10:21 pm

    I took delivery of my used Stanley no.78 rebate plane over the weekend. I spent this evening making sure it was flat and sharpening the blade. My first attempt at a rebate was pretty good if I say so myself 🙂 Although, I should have read Paul’s blog on the rebate plane first as I made a couple of newbee mistakes.

    I fell for the ‘blade too wide’ thing and set the blade flush with the side of the plane. That resulted in a slightly fluffy guide face – not terrible, but noticeable. The cut face was fine. I also had a slight camber on my first rebate. I looked out for it on the second and subsequent rebates and it was easy to correct.

    I have one question, the leading edge of the plane is very sharp and I wondered if is worth putting on just a small radius with a file to stop it catching the rebate on the forward stroke?

    Anyway, thanks again Paul – invaluable information. You are my Guru!



  25. Paul Dallender on 21 August 2019 at 2:51 pm

    I have a Record No 50 Combintion Plane and of course it never crossed my mind when buying this they were made for right handed people, and I’m very left handed. Yes, the likes of Veritas do make left handed versions but they are not cheap. I know many will say just practice and you’ll get there. Swapping hands for marking is one thing, but after 60 years of total left handedness, I think it will be a long time before I try using a right handed plane on anything decent.

  26. RODNEY MAGEE on 7 September 2019 at 10:55 am

    We have a local Tool Thrift Store that sells donated used tools, the proceeds go toward helping elderly folks stay in their home, it’s a lot volunteer workers. I found a Sargent #79 in really nice shape and went to eBay to find a fence and depth stop and a thumb screw. After tuning it works surprisingly well. Thanks for the video and the article about rabbiting planes Paul and crew!!!

  27. Alex Debbage on 11 September 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Excellent instructional video. Thats a great plane. What other planes would you recommend to start off with for a beginner? I really want to use no power tools at all with my woodworking. Thanks for any advice!

    • Izzy Berger on 16 September 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Paul says:
      I don’t really use that many planes, so if you search for ‘plane’ on the blog it will come up with the planes I use. Alternatively you could go to Common Woodworking to see the beginner guide on buying planes:

      Kind Regards,

  28. William Allen on 11 September 2019 at 4:50 pm

    How do you prevent tear out on the end of the stroke when doing cross grain on softer woods like cedar?

    • Izzy Berger on 16 September 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Hi William,

      Paul says:
      You could use a chisel and pare back that outer edge and then plane without concern.

      Kind Regards,

  29. Larry Geib on 11 September 2019 at 7:26 pm

    There are several strategies to ensure a clean cut on any wood, but you would emphasize them on really soft woods like cedar.

    1) maker sure you engage the nicker and it is sharp.
    2) make sure you set the iron FLUSK with the nicker. Unlike cutting with the grain where the iron protrudes past the body of the plane.
    3) start with two or three backwards strokes with the plane, using the nicker to eastablish a strong knife wall along the cut. Then as you plane, make sure the nicker continues to cut all the way to the end of the rebate as you use the plane. Don’t lift the plane early.

    You can back up the cross grain cut with a scrap of wood clamped at the end of the cut to support the work.

    If you are making the cross grain fillet that dies into a long grain rebate, do the rebate first. It will act as a backstop to support the end of the cut. If you do that, you might want to disengage the nicker for the last couple strokes so it doesn’t leave a line on the rebate cut. The depth stop will prevent scoring of the rebate face if the iron hasn’t been re-adjusted between cuts.

    Another strategy is to core the cut with the nicker using a couple backwards strokes to establish the line, then use your dovetail saw to cut a small ramp down to depth and pop out the end of the board at depth with a chisel.

    Or you can just make the rebate before you dimension the board and cut off the tearout afterwards.

    Hope that helps.

    • William Allen on 10 October 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Wow, lot of good options there. Never thought of the backwards stroke. I’ve tried the clamped backer, b ut some of the cedar tears out anyway. I’ll try all the other suggestions, Thanks kindly!

  30. Larry Geib on 11 September 2019 at 7:28 pm

    I should have mentioned your cuts should be fine enough that they don’t go below the depth of cut of the nicker.

  31. Antonio Santos on 4 October 2019 at 11:34 pm

    What is the difference from this plane to a rabbet plane, like the skew version from Veritas? Don’t they do the same…? I’m a little confused here…

    • Izzy Berger on 8 October 2019 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Antonio,

      Paul says:
      They do do the same thing, but the skew planes are designed to pull themselves into the corner of the rebate as the rebate deepens. Whereas, the 78 needs steady pressure to keep it engaged along the fence.

      Kind Regards,

  32. Jamie Bergen on 16 November 2019 at 7:17 am

    It should be mentioned that when cutting a rebate on both sides of a corner, both long grain and cross grain, cutting the cross grain rebate first will allow any tearout to be cleaned up when the long grain rebate is cut.

  33. Sandy on 30 November 2019 at 2:13 am

    Another very good instructional video. I don’t have this plane yet, but I have other planes that have the Spur cutter. I wasn’t sure what that was for. Question now is, can you get replacement spur cutters if it is sharpened beyond it’s serviceable use?

  34. Anthony Bennicelli on 2 March 2020 at 5:06 pm

    I recently purchased an older used Stanley No 78 off of eBay. I have noticed that after sharpening the iron, I couldn’t get it to cut and that the adjustment lever’s teeth were pretty much gone(Top of the teeth were flush with the bed the iron sits on). I was able to get a good consistent cut by flatting the sole. I was thinking of trying to replace the lever with one I would make or possibly find one to buy. Any suggestions on fixing the issue? The depth of cut is impossible to control without the use of the lever.

