Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Panel raising or Badger planes?

Also called Panel Raising or Fielding planes (same).
They look like an oversize rabbet plane and to be called panel raising or badger they must have a few distinctive characteristics.

Can you spot the differences?
Rudy's badger (well I suppose it's a Hedgehog :-)
represent the smallest size of Panel raiser to be found, the size of a smoother (8-9 inch).

The Rabbet plane (sometimes skewed blade), the Panel Raising planes and the Badger planes (always skewed) all are capable of cutting a similar looking rabbet.
Whereas the panel raiser and the badger were designed for much wider rabbet than the Rabbet plane.
The "rabbet" is also canted (the list) or sloping toward the outer edge of the panel as the plane is canted in use.

Using a skewed blade, they are designed to cut on both the long grain and end grain sides resulting in a rabbet all around the "Panel" piece. This rabbet's edge (flat or listing) is designed to slip the panel edges into a suitable groove on a frame (Frame and panel assembly) and if a deep rabbet delineated the field (the often sloped part of the rabbet) it is said to "raise" the panel.

The various parts of a frame panel.
Fielding the panel means cutting a bevel edge (field) all the way to the top surface.
Raising a panel means sinking the top of that bevel edge (the field) inside a rabbet, resulting in the top part of the panel looking raised above the field.

Sometimes the panel edges are left slanted to fit into the frame grooves, but often a small flat cut is made at the bottom to fit deeper into the groove.  In making them, the thickness of the edge is test fitted in a Mullet gauge.  It is usually cut from a longer frame piece, having its groove part cut by the same tool. They are usually discarded after.  Need a new one ? Machine a longer rail or stile and cut a piece off.  That way exact measurements are redundant.  It is used as a Go-No Go gauge

The frame and panel concept was developed to get around the problem of expansion and contraction of large wood surfaces.  The panel being free to move inside the captured grooves.

This is what happened if you don't give the panel enough room to expand.
It will expand... with a bang. 
 My basement shop gets much more humid than the woodshop on the base.
In case you wondered, I always stain my inner edges before assembling my frame and panels.
It avoid tell tale white strips when the panel contract.
The frame was done with a cope and stick router bit in a shaper table. Not as strong as a proper mortise and tenon frame. 

So how much room should you give that panel room to grow??
Depends on the coefficient of expansion of the wood you are using, the size of the panel.  Hint large areas on case furniture are often broken down into 2 or 3 smaller panels. The goal is to capture all the movement inside the groove, without the panel being too loose in dry surroundings.  A new fangled technique is to used Space balls (Tm) or Panel barrels to keep the panel snug while still allowing expansion.  Me? Id rather figured out my panels at the risk of having the odd one blow out.
Live and learn, I say!

What blown panels? Haven't seen any...in years :-)
BTW Corona is Jean beer, not mine... Girly beer, real man drink stronger beer :-)

Which came first, the Panel or the Badger?

The Badger animal was undoubtedly the first :-), but in plane's parlance, Panel raising, or Fielding plane is believed to be the first.  Its limitation is that it is only capable of cutting a fix field size, due to the built in depth stop (the rebate on one side of the sole, usually on the RHS). The Badger plane is believe to get its name from a Charles Badger who worked as a planemaker in Scotland 1863 (RA Salaman).
The Badger form then, originated in Scotland long after the Panel raising plane.

Top one is a craftsman build Panel Raising plane.  Notice the open rabbet on one side of the sole
The bottom one is the simpler Badger.  No rabbet (no depth stop), no spur cutter, always a tote

Being of a fixed size, the field can be cut to specialized forms, such as in Cove and Ovolo Raising planes.  They can also cut a flat portion at the end of the field edge to engage deeper into the frame grooves.

See Bill Anderson shows you how to tackle that detail while sharpening the beast.

Some Raising plane have an adjustable fence with is attached to the bottom sole with two elongated screw holes. Such as in a Filletster plane. But since the plane is canted in use, some of those with the fence will have their sole inclined (spring).

Most have no cutter up front to score the rabbet wall, necessitating the use of a marking gauge or panel gauge to score the grain, especially on the end grain edges.

Lets look at my find

Panel raising plane

NO makers or owners stamp or marking anywhere.  The rough finish in places, such as the throat opening and the frog surface, screams I'm rough and tough but functional.
Definitively craftsman made, not a commercial object.  Remember commercial plane making is not documented until the 1700s, in London.  Prior to this date, joiners made their own tools.
Some traditions last longer than others, due to geography, isolation and etc.
Even during the Zenith of commercial wooden plane making, late 1800s- early 1900s, some traditions continued and craftsman still made their own, for whatever reasons.

Most models are in bench planes sizes (Smoother, Jack, Try) 8-1/2 inch to 18 inch.
The smaller sizes, smoother size 8 to 9 inch) were used to field the panels in cupboard doors and have no tote.
A rebate in one edge expose the side of the cutter.  Most have a depth stop (fixed or adj)
A fence, often affixed to the bottom of the plane and often adjustable (like a Filletster ), is found mostly on the smoother to Jack sizes.

