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Groove your plane sole.  Your plane blade will not touch your planing form, staying sharp longer, and those nicks on the top of your forms will be gone  -  or at least there will be a lot less of them.  You can do it yourself with strips of sandpaper and two pieces of wood.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    You can also use a piece of plate glass, a board or  phone book,  a strip of 80 grit emery cloth (as wide as you want the groove) and some spray glue (3m #77) to form a groove.  Glue the emery to the glass with the emery's centerline spaced half the width of the plane off the edge of the glass.  Use the board or phone book as a guide/fence (butted to the edge of the piece of glass) and "lap" the sole using straight back and forth motion until the paper stops to cut.  Your groove should be about .006 deep, if that's too deep, just give it a quick go with some more emery to the plane sole.

    Just make sure the blade is installed as it would be when the plane is in use, just do not expose the blade below the level of the top of the groove.  (Brad Love)

    Do you want to try a grooved plane sole before sanding it into your plane?   Well put a temporary groove

    on your plane.  Take two doubled strips of masking tape and tape them to the bottom outside edge of your plane.  Leaving a gap or groove down the center of the sole of you plane.   Cut the extra tape off that is covering the plane blade and there you go.  If you don't like the feel of the groove in your plane, pull the tape off.  No harm done to the sole of the  plane.  Also, I have found that the drafting masking tape has worked the best for me because it is designed not to leave a residue of glue to the surface that it is applied to.  Just my two cents.  (Robert Holder)

      I think to get the true feel of a grooved plane you should use Teflon strips. You will get a lot of drag with masking or drafting tape.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    P.S.   A groove isn't permanent. If you really don't like it you can sand the entire sole flat again.  (Darryl Hayashida)


Wondering what the list thought of grooving bench planes for our work. Say a No. 2, .002,   .003, more or none?  (Don Schneider)

    Thinking about it logically, what is a groove for? To keep the sides of the blade from nicking your forms, and still allowing you to plane the strip. With a bench plane do you want to plane only .002 to .003 at a pass? Usually not. In roughing you want to take as much off each pass as you can without lifts or chips. I have grooved my No. 4 to .010 - whacking off great gobs of bamboo at each pass - and the No. 3 at .005 - more controlled whacking.

    If you own a Stanley No. 2 in good shape, grooving it will just about ruin it for the collectors. A No. 2 in good shape will go for at least a couple hundred, maybe more. If it was me I'd groove it and use it, but that's just me. I also believe bamboo rods are fishing poles - to be used, not  collected.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      I primarily don't want the blade to touch the forms. Not interested in collecting planes, but appreciate good tools.  Like you I also believe bamboo rods are fishing poles - to be used, not collected. I also don't want to screw-up a tool if I don't have to.  Looks like I'll go back to my old trick and put masking tape down each edge of the sole to create a groove.  One last question: Is there any order plane/scrapper you would recommend a groove? (Don Schneider)

        It's just a matter of thinking about what you want to do at the point you use the tool. A 9 1/2 block plane where you are close to the final dimensions you don't want to take off too much, so a .002 groove is sufficient. Where do you use your scraper? If it is to fix lifts or chips, then a deeper groove would help. If it's the last couple passes to get the last little bit of bamboo flush to the form, then a very shallow groove - around .001 or .002.  (Darryl Hayashida)

          I use a 60 1/2 LN Low Angle, LN 212 Scraper & a 9 1/2. Use the scraper for cleaning up lifts,  chips and final. Both L/Ns have .005 grooves. Been using wider forms, Wood 2"+, for last 3 years. I like them so much I gave my steel forms away. Masking tape works exceedingly well on wood forms but not well at all on narrow steel forms unless you make the groove about 1/2" wide. The tape doesn't grab and slides well on either. Surprising how long the tape last if you don't fall off the forms.  (Don  Schneider)

        I found that masking tape does not glide over the forms too easily and bought two cheap sets of the strips for measuring gaps in car engines. I think they are called feeler gauges but are the metal strips which measure .002, .003, etc up to .008. I stick two of these of the appropriate size (.003 in my case ) on to the sole with super glue and they work very well most of the time. Every now and then one drops off at the wrong time but they do slide well and also have a consistent thickness. (Ian Kearney)

          I always wanted to try the feeler gages but the tape has worked so well for me I never got  around to it. As long as the exposure of the blade doesn't come through the tape and you don't fall off the forms it has worked fine for me. I tried the  tape initially to see if I wanted to invest in the grooved L/Ns, which I'm glad I did. My wider forms also help a lot.  (Don Schneider)


Got a grooved plane a few years ago.  It has done a great job of coming close while getting down to the nitty-gritty close tolerances.  Have had a problem the last couple of years with getting the 60 degree angle consistently.  I did build a Medved style router fed beveler.  Thought that might be the problem, but could not prove to myself it was the culprit.  I've got four rods to build in the next while and convince myself to take the time to correct the problem now and not keep checking my angles.  You may have already guessed.  The groove was about .002 difference on one side.  Couldn't figure out why it wasn't consistent.  Now I know.   I'll sand off one side when I get the time. I may even try plate glass and do some more sanding on the groove.  Which would make more sense?  (Tom Ball)

    I would think using plate glass and sandpaper to straighten up the groove would make more sense.  (Dick Fuhrman)


I've been reading everything I can lay my hands on and find on the Internet concerning rod building in preparation of getting my own set of forms and starting off on this madness of converting grass into fly rods.

My question is; what is the purpose of grooving the bottom of planes used in rodmaking?  I see that some rod builders use grooved planes and others don't.  Why?  Are the forms set up differently   when   using   grooved    planes    as    opposed   to non-grooved planes?  (Gary Clark)

    I am an user of grooved plane and love it.

    The goodness of grooved plane are;

    1. As its blade does not scratch the surface of planing form, the number of honing gets less.  In other words, you can plane more strips by the same blade. When using a normal plane, I honed a blade once or twice for planing one strip. Now I hone once for 6 strips.

    2. At the very last stage of planing a strip, both sides of the plane sole will slip on the surface of form. As a result, the plane will not roll. It will result in a flat surface of a strip.  This will dramatically reduces chips (gaps) between strips when they are glued.

    3. As the blade will not touch with the planing form surface, it allows to use a wooden planing form which is easier to make than steel form.

    Down sides are:

    1. Since the blade is not touching to the surface of planing form, the dimension of the strip becomes a little bit thicker.  To avoid this, it is needed to adjust the planing form setting to the effects, a little narrower.

    2. Grooved plane is priced higher than normal plane if you buy it. To make grooved sole yourself, you can glue two thin metal plates on both sides of the sole.  (Max Satoh)


Groove your plane sole. 

Your plane blade will not touch your planing form, staying sharp longer, and those nicks on the top of your forms will be gone - or at least there will be a lot less of them. Bruce Conner's Web page tells how you can do it yourself with strips of sandpaper and two pieces of wood.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    You can also use a piece of plate glass, a board or  phone book,  a strip of 80 grit emery cloth (as wide as you want the groove) and some spray glue (3m #77) to form a groove.  Glue the emery to the glass with the emery's centerline spaced half the width of the plane off the edge of the glass.  Use the board or phone book as a guide/fence (butted to the edge of the piece of glass) and "lap" the sole using straight back and forth motion until the paper stops to cut.  Your groove should be about .006 deep, if that's too deep, just give it a quick go with some more emery to the plane sole.

    Just make sure the blade is installed as it would be when the plane is in use, just donut expose the  blade below the level of the top of the groove.  (Brad Love)


Do you want to try a grooved plane sole before sanding it into your plane.  Well put a temporary groove on your plane.  Take two doubled strips of masking tape and tape them to the bottom outside edge of your plane.  Leaving a gap or groove down the center of the sole of you plane.   Cut the extra tape off that is covering the plane blade and there you go.  If you don't like the feel of the groove in your plane, pull the tape off.  No harm done to the sole of the plane. Also, I have found that the drafting masking tape has worked the best for me because it is designed not to leave a residue of glue to the surface that it is applied to.  (Robert Holder)

    I think to get the true feel of a grooved plane you should use Teflon strips. You will get a lot of drag with masking or drafting tape.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    A groove isn't permanent. If you really don't like it you can sand the entire sole flat again.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I've acquired a few bench planes from eBay, and as I take a break from sanding in a groove on the sole of one of them, it occurs to me that I've never seen any advice on how wide and how deep a groove should be. So I'll put forth my opinion.

