There are different kinds of shoulder planes woodworking. It is mainly used to pare the shoulders of tenons as suggested by the name itself. It is also often used to curve dados for joinery works. Noticeably it has considerably delicate set mouth for allowing it to take finer shavings.
There have been some changes is the utilization of the base material for manufacturing a shoulder plane in different times however the design and the mechanism remain more or less the same since its initial development in mid 1930s. It utilizes the same method to fasten the blade as well as the same adjusting mechanism for achieving different depth of slash.
A shoulder tool is generally made of iron or steel in most cases. But it can be made of wood as well. However a wood made shoulder plane is not mass produced as is the case with the metal shoulder planes. Another thing to note is that heavier planes offer effective balance in aligning it in a proper way to the working surface.
It is important to note that the main difference between rabbet plane and shoulder plane is that the former is intended for slicing a larger amount of material while the later is for cutting off the end grain. And that is why there are also noticeable differences between the slants at which the metal blade is set in both tools.
Let us now focus on some shoulder plane woodworking. Shoulder planes work well for dressing end grains and that is what they are designed for. But they are also good at dealing with face grains as well.
In fact what you will be able to do with a shoulder plane is often dependent upon the nature and the quality of the wood itself. For example soft grained woods in most cases bear little potency to withstand the pressure of a shoulder plane.
And that is why the fibers in them often collapse no matter how efficient and sharp the instrument is. Hence it requires delicate skill and experience to perform flawless shoulder planes woodworking especially when the material is not quite conducive. Moreover it also requires a better understanding of the fineness and size variants of the tool to be used for a given task.
You will also find a variety of shoulder planes based upon sizes. And they are used selectively based on the nature of work to be performed. However any size between ¾” to 1 ½” will be able to handle most of the tasks in general. But you must remember that more the precision better the output results.
Again there are also numerous budget shoulder planes available in the market at a cheaper rate. But they are not good enough in terms of superior performance. Therefore you better stay away from them if you really want to produce quality outputs.