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I have bought an old Stanley 78 rebate plane and I try to bring it to life. I honed the blade and tried to do a rebate (rabbet) across the grain. Of course that required the spur (nicker?) to be engaged. However, I think the spur protrudes way too much (approximately 2.5mm / 1/10 inch) below the sole.

Should try to shorten the spur?

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    Hi, I think this is normal projection for 78 spur and it is too much haha. If you use I think it must be shortened to work well, and v important to sharpen. Very blunt from factory!
    – Volfram K
    Dec 12, 2021 at 7:06
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    Yeah that's the stock knicker all right. Obviously to use the first vital job is sharpening (easier said than done since the star is tiny and hard to hold). I've seen some vintage ones where one spur on the knicker taken down to a stub so that projection was minimal. But it's also well known you'll often find these with all three spurs never sharpened, indicating the previous user didn't make use of it (as was maybe the case with yours) and I know a few people online who don't use the knickers on a 78 (or any similar plane) and instead rely on a knifed line or saw cuts [contd]
    – Graphus
    Dec 12, 2021 at 12:50
  • Paul Sellers makes reference to this somewhere as well – basically using it like so many rebate that didn't feature a knicker. Although I think I remember him demonstrating how to set a 78 up and use all elements in one of his YT videos. Speaking of which, have you read/watched some guides on using one of these?
    – Graphus
    Dec 12, 2021 at 12:53
  • Thanks for all the comments! @VolframK: I guess you meant to say ".. this is not normal projection...". Dec 15, 2021 at 23:49
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    No I did meant to say normal projection ha ha Many say Stanley designed this badly. WS improved 78 design with better fence, front handle and better spur. Spur was replaced with washer cutter, like wheel marking gauge. Works much better
    – Volfram K
    Dec 16, 2021 at 7:50

1 Answer 1

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The spur (or nicker) is designed to cut wood fibers when planing across the grain (that is to say perpendicular to wood grain). So it needs to be sharp and it needs to be, at least, slightly longer (or deeper) than the depth of cut of the blade. With the spur cutting just a bit deeper than the blade, the wood fibers will cleanly cut away instead of ripping.

When cutting with the grain, the spur isn't needed and can be rotated out of play. As a side note, if your tool doesn't have a spur, you can use a knife, box cutter, etc. to cut the line and then plane.

I suggest you experiment with some scrap wood to see how this works and how the depth of cuts changes your ease of use of the plane and what ripped grain looks like when not using the spur.

I would suggest a book, The Anarchist's Tool Chest by Schwarz for more information regarding planes and their use.

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  • You describe how a knicker is supposed to be used, but this isn't necessarily how the knicker on a 78 was intended to be used LOL It's fairly clear it wasn't well thought out. Some sources with advice on using a stock 78 suggest you drag the plane backwards first, to establish the edge, then rotate the knicker out of play before you start planing. This wouldn't be necessary if the knicker's projection were more modest naturally (as in wooden rebate planes, where a spur would project a fraction of a mm) so that they can be left in play though most or even all of the planing of the rebate.
    – Graphus
    Feb 8 at 19:13
  • There are certainly more cumbersome ways to approach the task. :) In fact, you don't need to use the knicker at all; instead knife & rule will perform the same function. (In fact, this works well, if you using a plane without knicker; I have also seen a shoulder plane tilted over to make the first cut to preform the same function as the knicker). I did poke around and none of the manuals for the 78s I could find (Record or Stanley) mentioned how long the knicker should be, just that is should be sharp and which side should be flat vs. beveled.
    – ewm
    Feb 25 at 16:34

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