Chris Schwarz's Blog

Crazy for Chamfers

Anyone who has worked with me for about five minutes knows that I really like chamfers on my work. Stop chamfers, such as those found on early English and American work, are particularly attractive to my eye.

I also like through-chamfers, and my favorite tool for making those is the Veritas Chamfer Guide. This $22 accessory for the Veritas Block Planes is beyond clever. It beats up and steals the lunch money of traditional chamfer planes. I have a nice English version of one of these old planes that I bought years ago from Patrick Leach, and it just does not compare.

The genius of the Veritas guide , patented in 2003 , is that you can set it to make chamfers up to 1/2″ wide with unerring precision. Set the guide to the chamfer you want. Keep stroking until the plane stops cutting. Victory!

There is one downside to the guide: Veritas doesn’t make it for other brands of block planes. I’m sure it would be a nightmare for the company to offer it for other brands because there are as many kinds of block planes as there are flavors of gum.

I tried fitting the Veritas guide to some of the Stanley block planes in my shop and could find only one (the venerable Stanley No. 65) where this worked well. The only problem with the retrofit on the Stanley No. 65 was that I had to scavenge a knob off my Veritas plane to prevent the host from rejecting the transplant. So that’s not much of a solution.

So if you do have a Veritas block plane, I highly recommend this attachment. If you don’t own the plane, I highly recommend you try freehanding things. This weekend I was planing some chamfers sans Veritas and used my old Sandusky jack plane instead.

My chamfers weren’t as tidy, but they looked good enough. And the nice thing was I could do the chamfers at any angle, not just 45Ã?°. To make the chamfers, I laid out the two lines , one on the face of the board and one on the edge , with a marking gauge. Then I went to town with the jack. When I got close to my scribe lines, I switched to a plane that took a fine cut to finish the chamfer.

Both techniques work better (for me) than a router with a chamfer bit, which can leave nasty chatter marks that have to be sanded or planed out anyway.

– Christopher Schwarz

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9 thoughts on “Crazy for Chamfers

  1. David Cockey

    Record 65 Chamfer Spokeshave http://www.stagtools.co.uk/Gallery/VariousSpokeshaves.htm
    These were designed for making stopped chamfers. The bed is rounded with a fairly tight radius, and the fences are longer than the bed and flare out at the front. This combination allows starting a chamfer with a relatively tight radius, and then with the length of the fences it tracks nicely. If the chamfer is stopped at both ends you need to reverse direction at the other end.

    I recently acquired one and it works very well. This would be a great tool for Rob or Tom to revive, possibly with height adjusters on the blade.

  2. Christopher Schwarz

    David,

    No the Chamfer Guide does not fit the new blocks. The guide is too wide (which could be remedied with a little home grinding) and the knob’s threads are different (which would be a more extensive mod).

    I have no word on whether Veritas will be offering a guide for the new planes. Wouldn’t it be great if Veritas could also offer the Chamfer Guide for it’s bevel-up planes…. hint hint Robin.

    Chris

  3. David Pearce

    I recently did some chamfering on a picture frame I made for my daughters painting, and I agree, they are a great addition to many things. I’ve been doing them freehand (don’t own a Veritas plane yet), with a refurbed 60 1/2, using the pencil line technique you mentioned, and I have to say, it didn’t take very long to get the hang of it. This is probably the third or fourth project where I’ve used them.

    Haven’t tried it yet using a larger plane, maybe something I need to try out tonight. Might be helpful on longer pieces to maintain consistency.

  4. David

    Chris – Any idea whether this guide will fit the new "premium" block plane from Veritas (or whether Leornad Lee is considering offering one that will fit)?

  5. Pat Delaney

    What a timely post, I was practicing chamfering last night using a spoke shave. I have the LV block plane and the attachement as well, but had forgotten I had it. So I will definitely be using it today, I took a vacation day to work on a project. Thanks for posting.

  6. Greg Humphrey

    I have had the Vertias Block Plane and Chamfer Guide for several years. They work great, and allow consistency of the chamfer, when you don’t want the variability that comes with freehanding. I usually use my Lie-Nielsen Adjustable Mouth Block Plane for freehanding, but can count on the Veritas for quick consitent chamfers.

  7. Rick Yochim

    Chris,

    So what’s not to love about doing chamfers by hand? Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

    Though I’ve been curious about the Veritas tool you’ve mentioned, I am comfortable just laying out the lines and going for it. Planing to the line, like sawing to the line (or any preferred variation of the principle) has other positive consequences than just creating a nice decorative element and enjoying a good hand tool process. The more you do it, the more you gain an appreciation for accuracy and crispness in all of your work. At least for me.

    Rick Yochim

  8. John Walkowiak

    I too like chamfers, and my favorite plane for making them is a small Sandusky wooden coffin smoother. It has a 1.5" iron. I patched the sole in front of the throat to close it up so it wouldn’t tear out swirling grain. It just fills up the hand, like the small infilled smoother you have, very comfortable. It’s small size allows me to easily see the pencil or scribe lines I am planing to. And, being wood it is light weight and glides effortlessly down the board.

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