Woodworking: Making a wood plough plane


This tutorial shows how I made my own solid maple plough plane. I have a small antique grooving plane that I tried to use to cut groves for raised panel doors and for the bottom of drawers—but it was too small to do so much work. It was very hard to hold and get a solid grip.

So I set out to design and build my own plough plane to cut these groves in large pieces. I was making this up as I went along, so I kept an positive, open mind : )

This page follows my progress, step-by-step, through the following tasks:

  • Building and shaping the body
  • Turning the knob handle
  • Cutting and shaping the tote handle
  • Fitting the iron/blade
  • Hoping it works
  • Testing the plane


So here's a step by step record of my progress and process. Enjoy!

Making the body

I glued three pieces of hard maple together to form the plane's body. The body is 2 3/4"w x 2 3/4" h x 12" long.

I cut the mortise out before I glued the three pieces of maple together. I fine-tuned the opening with a jointer's mallet and a few sharp chisels. The bevel that will hold the blade is 45 degrees. I copied this angle from an antique wooden plane I have. I put guidelines on the sides to help chisel at the proper degrees.


I used a 1/4" x 1/4" x 6" M2 high speed steel blade. I had to grind the angle and sharpen the blade myself. This stuff is incredibly hard. I tried filing it and it would barely budge. So I turned to my grinding wheel. I kept a large bowl of water close by to cool it every five seconds. I knew if I heated it too much it would loose its temper and ability to hold a razor sharp edge.


Next, I shaped the body and cut the groves for the 1/8" metal guides. These support and guide the iron as it planes out the groove. I drilled and countersunk screw holes.


I positioned them and planed a route for the shavings to exit out the side.


I drilled and cut the exit grove in the metal guide and in the wood body.


Making the Handles

Here's the front knob's progress. I drew my own pattern after testing several knobs on my planes. I made mine a bit larger that the current knobs I have. They seemed a bit small for my hands. I turned this on my spring pole lathe. I will admit I have converted my lathe to be drill-powered. It makes these tasks much easier.

You might notice that I cut several rings in the bottom peg. This is to lock the peg into the hole on the body when I glue it. The peg is 35mm in diameter. I'll drill a 35mm hole in the base with a European cabinet hinge forstner bit.


Here's me shaping the tote handle with my spokeshave. I set the grain direction perpendicular to the base to maximize the strength as it's pushed through the cut.


I cut a mortise for the tote handle and drilled a 35mm hole for the knob. I used a 7/8" forstner bit to drill the tote handle mortise. I cleaned it up with a few sharp chisels.


Cutting the iron assembly

I cut the lever to hold down the iron from 1/4" weldable steel. After shaping and filing it to look nice, I drilled and threaded a hole in it to hold the set screw.


I threaded the hole with 1/4" 20 threads per inch tap.



Here are the final pieces ready to be assembled and tested.


Test Cut

The first test cut. I cut a panel groove in a piece of aspen. It takes some force to get this thing through. Now I know what our forefather's and mother's life was like. They didn't have a beautiful router and instant electricity to do the work for them. I'm just happy mine worked : )

Here's the second test cutting a drawer bottom groove into a piece of 5/8" red oak. It worked too : ) Notice I added an adjustable fence to the bottom to set the distance the 1/4" groove is from the edge of the board.


The final plough plane

The body edges are chamfered and the handles are glued in.

The final step was to put a coat of finishing oil on it followed by a few coats of wipe on polyurethane.

Here's the final plough plane: