04 Jan A Blacksmith Made Planing Stop from Crucible Tools
These traditional stops are embedded in the end of a block of wood that is about 3” x 3” x 12”. The block is friction fitted into a mortise in the bench top, and it moves up and down with mallet taps. In Chris Schwartz’s experience, the planing stop “is as important as the workbench’s face vise and has almost endless uses”. The main problem with a blacksmith planing stop was that it can be tricky to install. You needed to drill a stepped hole in the block of wood or heat up the shaft of the planing stop in a forge and then burn it into the block. There was always the risk of splitting the block during the process. Also, blacksmith stops can cost hundreds of dollars, but not so the Crucible Planing Stop ($49). It’s made from ductile iron, so it can take a beating. Hit it with a metal sledge, and unlike typical gray iron, it will not shatter.
The teeth and the angle of the head of the stop are based on A.J. Roubo’s planing stop from the 18th century, and this stop is easy to install. Use a 5/8” (or 16mm) spade bit to drill a full-depth hole in the block of wood and remove the sawdust and chips. Drop the shaft of the planing stop into the hole and it will stop about 1” from the bottom of the hole. Knock it with a hammer a few times and the stop will cut its way into the hole and bed itself in place. Done.
The teeth come ground to a level of sharpness that is good for woodworkers who are learning to use a toothed planing stop. The teeth will grab the work, but they’re not so sharp that they will cut you. Once you get comfortable using the planing stop, you can file the underside of the teeth if you like so that they will grab even harder. Some woodworkers don’t like the marks left behind by a planing stop, although they’re commonly found on antique furniture if you look closely. Chris considers the teeth marks to be similar to the gentle scallops left behind by a jack plane or a smoothing plane. They are marks of handwork. If, however, you don’t like them, you can easily plane them away. The Crucible Planing Stop is made entirely in the United States. It is cast and ground at a foundry in Illinois. You can download installation instructions here, and there’s a video on the website.