The New Traditional Woodworker Project #3—Thin planing stop


Planing stops are an essential aid for a hand-tool shop like mine. A tip I saw in some magazine inspired me to make a couple. The first is a ¾” thick stop made with ¾” oak dowel stock spaced to fit in my bench dog holes. I also made a “thin” (5/16″) stop.

P7-thin planing stop

P8-thick planing stop

In practice, the “thin” stop gets the most use in my shop. I’ve obliterated several under the stresses of planing until the sole survivor was the ugly particle board one shown above. It doesn’t exactly make you wax nostalgic when you lay eyes on it does it?

Well, the frailty of my thin-stop along with its red-headed-step-child looks motivated me to whip to page 115 of my copy of Jim Tolpin’s The New Traditional Woodworker. His plane stop tutorial sported a design that looked both sturdy and purdy (think brass bling.) An added bonus was the fact that I could use the dividers I picked up in my East Coast Tool Hunt, to lay out the spacing of four fastening screws.

A trip to a specialty woodworking store provided the Alder S4S ¼” thick stock I wanted. One edge is affixed to a ledger which secures in a face vise. After laying the stock in the approximate position that the ledger will rest in the vise, I measured out a suitable distance to a bench dog hole. You see, the brass doggie will serve as a back stop for the far end of the stop.

Here’s what all this looks like in the vise.

P4-Secured in vise

I settled on dimensions of 5 ½” wide (that’s the width it came in) and 16″ long.

I plucked the ledger from a piece of 1 ½” square oak stock I had left over from a bench hook project.

From here, I beveled the edges of the stop and ledger. By trial and error, I used my Lufkin dividers to find the distance to step off five equal segments.

P3-Using dividers to step off the screw spacing

At four of the spacings, I depressed the sharp end into the wood to act as a layout mark for a screw as well as a pilot hole for my drill.

I’ve always loved brass appointments on tools and projects, so I took Tolpin’s advice and bought brass screws to attach the stop to the ledger.

I drilled pilot holes for the screws. Unfortunately, I underestimated the softness of the brass screws and made my pilot holes too small. This was obvious when I twisted the heads right off two screws. It’s not like they didn’t warn me…they squeaked in the wood before breaking. Nonetheless, a bit of wood glue secured the heads in place and no one but you and I are the wiser.

Three coats of BLO and here’s the finished piece.

P2-Finished stop and detail shots

Notice the 1/16th of an inch gap between the stop and the bench when it’s secured in the vise? Well, my face vise has a slight upper-jaw canter when it closes to ensure a tight fit. And that canter causes the stop to rise up a bit off the bench. A little planing with my Stanley No 5 was all it took to true the canter.

The stop is rock solid and so far has easily stood up to the tensile stresses of planing.

P5-face plane stop in use

And the brass screws and Alder appeal to my bling-loving side.

P1-Project shot

Mission accomplished.

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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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2 Responses to The New Traditional Woodworker Project #3—Thin planing stop

  1. Eric W says:

    I’m embarrassed. Mine is made from plywood and drywall screws.

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