Planes for Grooves and Dados
Grooves & Dados Using Planes and Saws
Housed joinery. That's the general name for the dados, and rabbets, and grooves that we use to put together casework. They are the under appreciated joints that make the woodworking world go round. And you can cut them using a huge variety of techniques and tools. Each one of these joints has a speciality plane named after it. Rabbet planes, Dado planes, and....well...Plow planes. I suppose someone somewhere calls it a grooving plane. These are the obvious choices for cutting these joints but as with all things woodworking, there are several other ways to cut them. The important thing to remember is there is no one "right" way, but there is a best way based on your specific situation. Plow planes are wonderful tools but they tend to fall apart when the groove is placed deep into the middle of a board where the fence won't reach. Likewise I find grooves wider than about 3/8" (~10mm) are difficult as the wider blade doesn't have a lot of support and chatter becomes a big issue.
Dados have the same issues plus the added complexity of cutting cleanly across the grain. There are a lot of moving parts to a dado plane as well that when not tuned perfectly can net disastrous results. The upshot is that when you pair the right tool with the circumstances of the particular joint size, location, and wood species you get magic. The rest of the time you might want a different tool for the job. With that in mind I show several ways in which I used plow planes and dado planes in conjunction with saws, chisels, and everyone's favorite utility player, the router plane to cut the joints in a variety of situations. And along the way I go on a rant about router planes and some of the best practices I have found for working with them. Great, widely capable tools, but often pushed too far without considerations for the limitations of that lonely exposed blade hanging off the bottom of the sole.
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