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What is a combination plane?

Shop for Woodworking Hand Planes

What it’s used for

Combination plane in use

Moulding, rebating and grooving

The combination plane combines the functions of, rebate and grooving and moulding planes.

It can be used for various tasks including grooving, rebating and cutting dados (housings) and tongue and groove joints.

A Stanley combination plane and accessories

Nosing, reeding and fluting

With the special soles and irons available for some types, the plane can cut shapes referred to as nosing, reeding, and fluting.

Fluting cut with a combination plane; woodworking hand planes Nosing is the rounded edge on, for instance, the top front edge of each step in a staircase. Reeding is a decorative moulding with parallel strips that resemble thin reeds, and fluting refers to shallow grooves running vertically along a wooden surface.
Moulding irons available for a metal combination plane A wide range of moulding irons is available, but some setting up is involved each time a different shape is called for.
Wonkee Donkee on combination hand planes

Characteristics

The guide rail or fence of a combination plane; woodworking hand planes

Guide rail

A combination plane has an adjustable guide rail, or fence, which slides along a straight edge of the workpiece, ensuring that the iron cuts straight at a consistent distance from the edge.

Depth stop of a combination plane; woodworking hand planes

Depth stop

There’s also usually a depth stop which ensures that recesses, grooves and dados are cut to the precise depth required.

Number

Stanley No 55 combination plane; specialised planes; woodworking hand plane Stanley made a number of different combination planes and allocated them model numbers. Popular ones included No. 45 and the No. 55. New planes based on Stanley’s original designs are available, or you can find Stanley originals on auction websites.