Cabinetmaker’s Hand Planes

plow

 

For cutting grooves with the grain, a plow plane, like the one on the left, was used. The plane was equipped with a set of eight blades of varying widths so it could cut different sized grooves. It also had an adjustable fence which is held against the side of the work to ensure that the groove is cut parallel to the plank at the desired distance from its edge.

dado

For grooves cut across the grain, a dado plane, like the one at the right, was needed. Cutting across the grain will leave a splintered edge, so a dado plane was equipped with two knife-like cutters called knickers. Fitted on either side of the blade, parallel to the direction of the cut, these knickers meant that each plane could cut only a fixed size groove. A cabinetmaker needed a different plane for each size groove to be cut. Graduated sets of dado planes are on display at the Museum.

planesInterestingly, the toe of this dado plane bears the mark “Hammacher Schlemmer”. Before becoming a purveyor of expensive toys for young and old, Hammacher Schlemmer was one of New York’s major hardware stores.

This interior view of a 19th-century joiner’s tool chest illustrates how each individual craftsman needed a large collection of planes. Many of the tools in this chest are marked “A. Hinkley.”

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