What is a router plane?

 
     
     
 Shop for Woodworking Hand Planes 
     
     
   

What it's used for

 
 Lie Nielsen router plane 

Tidying recesses

Router planes are used for trimming and levelling the bottoms of joint recesses such as shallow mortises and dados (housings). 

 
     
 Tidying up stopped housings with a router plane 

It planes the recesses to a uniform depth and can work into corners that could otherwise only be reached only by a chisel.

 
     
   

Characteristics

 
 Cranked iron of a router plane 

Cranked blade

The irons, or blades, used in router planes are distinctive – they fit vertically into the plane, but are cranked at the bottom so the cutting edge, which is always bevel up, meets the wood at the correct angle.

 
     
 Router plane used in bullnose configuration; specialised planes; woodworking hand planes 

Bullnose configuration

To add versatility, some router plane blades can be reversed so that the cutting edge can reach right into the corner of a recess that stops short of the end of the wood.

 

This is known as the "bullnose configuration", because of its similarity in use to a bullnose plane (see What is a bullnose plane?)

 
     
   

Routed by its lookalike

 
 Router plane and power router - similar designs 

When you look at a router plane, you can instantly see where the design of today's electrically powered router came from.

 

Unfortunately for the router plane, this popular power tool, due to its speed and versatility, has more or less replaced it in today's workshops.

 
    
   

Number

 Stanley No 71 router plane; specialised planes; woodworking hand planes 

Versions of the router plane made by Stanley were allocated Stanley model numbers, some of which are still used today by Stanley and other plane manufacturers.

 

Look for the Stanley No. 71 and No 71½. The No. 271 is a small version for light work.

    
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