An ungainly plow

One of these days, we’ll get to a project that needs a groove plowed, I promise.  But today is about modifying the tool I use to do that.  While there are lots of plow planes out there, I use an old Stanley 45.  This was not one of Stanley’s best ideas.  Actually, it’s a neat idea (namely that one multi-plane could replace lots of single use planes by changing irons and skates around), but the execution isn’t all that great.  It just doesn’t work all that well for most of the uses that Stanley touted.  But it makes a good plow plane and a decent match plane (for tongue and groove boards).  I picked one up for cheap, and made it work.

One of the irritations I kept running into (literally) was that the rods that the whole plane slides around are pretty long.  I only used a few inches of them, leaving the rest of those rods hanging waaaaay over and running into things.


Now, I could move the rods over so that they didn’t protrude through the right side so much, but it takes up a lot of space in the toolbox either way.  It’s just an awkward thing.  So, I decided to fix it.  I could have stalked eBay for a set of short rods.  But they start around $15, and then there’s shipping.  Humbug!

I measured the rods that were on the plane, and found I could use some 3/8″ drill rod to make new rods.  And it so happened that I had a little section of 3/8″ drill rod!  So, I cut two pieces, about 5″ long.  I could have used them as cut, but I didn’t like the rough (and sharp!) edges left behind by the hacksaw.  I could have done all manner of painstaking beveling, but I came up with a different plan.

Sometimes I miss having a big engine lathe at my command.  If I had one in my shop, I could have used a collet and chucked my new rods in it and cleaned them right up.  But I am lacking an engine lathe and the collets.  All I have is a little woodturning lathe.


What you can do is take a Jacobs chuck and install it in the headstock.  This sort of functions as an adjustable collet.


Now, this is a little finicky.  The chuck is not meant to be turned in the headstock, and the Morse taper comes loose pretty quickly.  You ONLY GET twenty seconds or so before it starts to come loose.  On top of that, you’ve got a little spindly workpiece that wobbles around a lot.  But it does work.  Using the big file I have for jointing saws, I rounded off the ends of my new rods to where they were toolbox (and user!) friendly.  Takes less than a minute per end.


Now, I had a plow plane that would fit around my clamps, and would fit in my toolbox more easily.  Added bonus: it makes that plane balance better so it doesn’t feel nearly as awkward.  So if you are fussing with the long rods in a Stanley 45 (or similar planes), give this a try!  After all, if you have more toolbox space, that means you have to get something else to go in there, right?