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Feb 16 2011

The Bench End Planing Stop

We’ve had some requests for more information about our new ‘Bench End Planing Stop’, because it works a bit differently than what woodworkers are accustomed to.

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Our new Planing Stop is the jointer planes helper, engineered to be a complete planing stop, meant to be easy to set up and use. When you wanna plane, you wanna plane! When you are done planing, simply lower the screws and it’s flush to the bench top. Always ready.

Why would we want to use a planing stop?

The main reason to use a stop when planing is that it offers no cramp to the board. By cramp, I mean clamping the uncorrected board so that some of the wind and twist may become compressed. When you clamp a board that isn’t flat before you attempt to true it, you can flex the wood fibers against a natural wind and actually plane more problems into it than out.

This means that clamping boards between the end vise and bench dogs can make it harder to flatten a board if we wrench things into more wind than is already there, and that is all too easy to do. What works best is a stop to plane against and a few wedges under the board to keep it from rocking. This way the board is flattened while all it’s fibers are at rest.

Flatten the top, flip and thickness the other side flat to match. Once faces are flat, chuck in the vise and chase the edges. Then saw the ends to length and shoot. No need to worry about marks in the end grain from the stop because you’ll shoot the ends after. Of course if you are too late, this stop will work with a board between the stop and the work just as well.

The cool thing is that this design looks tough on the bench, and is tough on the bench because it eliminates the short grain breakage issues that are common with the sliding stops most commonly used.

Kari Hultman, from the Village Carpenter Blog outlines some of the limitations of traditional planing stop variations, Here. Our hope was to see if we could overcome them, and we think we have. The screws have excellent holding power, better than planing into a vice or a bench dog, and this offers variable width and height versatility.

What it is.

It’s a fixture that usually mounts on the left end of the bench nearest the edge the face vise is on. Of course if you’re using a left hand bench this would be opposite. It is always 12″ long 1-3/4 thick. Depth or width, depending on how you look at it is optional in three sizes. Small: 1-3/4, Medium: 2-3/4, or Large: 3-3/4 inches.

It mounts firmly with two or three 3 x 5/16th lag bolts, which are recessed flush into counterbores, and has a series of six 1/4-20 flat head cap screws spread over a 10 inch range in 2-1/2 inch intervals that have 82 degree countersink tops which can be quickly and easily raised and lowered to stop any board you would like to plane. Just mount the top of the stop on plane with the bench top or alternatively slightly below the bench top surface.

The tops and sides have a small chamfer on them, so there are no sharp edges where people will usually contact it. The bottom edge has a decorative cove cut into it to help dress up the stop and it’s appearance on the bench. We finish it with Teak Oil. Teak Oil is an amber finish that pops grain and it wears like iron.

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We make these planing stops available in three different sizes and four different woods; Ash, (shown) Cherry, Hard Maple and Walnut.

How is it installed?

This is a pretty straightforward install. There are two to three 5/16 holes in these depending on the model. There are counterbores for the bolt heads so everything is recessed into the stop. Nothing protrudes from the fixture to catch on your clothes.

Layout for mounting is optional. As mentioned, the stop can be mounted on plane with the bench top, or slightly below to compensate for future bench flattenings. It can be positioned right on the corner or inset a bit, as based on personal preference.

Once it is positioned where you like, take one of the supplied lag bolts and use it to punch the center points for the 1/4 inch diameter mounting holes. Then drill the holes squarely to edge of the bench approximately 1-1/2 inches deep. If you need help squaring up this drill hole, our Medium Drill Squaring Guide works great for this.

Your favorite socket and ratchet fit right in the counterbore for a straightforward install. It goes on the left end of the bench and near the edge with the face vise. Simply drill two or three 1/4-inch holes (again, depending on the model) into the end of the bench about 1-1/2 inches deep and bolt it on.

How it works.

Lay your board up on the bench as you usually would, inspecting for twist and wind. Prepare to shim the board so it won’t rock as you flatten it.

You can choose any two or three of the flat head cap screws, which are spaced from 1-10 inches apart. Raise them between 1/8th to 3/16th above the bench top with the hex key that stows in its holder on the end of the stop.

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Position the board against the stop and plane away, planing the high spots first and work your way down to flatness. The stop is tough, so push as you would with usual planing force. It can handle the pressures of planing. It is equally adept at working with both thick and thin stock because it doesn’t take much height for the stop to hold the work and the cap screws always remain below the plane iron. No damaged blades here!

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Adjustments are quick and easy! Simply grab the hex key out of it’s keeper on the lower right side of the stop and use it to quickly raise a couple of the cap screws that seem appropriate for the width of the board and the stop is ready. We find 2-1/2 to 3 full turns on the screws is all that is needed for stopping any board.

It’s an affordably priced upgrade to any bench, that works great and offers planing versatility that a vice often can’t match when jointing and flattening is the task. Please see the Planing Stop product page in our Store to order.

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Happy Woodworking!

© Copyright 2011 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

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