For those unfamiliar with router planes, the tool might
seem easy to dismiss when compared to the ubiquitous power
tool of the same name. At first glance, the electric router
would seem to be superior in all respects, due to the
wide range of available bits and accessories.
But once you understand how to use a router plane,
you'll see how it can be employed to create and refine
your joinery with a precision and control that's difficult
to achieve with its electrified cousin.
Router Plane Basics
The word "router" comes from the verb "to
root," and the tool works much like a pig rooting
about in the dirt. The router plane excels at cutting
joints that are trenches, such as grooves and dados,
and at adjusting joints, such as tenons.
Unlike a bench plane, a router plane is simple to sharpen
and to use. You'll be an expert after your first attempt.
Router planes have two kinds of cutters: a flat cutter,
available in several widths, and a spear-point cutter,
designed to sneak the tool into tight corners.
Sharpening these cutters is like sharpening a chisel.
Polish the unbeveled base on your sharpening stones
and then flip the cutter over and polish the bevel flat
on your stones. Some woodworkers add a secondary bevel
and some don't. Either way, the work is quick because
there isn't much metal involved. Finally, insert the
cutter into the tool, and you're ready to work.