Tool Chest: Episode 4


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In this episode Paul shows how to layout and run grooves in the bottom frame. He also lays out the mortises and cuts the first mortises.

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  1. Charles Cleland on 7 August 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Enjoyable as always Paul and Team.

  2. Boyce Burress on 7 August 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Paul, how important is it to have the depth of the mortise hole match the tendon length? Toward the end of the lesson you commented on using a mortise machine. The drill always extends past the chisel. Sometimes I’ve made mortise deeper that the tendon length. How will that effect the structure?

    • dborn on 8 August 2013 at 8:28 am

      Hi Boyce! I am pretty sure that, while our goal is accuracy and precision, if the mortise hole is deeper than the tenon, it should not effect the structure of the rail. I know for a fact when I chop a mortise, the depth of the mortise is not level.

    • Joseph Sellers on 8 August 2013 at 10:14 am

      Hi @gene,

      I agree with Dan. Making the tenon slightly deeper than the length of the tenon is acceptable practice. However, I would not make it very much deeper. Perhaps 2-3mm (≤1/8″).

      • D.J. King on 31 May 2014 at 5:08 am

        I concur. From all I’ve read, a bit of extra space b/t the end of the tenon and the mortise bottom is generally regarded as a good thing as it gives a place for excess glue to rest rather than squeezing out along the shoulder line. Also, since the tip of the tenon is end grain, contact between the bottom of the mortise and the tip of the tenon adds no real strength whatsoever.

  3. RL on 7 August 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I’m really enjoying this series.

  4. flatironjoe on 7 August 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Another great video, gents. Can you explain a little more why you make the grooves first?

    • Paul Sellers on 10 August 2013 at 1:10 am

      Because in this case the grooves align with the mortise hole walls, we can use the walls to reference from and so not necessarily use the mortise gauge as in normal mortising operations. Also, the plough plane ‘trips’ into and out of the mortises when cut ahead. this is not too much of an issue but more an irritation to an otherwise ultra smooth operation.

  5. Mark Armstrong on 7 August 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Great job
    Love the mortise Guide

  6. STEVE MASSIE on 7 August 2013 at 7:19 pm

    This is a great series, I am really enjoying this series. That mortice guide /guide’s is pretty slick will defiantly make a couple different size’s.


  7. Eddy Flynn on 7 August 2013 at 9:00 pm

    is there a reason why we put a brass plate on the last mortise guide and these guides are shown without great episode by the way

    • Philip Adams on 7 August 2013 at 10:21 pm

      The brass plate is just there for durability, as these get heavily used during the classes. Worth it if you are planning to re-use a lot, but easy enough to make another. I’m still not sure about the wear and tear of the chisel against the brass, but probably isn’t an issue.
      Hope that helps,

    • Paul Sellers on 10 August 2013 at 1:06 am

      Hey Eddie, How are you. Here’s another point. In the US we use Plastic laminate glued in place with two sided tape like the tape used for picture mounts and also for carpets. This stuff wears only minimally and can be used for several years. I find that there is much less friction between the chisel and the plate so the chisel moves gracefully on the guide. You can use scraps or buy pieces or find them in the dumpster at construction sites.

      • Eddy Flynn on 10 August 2013 at 11:17 am

        thanks for that Paul it just so happens my nephew works in a plastic laminating company i will have a work im sure he can help me out with some scraps saves me diving into skips (again )

  8. Eddy Flynn on 7 August 2013 at 10:42 pm

    cheers philip that sounds good to me

  9. humanic on 7 August 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Another great video. Do you see how he uses the old Mathieson’s plow plane? So wonderful!

    • humanic on 7 October 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Sorry, Paul uses an old Sanduski plow plane. A bit later but I think worth making the correction.

    • Alan Appel on 29 December 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Paul, How about a poor man’s plow plane? Particularly because you said they are no longer being manufactured. Wonderful series. Hope you have another fifty years!

      • Edmund on 29 December 2017 at 11:16 pm

        @aappel plow planes are being made by at least two manufacturers that I’m aware of, and perhaps more. Veritas makes a small plow plane and a combination plane, and Quangsheng makes what they call a No. 043 plow plane.

        • Alan Appel on 30 December 2017 at 6:06 am

          Thanks Edmund, I’ll check these out. Internet plus helpful people. What a great combination!

      • Philip Adams on 3 January 2018 at 11:03 am

        You could adapt the rebate plane making video we did to make a poor man’s plough plane. You should be able to work it out as long as you address the following aspects:

        The sole and blade need to be of a similar width, so you could rebate the base to the width of the chisel.
        You would need a fence or you could clamp a piece to the work to guide the plane.
        A depth stop is also useful, but this can just be a clamp as in the rebate plane video.

  10. david o'sullivan on 8 August 2013 at 12:10 am

    this is a great project, i could watch paul all day .

  11. smfield on 8 August 2013 at 12:44 am

    Where’s Ken Haygar?

