Tool Test – Lie-Nielsen Floats

From December 2006 Popular Woodworking

Planemakers have long used floats to shape and true the critical surfaces of wooden handplanes. But cabinetmakers also used floats, and after several months of using floats made by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, I understand why.


These tools are a cross between a rasp, a saw and a scraper. The teeth shape curved and flat surfaces quickly, but the tools leave a polished surface behind. And the stiff steel bodies and wide cutting area of the tools allow you to accurately trim mortises and tenons. The tools make beautiful chamfers, as well.

I tried a set of floats made for planemakers (these tools were developed with Clark & Williams planemakers) and was impressed by the long, rectangular bed float, which can smooth a cabriole leg and true a through-mortise. One of the small cheek floats works on the pull stroke and cleans up blind mortises with ease. And the edge floats worked well for squaring up routed corners of through-mortises. These are excellent, well-made tools and highly recommended.

– Christopher Schwarz

More information on Planemaker’s Floats from Lie-Nielsen