I like my grooves to be 5/8 of an inch wide. I've tried 1/2 inch and 3/4 of an inch wide. At 1/2 inch wide I can't keep the bamboo strip in the groove all the time when I start getting a little tired and a little sloppy. 3/4 of an inch wide, I slip off the shoulder and nick my forms sometimes when I get tired. 5/8ths seems to be just right.

On a roughing plane I sandpaper in a groove .005 to .006 deep. I measure it with a depth gauge - the same one you measure the depth on your forms. On a finishing plane I like the groove to be .002 to .003 deep. I use the two pieces of wood and a strip of sandpaper method to sand in the grooves on my planes.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    I think there should be a consideration for how wide a plane groove can or should be compared to the width of the forms you are using. Most forms out there are made from 3/4 bar stock, so if that is what you are using, your preference of a 5/8 groove gives you a little extra surface before you fall off the forms compared to a 3/4 groove and a 1/2 groove doesn’t give you much leeway to skew the plane at times from a parallel to length pass.

    I may catch some flak for this but I personally like to use wooden forms made from 1 1/4 stock. This gives me a much wider and more stable platform to work from and I find nothing is lost in accuracy over 3/4 bar stock metal forms. My planes have 3/4 grooves, which gives me more leeway when I skew the cut and if I fall off the form, it is defiantly time for a break.

    I like your idea of having your finish plane groove depth at .002 - .003, mine are .005. The smaller depth shouldn’t allow the strip to be lifted out of the form as much.  (Don Schneider)

    After putting a shallow groove (.003) groove in my finish plane with sandpaper, I was looking for an easier way to do a deep groove in my roughing plane.  So I scribed the bottom of the plane, marking out the strip to be removed, but leaving 1/2 inch at the toe, heel, and on each side of the mouth.  The material in between I removed with a machinist's scraper.  Then with the sandpaper strips I cut down the remaining 4 spots to the desired depth.  Later I added the John Bokstrom training wheels and it really works well.

    This idea is not original with me; I got it from the Fine Woodworking book on "Planes and Chisels".  As I recall, "relieved" plane soles are common in Japan.

    I also "relieved" my plane blade on the grinder, so I am just sharpening the middle that does the cutting.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)


Just what are the real benefits of grooved planes and are they really good to use?

I know you'd have to compensate for the blade not being able to touch the forms and the "added" size of the strip being planed ,  But is it worthwhile.

Is it worth it?  Pros and cons?  (John Silveira)

    I think so.

    You basically answered the question yourself. The blade doesn't hit the form, thereby not gouging and staying sharper longer. I use a grooved L-N 9 1/2 until nothing comes off anymore and then finish with an ungrooved L-N till flush with the forms. Using two seems to give me more strips between sharpening.  (Dewey Hildebrand)

    What is nice about grooved sole planes is that you do not nick the form with the blade (nicking the form with the blade is no big deal). I use one till it stops removing any material and finish up with a few swipes with a flat soled plane. To me it's worth the added expense. The only con is the added expense but I figured long ago that I'm in for the "long haul".   (Marty DeSapio)

      I know of one guy who nicked up his planing form so badly he had to file them flat again. Using a grooved plane would have avoided that. The blade in a grooved plane stays sharp longer because one little contact with the metal and you pretty much have to resharpen. And a grooved plane helps to keep your strips more symmetrical because as the lower sides contact the form it levels out the plane.  (Darryl Hayashida)


How deep and how wide is the "Groove" in the bottom of the plane ? Just wondering here cause I have never seen one.  (Jimi Genzling)

    1" wide and .003" deep. See LN here.  (Rich McGaughey)

    I would suggest half the width of your planing form wide, and for a depth - depending on if you are using the plane for roughing or finishing. For roughing I have a Stanley #4 bench plane with a groove .005 - .006 deep. For finishing I use a Fulton #2 with a groove .002 - .001 deep. I also use a Stanley #3 with a groove .003 deep for when I start to put a taper on a straight 60 degree strip.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I'm in the process of finishing my third rod and am debating whether I should invest in a Lie-Nielsen grooved plane. Although I'm much better than I was initially, I still have a tendency to nick my forms as I approach my final dimensions. Any opinions on grooved planes. Are they worth  the investment  (or peace of mind)?  (Jim Brandt)

    Put a groove in your present plane, eh?  Find a belt sander - put a 1 inch  belt on it and then you can try planing in the groove for your self.  (Rich McGaughey)

    I love them. Set your forms as usual, plane with the grooved plane until it planes no more, switch to your flat bottomed plane for the last swipe or two.  It works great!  (Marty DeSapio)

      I agree with Marty 100%. They are great.  (Dewey Hildebrand)

    Let me provide a suggestion that has worked for me. I purchased a new Stanley and then took it to a machine shop that had a quality fine grinding machine. I had a 5 thousands slot 1 inch wide ground in the center of the plane. Make sure that the grinding work is done with a blade in the plane and that the sole of the plane is first surface ground for flatness. Then the recessed slot is ground into the base of the plane. I have been using this plane and found it provides good control of the dimensions without nicking the planing form surface. Of course, I do then use a regular plane to do my final touches on the bamboo strip. Hope this helps.  (Frank Paul)

      I can't quite get a grasp on how that works. So are you doing your final passes with a grooved plane? If you aren't scraping the form, how can it be accurate?

      Thanks for any light you can shed.  (Jerry Andrews)

        No. I use the grooved plane until I am about 10 thousands above the taper depth. Then I switch to the  regular plane  adjusted to  about 1-2 thousands for final cutting. At that point the cutting is quite smooth and if one does not push down on the taper form with the plane, but along the form, I have not gotten any significant digging into the form surface. I am leaving my strips a few thousands over size so that I can then do an appropriate amount of surface removal after gluing. Hope that helps. I am new at this, but this is what I am doing and it seems to be the suggestions of several of the books.  (Frank Paul)

          I started to radius the edges of my planes long ago, and it was the single greatest aid in cutting down on digs.  just a 1/8 - 1/16th radius.  (Brian Creek)

    I grooved my Stanley plane using the process described on Frank Neunemann’s web site.  Very time consuming but other wise cheap.  Much quicker for a trial is to use strips of masking tape on each side of the plane sole to form the groove, surprisingly effective. I still use a flat sole for the final swipes although the benefit is debatable and I also use a flat sole plane for the earlier stages when well clear of the forms as you can alter the angle of the plane and also use more of the blade width.  If you go the grooved route then relieve the edges of the blades, no point in sharpening something you can't use and it reduces the remaining tendency to nick the forms if you are tempted to open the blade setting beyond the groove depth.  (Gary Marshall)

    I have both a LN Block and a LN Block with rod makers groove.  I like them both.  The grooved plane will help you cut down on nicking the forms.  I have found that this helped me to spend less time resharpening after a heavy nick.  The groove is quite precise and its depth sufficient to expose the blade only within the groove.

    I'd say, go for it.  (Russell Dabney)

    I just close my form adjustments .005 for my last few passes and that works pretty well, too.

    I love my L-N grooved 9 1/2.  (Patrick Mullen)

    Why not just set them that way in the beginning if you know the depth of the groove is .005? Why would it matter when you compensate for the groove?  (Larry Puckett)

    I have used a grooved plane for a few years now. I even have a grooved Lie-Nielsen scraper. Using the scraper to finish strips is a pleasure. What I am doing now and it works great is to place the scraper on a flat surface such as glass or the top of your table saw and tighten blade with it touching the flat surface. This will insure that the plane is in contact with the surface of the forms and will maintain perfect angles. There are benefits of finishing strips with scraper. You will not nick your forms, chip or lift nodes and can take of as little or as much as you wish with each pass. Many makers have the Lie-Nielsen scraper and only use it to remove the enamel. That is a shame because it does a fantastic job of finishing off a strip and maintaining angles perfectly.  (Adam Vigil)

      That's right Adam, and it doesn't over plane.  I had trouble with finish planing, even with the plane set as tight as I could get it, of the blade lifting the strip and over planing.  With the grooved scraper, it pushes down instead of lifting and produces a perfect finish.  (Onis Cogburn)

        I for one have not had much luck with the 212 for finishing. I still use the razor for final scraping.  (Tony Spezio)

          I use six plane blades from Lowes for final-final finishing.  I plane almost down to  the  form  then  switch  to  the   grooved L-N scraper.  I use a piece of hardwood tile to set  the scraper.  I drop the blade down to the wood and back off about a 1/4 turn or less. It rides a couple of thousandths above the form.  When I have removed all I can with the scraper, I make a final pass with one of the plane blades.  If I want to leave a couple of thousandths for finishing the blank, I skip the final-final pass with the plane blade.  Takes a whole lot of sharpening but gives good results.  (Onis Cogburn)


I do have a question regarding the grooving of a block plane specifically for use on my final forms. Does this make life that much easier? I was thinking of cutting a .003 groove in one of mine just to see. I also noticed on L-N web site that Tom sells one already grooved. Also, doesn't this go against common practice to hold the plane slightly off from parallel to the forms for betting cutting? I'm assuming the groove is always cut parallel to the sole of the plane.  (Tom Vagell)

    A grooved plane prevents nicking the forms by 99 percent. I use it on my final form for all but the last few swipes. For that I use a flat soled plane. In other words I set the form for a flat bottomed sole and use the grooved sole as far as it cuts. This leaves a couple thousandths sticking up which I remove with a flat soled plane.  (Marty DeSapio)

      I've been creating a makeshift grooved plane by putting strips of masking tape on the sole of my plane.  When It stops cutting I take the strip measurements, and tighten down the form the needed amount to get my final measurements.

