Ode to a Filletster and a Roubo bench update

Whether you call it a filletster,  fillester, rebate or rabbet, using a moving fillester plane is just “plane” fun.  Long pigtails of stock come shooting through the side escapement.  The wooden version of the plane absolutely “sings” as it works (some folks might call it more of a howl).  For me, the process of working with handtools is every bit as important as the end product.  So the tactility matters a lot.  But top that off with the auditory pleasure of heaing a well tuned handplane working and you’ve got a real winning combination.  Folks come into the shop and are surprised that I don’t have a radio or disc player (and I’ve been a musician all of my adult life).  I simply tell them that the tools make the music in this place.

L - Sargent 79 Duplex Rabbet, R - Sandusky Tool Moving Fillester

I broke the fillester out to rabbet (rebate for our readers in other parts of the English speaking world) the bottom of the tool tray on the Roubo bench.

Using a rabbert plane is pretty much foolproof, given, of course, that it is well honed and the depth stop and fence are correctly adjusted.  The one challenge is to insure that you keep the plane at right angles to the surface being planed.  There’s no real secret method here.  Just keep your fingers out of the way of the escapement so shaving don’t clog up the throat and concentrate on what you’re doing.  And, remember to move and use your body weight to your advantage.  This is when that extra ten pounds you put on during the holidays will really pay off.

So here’s where I’m at with the small Roubo (little splayed French) bench top.  The work surface is only 13″ wide, but the 8″ wide tool tray should more than make up for the top’s narrow width.  Hopefully, tools will find their way to the tray, not to the working surface (as they have for the last thirty-eight years on the current bench).

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One Comment on “Ode to a Filletster and a Roubo bench update”


  1. I made a bench in the same style, based off of Underhill’s episode on the same. I ended with only an 11″ wide top, and an equal sized tool well. Sadly, I’ve found that much of the time the well fills with chips and shavings, and I end up with several tools on the work surface. I do find the well useful just the same, just have to try to keep it swept out.

    I made the floor of the tray from three boards, and they simply sit on battens nailed around the bottom of the tray. That way I can sweep all the shavings to one end, lift out the board and dump the whole thing into the shavings bag.

    The only real shortcoming I’ve found is that I have trouble working wider panels, but it’s not a deal breaker.

    Good luck with your bench, it’s a style that I’ve found to be quite useful!


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