  12. John Guengerich Jr on 8 August 2013 at 5:08 am

    Nice to see the plow planes in action again Paul. I still haven’t used my Veritas “small” plow plane but my Sandusky is a favorite. I guess that I’m saving the Veritas for matching T&G… whenever that comes along. LOL I just like the big wooden guy. (I wish the threads on mine were as pristine as yours. Amazingly great shape!
    Handy tip to use the mortise gage to define the borders for the grooves. I’m going to start incorporating that technique.

  13. Jason on 8 August 2013 at 1:08 pm

    This is really good stuff.
    Joseph,FYI, right at 17:08 you guys have…

    …but no translation. Not a big thing, but thought you should know.

  14. MartyBacke on 9 August 2013 at 4:35 pm

    It was particularly evident in this episode, the use of twisted stock. I know wide boards may move a bit after they’ve been prepped, but narrow boards wouldn’t twist this much.

    So to my eyes, Paul doesn’t concern himself too much with jointing his wood before use. I wonder why.

    • Ken on 9 August 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Why don’t you ask him

      • MartyBacke on 9 August 2013 at 8:19 pm

        I’ve been a member for awhile now, and have observed that for the most part, Paul doesn’t participate in any of the discussions.

        This is unfortunate, because I had hoped there would be more interaction with ‘the teacher’ in these virtual workshops. Paul is much more accessible in his blog. Why he isn’t here (where the paying customers are) is a mystery.

        Yet I’ll continue to post my comments/questions here in the hopes that he might interact.

        • Ken on 9 August 2013 at 8:34 pm

          Marty,you can always ask your question direct, through the contact page at the top.

          I do agree, the lack of interaction is the only big let down on this site.

          Paul’s commitments in the US dose not help. I think he is back this week.

        • Joseph Sellers on 9 August 2013 at 10:40 pm

          Hi guys,

          It is true that Paul has been all too scarce on this site. There has been a good reason for this. Paul has been away from home for six months out of this year so far and during that time has had only once a day internet access. He has only just barely managed to keep up on his blog by preparing posts in advance and then posting and replying to direct questions on the blog in a small window of time each day. Indeed he told me only yesterday that he is disappointed that he has missed answering direct questions on here.

          Paul is back now and with a much simpler schedule over the next few months. We will work to give him time to answer questions in the comments on these video pages.

    • Paul Sellers on 10 August 2013 at 12:32 am

      Actually, narrow wood can continue to twist. Wood almost always continues to move after preparation. Preparing stock is a necessary start but gives no guarantees to conform to our wishes that it will indeed stay flat. If you read my views on kiln dried wood you will see that for you and most of us these days, the wood is no longer air-dried and therefor no longer seasoned. That means we have no control over the drying process and today’s timber suppliers push product through the kiln as fast as they can. This means that the wood we get to work with often moves after we mill it. Today, we most of us have nothing to compare this with. As a boy, the men I worked with lamented the loss air-dried wood to work with. Today, we might say that that was rubbish and that kiln-dried wood is just the same. Having worked with both, I know what they said was true. I still work with air-dried wood, seasoned for a couple of years, if and whenever I can. I tell you, kiln-dried wood is not the same as air-dried and no one will tell me differently; not because I am stubborn but because it never curls around the back of the saw blade before reaching the riving knife.

      • smfield on 13 August 2013 at 12:38 pm

        I smell a marketing idea here. A boutique timber house.

        • gallarotti on 15 January 2016 at 4:50 pm

          That is actually a brilliant idea… And if it shipped all over EU it would be perfect 🙂
          I just paid over 500 euros for 20 something boards of red oak less than 2 meters long and 20mm thick: 6 boards are not even as good as I would have liked them to be. Would pay premium for guaranteed quality and wider variety of timber.

  15. avillalo on 9 August 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Guys I have a question, if you can help me… When cutting a groove with the plow plane, but the groove is not all the way, is it better to make some recesses at the ends whit a chisel or just use the plow plane as far you can and then square things up? I was trying both on scrap but it really didn’t work right. Is there another method you can think of? Thanks!

    • Mark Armstrong on 9 August 2013 at 7:36 pm

      I would chop small mortise same width as groove at each end or drill hole and square up bottom out with thumb router at ends.

      • avillalo on 10 August 2013 at 2:16 am

        Thanks Mark, the problem is plow plane’s nose get in the way and it didn’t let me plow unless the mortise is at least the distance between the blade and the nose. For the moment i can’t think another way to do this efficiently…

    • RL on 10 August 2013 at 2:03 am

      A plough plane does not work well for stopped grooves. I would use mortise chisel and a router plane to clean up the ends and bottom.

  16. nhwoodworker on 9 August 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I really enjoy these videos. I also noticed, as Marty did that a few of your boards were twisted. Would you please explain in detail how you address this issue and keep your assemblies flat? Thank you in advance.