      My buddy Brian Smith made an oak rough planing form for me and with the tape setup I could rough plane on the wood form and never touch the wood form.  (Joe Handwerker)


I am looking at investing in a Lie-Nielsen plane and scraper.  Is there any need to get the rod makers groove milled into the bottom? Could I not maybe glue on two .003 shims to the sole of the plane? I have been lusting for a Lie-Nielsen plane for some time now, but I would like it to do double duty in the shop.  (Daniel Durocher)

    Order the LN plane from Lie-Nielsen with he groove machined into the plane. Its called the rod makers option/model.  (Rich McGaughey)

    I would advise you not to have the groove cut into your plane sole.  (I have heard that it can be smoothed off though.)  I don't know how you plane, but I plane with a slicing action, IE: the plane is angled counterclockwise to the axis of the planing form.  Thus for me the groove is a nuisance.  Your idea of super gluing a shim on the bottom is much better if you do feel you need the groove.  That way the integrity of the plane is not compromised, and you can use it as a dual purpose plane.  (Ralph Moon)

    You might consider getting them without the groove and using the adhesive backed slippery plastic you can purchase at Woodcraft to go on table saw fences.  This will give you several advantages: you can remove it at any time, it makes the plane ride on the forms easier, less wear on the forms (no metal to metal contact) and you can cut the plastic so that it is wider at the front of the plane and narrow at the back of the plane so you can set the plane askew as you plane.  Just a thought.  (Scott Grady)

      McMaster-Carr sells some very thin tape in 1/2" strips that works like a charm. I have a roll that is .0025 thick and one  that is .004 thick. The .004 is very durable, the .0025 might want to be replaced after a rod. Not a great price to pay for being able to use the LN in the wood shop.  (Larry Blan)

        I found some masking tape at an art supply store that had a slick finish, Measured about .005 thick, and stuck it on the plane, It worked fine for me to see if I wanted to use the groove. Just had to replace   it  when  it  gets  worn.   Now  I  hope that  the grooved Lie-Nielsen plane that I had at the top of my Christmas list will arrive in five days.  (Gary Jones)

          I've never used a grooved plane, but I, also, turn the plant about 15° to the axis of WHATEVER I'm planing.  It gives a shearing action and the chip comes off in a long curl. I think the groove would be in the way for me.  I also think it would be a problem for normal use in the shop to have the groove permanently ground in the sole.  (Neil Savage)

          I used 1/4" wide masking tape to see if I liked it, I liked it and had both my Lie-Nielsen planes grooved, one at .005" (roughing) and one at .003" (finishing)...

          I hold my plane at a slight angle, but it never got in the way...

          With the .003" groove, you can set your blade to cut .002" and take the strip down to the last .001's and then finish it off with the 212 Scraper...

          I plane nothing but Bamboo, so it was a no brainer...

          Your blades will stay sharper longer also... (Dave Collyer)

    I personally like and use the grooved sole  but I use 2 planes for each strip for final planing. I set the forms as usual . Plane first with the grooved plane which leaves the strip sitting about .003" above the form. Finish with a few swipes of the flat soled plane. This way very few nicks occur on the form and no special adjustment need be put in the form. If I could only use one plane I would choose a flat bottomed soled one though.  (Marty DeSapio)

      I use a piece of tape on the sole. One piece each side. Works great.  (Mike Palumbo)

    I would not order the plane grooved for one reason;  the sole of the plane is ground flat without a blade in it.  When you put a blade in the plane and put tension on the blade, it will cup the sole of the plane.  I believe that ALL planes need to be tuned with a blade installed.  If you want a grooved sole, this should be done with a blade in the plane, after the sole is flattened with a blade in the plane.  (Robert Kope)

      I once tuned a plane for a friend.  It was one of the Lee Valley low angle block planes that had been damaged.  When I was finished I decided to do the same to my Lie-Nielsen.  Not only did it not need it, I couldn't even remove the very fine milling marks from the sole of the plane.  They are made from some very tough ductile iron.   (Hal Manas)

        I think we've had this exchange a couple of times before.  I have a friend who grooved both and he found just the opposite.  The Veritas was much harder to cut a groove in than the Lie-Nielsen.  He's  convinced    that    the    Veritas   planes  are   harder  than   the Lie-Nielsen planes.

        However,  I  am  speaking from  personal experience.   I   have   a Lie-Nielsen standard angle block plane and both Veritas models.  I had assume that all were flat, but couldn't get over the fact that my Stanley planes (which I had flattened and grooved) planed much more accurately than any of my higher end planes,  i.e., the Stanley planes would easily produce a uniform shaving the entire length of a strip, while the Lie-Nielsen and the Veritas planes would tend to skip.  I checked the L-N and the Veritas planes after both had been sitting in a workbench drawer for months with blades in them and found them to be equally cupped on the sole.  I flattened all three planes, and found the Veritas planes took substantially more work to flatten than the Lie-Nielsen plane.  I do not attribute this to harder iron in the Veritas planes, but think that the Veritas planes just have more surface area on the sole, and thus the pressure you put on the plane is distributed over a larger area when you try to flatten it.

        I had initially had an experience similar to what you describe with the L-N plane.  I checked it on a piece of plate glass with  fine wet-or-dry sandpaper when I first got the plane and thought it was flat because I didn't see much of any removal of metal.  I now think that perhaps the grit was too fine, or it may have been a piece of sandpaper that had been used for flattening a plane and the grit had been dulled.

        When I flattened all three planes, I used a more aggressive grit (15 micron PSE backed Mylar for initial flattening, followed by 5 micron to polish them).  I did all 3 planes on the same day with blades tensioned like I would have them for planing, and I made sure that I started cutting each on fresh grit.  It was definitely faster cutting on the Lie-Nielsen than on either of the Veritas planes, but like I said, I attribute this to greater surface area on the sole of the Veritas planes.  (Robert Kope)

    For rough planing, I use a new Stanley G12 with a Hock blade sharpened at 30 degrees. This is easy to use and can take off a lot of material quickly. Once I'm close to the forms, I switch to a L/N 9-1/2 with the .003" groove, with the blade sharpened at 45 degrees. The steeper blade angle provides more of a scraping action, which helps prevent node lifts. I finish off the last .003" with a scraper.

    I guess if I could only have only one plane, it would be a flat sole.  (Tom Bowden)


What depth groove in a plane's sole do folks think is about the maximum for the final planing? Outside of taking a plane to a machine shop or having L-N do it at the factory how would one go about putting a groove in a plane? Does anyone use a scraper rather than a plane for that last thousandth or two?

What is the maximum thickness of a shaving before you worry about lifting the strip out of the planing form and removing too much?  (Henry Mitchell)

    I have a L-N block plane and I've solved the groove situation by simply putting a couple of pieces of masking tape on the sole edge of my plane. I use two pieces of tape on both sides of the plane and put the tape on so that half of the tape is riding on the bottom of the sole and the other half folds over and is on the vertical side of the plane body. The tape has virtually eliminated any nicking of the forms and plane blade. When I get the strip so I can't plane anymore I remove one of the strips of tape and continue to plane until I can't take off anymore bamboo. Then I remove the last tape and carefully plane to final specs. It'll cost you nothing to use the tape and you'll be able to use nearly all of the width of your  plane blade. You won't be able to do this if you have the plane grooved.

    The scraper is really used for taking off the enamel on your strips or to repair a chipped node and not for any final planing. Your block plane will work perfectly for getting your strips to final. Just simple reduce the size of the shaving so it's very small and close the mouth of the plane blade to correspond to the shaving size. You also might want to have your blade very sharp for the last .005 of planing. (Jim Bureau)

    I don't use a plane for final planing. IMO any plane, grooved or not, will lift the strip out of the form groove. The thickness of the curl is determined by a combination of the throat and blade projection adjustment but the cutting action of a plane is to lift the curl.

