A Tool I Hate to Love

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The 10 1/2 carriage makers rabbet plane is one of my favorite tools. What part of carriage making required a rabbet plane with a 2 1/8 cutting width I have no idea. In my experience, they are not a particularly great rabbet plane, too wide for most of the stuff I do. Where they do shine (at least for me) is fine tuning large tenons in my workbench classes. Planning cross grain, the 10 1/2 can quickly and accurately size large tenons cheeks with ease. The full width iron allows you to work right you to the shoulder of the tenon, which is nice.

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The full width cutting iron.
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The 10 1/2 works well on the pull too.

So what is the hiccup with the tool that makes me not like it? The arches over the mouth of the plane are weak. The brittle cast iron vintage planes are made of makes the situation even worse with this tool. Many of these planes when you find them have had repairs such as welds or scabs riveted on the sides to hold them together, most times rendering the plane almost useless. The unbroken examples fetch pretty good prices because they have become collectible and harder to find nowadays.

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This photos shows the size difference between a No. 10, background, (13″ long) and the No. 10 1/2, foreground, (9.5″ long)

The No. 10 and No. 10 1/4 are also available (10 1/4’s are made new by Lie-Neilson), all three versions share the same width iron but the 10 and 10 1/4 are longer, heavier and a bit unwieldy for sizing tenons.

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This plane fell from a workbench to a wood floor during a class and snapped like a potato chip. I was able to have it brazed and then re-flattend.

My luck with the 10 1/2 has not been that good, had one that was stolen during a class, one that got broke. I continue to use the two I have for now because they are hard to beat for the big tenons on workbenches. Hopefully sometime in the near future these will get reproduced in a ductile iron version, making for a less worrisome tool to own and use.

5 thoughts on “A Tool I Hate to Love

  1. Hi Will,

    Everything I ever learned about these tools in the beging came from my roots with Old Order Amish as a young Barnwright. These are “large tenon” planes aimed at exactly what you use them for in my experience too…flattening up to the shoulder of big tenons. In helping just finish up another large Dutch Barn project, this tool is the often reached for plane of choice by those that use them, and like them the most…

    I fully agree that the old vintage versions are really not something I put in the hands of students (or at least not without a warning) because one sharp bump and/or drop (even on wood) and they can snap!!!

    Your comment: “…Hopefully sometime in the near future these will get reproduced in a ductile iron version, making for a less worrisome tool to own and use…” had me kind of at a lose?

    I do believe both Veritas and Lie Nielsen version (what I own and use) are very robust and excellently durable “field tools” that take a hell of a beating. You may enjoy them? I love the “Veritas® Jack Rabbet Plane” but haven’t bought one yet (just used a few friends versions on projects) because my “go to” was a gift from the TFG during a barn raising. I’m fairly certain this one is ductile iron and you can find it as: “No.10-1/4 Bench Rabbet Plane by Lie Nielsen.




    1. Hi Jay,

      The L-N 10 1/4 is long and heavy, the LV jack rabbet is the same. The 10 1/2 is slightly smaller than a #4 smother and easier to handle for what we are doing.


    1. My thoughts exactly. Who even thinks of doing something like that? Hopefully there’s a special hell for people like that, where their blades are always dull and their lumber is always contrarian.


  2. The Ohio Tools no. 119 skew wooden rabbet with handle (and similar) might be a good alternative. 2 1/4 wide, light, and drop tolerant, but not short.

    No clue how rare they are, but I feel like I see them more often than the 10 or 10 1/4.

    I am grateful for prompt to consider using mine for bench tenon tuning. Thanks!

    Here’s an old catalog with the no. 119:


    Liked by 1 person

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