Installing A Blacksmith Made Plane Stop

I am not usually interested at throwing darts at any product offered on the woodworking market, but I have a few sore spots, things I've come to believe in deeply, that require some criticism from me.

I have three workbenches in my shop. A taller height bench for joinery and carving. a six foot long Nicholson style bench for secondary work and mostly to travel to demos, and a huge twelve foot long slab style bench built from barn beams a cross between a Roubo and a Holtzapffel.

The thing all three benches have together in common is NONE have a vise installed. That's correct zero permanently installed vises.

I do have a Moxon Vise I use for most of my dovetailing and frame-saw resawing.I do have a notch cut in the end of my bench and a wedge to hold boards like a vise. This trick is taken from Chris Schwarz's book "Ingenious Mechanics"

I do all my workholding with holdfasts, doe's feet, and a hook device that replace the crochet that I call l'entrejambe drôle (Go ahead and translate it!!) More on that with my next post. The backbone for most of these processes is my plane stop.

Mine are all forged by Blacksmith Tom Latane and they are functionally beautiful. I asked him to file a bead profile on the stop in my big bench to match a few bead details I added to the rest of the bench and as I built student benches for the class I recently finished teaching I asked him for a few plain ones.

Still every bit a beautiful.

Now comes the dart throwing. I know there are a handful of manufacturers out there making plane stops that are simply the toothed plate. It gets installed in a block of wood with screws or threaded inserts or unicorn horns. I've also known some to use a cut off section of saw plate screwed onto a dowel. And there is historic precedence for these solutions. I've seen pictures of old plane stops made from bent nails and then there's the "bench knife" which I'm pretty sure would make the band-aid lobby cheer if it became popular again.

Yes these work, but they are all compensation in place of the best. For less than $100 (way less in most cases) you can add a piece to your bench, hand made by another craftsman (craftsperson, artisan, maker, pick your own descriptor, it's 2019 after all!!) Why would you purchase an imitator trying to accomplish the same thing when you could be dealing with real iron?

I think the the intimidation factor comes from the large wedge shape of the tang. The piece that fits down into the block. It's something to wrap your head around a bit when you start because you are driving a wedge into endgrain. That means you can easily split your nice tight fitting block. Well I've installed about a half dozen of these stops now. So while I was finishing up the last bench for this class I shot some video of the install.

Seriously. Skip the imitators and the wannabes. Go for the real steel. As your favorite smith, find one through ABANA, or better yet, send Tom Latane an email and ask him to forge one.I believe he is charging $75 for a fancy one with filed edges and less for a straight forward one. Get the real prices from him!! Don't quote me directly, No matter what they are worth three times what he's charging!!  THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE!!

More on the funny crotch in a few days.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. A great video my friend! Well done.

  2. Great article, would love to learn more about the hook device that replace the crochet that you call l'entrejambe drôle!

  3. Why does the metal shaft need to be flamed? Just curious.

  4. Why does the metal shaft need to be flamed? Just curious.


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