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Stanley made two side rebate planes, numbered 98 and 99, which were mirror images of each other, designed to cut either the left or right vertical sides of a channel or dado. I found one in a secondhand tool a long time ago, and then spent years looking for its opposite number.


While searching, I came across other designs of side rebate planes some of which ingeniously incorporated the ability to cut on left and right sides in a single tool. They’re attractive little devices and I struggled to resist buying them.



However, side rebate planes have two defects. The first is that the blades are hard to sharpen. It’s crucially important to maintain the exact angle of the cutting edge relative to the long axis of the blade because there’s no capacity for adjustment in the plane itself. Get it wrong and the blade cuts only the top or bottom.

The second defect is rather more serious: even sharpened and set up properly, they’re useless. I mean that literally: it’s not that these planes don’t work but that problems they could solve or jobs they could make easier never seem to crop up.

At least that’s what I thought until a couple of weeks ago when I found that a truss rod that I was installing into a guitar neck was a whisker too fat to enter the groove that I had routed. I could have got the router out again, but a side rebate plane provided a quicker and easier solution. A few passes and the truss rod was a nice snug fit.



Of course, I’ve been writing about my own experience. Other woodworkers may find side rebate planes so handy that they like keep a pair on the back of the bench. If so, I hope they’ll comment and describe the tasks they use them for.



  1. Hi Christopher,

    Yes, my feelings exactly. I see them in one of my tool drawers and wonder why I have them around. Until a problem comes up and, ah ha, out comes one of the side rabbet planes to rescue the situation by taking a few crucial shavings before it goes back into hiding.

    One regular use is trimming the male part of a sliding dovetail. I’ve modified one of my side rabbet planes by filing a 15 degree bevel on the bottom edge of the skate (bevel away from the cutting edge side) so it will fit into the acute recess of the dovetail and thus shave the full depth of the dovetail.

    I wrote about side rabbet planes here: but not on my personal blog, which is the one listed on the comment form.

    By the way, I looked through your instrument gallery: Wow!


  2. Many thanks both for commenting and explaining your clever (but simple) modification which allows these planes to deal with a sliding dovetail. I’m looking forward to catching up with your blog. Thanks for the link.

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