    Therefore, I use a scraper. The cutting action of a scraper is forcing the strip down into the form groove. When no more fuzz comes off, you are done. I have a L-N 212, which works fine but for the very last  I use a replacement blade for a utility knife. I have 3/4" spacer blocks under my forms. Using a spring clamp with a finger protector on one jaw, the little projections hold the strip, clamp the butt end of the strip in the form. Holding the replacement blade like you hold a cabinet scraper scrape the full length of the strip right down to the form surface.

    Friend of mine, William Servey, did an excellent job of putting a groove in his plane by cutting abrasive strips the width of the desired groove. Used contact cement to hold them on his table saw top. Aligned the fence to center the plane sole over the abrasive strips. Sprayed WD-40 on  the strips & planed the groove. Check your progress often, the WD-40 make it go pretty fast.

    If you want to try out a grooved plane, put two strips of masking tape on the sole of your plane to form the groove. Surprising how long they last. I did this for a couple of years before I got a grooved L-N.  (Don Schneider)

    What depth groove in a plane's sole do folks think is about the maximum for the final planing?

    Between .003 and .005

    Outside of taking a plane to a machine shop or having L-N do it at the factory how would one go about putting a groove in a plane?

    This takes some time.  I got others done at a machine shop...

    Does anyone use a scraper rather than a plane for that last thousandth or two?

    I use a plane blade cut to approximately 91 degrees.  Got the idea from Best of the Planing Form. I've also used a low angle plane with a 45 degree blade, a sanding block and Tony Spezio's old standby, a razor blade.  Sometimes in that order.

    What is the maximum thickness of a shaving before you worry about lifting the strip out of the planing form and removing too much?

    You shouldn't be taking much more than .002 by the time you get to final planing.   The plane sole should hold the strip in the form.

    I'm working on my second rod, want to finish it before mid June but fear planing too aggressively.

    It shouldn't take too long to plane a strip, if you make sure you're straight to begin with and keep taking less and less material off as you near the final dimensions.  

    It's much like taking a step that's "half the distance to the wall."   The closer you get the less you remove.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)


Has anyone used one of the Lie-Nielsen planes with the 0.003" rodmakers groove. Is there any advantage to this plane worth an additional $25? (Bob Murphy)

    Absolutely.  I put a .005" groove in my Record plane years ago & wouldn't be without it.  If you'd like I'll send you a picture of my planing form, there isn't a scratch or gouge in the surface.  In fact, I used .005" stainless shim stock glued to the bottom of my L-N 212.  It works the same.  (Ron Larsen)

    After several years of poh-poohing these rodmakers' grooves, I recently spat the dummy and bought one.

    My reasoning was that if they were any advantage, I'd like to have one, and if they were not, then they would still serve as a normal plane.  I was ready to buy a new plane at any rate, so I figured that the most I could lose was $25.

    I am now on my fourth rod with the grooved plane, and i wish I had bought it years ago.  The Lie-Nielsen tools are, in my opinion, in a class all of their own so far as heft and "hand feel" goes, and this grooved plane is a beauty.

    Using the grooved plane does NOT remove any possibility of your gouging your planing forms, but it DOES make it a bloody sight harder.

    In my opinion the best thing about it is that when the plane does start to run smooth on the forms, you know EXACTLY what thickness your strips are, with no unintentional variation.  And for this reason, I am getting strips out with very little deviation from the desired numbers.

    High angle is the way to go.  (Peter McKean)


I am at the 'tooling up" stage of the game and would appreciate comments about the utility of a grooved sole plane; there seems to be mixed opinion in the couple of things I've read. 

If using strips of tape instead on plane's sole to accomplish same end, any experience with type of tape best- suited or preferred thickness?  (George Deagle)

    Go peek at McMaster. They have a UHMW tape that is .004 in thickness, and a Kapton tape that is .0025 in thickness. The Kapton tape requires that your forms not be to nicked up, the UHMW is pretty tough stuff. They are inexpensive enough that you can play with both if you choose.  (Larry Blan)

    I use a grooved Lie Nelson rodmakers plan and I really like it. I use it to take the strip down to almost finished and then I use a second LN standard for a very light cut to finish off the strip. Keeps my forms in good shape. I also like the second plane to clean up tear outs if they come up. I also have an old Stanley 9 1/2 that I also use for cleaning up. I use the LN planes over the Stanley because I like the adjustment mechanism and I just like the weight and feel in the hand of the LN.  (Will McMurray)

    Every time I think the system that I use to plane cane cannot be improved, I experiment.  With that said, currently I use 3 Stanley 9-1/2 planes.  The first plane does my rough planning and is set to take a fair amount of cane off - probably .005 or so.  Once planning is close to the form, I change to the Stanley that has a groove my local machinist cut into its sole.  I like this step because it insures that my cane will be cut parallel to the form, length and width.  I can press as hard as I want, not that I do, on this plane and never have to worry about cutting into my metal form.

    Once the grooved plane will cut no more then I go to my last Stanley.  This plane is adjusted to cut about .001 and allows me too take the last cane off, flush to the form, with even and continuous, strokes.

    Anyway I read that Teflon tape is a good choice if you are not inclined to have a machinist cut the sole on your plane.  (Doug Alexander)


I am going to purchase a couple of new Lie-Nielsen block planes, but I am considering having the sole milled with the relief cut in it. Any advice? Anyone use them this way?  (Paul McRoberts)

    Why are you going to have a groove cut in the sole of a plane that's nearly perfect the way Tom designed it?   (Harry Boyd)

    I use an L/N block plane with the .003" milled groove. I like it in that it leaves the strip dimensions a couple thousandths larger than the final taper,  and then you take the rest off with a scraper. For me, the scraper (a L/N 212) is more accurate than a block plane.

    If I didn't have the scraper, I wouldn't want the groove milled into the sole of the plane.  (Tom Bowden)

    Interestingly, I have wondered about these "rodmakers' grooves" for a long time, and couldn't really convince myself that they would accomplish anything at all. 

    But just last week I took delivery of one from Tom, and am just finishing planing the first 18 strips with it;  and the way my opinion is leaning at this point is that it is a good tool, in that I can pull down the strip to within about .002 of final dimension with a bit of modification of the settings, and then i have just been taking the last pass with a L-N block plane without the groove,  and I have to admit that my measurements have never been this accurate before.

    It wouldn't take the place of the ungrooved plane, but does make a very useful adjunct to it.  I don't much like to use my 212 scraper for this task, as the chatter inherent in scrapers concerns me a bit.  (Peter McKean)

      I experimented with grooves by buying two cheap sets of feeler gauges,  pulling them apart, and then gluing on strip each side of the plane to  form a groove down the middle. (I think the suggestion was on here  years ago)

      I found this worked very well and enabled me to experiment with grooves  without destroying and of my favorite planes.  I liked the  grooves. but out of habit drifted back to using normal planes.

      It is a good idea if anyone is curious about how the groove plane works.  (Ian Kearney)

    I've never had the pleasure of using a Lie-Nielsen, but my last rod was planed with my trusty Stanley with an 'applied' groove. I managed to get hold of some self adhesive Teflon coated tape. I applied a strip on either side of the sole to create the groove. Bloody marvelous! but you can't manage with only a grooved plane- you need an ungrooved one for final approach- If you have made up your mind to buy two planes, I would seriously consider getting one of them grooved. If your not sure, try what I did to see how it goes. If you don't like it, you can take the tape off. The particular tape I got is probably not readily available, but I'm sure a self adhesive aluminum foil tape from an insulation or ducting supplier would be just about as good.  (Dave Kennedy)

    I have 2 - L/N 9 1/2's both with the .003" rodmakers grove...

    Both were flat soled when purchased...

    Then I started experimenting with 1/4" wide masking tape on each side of the sole...

    Liked it so much I sent the planes back and had them grooved...

    Keeps the blade sharper and longer with less likelihood of  hitting the form...

    Really comes into play the last few thousandths of the strip and my numbers are dead on...

    If your up in the air try the tape thing or if you have it grooved and do not like it L/N will flatten the sole...

    It's all good.  (Dave Collyer)

    I use two Lie-Nielsen planes, one has the .003" groove and the other has the .005".  The .005" will lift or "pull" the strips up out of the forms into the groove of the plane, especially when the strips are thin, such as at the tips.  This results in under sized strips if you don't pay close attention. So I use the deeper groove for initial taper planing and the .003" groove for getting close to final dimensions and then finish off the strips with a scraper.  A plane with no groove would do the rough planing too, and be available for finishing.  I've thought about sending the .005" back to L-N to have the groove removed but probably never will.  (I may just "have to" get a 3rd plane with no groove.)

