Wooden Planes - Types and Descriptions
Note: This section is under construction, so not all types are listed yet.
Bench Planes

Notes: Most of the bench planes are straight blocks of wood. There is a less common version where the area where the tote sits is cut down about an inch. These are called Razee bodies. Also, on a lot of the older bench planes, the practice was offset the tote to the right side (looking from the back of the plane). Older planes had a single iron, later ones had a double iron, although most of the manufacturers listed single iron bench planes as being available in their catalogs.

Jack Planes: - These are your workhorse bench planes. Anything from 12" on up to 16 inches, with the most common being around 14". Almost always made of beech.

Trying Plane: These are another workhorse bench planes. Anything from 18" on up to 22 inches, with the most common being around 22". Almost always made of beech. Note, a lot of people skip this class and call anything bigger than 18 a Jointer.

Jointers - These are your large bench planes. Anything from 24" on up to 30 inches, with the most common being around 24". Almost always made of beech.

Smoothers -Usually 8 to 10 inches in length, with the "coffin" style body. Used for the final planing of the stock. You do find occasionally a wooden Mitre plane, which is a smoother with the iron set a lower angle for end grain work. Another varient is the Toothing Plane, which has the iron vertically mounted, and the iron has teeth cut into it. These were used (supposedly, there is still some discussion as to the necessity of this) to rough up a surface prior to veneering. It has also been suggested that they were used to prepare a surface for scraping.

Molding Planes

Beading Planes - The most common of these is the Side Bead which is used for putting a bead on the side of a board. Very commonly used on tongue and groove paneling to hide the seam. The size is the total size of the cut including the bead, not the radius of the bead. A less common variation is the torus bead or the astragal.The difference is that on a regular side bead, the bead is cut with only enough material removed on the inside of the cut, to shape the bead. With the astragalthere is extra material removed on the inside of the cut so that the bead stands out. There are also Center Beads, which cut an bead on the inside of the board. Many of these have a second groove for the plane to follow the first cut, so that each cut stayed parallel. The first cut was usually made using a batten board as a guide.

Complex Molders - Any plane that cuts a compound shape, is considered a complex molder. There are many different shapes and sizes. The most common are the ovolo, which is a 1/4 round with a lip at the top and side of the cut, the ogee, the classic ~ shape, and the Grecian ogee with bead. I've found the best reference as to the shapes and shape names are some of the reprints of the tool catalogs, Auburn, Ohio Tool, Sandusky, Barton, etc. Some of these are out of print, but some are still available through the EAIA or through the Astragal Press.

Dado Plane- These planes have a skew (or angled) iron with a front mounted knicker iron and an adjustable depth stop. These are used for cleaning out dados.

Fillester - These are a member of the rabbet family. They have an adjustable depth stop along with a fence. They usually have a single knicker iron on the side. The type of fence determines what kind of fillester you have. A Moving Fillester has an adjustable fence mounted to the bottom of the plane, usually by two metal screws. A Sash Fillester has a fence mounted by two arms through the body. These were locked in place by wedges or on the later planes, screw arms and wooden nuts were used.

Hollows & Rounds - For many the definitive molding planee. Named by the shape of the cutter. These were sold in sets from 1/4 in increments of 1/16. Every maker had their own numbering system, so that a #4 Kellogg hollow probably won't match a #4 Auburn round. A reprint of a later catalog from the Ohio Tool Company (after they had acquired Auburn Tool) shows that you order H&R's, sized by either the Ohio or the Auburn method.

Match Planes - Used for making tongue and groove boards. The Double Match usually had both cutters in the same body facing opposite directions, however I have occasionally seen then with the irons facing the same direction. The larger sizes usually had an adjustable fence, either wedged or screw armed. These go by the name of Plank Planes.

Nosing Planes - Were primarily used to round the front edge of a stair tread, although they were used for other rounding tasks as well. Most of the later ones had two irons. The difference between a Hollow and a Nosing Plane is the that the Hollow is a very shallow cut while the Nosing Plane cuts almost a full 180 degrees. Another plane in this class is the Forkstaff. This plane usually has a cut of 120 degrees. Most of these that I have seen are toted.

Rabbet Planes - There are two types. The Straight Rabbet where the iron is perpendicular to the plane body and the more common Skew Rabbet where the iron is set at an angle to the body. This is useful helps with cutting cross grain. Very much a workhorse molding plane, used for cleaning up tenons, cleaning out dados, cleaning up saw cuts, the larger ones sometimes are used for fielding panels. These are usually found in sizes from 1/4 to 2 inches.

Specialty Planes
Mother Planes - The planes used for making planes. These were made to the shape of the finished profile then used to shape the plane with. Most are not "works of art", they were made by men who needed to make as many planes as possible in a day (most of the shops were piece work). Far too many of them have been lost, as has the history of the men who used them. One notable exception is that of Solon Rust, the primary Plow Plane maker for H. Chapin - Union Factory.  His complete tool chest is still in existence and was used a few years ago to make a few reproduction plow planes.

Panel Raiser - Used for cutting (or fielding) panels for doors, etc. Irons are skewed for cutting cross-grain

Plow Plane - Used for cutting grooves for door panels, also used to rough in complex molding shapes. Older style fences adjust by means of arms through the body held in place by wedges, later on, the arms were threaded and held in place by wooden nuts. The common ones were made of beech. Less common are the ones with Rosewood, boxwood, applewood, or ebony bodies. Brass and in some cases ivory was used to decorated the plane. These were the masterpiece item of the 19th century planemaker.

Table Planes - Used for making both sides of a rule joint, used in drop leaf table construction.

Back to the Shop Page