Essential Joinery Plane: The Moving Fillister
As woodworkers dive into handwork, they usually start with a block plane, then the bench planes, the saws and the joinery planes.
Joinery planes , such as plow planes, router planes, shoulder planes and rabbeting planes, are some of the easiest planes to set up and use. Their irons are straightforward to sharpen (no curves needed), and because the tool doesn’t produce a show surface, you don’t need to be a maniac about the keenness of your cutting edges.
One of the most essential joinery planes is the moving fillister. It cuts a rabbet either across the grain or with the grain. And it can make a rabbet of almost any size thanks to its adjustable fence.
Moving fillisters are different than other planes in the rabbeting family in that its fence is adjustable (planes with a fixed fence are called standing fillisters), plus it can work across the grain because it has retractable nickers (planes without the nickers are just plain old rabbet planes).
The iron Stanley No. 78 is the most common vintage version of this tool, however I’m not fond of the form. The fence wobbles because of the way it is attached to the body, so the plane does a poor job in hard woods (in my experience). Record, by the way, fixed this problem with its metal version of this plane, though it’s a tough tool to find in North America.
This really is a case where the wooden versions of a plane are superior. Wooden-stock moving fillisters are fairly common in the secondary market, though they usually require some rehabbing to be usable. So what do you do?
Philip’s planes are excellent. I recently reviewed his miter plane plus a plane designed for raising panels for drawer bottoms. They both work like a charm. So it’s very exciting to me (and a good sign for hand work in general) that there is a new moving fillister on the market from Philip’s shop.