    I will say that these planes are some of the very nicest tools I own.  You will be very pleased when you open the boxes and every time you use them.  (C. Scott Bennett)

      Like others, I use 2 Lie-Nielsens, one no-groove & one with .005". No problem with the .005 making/cutting/pulling-up even small tip sections. Finish with the flat LN & light scraper swipes with LN212.

      I also use a No. 3 size plane with a groove to plane rough on wooden forms. It's very effective.  (Chad Wigham)

        I started out with an L/N block plane (with .003" groove), and an L/N 212 scraper. I sharpened the blades on both to a 30 degree angle. After six years of making rods, research, trial and error, and lots of trips to tool shops, I now use four different planes:

        1. A cheap nonadjustable Stanley with the original blade, ground to a 30 degree angle. I use this for knocking out nodes, planing the strips square, and rough planing. The Stanley blade isn't nearly as sharp as a Hock or L/N, but it can be sharpened easily in seconds. Accuracy isn't important at this stage of the work.

        2. A new model adjustable Stanley with a Hock blade, ground to a 30 degree angle.  I use this to plane down to about .020" over final taper. The 30 degree angle cuts quickly with a slicing action.

        3. The blade on my L/N block plane is ground to about 45 degrees, which results in a scraping action that's much more accurate, and less likely to create nicks and lifts around the nodes. I use this to get down to .003-.005" over final taper.

        4. The strip is finished with the L/N scraper, which I feel is much more accurate than any plane. The key on the scraper is to put a burr on the blade.

        Using all four of these planes has really helped improve my accuracy, and I spend a lot less time sharpening.

        I realize none of this is new or original, but thought it might be helpful for some of the new folks.  (Tom Bowden)

    My .02 cents worth (late as usual).  I like grooved planes because they protect my planing form.  The last few passes are with one of a couple of planes that I save for final passes.  I like the plane blade riding on the forms for the last passes.   I'm to shaky to do free hand with an exposed blade when I first start. 

    My "first" plane is a bench plane with a .006 grove in it.  It gets the bamboo down close to the form.   Then I use a 9 1/2 with a .003, (did it by hand.  I don't suggest you try that!)  When that one quits taking off shavings I switch to the finishing plane. Sometimes I only take three strokes on a side to finish the planing.  Then it's time to use the trusty razor blade scraper.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    There has been a lot of discussion about the cost of adding a grove to the bottom of one of your Lie-Nielsen block planes.  I just wanted to remind you that Lie-Nielsen will add the groove now or later for $25.00 or at least that is what it was when I last checked.  (Hal Manas)

    Just my thoughts. First, Lie-Nelson makes a special plane for rodmakers that has a preground slot for planing. It costs a little more,  but I would imagine if you have funds to purchase a couple, the extra $ would not be a limitation.  A second thought is to purchase the modern Stanley from Lowes and then have the slot ground with a 3 to 5 thousands slot - it would be a lot less expensive. I have two of the Stanleys with ground slots for tooling relief. Third, I would suggest having the slot surface ground rather than machined, since the surface will be more precise geometrically. I use mine all the time along with several that do not have slots. Just my .02 cents.  (Frank Paul)

      My problem is finding a machinist to do the work.  The last plane I had slotted cost me $60.  that's a little steep.  Before that, the old owner was charging $30 for the same thing, on two Block Planes. 

      My two final planes are both low angles with 40 degree blades.  (I may try the 45 degree)  without slots.  One a "new" Stanley and the other an old Sears, that I picked up some time ago.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

        There's an article in "The Best of the Planing Form, Vol 2" on doing it yourself with abrasive strips.  (Neil Savage)

          Another alternative is to glue stainless steel shim stock to the bottom of the plane.  (Ron Larsen)

            For a quick and dirty, use masking tape.   It'll last about one strip, but it's easy to put on and take off.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

              You can also use Mylar tape. It is pretty durable not too expensive and comes in various thicknesses. I too have use masking tape before.  (Timothy Troester)

          Sounds like the way I did it.  Glued a strip of emery paper on a piece of glass.   Only took about a week!!!  Rub, Rub, Rub.   It can be done, but I'd rather find a good, inexpensive machinist.

          And build him a rod...!!!   (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    I have one plane that I put two strips of the UHMP strips on with the adhesive back.

    I have been using it for years and it does not wear or come off.

    Use the thin stuff and it is only about 0.010" thick with the  adhesive.

    Works very well. (Gordon Koppin)

      What is UHMP?  (Aaron Gaffney)

        Gordon probably meant to type UHMW - Ultra High Molecular Weight.  Very slippery plastic indeed.  (Mark Wendt)

        UHMP is ultra high molecular weight polyethylene. It is used usually as an extrusion for guide rails, chain guides, etc also available as a tape. Because it's coefficient of friction is so low it outperforms steel in many applications. it's a very "slickery' material.  (Dennis Higham)

          Thanks everyone.  I actually have some of the tape.  I've used it for drawer runners.  Didn't know the name though.  (Aaron Gaffney)

          Glad for the explanations while I was traveling. Sorry I was out of touch for the follow up question and answers.

          It works great and is a lot cheaper than having the plane sole milled. Back from 2 weeks in Korea and returning on Saturday again.

          Gotta work on some rods this week to restore some sanity.  (Gordon Koppin)


I would like to introduce myself to the list. Long time lurker, first time poster. I have been a fan of John Gierach since Trout Bum first came out which was the same year I got into fly fishing as a boy.  I recently grew bored with building my own graphite rods.  I bought an old Granger to restore, but I think that isn't enough. Now I want to build them myself.

I want to buy a Lie-Nielsen 9 1/2 block plane and the only other decision I need to make is whether or not to get the rod makers groove. I don't have any other immediate needs for a plane so if it is just for rod making then what are the advantages? I get the impression that most people go with just a regular block plane. Thanks for all of the great knowledge that this list puts out.  (Scott Bearden)

    I milled a .008" groove in my Record 9 1/2 some years ago & I wouldn't be without it.  I don't have any scrapes, grooves or chatter marks in my forms.  I set the form .004" smaller than the required dimensions & adjust the plane so it rides .004" above the form.  If you've seen the Golden Witch video Russ says to plane until you start taking  steel shavings off the top of the form.  He also says the form should last for 100 rods.  I'm willing to bet my forms will last longer than that. Perhaps my great grandchildren will wear them out.  (Ron Larsen)

    I am kind of an old timer in years and have used tools most of my life. You either love or hate the grooved planes. I have both and the grooved plane is collecting dust in the shelf. That should tell you my feelings on the groove. I cock the plane to get clean cuts, I can't do that with a groove. It is not for me. I just have my way of doing things. I have made 85+ rods and have had 13 students make rods on my forms. I bet I can make another couple of hundred rods before I might have to resurface the forms. The only way you will really know is to plane out a couple of rods with

    both types of planes. That is hard to do unless you are close to someone that is making rods. I am open to showing you if you are near enough to come by. I am in North Central Arkansas on the White River.  (Tony Spezio)

      I haven't made nearly as many rods as Tony, but I, too, have been using hand tools for 50+ years.  I have several block planes (enough I've given a couple to my son and grandson) and I cock the plane also.  I would not want to use a grooved sole for the last few thousandths.  The advice to try eBay for block planes (older Stanley 9 1/2 or Craftsman) is OK if you can return any that are unsatisfactory.  Better is to try garage sales and flea markets if there are any in your area.

