Building a Moving Fillister Plane #2: Boxing, Depth Stop, Fence and even a nicker

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Blog entry by Wally331 posted 06-16-2014 01:30 AM 9706 reads 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Precursor and laminating the body Part 2 of Building a Moving Fillister Plane series no next part

Pics will be in a few minutes…

Where exactly did I leave off last time…ahh the main body is essentially done, and now all the adjustment features are all that’s left.


The one weakness of cherry for planes is that it’s just a little bit soft. Not much softer then beech, but enough that a harder sole will help over the years. Especially on a fillister or rabbet plane where almost all of the wear is on a corner. I chose bubinga to box it with, because its what I had and it’s tough as nails.

I didn’t really take too many pictures of this step because its pretty simple. Make some angled cuts and a small key at the top, then rip a strip of bubinga to match. The key probably isn’t necessary but why not for traditions sake. Use the escapement and bed to guide your saw cuts, maybe 1/32 in proud and then pare to flush. The boxing really makes the plane look spiffy and adds durability too.

With that done I moved onto making the fence. The fence is really just a thin piece of wood, I cut small mortises into it about 1.5 in. from each end. I made sure to clamp the wood on either side with a parallel jaw clamp as its quite thin near the edges and now is now the time I want to break it. You could leave it at that, but once again for more durability and tradition, I made up some brass pieces so the wood doesn’t get damaged or crack apart.

I went to the hardware store and picked up a half inch by .93 thick piece of brass. Drill overlapping holes and then with a hacksaw and numerous files straighten and square up the slot. It’s a lot easier to file if you hold the brass in place with a parallel jaw clamp, which is in turn clamped in your vise.

I also drilled a small hole and countersink at one end for a small screw. The other end it held under a small lip made by a chisel. To fasten the fence to the actual plane I put two threaded inserts into the bottom. While most vintage just had screws going into wooden threads, most of them happen to be stripped out too, just sayin..

Fence is done, now onto the depth stop. The design is pretty arbitrary, it just needs to function well and be strong. I though about soldering up a whole traditional system, and I may eventually do just that, but for now A walnut stop will do just fine.

I used a sliding dovetail to mate the stop and the plane, but a simple dado would do just fine. Using a drill press I drilled overlapping holes for the slot and pared and filed it nice and smooth.

I reinforced the area at the top with toothpicks as the small area of grain would be prone to splitting. A small piece of bubinga glued and screwed onto the bottom will serve as a good slippery and wear resistant surface.

I used a 5/16 all-thread and wing nut to lock the position of the depth stop. It works great with no chance of slipping. The all-thread is just threaded into an undersized hole in the wood.

Now the last functional part of the plane- the nicker. It’s used to score the cross-grain so you don’t get tearout or spelching. There are two main types of nickers used on vintage planes, one is where the nicker is tapered and holds itself in place, the other the nicker is straight and held with a wedge. I was weary about getting a good fit with a tapered nicker so I went for the straight nicker and wedge.

Using an old sawblade and hacksaw I roughed out the profile I needed, then moved onto mortising. The mortise is started by a small saw, and then I actually made a small chisel ( also from the saw blade) to finish up the mortise. I wanted it as thin as possible but my smallest chisel is 1/4 in. For the wedge mortise I ended up using a 3/16 plough iron from my stanley 45. While obviously not ideal, it worked fine for my purpose. The mortises are quite fiddly and took some tuning. Eventually I got an acceptable fit and fitted a small wedge to hold it in place.

Finally the plane is almost finished! There are a few other options for nickers that I will go over in the next post, and also a few mods I ended up making to mine.Other then that all that’s left is to shape, heat treat and hone the blade. Once again as always thanks for reading! Part three will be out sometime in the next few days.

8 comments so far

View shampeon's profile


2148 posts in 2983 days

#1 posted 06-16-2014 01:50 AM

Such nice work, Wally. That’s really shaping up to be a beauty.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Don W's profile

Don W

19644 posts in 3367 days

#2 posted 06-16-2014 10:38 AM

Well done!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View terryR's profile


7617 posts in 3108 days

#3 posted 06-16-2014 01:57 PM

Goodness gracious, what a complex-looking build, Wally! But it looks great!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for sharing all the photos, I learned a few tips! Love that sliding dovetail for the depth stop.Wow.

Wally, my young friend, I hate to influence your life after high school, but I sure hope you are considering a trade that allows you express your skills by hand. You have some serious talents, and they DON’T belong behind a desk.

just my 2 centavos…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View ToddJB's profile


8679 posts in 2930 days

#4 posted 06-16-2014 06:25 PM

This is super impressive. Great work. I saw on another thread you tempered the blade. I would LOVE for a blog on that.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Frank's profile


40 posts in 4462 days

#5 posted 06-16-2014 06:48 PM

Love the plane. Excellent!

I made a block plane several years ago and have wanted to do others, but never seem to find the time. You make this look so simple. How many hours have you put into this, so far?

-- Some rescue cats, some rescue dogs. I rescue tools. Feel free to send me any tools you cannot take care of or don’t want and I will foster them until I find a good home for them.

View Oldtool's profile


2976 posts in 2990 days

#6 posted 08-20-2014 11:59 AM

Beautiful creation, excellent work. I noticed you changed the nicker in the project posting on this, have a reason for this?
I’m sure it works great, you did a fantastic job, congratulations.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Wally331's profile


350 posts in 2824 days

#7 posted 08-20-2014 10:54 PM

I switch between long grain and cross grain work a lot, and it was just too finnicky to adjust the wedge and blade all the time. It is much easier to adjust it with a simple thumbscrew, and I find it stays in place better. I will still have a third part to the blog explaining it, however the phone with the construction pictures was destroyed. Long story haha… thanks for the kind comments from everyone though!

View Marcio Wilges's profile

Marcio Wilges

35 posts in 2096 days

#8 posted 11-07-2014 03:07 AM

That looked really tedious Wally and you managed to make the end results look so neat! It must have taken quite some time to achieve something so majestic as this, and that dovetail really puts the icing on the cake. Lovely masterpiece which is definitely not something to be missed out should you decide to clear out the space or do some spring cleaning. Ensure this work of genius gets in one of the boxes so it won’t get abandoned behind!

-- Marcio Wilges @

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