A side rebate plane’s fence, fix solution

A side rebate (rabbet) plane widens dado’s (housing) or trench (Europe) and grooves, wow so many names for one joint.   Sometime a dado is a little too tight to accept a shelf or a groove for a drawer bottom needs to be a little wider for a perfect fit, this is where these planes excel.

There are several versions and makers of these planes, I believe Stanley only produced two of the No.79 and the 98 and 99 which Lie Nielsen now produces. 98_99

Then there was Edward Preston, whom Veritas based their design on and not to forget record. When Preston left the tool making scene, Record took over the production of the Preston planes.


Some time ago I began my hunt for a decent no.79 and I found one on eBay. I can’t remember what I paid for it, but they’re stupidly expensive now. The one I found was in near perfect condition. Here are the eBay pictures I downloaded at the time.


Whoever bought it must have thrown it in the toolbox and forgotten about it.  It’s rare to see these planes in such good condition. Well, I was lucky. There is another version of the no.79 you should avoid. They have slotted round screws instead of the thumb screws like I have.

79fence

I suspected at the time that the slots in the screws would wear out through repeated use, so I asked my friend Tony as he has one and he hates it for that reason alone. Tony’s tool chest was featured in Jim Tolpin’s book “The Toolbox Book.” page 28.  He fits over 400 tools in his chest and it weighs in at a whopping 400lb (181.43kg). That’s an entire workshop of tools he can carry to any job site and only taking up a small corner in the back of his pickup.
Let me see anyone do this with modern machinery.

Anyhow, the purpose of this blog was not to go into any detail about different versions of the side rebate planes, but to discuss a manfacturer’s flaw in the fence and the quick solution I came to fixing it.

So even though it’s basically new for a vintage plane, it still had a manufacturing fault. The fence wasn’t 90° to the surface of the plane. This rectification was on my to do list for many months, but I didn’t give it much thought on how to fix it since I don’t have a square metal block, I’ve left as is till this morning.  My day typically begins at 4 am when I’m not working my other job, this is the best part of the day as your mind is fresh with new ideas and it’s peaceful as the world is still asleep. It’s very serene.

I started off with a pair of pliers trying to bend it into shape and all I managed to do was create small teeth marks ruining what was once a pristine surface.

If Stanley did their job right in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to do this.

So, I kept bending it like a moron not realising that I was also creating a hump in the middle.  Now I was frantic and I looked around in desperation for anything that was square that could handle a beating and there she was. My lathe.

I threw a square up against the outside face and no go, so I tried the inside and alas she’s square.

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I placed the fence against the metal bar on the lathe and with the hard part of a rubber mallet I struck several light blows across the surface.

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Yes, it worked! The fence is square, but the hump is still there. To fix that I used a normal metal hammer and got rid of the hump.

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Had I given this proper thought beforehand, I wouldn’t have left teeth marks on a pristine surface. Lucky for me these marks are not sharp where it would mar the work. Surprisingly though they are smooth as a baby’s butt.

Is this a must have tool?

It’s a toughie to answer, yes and no. Yes, when you need one and I have used it more often than not, but it’s not an everyday “usage tool.”  I think it’s one of those tools you tend to forget you have until the day pops up when nothing else will work as the tool you forgot you had.

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2 thoughts on “A side rebate plane’s fence, fix solution

  1. Mine has the same problem. I don’t have a proper square surface to fix it, so I make do. My biggest gripe is that no matter how sharp those blades are, it is a pita to cut end grain dado sides with the thing.

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    1. Some end grain is harder to plane than others. Structural pine end grain is quite horrible to plane and 1” beech is difficult anything less in the same material is fantastic. When you face these difficulties Derek, wet the surface first. You will notice a big improvement.

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