      The L-N is a jewel, I use mine for the last little bit on a strip or any other fine work, but the old Craftsman works fine for almost everything.  (Neil Savage)

        I have a lot of planes as anyone that has been to my shop can attest, I am a plane junkie. The major plane I use is a Craftsman plane that I bought when I was in high school back in the 40's. The blade stays sharp for a lot of planing as I plane wet. I have traded off the 9 1/2 planes I had, they just don't fit my hand. Maybe if I was going to make rods for a long time, I would invest in a L-N but I guess that in a few more years making rods might be a thing of the past. The Craftsman plane does the job for me now.  I had a list member over several weeks ago and he was able to get a plane like mine off E bay for a bit over 20.00. There were three up for bid at that time. What I advocate is, do what pleases you and what you are satisfied with. If only one thing was right we all would be driving the same cars and living the the same type houses,  you get the drift.  (Tony Spezio)

          I have kept my eye on eBay but it seems all the good ones get bid way up, especially at last minute. When they are 3-5 days out they are dirt cheap. Then there are the models that I know nothing about. Sometimes it is all so confusing with all the different numbers, models and angles. I just want a good plane with relatively little fuss. Some people think we are crazy for building rods when anybody can go out and just buy one. I have a fishing buddy that thinks I am crazy for tying my own flies. And then there is my wife who thinks I am just crazy period with too many hobbies. I have also learned one thing about myself is that if I don't buy what I want then I will eventually go out of my way to get it later and wind up with too many of one thing. At some point we all have a line we draw where we just want to do something without going into great detail. The Lie-Nielsen may be pricey compared to a good used plane, but right now I couldn't tell the difference between a good deal and junk when it comes to vintage tools.  (Scott Bearden)

            That's one of the drawbacks of trying to buy a Stanley plane on eBay. While there are bargains to be had occasionally, some of the older Stanley planes have become quite collectible.  (Will Price)

            I'll hate myself when this appears on the List, and Larry B will hate me even worse tomorrow than he does today,  :-)  but here ya go.

            Anytime you want an old plane, drop a note to Patrick Leach (here's his web site).   Patrick almost always has a handful of nice old Stanley 9.5 planes around.  His prices are reasonable and his descriptions are honest.  Drop him a note saying you want a "working plane" rather than a collector and you'll get just that.

            Like Tony S., Larry B., and several others, I have more than a few old planes lying around.  One of my favorites is also an old Stanley made Craftsman.  It's been used so much that 90% of the japanning is missing.  Seven Stanley 9.5's, one G12-020, one #18, and one old knuckle joint plane  make up the bulk of my workforce.  (Oh yeah, several bench planes too.  And the mini planes.  And the scrapers..... you get the idea!)   Most of these planes came from Patrick Leach.

            Last weekend I had a rodmaking student here for a class.  He brought his LN plane with him.  While it felt great in the hand and shined like a new penny, I still preferred my older Stanleys.

            You pays your money, you takes your chances.  (Harry Boyd)

              Snipe hunting, hex hatches, Patrick Leach... I am surprised at you Harry!!

              Honestly though, that is great advice. Harry is spot on in regards to the way Patrick does business. You have to go a long way to find someone more knowledgeable, too.

              Hey, I have an honest 99% 18 that I might be willing to trade for a couple of L-N's... if you catch me during a moment of weakness.  (Larry Blan)

            Being a newbie I have no opinion in favor of or against the "groove" ...  I can however for Scott Bearden offer a little help with finding a decent "9 1/2" on eBay without paying collector prices.  

            Collectors are searching for "Stanley 9 1/2 Plane" ....  Do your search for other versions of the same thing.  ie Craftsman or Sargent 3704 or Stanley 16 plane.  The Stanley 16 is the 9 1/2 exactly except that the metal trim is nickel plated.

            See eBay item #160087428236  or  110091125004 for "9 1/2's" that aren't ... that sold for less than $30 including shipping...   

            Just a neat trick that works to separate your search from that of the collectors!  Now your only competition is the other 200 list members.  (Curt Hugenot)

              The Craftsman is a good plane. (Timothy Troester)

    Planes are funny things. You really need to have them in your hand and try them out.  That said,  you won't go wrong with the L-N, grooved or not. There is another alternative though, and it won't really be a big step. Pick up a 9 1/2 on eBay. Get an old one. You can space it up with tape or shim stock to replicate the groove, and decide that way what you want to do. The L-N shouldn't require tuning, so other than the potential for a bit of learning, that won't help, but even the L-N will require sharpening. Unless you are an ardent woodworker and have plenty of practice on chisels, sharpening is another of those adventures that have to be experienced to be learned, and must be mastered unless you are a big fan of frustration in your life. There are more ways to make a rod than there are rodmakers, but if there is one universal truth, it is to keep the iron sharp!

    With just one grooved plane in the arsenal, there is plenty of potential for lifting, especially on the tips. Without the plane to hold the strip down, Murphy is already lurking. If you soak, and if you hold your mouth right, and if you didn't flame or heat treat for just a tiny bit too long, and if you never try "just one more pass", it might work, and I won't argue with anyone who uses a grooved plane for final planing, but that is one of those things that you are going to have to work out yourself, with your equipment, your skills, and your abilities.  (Larry Blan)

    I purchased my 9 1/2 block planes on eBay and got three old timey ones at that. Shipping and all, they cost less than a new one. I also had a block plane from before and put a groove on it. Truth be told I used it once, it lifted the strip, now it's a paperweight; and a darn good one at that.

    Another nice thing about the 91/2's I purchased, the blades last a good long time before having to touch them up. They are also a little thicker so they perform beautifully and I didn't have to spend al lot on planes and blades.  (Ren Monllor)

      You can take the groove out of a grooved plane. Just use a flat surface like a plate of glass, a few sheets of wet/dry sandpaper, and sand the sole flat again. The sole will be a few thousandths thinner, not even noticeable.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    I bought a new Stanley at Lowes (#on box 12-920) and a friend with a bridge port put a .003 deep by 1 inch wide groove in the sole for me.  That was a cheap way to go only 30 bucks.  That being said I have not used it much as I too am just learning and have found it easier to use my regular Stanley with a hock blade. I also push the plane on a cant down the forms and with the groove you just don't get enough.  If I was going to spend that kind of money buy a LN scraper for the last few thousands. (Rick Barbato)

      I had considered buying a brand new Stanley at Lowes but everywhere I turned to online everybody said that it is very poor workmanship. All the reviews said that with a lot of tuning and replacing the blade (with a Hock) it will work okay, but for all the trouble it was worth it to spring for a LN that would be excellent out of the box. The other advice of course was to find a good vintage stanley and clean it up.  (Scott Bearden)

        Look all you have to do is tune it up, maybe an evenings work that’s all. I say buy a new Stanley it will give you years and years of good service. You don’t need to spend that sort of cash on a LN. A well tuned Stanley is just as good.  (Gary Nicholson)

        I wouldn't recommend a modern Stanley.  Not only is the blade made with chrome, hard to sharpen and hold an edge, but over the years the surfaces that support the blade (frog, etc.) have gotten smaller and smaller so there's not nearly the solid anchoring of the blade there once was no matter how fine you tune it.  (Darrol Groth)

          A block plane is only made for fine cutting. The support for the frog/ramp is sufficient for the purpose it is made for. Your only cutting about 12 mm maximum. The important point is the blade has good contact with  the frog at the mouth.  All this talk of the blade chattering is nonsense. If the blade is razor sharp. And sharpened at the correct angle 25 and 30 degrees you will not get any chatter on bamboo. Bamboo is relatively a soft thing to plane compared to some of  the timbers used in furniture making.  (Gary Nicholson)

            You say that "all this talk about chattering is nonsense if the blade is razor sharp", but that is simply an incorrect statement;  remember that I was talking about the L-N 212 bodied scraper, with its blade set at about 97 degrees, and it WILL chatter and leave chatterings on the cane, which is not something that you want to happen when you are making your last pass, if you do not have it adjusted and set for the correct depth of cut.  It is, after all, a scraper and NOT a plane.

            Also, I think that the claim that a properly tuned new  Stanley is just as good as a L-N is just so much wishful thinking.  I have a couple of modern Stanleys, and they are bloody awful examples of poor workmanship.  In my opinion, if you are going to buy a cheaper plane, the Record is a much better proposition than the Stanley. Certainly the L-N tools are more expensive, but it is a case of getting pretty much what you pay for, I think.  The L-N planes have a believable weight, and very good balance,  a fine and easily used adjustment system, and are ready tuned right out of the box.  You also get as part of the purchase price the considerable after sales support that Tom Lie-Nielsen makes freely available to all his customers.

            Worth the money?

            I think that they are!  (Peter McKean)

              I couldn't agree more.  I started w/modern Stanleys w/Hock blades and quickly moved to L-N's.  Tom's service and products can't be beat (especially if you live in Maine) and I feel keeping a business like this going is also well worth the $$$.  (David Van Burgel)

              The plane or scraper will not chatter on the bamboo, it chatters because you are hitting steel.

