Quick and dirty router plane

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Project by wch posted 06-15-2010 08:19 AM 23614 views 33 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I really enjoy using my tools to make more tools. Sometimes I put a lot of effort in the aesthetics and details, and sometimes I just want something that works. This falls into the latter category.

I was in the process of making a wooden plane with an adjustable mouth, and I needed to make sure the mortise where the mouth piece mates with the plane was totally flat and at a consistent depth relative to the bottom of the sole. I had flattened that area before laminating the sole, but after doing so and putting on the finish, some glue and finish had gotten in there and needed to be cleaned up. I started with a chisel, but I had trouble getting the surface totally flat, and I didn’t know if it was a consistent depth.

I had seen a couple homemade router planes before, and this situation pushed me to finally make one. I discovered that it was trivially easy, and realized I should have done it a long time ago. For making the router plane itself, most of the time was spent waiting for the glue to dry. I flattened the bottom with a piece of sandpaper adhered to glass, but it could also be planed flat. For most purposes, the bottom doesn’t have to be as perfectly flat as, say, a smoothing plane, since this kind of plane generally is not used to take super fine shavings or make a perfect surface texture.

Making the blade was a lot more work. As others have done, I took a hex wrench I had lying around (4mm), ground it to shape (being careful to avoid overheating), then honed it. Sharpening it isn’t easy, but the edge doesn’t have to be perfect since my goal is to use it for joints where the surface isn’t visible. I was careful not to put a left or right tilt on the blade, by putting the blade flat-side down on a table, and then checking with a square that the handle stood vertically. It’s also important to add some relief to the blade (grinding the back higher than the front) so that the blade can’t “skate” on the surface.

Some things that are less than ideal about my execution:
- I didn’t put in the insert nut for the thumbscrew quite straight, so when the screw is tightened down, the cutter ends up being off at a slight angle. But it’s not a problem at all for my use.
- Currently, the cutter is a little too long. In the future I’ll probably grind it shorter, because at its current length, it can be difficult to access tight spaces.
- I would put the locking screw a little lower to minimize flexing of the blade. It’s not a big issue, but I can tell that there’s a little bit of flex in the system when making a deep cuts.

A couple hours after I started making this guy, it was finished and I was able to use it to clean up the mortise in my smoothing plane. You can see it in the last photo above. In addition to cleaning up mortises, it can also be used for cutting grooves and dadoes, if the sides are scored with a knife/chisel/saw cut.

If you’ve ever had a desire for a router plane, but didn’t have the funds for it, you should try making one for yourself. It’s surprisingly easy—much easier than a “normal” hand plane, for example. Not counting the time spent making the blade (or waiting for the glue to dry), it took about 15 minutes. If you don’t want to make a blade, they can be purchased for $9-$12 dollars at Lee Valley.

None of this is new; my only “innovation” was to expend the least possible effort in making it. Ideas and inspiration were from these much more polished examples:'sTooth.html

16 comments so far

View Houtje's profile


311 posts in 4463 days

#1 posted 06-15-2010 11:32 AM

This is very nice.Thanks.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4826 days

#2 posted 06-15-2010 11:33 AM

Thanks much WCH. I put this in my favorites. I like the simple execution and if that doesn’t work I’ll use the links you so kindly included for additional info. There have been many times when such a tool could have been handy to have.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5619 days

#3 posted 06-15-2010 12:53 PM

I’m cutting a lot of butterfly dovetail keys and a router plane is a necessity.
I’m thinking about making one from some hornbeam that I have set aside for tool making.

My old Stanleys could use a little help.

Many thanks.

-- 温故知新

View Rob W's profile

Rob W

434 posts in 5028 days

#4 posted 06-15-2010 02:25 PM

What a great idea!

-- Rob — I've cut it off twice and it's still too short!,

View blackcherry's profile


3351 posts in 5314 days

#5 posted 06-15-2010 02:42 PM

Thanks as well for the router plane web site, its on my 2 do list…BC

View sandt38's profile


166 posts in 4399 days

#6 posted 06-15-2010 03:44 PM

Thanks for the links showing what exactly it does, and how it does it. I saw the other “Granny’s Tooth” project and had no idea what it was, how it functioned, or what it would be used for. IMO it looks perfect. It is completely functional, and that is all that is required for a tool.

-- Got Wood? --- Somewhere along the way the people in Washington forgot that they are there to represent the people, not to rule them.

View Ken90712's profile


18123 posts in 4680 days

#7 posted 06-15-2010 05:47 PM

Well done!

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

View a1Jim's profile


118333 posts in 5069 days

#8 posted 06-15-2010 05:53 PM

More like quick and useful great job.


View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4581 days

#9 posted 06-15-2010 10:53 PM

Less is more, love it.

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

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 4522 days

#10 posted 06-16-2010 04:46 AM

Cool idea. I will use this one at some point.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 4501 days

#11 posted 06-17-2010 01:18 AM

A simple, yet very functional OWT indeed. Nice Job!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4607 days

#12 posted 06-18-2010 01:15 AM

thank´s for sharing


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24932 posts in 5167 days

#13 posted 06-24-2010 09:10 AM

Great idea. don’t know how I missed thnis one :-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Grumpy's profile


26811 posts in 5343 days

#14 posted 06-29-2010 01:21 AM


-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 5204 days

#15 posted 07-05-2010 02:00 AM

Interesting, I think I want to try this just to say I’ve actually made a tool…and it would be something to do with those hex keys that always seem to accumulate!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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