|My trusty old rabbet plane right after rehab. That is, the plane was rehabbed!|
This great old plane almost never made it as one of my regular arsenal of beloved tools. It was one of the first planes I ever bought. I can't rightly remember, but I would be surprised if I paid more than ten bucks for it on eBay.
The first thing I did was sharpen the blade. The steel on this particular blade must be magic, because this is one of the only planes I have that I enjoy sharpening. It cleaned up and became razor sharp in no time.
I next decided to flatten the sole, as it looked pretty beat up. One swipe from a plane, and WHAM!
I found a nail in the sole.
This plane languished for a couple years in this state. I almost got rid of it when I read Matthew Bickford's book, "Mouldings In Practice." This book inspired me to get that old rabbet plane running.
Long story short, I extracted the nail and glued a strip of some mystery tropical wood for a new sole, and I was in business.
|Plane in use.|
I resisted the temptation to round over the edge of the new sole. This crisp, sharp edge allows this plane to ride in the mark from a marking gauge.
|The first step in making a freehand rabbet - ride the edge of the plane in a mark from your gauge.|
|Another view of the plane riding in a gauge line.|
Even if I had machines in my shop, I think I would do rabbets this way if I only had one or two to make at a time.
|After establishing the edge of the rabbet wall, you can use it as a fence.|
My recommendation would be to take a look at your rabbet plane, and if the edge is rounded over, dress the sole with a finely set jack plane until it is sharp again.
You can buy wooden rabbet planes brand new. Just because it is expensive, it doesn't mean that it is a useful or more superior tool. I saw one with a $250 price tag that had the edges rounded over for comfort. To make them sharp would have meant taking the sole down nearly 1/8 of an inch!
|A rabbet plane also excels at chamfers.|
I find that when this plane is on my bench, I won't pull out my block plane. This plane will make chamfers like a pro. With the tall body, it is easy to see the angle that you are planing.
I think this is the reason there are so many examples of this tool in existence today. This tool is extremely versatile. Have you ever wondered why there aren't examples of wooden bodied block planes everywhere? It is because this tool is better at it and more versatile. It is smaller, and nothing could be more simple, as it is just a block of wood. I suspect far cheaper, too.
The only thing I think you probably could say a block plane could do that this can't is use on a shooting board.
Like a block plane, the rabbet plane can be set for a very fine cut. In contrast, the rabbet can also be set for a cut as course as any roughing plane.
One thing I recently discovered, was that using this plane cross-grain (at least in soft spruce), leaves not only an expectedly rough surface, but a ragged edge on the rabbet, too. If it is critical, this is where a filletster plane should be used. One might be able to get away with a rabbet plane with an angled blade, but care would have to be taken to ensure to continually strike a line on the wall to sever those fibers. A filletster plane has a knicker that does this automatically, and the angled blade leaves a much smoother cut.
In conlusion, I think that while this tool isn't essential for woodworking like the tools in my beginner's tool kit (jack plane, two chisels, a Japanese saw, marking tools and a sharpening stone), I would recommend this to be one of the very next tools a beginner should buy when they are ready.