Whale of a rabbet plane

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Project by BillG posted 10-22-2014 06:24 PM 2583 views 9 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Over the last few years, I have become more interested in improving my skill at using hand tools. I like the way good planes work and like the wooden ones a lot. I decided to start out by making a less complicated rabbet (rebate) plane. I had a nice piece of dense mahogany that would do for my design.

The rabbet plane is one tool that is a specific handed plane. As a lefty, I always had problems using the typical right handed versions. I will admit that the whale design was totally unintentional. However, as the refinement of fit to my hand progressed, it ended looking like a whale. The cutting iron came from an old 5/8” square edged chisel that I had. I revived the chisel by cleaning and sharpening it and removing the handle. As on many chisels, the tang on this one was long, and tapered.

The plane is about 1 1/4” wide by 10” long and 3 1/2” high. The file has a taper to the blade as does the wedge. Fitting both accurately meant measuring and marking them as the were held together. This was a hand fitting process with cuts made by my tenon saw, a chisel and a router plane. Some of the cuts were compound angles. I fitted two fences to the plane, one to set width of cut and one to establish the depth of cut. The fences adjust from 0” to a little over 1/2”. Purist will scoff at my use of torx screws, but they are better screws and these GRK brand have a nice washer face built into the screw. GRK makes the best screws.

After fine tuning the fit of the parts and the fit to my hand, I was ready to finish the plane. I fired up my MAP gas plumbing torch and heated the tang red hot and forged it into a coil. I wrapped a wet paper towel around the blade to lee it from over heating and removing the the temper and hardening. The forging removed the point and gave me spiral to strike to adjust the plane iron.

The finish is shellac. I brushed on three coats of amber shellac using about a 1 lb. cut and when dry, I rubbed it out with an old 320 grit Abranet sanding pad. The final coat of shellac was padded on.

The pictures show several views of the plane, one showing how the chip curls out of the plane and another that shows the nice rabbet it created. The plane is my first effort in plane building and while it came out quite well, if I was to do it over, there are a couple of things I would do a bit differently. First, I would make the bottom fence twice as thick for better registration on the piece to be planed. My skill at keeping it square to the piece being planed needs to improve. Second, I would have made the wedge a bit longer. All things considered though the plane does work well and ultimately that is what is most important.

-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

13 comments so far

View bobasaurus's profile


3743 posts in 4475 days

#1 posted 10-22-2014 07:39 PM

That is a beautiful plane. The forging on the tang and the whale shape are amazing.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View mafe's profile


13405 posts in 4380 days

#2 posted 10-22-2014 11:48 PM

Beautiful, really love it.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Ken90712's profile


18083 posts in 4479 days

#3 posted 10-23-2014 08:52 AM

Wow that is really nice and it seems to work just as well. Great work!!!!!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1385 posts in 3004 days

#4 posted 10-23-2014 12:11 PM

Looks great. Always love homemade tools!
Like the detail with the spiral on the iron. Makes it look a bit 17-1800´s style..
Thanks for sharing

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Mauricio's profile


7168 posts in 4442 days

#5 posted 10-23-2014 05:40 PM

Very nice! I like it.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4876 days

#6 posted 10-23-2014 06:16 PM

Another thing to add to my long, long, list.
Everytime I start to reduce it by making something or making changes needed to my shop I get pulled right up to the top again by beautiful work like yours brother wow wow and Again wow .LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4876 days

#7 posted 10-23-2014 06:19 PM

Oh and another thing LOL what has this plane got to do with rabbits it’s a rebate plane in English LOL no wabbits heewer,LOL Alistar wahabbet plane indeed huh LOL

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View a1Jim's profile


118297 posts in 4868 days

#8 posted 10-23-2014 06:29 PM

Way cool Rabbit plane,nice work


View MakingCurls's profile


43 posts in 2870 days

#9 posted 10-24-2014 12:22 AM

looks great and works a treat

-- Out in the shed making curls

View woodchuckerNJ's profile (online now)


1545 posts in 2925 days

#10 posted 10-24-2014 03:02 AM

great job…

-- Jeff NJ

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 3977 days

#11 posted 10-24-2014 10:39 PM

love what you did to that old tang!

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3159 days

#12 posted 10-24-2014 11:26 PM

Fantastic plane. Tang spiral is superb. Would like to read more about how you did it. A very appealing aesthetic on the whole plane.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Don W's profile

Don W

20247 posts in 3858 days

#13 posted 10-24-2014 11:28 PM


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

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