How to plough a deep groove?

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    Mark Ridley


    I have recently got a plough plane (from eBay) and have spent time sharpening the blade (as per Paul’s previous blogs) – and it cuts just fine – but I am not sure on the best way to actually use it.

    I have seen videos showing to start from the front and work backwards, but to make deep grooves should I set the cutter to a relatively small cut, to get a good finish, and then simply adjust the front depth stop? Or should I leave the depth stop and keep incrementally moving the cutter?

    My attempts so far aren’t that pretty – as I only seem to get nice smooth strokes once I am a few passes through, say 2-3mm into the wood. Maybe I am trying to make the first cuts too deep and/or applying too much force to get started.

    Thanks for any advice.


    Greg M

    Mark, I’ve had similar issues when grooving Pine. It tends to tear out for me at the start of the cuts. Sharpness is the best thing you can do to combat this. The next thing is to change the direction of the cut if you have that option – you may not. Sometimes you have to cut against the grain. Lastly, don’t bear down on the top of the plane. Gentle, shallow cuts at first really help. If you can get a small groove going, you can run your knife along the wall of the groove to help separate the fibers and reduce tear out.

    Good luck!

    David B

    Paul has shown the effectiveness of using a cutting/marking gauge prior to starting the plough groove as a way to prevent/minimize tear-out at the surface of the groove and keep it clean.

    Regarding the initial question–in my (limited) experience, the set on the plough can often move slightly as it is being used and sometimes needs to be re-adjusted. However, I think you should set your depth stop and lock it in tight and not move it as you plane. The cutting edge should protrude slightly below the skates/runners/mouth as with any plane–you just may need to re-set the blade from time to time if it moves as you use it. And yes–start at the front edge of your work and gradually move backwards until you can run the plough the full length of the cut. Hopefully that helps.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by David B.
    Christopher Jackson

    IIRC, Paul has mentioned using a knife wall with the either the plow plane or the poor man’s rebate plane. That might help.

    Izzy Berger

    Hi Mark,

    I put your questions forward to Paul and I have written his response below:

    The sole of the plane establishes a certain depth of cut, this can be shallow or heavy, so the depth shoe and the amount the blade is protruding is generally the way we control the amount of wood we remove. The depth shoe can be set for the final depth only, as this is not used to control the shaving thickness of the depth of cut the cutter takes.

    Kind Regards,


    Ken Haygarth

    Have a look in using tools guide USING A PLOUGH PLANE. It might help

    shaealk show

    (Awaiting moderation)

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