The Butt Mortise Plane
will help you prepare and hang doors in a fraction of the time required
to set up a router and template. This tool is easy to use and will make
precise mortises with sharply square corners to an accurate, uniform
depth. This plane is also useful for installation of hardware, such as
hinges, lockfronts and strike plates, as well as mortising dutchmen to
repair flaws in jambs, furniture and doors. This tool does a job no
other plane can do.
A Scrub Blade is also available for rapid
planing when large amounts of stock need to be removed, such as
backplaning trim to fit an uneven wall surface.
Blade Sharpening: The blade comes ready to
use. Slight additional honing will increase performance. A secondary bevel of up to 5 degrees helps achieve a razor edge quickly. This also improves edge life in hardwoods. For more information on advanced sharpening we suggest David Charlesworth’s DVD Hand Tool Techniques Part 1: Plane Sharpening
Materials: The body is
cast from Ductile Iron, a virtually unbreakable alloy. It is 9-5/8"
long and 1-1/2" wide. The blade is 3/4" wide. The castings are fully
stress-relieved, a process that removes inherent stresses and ensures
that the tool will remain flat and true. The cap is Manganese Bronze.
Other parts are Brass, Steel and Cherry.
The blade is A-2 Tool Steel hardened to
Rockwell 60-62, cryogenically treated and double tempered. Our heat
treating technique ensures that the blade will take and hold a very
fine edge for a long time. After heat treating, the blade is fully
surface ground on the top, back, and cutting edge, giving a smooth,
flat surface that will take a mirror finish very quickly. Wood parts
are finished with wiping varnish.
the body and blade from rust with a light oil.
and workmanship are guaranteed for the life of your tool. Call for
repairs or replacement parts. We are available for advice if you ever
have a problem using your tool.
THE LIE-NIELSEN BUTT MORTISE PLANE
By Anthony Guidice
The Lie-Nielsen Butt Mortise Plane is used
to cut mortises for leaf hinges. I use it mostly for cabinet hinge
applications, but it can be used on entry doors as well. The plane is
compact and easy to use, even on a vertical door jamb. For a cabinet
application such as this one, you may need to mortise the face frame
stile before assembling the face frame.
The Lie-Nielsen Butt Mortise Plane can be
used two ways. You can use it like a router plane, chiseling to
approximate depth, then using the plane to level out the mortise bottom
to a consistent depth. Or, you can plane the entire depth of the
mortise with the plane, adjusting it as you go. This is the method
In addition to the mortise plane,
I use a marking knife to make the initial outline of the hinge mortise;
a utility knife to deepen the cut line; and a small 4 oz . Warrenton
hammer. The hammer is very handy for adjusting the plane in even,
precise increments — necessary if you are cutting the entire
depth of the mortise with the plane. (Fig 1)
The first step is to get the blade razor
sharp. Since the blade is small, I hone it quickly on a leather strop
charged with compound (Fig 2) - a few swipes on the
back, then a few to get the very edge of the bevel polished and sharp.
When you can lightly shave hair off your forearm with it, it's sharp.
(After numerous stroppings with the blade, you can first touch it up
with a medium diamond stone; then strop it again.)
The photograph (Fig 3)
shows a typical leaf hinge. For this application, the depth of the
mortise will equal the thickness of the leaf; and the mortise is flat
and not angled. For other hinges of this type, the leaves can be
considerably thicker. Depending on the application, you may be required
to cut an angled mortise, or a deeper mortise with the same thickness
hinge leaf. For this demonstration, we adjust the plane until we have a
flat mortise, equal in depth to the hinge leaf.
Mark the Mortise
The first step is to hold the hinge in
position on the door (or face frame stile, or jamb) and "knife" the
outline of the mortise (Fig 4). I use an
x-acto-type knife for this; this is my "marking knife," used with very
light pressure. The marking knife is used to mark, not to cut.
Next, I take a heavier utility knife and
deepen the knife line made with the marking knife (Fig 5).
This deeper line gives the blade something to stop against as you
plane. If you try to make a deep cut line with the light-duty marking
knife, the blade will go off line. If you use the heavy-duty utility
knife to precisely mark the initial lines, you won't have sufficient
Adjust the Plane Blade
The Butt Mortise Plane blade is meant to
be used with the bevel down. With the bevel down, the plane will slice
wood effortlessly. With the bevel up, the plane will chatter and stall.
I hold the plane in my left hand, with my
first finger resting lightly on the cutting edge (lightly!). Loosen the
brass knob and work the blade downward until you feel it below the sole
(bottom) of the tool (Fig 6). Tighten the knob.
Begin by planing away from you, from the
middle of the mortise to the far line. If the blade is sharp and the
depth not too deep, the shaving will come up easily (Fig 7).
Reverse the plane and, pulling toward you,
plane from the middle again to the line nearest you (Fig 8).
When the plane "bottoms out," adjust the
blade depth. Loosen the brass knob slightly and gently tap the back of
the blade with the small hammer (Fig 9). You want
the blade to move almost imperceptibly ... the amount of the width of a
shaving. This is easy to control with the small hammer.
Continue planing the mortise down, as
before. From time to time it will be necessary to score your cut lines
again with the utility knife (Fig 10).
Plane away from you... (Fig 11)
...then toward you (Fig 12)
As you use this plane more and more,
you'll adapt an easy rhythm when cutting mortises: mark, plane, adjust,
plane, etc. If you're installing, say, two hinges on a door, it's very
fast to use this tool. You'll quickly get all four mortises planed.
The Butt Mortise Plane makes very even,
flat bottomed mortises, (Fig 13); not possible with
just chiseling or even power routing (at least for small cabinet doors
In a short time, the mortise will be the
correct depth and the hinge will rest in it nicely. There are no uneven
spots or bumps — the hinge leaf lies flat without "rocking." (Fig
It may seem, at first glance, a bit of an
extravagance to have a plane which only cuts hinge mortises. After
using it once, you'll be impressed with how well it performs. After I
used it a half dozen times, I couldn't use anything else.
The Lie-Nielsen Butt Mortise Plane can
also be used for surface repairs, inlay, or large marquetry work. With
a rounded scrub blade, it can also be used for light duty scrub planing.
Anthony Guidice teaches hand tool
workshops of all types from Lake Woodworks in Rochester, New York. You
can e-mail him for information at Lakewwx@frontiernet.net.
Proposition 65 Notice: Bronze and brass alloys contain lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.