              No plane will cut steel even a Norris. Before you go any further I will inform you. I have been a  cabinet maker for over 25 yr so I do no what I am talking about. But if you want to take it further that’s fine. A bad tradesman always blames his tools. It's up you you to get them to work to there best performance. Why do you think the Stanleys are bellow par?  (Gary Nicholson)

                If you do a side-by-side comparison of a new Stanley plane with one from 25 or so years ago, you shouldn't have to ask why we think the new ones are below par.  (Neil Savage)

              I have always considered plane chatter to be much overrated. It can happen, with a standard thin blade which is a bit blunt and  ground at too steep an angle, supported only by the middle of the frog and asked to cut very dark hardened cane. Just as a 212 or any other scraper will. I doubt if the blade itself chatters so much as performs a series of very small jumps along the workpiece. Just as a lathe bit can if one overdoes it a bit.  But we don't, or certainly shouldn't, use them like this.  Similarly, it takes little time or effort to acquire a more suitable blade for a Stanley and file the frog a bit so it supports more evenly.  If you get one of the fat monsters from Ray Iles it will also be exceedingly inexpensive and rather time consuming to grind in. When you will find that a Stanley of any age, running at no more than York pitch, will perform perfectly. If you have forgone the temptation to have the poor things foot grooved you will then discover that, by varying the major axis of the plane relative to that of the former in the vertical sighting plane then you can vary this angle of attack from zero to 50 degrees just by rotating the plane. Like most of us do, of course, all the time. It's a very good ruse when the edge is a bit off the blade and time is running out.  (Robin Haywood)

                I use a cheap Stanley I bought at Lowes.  I bought a Hock blade for it, sharpen it to ~38 degrees and it works very well.  I even hand filed a slight groove in the bottom.  The groove is not scientific, accurate or technical but it works just fine.  I have never had the opportunity to use  a more expensive plane so I cannot claim to know the difference and I don't care as my Stanley works well.

                As with any tool, there is a learning curve.

                As previously stated, a tool is only as good as the person using it.   An  expensive  plane (better quality??) in the hands of a person who does not know how to use it will produce poor results.  A Stanley in the hands of a person who knows how to use it will produce good results.  (David Gerich)

                  This is true.  It is also true that a higher quality tool will help reduce the learning curve.  A cheap tool in the hands of an experienced worker will likely produce results equal, or nearly equal, to a quality tool in the same hands, but it won't be as easy for him/her.  Something about a silk purse and a sow's ear.  (Neil Savage)

                    True, one cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear, however, it will do the same job and do it just as well.  (David Gerich)

                For those of us on the other side of the pond who are not up to date on English slang, what is York pitch? I figure if Timothy could muster up enough nerve to ask what a piggery was, I could ask what a York pitch meant. Also, how about an update on your nodeless build. I've got all the strips for mine glued and rough tapered and hope to start final tapering tomorrow. I must say that I've so far really enjoyed not having to fool with those damn nodes so much that I'm seriously thinking of adopting nodeless for every rod that I build.  (Will Price)

                  Oh dear!

                  Here was me thinking that York pitch was an American term for an included angle on the frog of 50 degrees!  Whilst I'm at it, what do you call a shed in which pigs are kept in the USA?

                  Nodeless progressed well at first, but we are now in a series of largely self-inflicted binds. I stupidly decided to make a net handle first.  This means cutting very wide splints and my six inch grind wheel is not big enough. Some are done and I'll plane the rest up one day when I'm bored. So I've put them in a box and I'm going to do a normal strip and incorporate it in the next experimental rod. For experience.  The sanding disc system creates too much dust which I cannot extract, so I am considering either a router or saw based system. I'm certainly not going to plane all the scarfs!

                  In the meantime, spitting a bit, I split out and straightened a whole culm in nearly no time at all, the trouble is they are not often like that! I remain extremely attracted to the nodeless idea and all that stops me is the development time to make the production painless and quick.

                  Just to delay me my handle turning jig has now expired so I'll be spending tomorrow farting about making a lathe attachment, solid headstock you see, trouble is it's an ideal lathe for the job otherwise, one just has to contrive a hollow tailstock.  Easy if you happen to work in an engineering shop!  (Robin Haywood)

            A block plane is only made for fine cutting. The support for the frog/ramp is sufficient for the purpose it is made for.

            I thought a block plane was made for rough cutting end grain?  And I can make any of 'em chatter, from the $5 bargain bin plane, to the $500 custom made plane.  (Harry Boyd)

              I learned how to make my plane chatter on the first rod I built. Learning that was the easiest learning curve to get over so far.  (Will Price)

    I worked a Stanley 12-920 to a flat sole, worked the throat to as square as I could get it, replaced the blade with a hock blade, still not as true as the older Stanley 9 1/2 I bought. Was given as a gift a Lie-Nielsen with the Rodmakers Groove and can't wait to give it a whirl!!  (Pete Van Schaack)

    I have two Stanleys in which I have put 3 to 5 thousand grooves. I use them particularly for final planing as I approach the surface of the planing forms. I find the groove plane very useful. Just my experience.  (Frank Paul)

    I looked at rodmakers' grooves for years, trying to decide whether they were just a complication or whether they would serve any useful purpose, and had pretty well decided that I could live without them.  I am pretty competent with the standard planes, and my forms were not suffering to any noticeable extent.

    But I decided  in the  end to  get on  and try it,  so I bought a Lie-Nielsen with a .003' groove and gave it a run.

    I am sorry that I ever delayed it.  It was not really so much a factor of gouging forms that influenced me, but just all-round convenience, and the "relaxation factor" which meant that I did not have to take pains toward the end to plane square and straight, and the fact that once that plane started to run on the forms, I knew EXACTLY where I was relative to final dimensions all down the strip.

    I have not experienced any problems with strips lifting, nor any of the other commonly reported vicissitudes of these tools.

    I am more than a trifle obsessive about plane sharpness, and in my opinion that is the answer to about 90% of the troubles that beset us as rod makers;  keep your blades really, really sharp and things like lifting strips, chipping nodes, skewing angles and the whole kit and kaboodle just go away.

    I am now using my grooved plane for pretty well the whole job, with just the last pass being done with the standard plane - and I'm not convinced that I need to do even that any more - and my planing time is down by about 30%, and my accuracy in final dimensions better than it has ever been, both before and after gluing.

    Incidentally, for what it's worth, I have a L-N scraping plane and I love it dearly, and use it for a number of jobs in the building of rods.  I keep it worryingly sharp as well, and it cuts lovely fine shavings.  You could win bets in pubs with the damned things!  BUT I do NOT think it is a very appropriate tool for taking "last passes" on strips, as when all is said and done it is a scraper and not a plane, it will never while its backside points to the ground cut as well as a sharp plane, and the inherent design of scrapers means that they are prone to chatter, and I do not think that a chattered surface is what we are shooting for here.

    My opinion, which I must say does not appear to command much attention nor respect around here.... something about "prophets"  "honor" and "own countries" I suppose.....

    Hope it helps someone.  (Peter McKean)

      I am with you all the way on the grooved planes.  I really find them a positive point.  I think the problems with strips lifting are to do with taking to big a cut on a single pass.  Also maybe this could be affected by the groove been cut to deep. 3 to 5 thousandths is about right.  (Gary Nicholson)


I am not a believer in grooved planes but I do own one that is collecting dust. No I don't want to sell it, I show it to other makers who ask me if I use one.

I have also tried aluminum body tape that works well, it is 3/4" wide and .003 thick.

Personally, I like to angle my plane for a cleaner cut. This works best for me.  (Tony Spezio)

    I angle plane with a grooved plane. Works fine even on final planning as long as you don’t have the iron edge projecting below the outer sole area surface. The grooves in my planes are about 1” wide and one is .003” deep and the other is .005” deep. When angle planning that means the strip is held down in the form groove about 1/2” or so fore & aft of the cut. With minimal throat opening and a sharp iron lifting the strip out of the form while planning would be very difficult if not impossible.  (Don Schneider)

      When I was rambling on the other day about grooved planes, I didn't mention the fact that I also angle plane with mine.  Of necessity it is not a very acute angle, but it's there, and it may well account for the fact that I find the procedure very accurate and very easy.  (Peter McKean)

        There is a method in "The Best of the Planing Form, Vol. 2" to angle the groove.  Essentially, you glue 2 identical wedges on the sides of the plane with the points of the wedges going in opposite directions, then sand in the groove as usual.  The wedges allow reversing the plane to sand in both directions.  (Neil Savage)

    Thanks to all who have responded about the tape.  Back in the dusty corners of my shop I located a roll of the aluminum duct tape.  It looks to be about .004 so I am going to give that a try.  (Rick Hodges)

      If you like the results follow the link below to the tips site, I tried it on one of my irons and was pleased  with the results. I did use 220 grit wet or dry instead of the 80 grit and measured often with my depth gauge often until I got the correct depth.  (Don Green)

        Didn't see this in the link below so I guess I didn't mention it at the time.

