30 Minutes: Planing Stop

It’s time to start a series I’ve been considering for a while. I always alternate large projects with small ones – it gives me breathing room, and lets me get things out of the way that otherwise fall behind. Cleaning, storage, and so on. Sometimes I look around and realize I feel like doing something small… But what? The projects I outline here will be the small in-between tasks that keep the shop running.

My planing stop is the knock-through variety common to modern Roubo-style benches. Mine was a minor triumph: big honking mortise, made of mesquite (like most of my other bench furnishings – and I nailed the fit. It taps out with a hammer, and never slips.

I’ve considered an integral flush planing stop like the one discussed on Paul Sellers’ blog for a long time. But I won’t make permanent alterations to my bench without a lot of consideration. Especially anything that breaks up the simplicity of it. I realize that’s silly, but still. The Holy Grail of the lowly planing stop is the blacksmith-forged one Christopher Schwarz writes about.

But I wanted to play with one and see if I like it. I saw one built into a rectangular bench dog, and I wanted to try one attached to a round dog on my bench.

So in my allotted half hour, I hacked out a piece of soft steel from an electrical junction box, ground the edges, and beveled the front edge. I clamped it in a vise and filed teeth on it. I sawed off the flattened top of an existing oak dowel bench dog, and put about a 2 degree angle on it so the front of the stop lifts off the bench slightly. Drilled a hole in the bench dog, drilled a hole in the stop, took a pass with a countersink, screwed it on, and done.

Place the end of the board you’re planing against the teeth. The thickness of the plate is perfect to give you safety space so you don’t run your plane into it, but grabs the workpiece perfectly.

Grab a plane and go to work. It may be necessary to set a secondary stop to the side of the board if it decides to swing around the post. The jury isn’t in yet.

  • Time: 27 minutes.
  • Cost: 2″ of scrap metal and a piece of wooden dowel ($0.00 USD).
  • Satisfaction: High.

Ross Henton

September 2019

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