    • Izzy Berger on 4 March 2020 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Anthony,

      I passed your question on to Paul and he says:
      It’s not impossible to control without the use of the lever, you can hammer tap it and that’s just as quick and effective as using the lever.

      Kind Regards,

  35. sebastiaan on 18 May 2020 at 10:06 pm

    Dear Paul,

    I enjoyed this one as I do all your videos!

    I also just watched the poor man’s rebate plane video. I loved that one and will try making it. In that video you make the side of the chisel (iron) sit flush with the side of the plane, while here you say it’s important for the iron to protrude just a bit. Does making it flush on the poor man’s version not create the problem you mention here (the moving wall) or is there a difference that prevents this happening on the wooden plane?

    Many thanks!

    • Izzy Berger on 21 May 2020 at 4:12 pm

      Hi Sebastiaan,

      Paul says:
      Yes the friction of the wedge stops it from moving.

      Kind Regards,

      • sebastiaan on 23 May 2020 at 9:59 am

        Thanks Izzy and Paul, but I’m afraid I don’t understand, but maybe the question wasn’t clear. I meant that Paul says in this video that with the metal plane the blade needs to protrude slightly from the side of the plane or otherwise the wall of the rebate becomes inaccurate and keeps moving in (when cutting with the grain). In the poor man’s rebate plane, Paul makes the blade sit flush with the side of the plane (not protruding). I just wondered if that doesn’t give the same problem (the inaccurate rebate wall) and if it does, if there is something that can be done about it?

        Thanks again!

        Also just saw the snake video. Very nice


  36. Larry Geib on 23 May 2020 at 4:51 pm


    Watch the video again – specifically at 6:57 minutes where he tels you to set the depth at “just under” the width of the iron.

    This is immediately followed with the comment that you can plane the face of your plane later if you need to. This will result in the proud iron you are asking about.

    • sebastiaan on 27 May 2020 at 5:10 pm

      Thanks Larry, I appreciate the suggestion and I did watch it again. However, in the bit you refer to he actually says it’s not so bad if the bed’s too deep because you can later plane it flush again, which is what he does from 30.56 on when he find the iron protruding ever so slightly.

      Still would be curious why it’s not a problem to have it flush in the wooden plane. I read elsewhere on the site (perhaps in the blog below the video) that the skewed wooden rebate planes work very well because they are drawn into the corner of the rebate. That there are skewed planes perhaps suggests it can be a problem. Not sure, just a thought.

      I suppose I can just try to make it flush and if it is a problem plane some off as you suggest.

      Cheers, Sebastiaan

  37. Tom Ashworth on 21 May 2021 at 6:38 am

    Great video – I’ve watched it several times to determine how to use the 78, which I’ve still only had slight success with. All user error, of course, but one day I’ll set aside a few afternoons to fettle the plane – I think SOME of the difficulty is the sole. Minimal, but…?

    however, one of the first projects I built was the Poor Man’s Rebate plane, and that works so well that I’ve not HAD to get the 78 running dependably. That worked so well from the start that I’ve been spoiled. The only modification I made was to plane the face of it down so my 1/2″ chisel was exposed just a bit. That stopped the plane “walking” away from the inside corner.

    Thanks for all everyone does — Paul, Joseph, Izzy, everyone. And I still wait for the techno people to fix the Watched Videos page so I can delete things. Still doesn’t work, but I don’t let that rattle me, I just keep watching. Repeat viewings is the ticket for me…

    Thanks much!

  38. Michael Kelewae on 5 September 2022 at 3:41 pm


    I just scored a #78 to refurbish. My question is: Why the 2 blade positions? Is there a time when you would use 2 blades? Thank you for helping me stay sober! Now instead of picking up a bottle, I pick up a hand tool.


  39. Colin Scowen on 5 September 2022 at 7:48 pm

    Mike, if you click the ‘read more about the fillister plane’ link just below the video, it explains this. I just ordered up a pre-1925 version that I hope to be able to pick up before christmas. It is also worth noting that the ‘Stanley Blood and Gore’ (yes, that is the search term you use for google, it should give you a link to website) pages have a lot of historical info that is also useful (and well written too).

  40. Benoît Van Noten on 6 September 2022 at 9:31 am

    Question to Paul Sellers:
    As the #78 has a flat machined right side, can it be used (without the depth stop) efficiently as a shoulder plane?
    Paul never uses shoulder planes in the video as those planes are non-essential and expensive (contrary to the relatively cheap #78).
    I see shoulders generally pared with a chisel by Paul. When would a shoulder plane be useful?
    If it works as a shoulder plane, a video would be appreciated.

    • Katrina Sellers on 9 September 2022 at 3:00 pm

      I asked Paul and his reply was:
      Yes, you could use it as a shoulder plane. Not very useful tool, the knife wall and chisel eliminates the need for shoulder plane. Shoulder planes were developed for the massive wooden doors of commercial properties before aluminium and plastic replaced them.

      • Benoît Van Noten on 10 September 2022 at 1:38 pm

        Thank you for the answer.
        That was what I expected.
        – Mastering the knife wall and paring technique should make adjustment with a shoulder plane unnecessary.
        – I was thinking about Paul making new doors for Penrhyn Castle.
        I just have to master the technique.
        There is also the possibility to use a very fine saw as shown on Instagram dated 5th of February 2021. Named “saw scribing” by Paul.

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