        Using some spray adhesive I attached a 1" wide piece of wet/dry, don't remember the grit, to the top surface of my table saw. Adjusted the fence to center the plane sole to the wet/dry. Keeping one side of the plane against the fence sanded the groove. Didn't take long so measure your progress often. The process even goes faster if you spray the wet/dry with WD40.  (Don Schneider)


I was thinking about utilizing Frank Neuemann's sandpaper method to put a groove in one of my vintage Stanley 9 1/2 block planes.  Has anybody tried this method?  How deep of a groove is recommended?  What is your opinion concerning grooved planes? Also, how does a tuned up vintage Stanley block plane compare to versions offered by Lie-Nielsen or Veritas?  (Ron Delesky)

    I think you will find a grooved plane helpful in planning cane. I have had grooves put in several planes that are between 3 and 5 mils deep on a surface grinding machine. I can not speak to the sandpaper method. Not sure about your last question.  (Frank Paul)

      I had always heard that a .005" groove would reduce damage to the iron edge, and also to the planing form itself.  I haven't tried it yet, but it makes sense, since most of the time your are taking a .005" shaving, or less.

      The Lie-Nielsen and Veritas are "gentleman's planes" whereas the Stanley is a contractor's plane.  What makes it a gentleman's plane (or any other tool) is that cost is a secondary concern to quality and appearance.  By contrast, a contractor's tool has to be cost effective, good enough quality at a reasonable price.  You can get a historic Stanley 9 1/2 for less than $30, shipping included.  A Veritas A2 costs $135 + shipping,  Lie-Nielsen is $165 + shipping.

      So, is the Stanley as good?  No.  Is the Stanley good enough? Yes.  If cost were no object, would you enjoy using the gentleman's planes more?  Almost certainly.   (Paul Gruver)

        The old, pre-WWII Stanley planes are very nice.  Be prepared to spend a little time tuning. The blades are good, tho maybe the new A2 are even a little better.  I like the old knuckle-joint block planes.  Patrick Leach seems to have one every month,, and he sells them for about $85 at present.  I'm a satisfied customer of Mr Leach.

        Some people like new stuff, some like old.  Its all good.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    I've done the Frank Neuemann method and it works fine. Spent a whole less time doing the groove Franks way than attempting to machine a groove. Most of the problem with machining the groove was clamping the plane w/o the pressure on the wings distorting the sole. Plus getting the place dead flat took upwards of 2 hours and tapping and adjustment. Took less than a 1/2 hour to do Frank's method.

    Further, I have a Veritas Low angle plane. It's a great plane - no chatter but the sole will mark if you stroke it along the forms IF the forms have tiny abrasions in it. Stoning the forms will help a lot. I also have a #3 Lie-Nielsen Bench plane that works great to get the strips down to the last 0.020". I tried a #2 but it was too small for my hand. I have found however that the handle requires tightening every now and then. I've used both planes for the past 5 years or so. The Lie-Nielsen Small scraper plane has given me grief. It was delivered with the internals of the body casting not allowing the blade to set vertical. Took some filing to get it right. Then the adjustment screw broke where the locking pin is installed. Machined a new one. Further, the adjustment screw doesn't set onto the flat surface and will work back. Found a water faucet washer bored to 1/4" gives just enough resistance not to "back off". Got a Veritas Small Scraper last winter and used it for 4 rods. Works much better than the Lie-Nielsen. Adjustments as simple and the shavings clear readily.

    I like my old Stanley and Record 9 1/2 planes better than the newer ones for two reasons . The older plane blade advancement system is a screw/lever arrangement making setting much easier and more precise. The cap locking device is now a screw rather than a lever device of the old planes. The lever was a whole lot easier to set while holding the plane upside down all the while attempting to get the blade square to the sole. Between the older Stanley Vs the Records. I'd take the Records every time. Slightly better built.  Too bad Record is now gone.  (Don Anderson)

    I have used the sandpaper method to groove a couple of old Stanleys.  I think it works fine.  I recommend using PSA backed micro-abrasive sheets from 3M.  I cut a 3/4" strip and stuck it to the top of my table saw, parallel to the fence.  I put a 0.003" groove in a 60 1/2, and a 0.0015" groove in a 9 1/2.  I have Veritas and Lie-Nielsen planes, but prefer the grooved Stanleys with Hock blades for the final few thousandths.  I take shavings 0.0005" thick and go right down to the forms so I can push the plane the entire length of the strip and get nothing but a little fuzz.  If I grooved the Veritas and Lie-Nielsen planes, I might use them for planing right down to the forms, but I see no reason to do that when the Stanleys work fine.

    When you get right down to it, the factors that affect how a plane performs are the flatness of the sole, the cutting angle of the blade, the width of the throat opening, the depth of the cut, the quality of the blade steel, and the sharpness of the edge.  The higher priced planes have no advantage over a well-tuned old Stanley in any of these factors except the blade steel, and that can be remedied.  The advantages they have are in the cosmetics, feel, ease of adjustment, and durability.  These advantages should not be dismissed.  If you buy a good quality plane, you will not regret the decision.  You will appreciate it every time you pick the plane up.  (Robert Kope)

      If you want to put a groove in a plane, and you are sure you won't want to take it out again, you can do it fast with a machist's scraper.  Just leave about 1/4 inch untouched at the toe, heel and on each side of the mouth (or is it throat?)  Then do those last bits with sandpaper as described.  It won't be pretty but its fast because you are only sanding a groove in the last inch or so of steel, not all 6 inches.  Its only the depth of the groove at the mouth that really affects the cut.

      I've got a flea market plane I put a deep (.008) groove in that way.  I use it for that intermediate step between rough and final. I wouldn't do it on a valuable plane, of course.

      Another advantage of a grooved plane is that you only have to sharpen about 1/3 the blade.  You can relieve the sides of the edge on the grinder and just keep the middle 1/3 sharp.  That the only part that ever touches cane in a grooved plane.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)


Comments on the .003" groove in the LN Rodmakers plane?  Is this worthwhile or a gimmick?  (Reed Guice)

    Like the LN plane itself, very nice, can only make work easier, but not necessary. Only your banker knows how critical it is to your rod making. Just my third rate rod maker's opinion.  (Gary Misch)

    Probably worthwhile to people who don't always hold the plane level, like myself. Maybe not needed by people who can hold the plane level at all times. With the iron mounted square with sole, angles will be corrected when the outside edges of the sole are riding the forms. I liked mine so well I ordered one with 10-12/1000 grove for rough and initial planing. I do finish the last 3-4/1000 with a non grooved 103 special. I guess I sound like a saleman, but no financial interest.  (Larry Tucker)

    Love mine, wouldn't be without it. I also ground the blade so that all I sharpen is about 3/4 of and inch in the middle, works great.  (Joe Arguello)

    I have used the grooved LN on the last two rods. I only use it for the last 10 to 20 thousandths of planing and set the forms about 0.002 inches tighter to account for the groove. This has greatly reduced (but not eliminated) wear and tear on the forms. I use non-grooved planes before the grooved one to get the strips down to 20 thousandths or so of final dimensions since there is much less (but not zero) likelihood of nicking the forms when the strips are thicker.  (Joe Hudock)

    I like mine, however if you skew the plane on a slight angle to the strip like many rodmakers do, the groove obviously won't let you plane that way.

    Experiment with .002 or .003 tape on either side of the sole to see if you like it.  (Tom Vagell)

      There is a simple fix for the skew problem that you mention below!!!! I had Lie Nielsen put a rodmakers groove in one of their skew planes!!!! I think it may have been a "One off" item as they had never had a request for it until me, but I am sure they would do it if someone wanted one!!! Also, they would only do it on one of their iron planes and not the bronze!!! I have put in a request to manufacture a high angle skew plane with groove, but nothing yet. (Paul McRoberts)

        Thomas is great, they will put a rodmakers groove in any plane for a fee even if it is not a LN.  (Doug Hall)

    It's no gimmick. 

    As you plane close to final it's nice to even up the strip - where the strip becomes perfectly parallel to your form - and that is what this plane can do.  It sets your strip up for those final planing continuous passes where the bamboo has now become a consistent thickness from butt to tip.  Also when your plane blade is cutting bamboo so close to your metal form, it's nice to know you will never have to worry about gouging your form with this plane.  (Doug Alexander)

    I have some.  I use them too keep from eating up the forms when I get down to the bottom.

    However I don't use them for final planing.  I want the blade against the form and the strip against the plane body.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    Helps me when I splice strips.  I use a wood block so it helps with that.  You can also just use masking tape as well!  (Louis DeVos)


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