Making Rabbets

Rabbet DiagramRebates are open sided grooves cut on the edge of a workpiece, as shown in the picture here. They are also known as rabbets. Depending on the size of the work, the woodworking technique for making the rebate varies.

Very small rebates are made using a side rebate plane tool. These have two blades, one on each edge, so that the tool can be used from right to left or left to right. The tool allows you to trim both sides of a groove when working from only one end of the piece to accommodate the grain direction of the wood. It also includes a depth gauge which acts as a guide to maintain the base of the rebate at right angles to the wall surface.

Regular size rebates are made using a rebate plane, also called a rabbet plane or shoulder plane. These are planes with cast iron bodies machined precisely such that the bottom and both sides of the body are at perfect right angles to each other. Into the body is fixed an adjustable blade which extends the whole width of the body. To set the depth or width of the rebate, a guide fence is clamped to the work; the guide fence can be any piece of lumber with a straight edge, typically a length of 2 by 4 or 1 x 2.

Partial Rabbets

Partial Rabbet PicturePartial or stopped rebates, as shown to the left, are made using a rebate plane, but with the ends worked using a chisel and saw. A saw cut is made at each end of the rebate before starting the rebate cut; the saw blade should be held at an angle to the top of the work, such that the cut stops at the proper depth and width for the rebate, which have been marked out beforehand.

Then, a mallet and chisel are used to make multiple cuts at each end, inwards from the saw cuts, removing waste from the vertical and horizontal walls. If there is sufficient room, the remainder of the rebate can be made with a rebate plane or side rebate plane. A special type of rebate plane called a bullnose plane, which has the blade set very close to the front of the body, can be used to get closer to the end of the rebate stop than regular rebate planes.