Tuning up a Dado Plane

Dado Plane before tuning up

A while back I picked up a set of three Dado planes, one of which was 3/4″ in good shape from the ever amazing tool seller Hyperkitten.  Of course that’s the really useful size in our modern day lumber world.  I hadn’t spent the time to tune it up to working condition, so this afternoon was a good time.  I needed to make some grooves in the case for the drawer supports.  I could easily do it with my carcase saw and some chisel work but I’ve been wanting to try this plane out.


I started out taking it apart to check the steel of the blades, and nickers which turned out to be in rather good shape.  I wire brushed it a little to clear some bulk of the crud off, and they both looked quite decent although the long part of the nicker had a bend in it.  The plane body was solid, no checks or warping.

After sharpening

I started out on a Medium India stone on the blade, and worked through to Translucent and finally stopping all by hand.  I was a bit worried that the nickers would be problematic, but after propping my stones up on the case I was able to get to the inside edge (never the outside edge if you can avoid it, you don’t want to make the over all width go down.)   As I worked the inside slowly I was having problems keeping it steady, and on closer inspection the last guy to sharpen it had the same problem.  It was rounded a bit, but the points where sharp so I figured it would be good enough which turned out to be correct.  I tweaked the slight bend in the top part of the nicker, and re-assembled it.

Testing the plane

I tested it out on a scrap piece of pine, and it worked fantastic.  I used a fence clamped to the board as a guide, and set the depth stop by eye.  The sides of the trough were square, and the bottom was smooth enough.  It took very little effort to use, and is now my new favorite way to make dados!  I put it right to use on the sides of my dovetailed three drawer carcase project.  The prototype is in Pine, and check out the cross grain shavings I was getting with the dado.


All in all, I’m VERY pleased with this plane.  Thanks Josh!  (If you’re in the market for old user tools, follow his blog for excellent deals.  He has never steered me wrong, and he finds great tools.  Highly recommended.)



  1. Ed May 12, 2012

    My first wooden bodied plane was a 3/4 dado. Almost 10 years of woodworking later, I still use it!

  2. McGlynn on Making May 18, 2012

    There is something immensely gratifying about tuning up an old tool and seeing it perform like a champ.

    And I give Josh two thumbs up too, I’ve picked up some great tool at very reasonable prices from Hyperkitten.

  3. I work as a carpenter in London and I have to admit I have a bit of a tool fetish; I’m constantly collecting new ones. It’s amazing how much satisfaction you can get out of using some of your tried and tested ones.

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