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What is a grooving, or plough, plane?

Shop for Woodworking Hand Planes

What it’s used for

Cutting a groove with a grooving plane

Narrow grooves

A grooving plane, or plough plane, is used to cut grooves in wood. Grooving planes are designed to take very narrow irons, some as little as 3mm (1/8″) across.

They are traditionally used for making grooves to fit drawer and box bottoms and cabinet backs, and in frame and panel construction.

Dadoes and grooves cut with a grooving plane

Dados

They are also used to cut dados (housings). A dado is a channel across the grain, whereas a groove is a channel along the grain.

A good example of a housing joint is where a dado is cut in the upright side of a shelf unit to accommodate the end of the shelf.

The twin irons of a tongue and groove plane

Tongue and groove

Before power machines took over, special grooving planes were used for cutting tongues and grooves for joining boards together.

Tongue and groove boards Tongue and groove is a method of joining two planks of wood together along their edges. A groove is cut along the centre of one edge, and a tongue is made on the mating edge.

Sometimes the same plane can be set up for cutting either tongues or grooves; other tongue and groove planes come in pairs – one for making the tongues, the other for the grooves.

Characteristics

Grooving plane with irons of different widths

One plane cuts several widths

Many grooving planes – both metal and wooden – can accommodate irons of different widths, so the same tool can be used to cut grooves for a variety of applications, from drawer-bottom fitting to joints in shelf units and furniture.

Grooving plane fence; woodworking hand planes

Guide rails

They have adjustable guide rails, or fences, which slide along the edge of the wood being grooved, so that the cut is kept straight at a set distance from the edge.

Number

No 43 grooving plane; specialised hand planes; woodworking planes Versions of the grooving plane made by Stanley were allocated Stanley model numbers, some of which are still used today by Stanley and other plane manufacturers.

There are precious few new plough planes available today, but availability of second-hand ones on auction websites is excellent, including the No. 43.

No 48 tonguing and grooving plane; specialised planes; woodworking planes The No. 48 is for tonguing and grooving.