What is a chisel plane?
What it's used for
Access to difficult corners
Accessibility is the keyword for the chisel plane - also known as the trimming plane.
The position of its cutting edge right at the front and overall simplicity of design, means it can reach, for instance, into the internal corners of box-like wooden structures to trim away dried, excess glue or dried drips and runs between coats of paint.
It works rather like a woodworking chisel, performing a number of similar roles, and this is where it gets its name.
Cleaning up stopped rebates
A chisel plane can be useful for cleaning into the corners of a stopped rebate – that is, a rebate that stops short of the full width or length of the wood – and for trimming proud wooden dowels, plugs and dovetail joints ("proud" meaning slightly sticking out).
In short, the chisel plane reaches the parts that other planes simply cannot reach. And it will never be replaced by a router!
Metal chisel planes are usually low-profile - the iron is bedded at just 12 degrees to the sole.
Higher angle of irons in wooden versions
The irons of wooden versions are bedded at a higher angle, because the wedge-shaped bed would easily be broken at its narrow end if was pitched at an acute angle.
The design usually includes a handle, which in the case of a metal plane can be a single knob at the rear, or in the case of a wooden plane, a shape for the hand forrmed on the stock.
The blade is secured to the body with a lever cap held in place by a knob, or a knob and a screw. Metal versions often have a depth adjustment knob.
Stanley's contribution to the chisel plane market was the No. 97, which was made between 1905 and 1943 and described as a "cabinet maker's edge plane".
Some are available second-hand, although they are quite rare and so rather expensive. Alternatively, you can buy a new one based on this original design.