Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Cutting rabbets by hand is a joy with this exceptionally well made plane


Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane

There are numerous ways to cut rabbets, most involving table saw or router. If you need to cut a lot of rabbets it makes sense to use power tools. Often enough you'll need to fine tune the rabbet - either to remove the milling marks left by saw blade or router bit - or to get that 'just perfect' fit. You can go back to the router table to attempt a clean up or to make micro adjustments, or you can reach for a hand powered tool - sanding block, card scraper, or hand plane.
When there are only a couple of rabbets to cut it's almost as quick, and considerably more enjoyable, to cut them by hand using a hand plane. The Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane (available in a right and left hand version), is a modern interpretation of the Stanley 289. It's the ideal way to clean up your rabbets or to make new ones. Three features makes this the plane of choice for rabbeting.

Skewed blade and lever cap
Blade is honed, read to go
First, the blade is skewed at a 22° angle. A skewed blade lowers the cutting angle and does a more effective job slicing wood fibers (which is why you will often naturally skew a standard hand plane, particularly when working end grain or highly figured stock). The skewed blade also ejects shavings more easily. The blade, made from A2 or O1 steel, has a back that is ground perfectly flat. Likewise, the back of the lever cap is superbly machined, and mates with the blade perfectly.

Blade slightly proud of plane body
Blade adjustment screws
Second, the blade can be set flush with the side of the body. In actuality you want to set it a hair's breath proud of the side. This enables the blade to cut tightly into the corner of the rabbet, giving you a clean, square cut. You'll know the blade is too far out if it scores the side of the rabbet, or too recessed if you don't obtain a clean crisp corner. It took me a fair amount of time to properly adjust the blade. Fortunately the two set screws helped to reduce the stress.

I found it easiest to set the blade position with the plane held sole up, as in the photo at left, with my thumb pressed firmly against the side of the blade. This way I could sight along the cutting edge of the blade. Patience is the keyword here. I needed to set the blade, take several test cuts, and re-set the blade several times before I was completely satisfied. The payoff is that once you've set the position of the blade correctly, you'll be able to remove and re-insert the blade without having to make further adjustments. I should stress that setting the blade exactly parallel to the mouth of the blade is crucial if you want the plane to perform correctly.

Scoring spur (nicker) 
Scoring spur axle (spur removed)
The third feature that makes the Veritas skew rabbet plane so effective is the inclusion of a fully adjustable scoring spur or 'nicker'. When cutting across the grain, the nicker cuts the wood fibers before the blade slices the wood to significantly reduce the chance of tear out. The nicker is mounted off-center on an axle. By loosening the screw that holds the nicker in place you can shift the nicker down (into a scoring position) when cutting across the grain, or up out of the way, when cutting with the grain.

Loosening locking screw for scoring spur
Adjusting protrusion of spur from side of body
Unique to the Veritas skew rabbet plane is the ability to move the nicker outwards from the side of the plane body, so that it is precisely at the outside edge of the plane. This is accomplished by loosening a locking screw, and then removing the front fence rod and adjusting a set screw. While this might sound a bit convoluted it really is quite easy to do.

Adjusting depth stop
Adjusting fence
A depth stop and fence control the depth and width of the rabbet (maximum depth of 3/4" and width of 1 1/2"). Adjustments are super easy.
The depth stop has two machined bars that slide in two grooves milled into the side of the plane, and is secured with a brass knob. The fence is mounted on two stainless steel rods that are held in place by a unique collet and brass nut arrangement. The fence is easily adjusted yet held rigidly in place. Additionally, the fence is drilled so that you can attach an auxiliary wooden fence, useful when cutting long, narrow rabbets or fielding a raised panel. Optional 6" fence rods are available.

Machined bars on depth stop
Collet that holds fence in position
The blade adjuster (photo at left) consists of a stainless steel washer with a tang that is inserted into a slot at the top of the blade. This arrangement works exceptionally well, enabling you to quickly adjust the blade to
make aggressive cuts, or to take the thinnest of shavings. When I have a lot of rabbets to cut it makes more sense for me to cut them on the table saw. I then remove the  saw marks using the Veritas skew rabbet plane. Setting the plane to remove the thinnest of shavings - about 1/128" (.006") results in a smooth, clean rabbet.
While the blade comes nicely pre-sharpened, it's worth the time to hone it. Honing or sharpening the blade may look to be challenging, but it really isn't. The easiest solution is to use the Veritas Mk. II honing guide and the Veritas skew registration jig. I've been using both of these for some time. Set up is easy and you'll end up with the perfect skewed edge. Of course, you can use these jigs for all your other sharpening. I might sound like the publicity man for Veritas, but in all truthfulness, the Mk. II system is the best hand powered sharpening system on the market.

Put pressure on the front of the plane when starting a cut
Exert slightly more pressure on handle when finishing a cut
Unlike a bench or block plane, expect to spend some time practicing with the skew rabbet plane before you feel entirely comfortable with it. When starting a cut you'll want to exert a bit more downward pressure at the front of the plane to keep the heel from dipping down. Toward the end of the cut shift a bit more pressure to the back hand, so that the plane doesn't rise off the front. In between maintain even downward pressure while simultaneously keeping the body of the plane perpendicular to the stock. I found that I had a tendency to slightly tilt the plane to the left, which resulted in a slightly beveled rabbet. Maintaining constant pressure against the fence took care of this problem. It was only after cutting a couple of dozen rabbets that I developed a feel for using the plane. I now use it primarily to clean up machinery cut rabbets.

If you do a lot of rabbet work, or raise a lot of panels, then it certainly might be worth investing in a matched set of right and left hand planes - beneficial in situations where grain direction varies. Otherwise, just select the one that suits your dominant hand, which for most of us will be the right hand version.
The Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane is an exceptionally well made hand plane that will last a lifetime.


  • 9 3/4" ductile cast iron body
  • 7 3/8" fence
  • 1/8" x 1 5/8" A2 blade
  • scoring spur
  • blade skew of 22° and bevel of 30°
  • 45° blade bed
  • maximum rabbet of 3/4" D x 1 1/2" L (with shoe removed the depth of cut is unlimited)
  • set screws for blade alignment
  • micro feed blade adjuster
  • double guide rods with quick release collets
  • bubinga handles
  • 3.5 lbs (1.59 kg)

Manufacturer:Veritas Tools Inc.
Available From:Lee Valley Tools
Retail Price:$259.00 each ($439 for a pair)
Model #:05P45.01 - right skew
05P45.02 - left skew
Made In:Canada
June 2009

Carl Duguay
Discover more great woodworking reviews!
Subscribe Now and get instance online access to our library filled with exciting woodworking information.
Continue to stay connected to the latest tool reviews with our bi-monthly woodworking magazines!