Shop made grooving planes
UPDATE (4/12/2011): Lie-Nielsen now has the blades for sale on their website. For most folks the big advantage of the blades (as opposed to buying blanks like I did) is that you wont have to do any of the grinding or heat treating. That was definitely the least fun part of making the planes.
UPDATE (4/6/2011): Folks, at long last the time has come. The article explaining how to make these planes is in the issue that is just about to land in mailboxes and newstands. Keep an eye out for it. And starting April 7, you can enter to win a pair of grooving planes made by me. I’ll post back then with a link.
UPDATE (12/1/2009): This is just a quick note to let ya’ll know that I will be writing an article on these planes for the magazine. I’ll explain all the geometry and construction, and cover the blades as well. Once I know for certain which issue it will be in, I’ll update this post again.
I recently made a box with three small trays for my mom. As I was grooving the tray parts for their bottoms, using the router table and a 1/8 in. dia. straight bit, I thought to myself, “This really isn’t safe. The parts are too small.” I could have rigged up some kind of push stick, but I’ve always thought that a push stick in this type of situation lessens your control over the workpiece. So I started to think of how else I could cut grooves in small parts like those trays.
Some kind of grooving plane, I knew, would be great. I’ve used a Stanley No. 50 to cut grooves. It worked great, but was a borrowed plane. Also, making all the adjustments was a bit tedious. And I didn’t want to waste time searching the internet looking for one. So, I decided that I’d make a pair of small grooving planes. They weren’t hard to make. I basically used the Krenov method and it only took me about 1 hour to get the pair done. Of course, I spent about 5 hours working on the prototypes, but that was time well spent, because the final pair work exquisitely. In fact, I like them so much that I think I’ll make another pair for larger drawers. Check out the video to see them at work.
The best thing about these planes is that they require no adjustments, other than setting the blade. Why? Because I made them so that they cut a 1/8 in. wide and deep groove 1/8 in. up from the bottom of drawer and tray sides. For small parts I always cut the exact same size groove in the exact same location. So why not make a plane that does just that?
I made the plane irons from some molding plane irons purchased from Lie-Nielsen. I ground them down to the right width, hardened them with a MAPP gas torch and then tempered them in the oven.
This isn’t the first time I’ve made a tool and it won’t be the last. If you haven’t already, give it a try. If you have, tell me about it in the comments below.
Smart construction. Beech sides sandwich a rosewood core that serves both as the "frog" and as the skate.
Shop-made satisfaction. Using a tool you've made yourself is pleasing, especially when it works as well as these grooving planes.