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What are some proper ways of doing rabbets in plywood with hand tools? I tried using a plough plane but it tore out the fibers too much.

What other manual options are there?

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    A plane is one of the proper ways of doing this. But working with ply the depth you get down to has a bearing on results (as it does doing the same thing by chisel or with a router, which are the only other methods I know of). As the plies are at 90° to each other if the final layer you're working is oriented the right way you'll get smooth results, but if it's at right angles to that you'll get typical cross-grain lifting or tearing. As with all cross-grain work you can reduce this by taking very thin shavings towards the end, and you'd do the same with any hand method.
    – Graphus
    Jan 28 '20 at 6:09
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    Not an answer because I've never done this, but I suspect that even more than in some solid woods you are going to have to score the edges of the rabbet prior to ploughing with a plane or chisel. I don't see any tool not tearing out, at least at some layers.
    – jdv
    Jan 29 '20 at 16:54
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    Probably goes without saying, but for future visitors struggling with the same problem: Also make sure the plane is properly sharpened and honed. You're going to have a lot more tear out if your plane iron isn't sharp. Jan 30 '20 at 15:58
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    I'm thinking to make a saw cut of the desired rabbet depth and then come with a rabbeting plane or a plough plane with a blade wide enough, and plough away having that saw line that severed most fibers...would that improve things? Jan 31 '20 at 21:50
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My best attempt was cutting with a thin saw the vertical cut (I used a mini Dozuki saw) followed by incisions from the side with a sharp chisel. It's important to set your depth of cut in a manner that it ends at the limit of a ply in the plywood. This will ensure a clean edge. Much cleaner than the plough plane.

I also used the chisel to clean ply leftovers a bit. The big improvement is that there is almost no tear-out at the top surface.

Sample

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    FWIW this is generally the way I do them, although I would generally use a file for some final smoothing.
    – Graphus
    Feb 11 '20 at 8:14
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    Files are underrated for joint work. I would especially recommend trying a vixen file, AKA dreadnought file if you can get them locally. These are similar to files intended for aluminium and car bodywork (originally for use on lead, now for cutting back two-part fillers) so can be an alternative. On wood they cut quite like a float, but they're much easier to find and far cheaper. They cut fast, especially across the grain, but leave an amazingly smooth surface.
    – Graphus
    Feb 11 '20 at 8:21
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    @Graphus: Yes, I believe I can get a "vixen file" (didn't know about till now!) locally... and even if I couldn't I can buy one from ebay or amazon. Thank you! I also noticed that tools intended for metal (saws, files...) tend to work well on wood. Slower but leaving a much better finish. Feb 11 '20 at 12:29

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