Where the panel was raised as well as fielded, the body of the plane is canted over (Sprung) in use or the sole is canted.

The main blade edge is in line with the spur cutter up front.
The top of the rabbet is the fixed depth stop.

At nearly 22 -1/4 inch long, it is massive.
Must had been for big panel. A plane for a house joiner?

4 inch wide, its a beast.

And about 2-3/4 in thick.  

The tote is offset and the blade is skewed and rotated, as it should.

Quite a large blade, single iron, no makers marks and obviously hand forged.
Look at the rough top edge which was cleaved or sheared off. 
Was it broken off after it was made? I don't think so judging by the broken edge???
If it was broken off later it was a long time ago...

The cutting blade is about 1/8 in thick at the cutting edge.

Shape of cutter.
Obviously blacksmith made.
At first I thought it was a recycled plough iron, but it is not.  Just rough forging.

The tote offset is quite pronounced, reminiscing of 18th century bench planes.
I'm guessing this offset put the hand pressure closer to the depth stop, the small rabbet 
on one edge of the sole.  Practical versus traditions perhaps ?

Badger plane

This one came from its originator's land of origin; Scotland.
Alexander Marshall planemaker at 301 Argyle St Glasgow 1883-1904 (WL Goodman)

Badger planes are technically the biggest Rabbet plane and always have a tote.  Either an open tote (cheaper) or close tote (more expensive)
The better quality ones were boxed.  The best ones were dovetail boxes.
This one has no boxing.

They are roughly Jack plane size.  This one measuring 16-1/2 inch long by 3 inch wide

Alex r Marshall

Badger and panel raising planes must have the side of the blade sticking out on one side
Not sure what the damages were caused from.
NO shavings escape from the side opening, they eject on top like a bench plane.

As seen from the sole.

The wedge shape is quite specific to its form.
No danger of mixing the wedges !! 

Being skewed and rotated slightly, the mortising for the mouth is quite finicky.
Much better executed than my Craftsman made Panel raiser.

A comparison of both sizes.

Have you seen my toy Dad??  I seems to be missing one...
Yes, its chilly at time lately.

Bob, slowly going thru his new pile.  Researching, documenting, assessing, cleaning etc, etc..
Awaiting to pick up Rudy at the groomer, for his summer do.


  1. I think I need to go on the hunt for a badger plane now.

  2. I always have found the name "raised panel" awkward as in fact the panel is not raised but on the contrary made thinner at the periphery.
    In French it is "un panneau à plate-bande".

  3. I was thinking Rudy needed a haircut!

    Very interesting stuff on the two planes. I've really gotten interested in wooden planes the last couple of years. Will you get them into "user" shape?

  4. Oh yes Matt, they will be users.
    Rudy gets a good trim at the beginning of the summer, then by the time fall is around, his hair (he does not have fur, he has hair likes human, making him Hypoallergenic) is grown back to protect him.

    Bob, sweating at the keyboard already...

  5. Hi Sylvain
    You are so right, and this is subject to a lot of confusion on line because they tend to call any panel a raised panel. It is that rabbet that delineate the center of the panel, raising it above the field that makes it so. The French wording, plate bande is perhaps as confusing, since all panels thicker than the frame groove would need a thinner plate bande to fit, and they wont all be raised panel.

    Its interesting to see how in both language the descriptor is sometimes way different.

    Bob, ou il fait chaud en Tabar... ˝-)

  6. The French naming was for info only.
    I have to admit that I had to search how it was called in French and I suppose most people here will not guess what a "panneau à plate-bande" is.
    A panel without a step, only beveled is, I found, "un panneau à mollet". Which is not more clear for non specialists.

  7. Badgers?

    We don' need no steenkin' badgers!

  8. Panneau a mollet, hah, did not knew that. Interesting, since we call the scrap piece of rail/stile a Mullet gauge for gauging the thickness of the plate bande. I always wonder why its called a mullet, that may explain it??

    Bob, who also had to look up panneau a plate bande :-)

    1. Until now I had only seen mollet in two meaning: "calf muscle" and "a bit soft" like in "oeufs mollets" (poached eggs).

      Mullet gauge is, in my view, the same meaning as "un mulet" being the second racing car to make tests while the best car is kept for the real race. I suppose the best car is seen as a thoroughbred. Mullet: male animal born from a donkey and a mare.
      So I have no idea where the "panneau à mollet" comes from unless the proud part is compared to a calf muscle.

  9. I may be French Canadian born and raised, but I worked in English most of my adult life. My first job as a Radio-TV tech in the early 70s, my shop foreman was an American draft dodger during the Vietnam war, and most every electronics text books I ever read were in English.
    I did worked in French in the Military, twice, while posted to Bagotville Quebec. 425 ETAC Sqn (Escadrille Tactique de Combat (TFS Tactical Fighter Sqn in English) is a French language Airforce Unit.

    Similarly, I am not very well versed in Woodworking terms in french i'm affraid :-(

    Bob, who can swear fluently in both of Canada official language :-)

  10. Haha Steve :-)
    True, you can do it all armed only with a saw and a chisel :-)