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I'm using a veritas small plow plane and I'm finding my grooves are a bit trapezoid shaped and not square to the reference face and edge:

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Material is Sapele. This is a longer piece (~48"). Some parts of the groove are better than others. The ends seem particularly bad.

I suspect part of the issue may be taking too heavy a cut with the 1/4 cutter. On the Veritas plow the 'wavy washer' doesn't seem to make contact with the outside of the blade to hold it against the bed, it seems to rely solely on the lever for that with the smaller cutters. This seems to cause the cutter to cant a bit and go sideways.

I'm also going to try an auxiliary fence.

What else can I try to aid in my diagnosis?

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    Is the bottom of the groove going away from the face you had the fence reference against or towards the reference face? Also, I think there was a recall on that tool, but I'm pretty sure it was for the depth stop slipping, not the fence... Dec 21 '20 at 23:49
  • "I''m also going to try an auxiliary fence." You weren't already using the fence??? Duuuuuude o_O
    – Graphus
    Dec 22 '20 at 9:52
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    I'm sorry, you did say auxiliary fence *doh*
    – Graphus
    Dec 23 '20 at 9:02
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    Couple of tips for ploughing grooves in case you haven't seen them. 1, start at the far end and work backwards. This is standard advice and I can't quite figure out why it helps, but it does. 2, concentrate on pressing the plane sideways (i.e. pressing the fence against the wood) as much as you do on pushing it forwards. This is pretty much like using a gauge for marking, you have to counteract any natural tendency for the tool to wander outwards and once you get the feel for it it just becomes second nature.
    – Graphus
    Dec 23 '20 at 9:05
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    yup -- I got these two. i think as @SaSSafraS21232 suggested it's a body mechanics issue, and the dainty little tool is easy for me to skew. I noticed a tendency with my rabbet plane as well, so I suspect I need to be more aware of my posture and orientation. I don't remember the issue being as pronounced with my old Stanley 78. This thread has convinced me to stop fussing looking for problems with the tool setup and start looking at myself :) Dec 23 '20 at 14:33
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It's hard to tell from just the results, but I would suspect that this is a body mechanics issue, not a setup issue with the plane. (If the issue was that the blade was slanted relative to the plane body and all else was correct you'd still cut a groove straight down, but the side of the cutter would start hitting the corner of the groove.) Due to their narrow width plow planes are difficult to keep straight up and down. This model in particular is known to be hard to control due to the short height.

Adding a larger auxiliary fence will help, but in many situations the size of the fence is limited because you still have to clamp the work.

I would suggest focusing on the basics of your body position. Use a mirror in front of you to make sure your plane handle stays vertical. Keep your wrist, elbow, and shoulder steady and move from your hips. Keep your elbow in line with the plane. Keep your index finger of your dominant hand out on the adjustment mechanisms, and your non-dominant hand on both the plane nose and the work piece (careful of splinters though).

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  • I added a larger aux fence and it made a very noticeable difference. I also cut the larger piece into two smaller pieces (making two bread ends) instead of trying to plow the entire piece and cut it later. I think moving to complete the pass of the plane was leading to me veer off course on some strokes. Dec 23 '20 at 2:27

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