    • Paul Sellers on 10 August 2013 at 12:57 am

      Hello George,
      Well, I do make certain that my boards are as flat as possible, and to do this I plane the stock foursquare using the practices shown and outlined. I would like to point out something in our woodworking culture today and that is that we often over respond to some issues instead of sweating the big stuff. That’s not you I am saying here but the condition of some things in modern-day woodworking or how things might appear. There are more woodworkers today spending three hours sharpening a plane iron than actually working the wood. They enjoy it, which is great. It’s the same with flattening plane soles. People are happy flattening soles to within fractions of a one thousandth. Did you know that if you flatten a cast metal plane sole or buy one dead flat that it does always stay flat? None of my plane soles stay flat except the shorter planes such as block planes and smoothing planes. All other planes move according to temperature. Wood is the same. Heat and atmospheric moisture levels change from hour to hour and so too the wood we work. Some woods change more rapidly. This past month in the US I milled wood for the class fresh from the machine shop as close as I could to time of use and never more than a day ahead because wood moves so much and indeed causes problems. The wood I bought I left to acclimate for two weeks before the class in the atmosphere it would be worked in. This is stickered or left standing so as to allow the wood to change unhindered.
      Beyond that, in video and even still 35mm photography there is the issue of lens warp. Lens warp distorts certain alignments in the camera and can be corrected in Photoshop or by using a tilt-shift lens; not something we need or have access to, but the point here being that what you see in video can be more exaggerated than what it actually is on the bench and in the vise. Obviously, when my projects come together, very little is out of alignment or twisted. I just looked at the mahogany tool chest yesterday at the Castle and it all aligns as perfectly as when I left it 8 weeks ago.

      • Scott on 7 September 2013 at 10:03 pm

        Is there any value in rough milling the stock 2 weeks ahead, then doing the final milling passes immediately before use?

        • Ken on 8 September 2013 at 12:47 pm

          Scott, I like to make it in three stages if possible. First week close, Second week just about there, and as you said final milling immediately before use

  17. STEVE MASSIE on 11 August 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I am really enjoying this series and site and will continue being a customer, great job to all involved.

  18. Ken on 13 August 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Thanks for this one, great job guys. 😉

  19. o_lucas_o on 5 September 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Paul!

    I have a question about your method of polishing the backs of your chisels. I’ve noticed, that all chisels You use have always the complete back polished, so You either put a lot of work into it…or have a magical method…or hafe little elves which do it during the night 🙂

    Kindest regards,

    • aledpugh on 5 September 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Lukasz,
      I’m sure Paul might answer this himself but if it helps I have some of Paul’s DVDs including his sharpening DVD. In this he demonstrates flattening the back of chisels demonstrating on a cheap home centre type chisel to show that it will work for anything 🙂
      He laps the back on increasingly fine grits of sandpaper up to I believe 2400 grit on a flat surface. He then uses metal polish (car polish) on a cloth to buff the back staying away from the very edges to prevent rounding them over leaving a mirror finish.
      Hope this helps

  20. Paul Sellers on 6 September 2013 at 8:38 am

    Couldn’t have said it better Aled. The back polishing is pretty much a one-shot deal. Once you have done this initial work you need not do it again. Some chisels come dead flat but you almost always pay for this service in the cost of the chisels and in my view you can do this yourself and complete a set of chisels in under an hour.

    • o_lucas_o on 6 September 2013 at 8:59 pm

      Thank You for the answer, Gentlemen 🙂

      Kindest regards,

  21. Gary on 17 April 2014 at 3:28 am

    With the problem of the fence’s slippage on most metal plough planes, I’ve often wondered why they don’t use threaded guide rod like on Paul’s old wooden Sandusky? Any ideas?

  22. blazgrapar on 20 June 2014 at 9:44 am

    Hi Paul

    I think this toolchest is perfelctly suited for me. But I wonder if it would be possible to embed the top and bottom into the sides, front and back with a groove? Do you think this is a bad idea for some reason?

  23. dennish83377 on 25 May 2015 at 3:52 pm

    What is the best alternative for cutting the grooves if one does not own a plow plane? My apologies if I missed a discussion of such options when I viewed this episode.
    Many thanks,

    • Wesley on 25 May 2015 at 7:47 pm

      Check the dovetail boxes project. The second box includes a sliding lid and alternatives for the plow plane are discussed. You can use a saw to cut the walls of the groove and then use a router plane or bench chisel to cut out the groove itself. I have never tried it myself though.


    • pigiron on 28 November 2015 at 11:47 am

      Take a look at There is a nice video on making a fixed 1/4″ x 1/4″ X 1/4″ grooving plane in the molding plane style. Even I find it fun and medium-easy. Haven’t quite finished mine yet, but I’m close.

      • bryandmack on 28 November 2015 at 1:10 pm


        Watched the video and I have to say that the guys methods were a bit sloppy. I noticed a couple times he over cut his grooves. It is a bit of a pet peeve with me, but I can’t stand when people toss their tools. Even a little. It hints at not having to have worked for them. He did own an impressive set of Veritas tools, which would have taken me years to accumulate. The plane came out fine though. It might just be my old age that makes me so picky.

    • Larry Geib on 30 December 2017 at 3:10 am
  24. bryandmack on 28 November 2015 at 5:15 am

    I have an old Stanley #48 T&G plane. I’ve used it only a little. This sounds like a great project to get it going.

  25. Clive Lee on 12 June 2021 at 9:16 am

    You old boys always blame your tools

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