Reply by Kenny

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Posted on My first best handplane

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260 posts in 2472 days

#1 posted 02-26-2012 07:55 PM


first off, if you truly want something special, letting us know a bit about your budget will help. And there are some options you should really (REALLY) consider before you make your mind up.

But, before I get into that, I’d like to give you a few of my thoughts on what model/models you should look at, and also what to avoid:

First, a #4 is not a good choice for a “general use plane”, it’s just not. It’s called a smoothing plane because that’s what it does, it smooths. It does not and, in most cases, will not flatten a panel. They are normally tuned to take a .001” shaving, and sometimes less. It also has a relatively small area of contact, meaning it will simply follow the contours of an uneven panel rather than riding on the highs and leveling them out.

If you want to have only one hand plane, your absolute best investment will be in a Veritas Low-Angle (bevel up) Jack Plane, as pictured HERE
Then, expand upon it’s versatility with some of the different irons available (the iron is the blade).
One of each angle would give you the utmost in versatility. Reason being, the different angles will perform better on different types of wood. Examples: The 25 degree blade will be best for end grain and soft woods like pine, the 38 degree blade will be good for general hardwoods, and the 50 will be perfect for really difficult grain and highly figured woods. The toothed blade is also good for highly figured woods or in instances where you have a lot of reversing grain and tear-out is becoming an issue.

Another suggestion, would be to have 2 of the 38 degree blades, one with a very slightly curved edge on the iron for general use and smoothing, and the other sharpened to an 8” radius for roughing in stock and quick material removal. It’s also handy for for jointing a very rough or out-of-square edge.

That one Veritas low-angle Jack will be the most versatile plane you could possibly buy for general use, and it’s what I would be looking to for a one-plane arsenal.

Then, when you decide to go for your second plane to gain even more versatility, the Veritas low-angle Block-Plane (HERE) would be an excellent choice, as it too shares the same versatility, if not even greater versatility.

It too offers numerous blades for different tasks, but it has another major advantage over many other block planes; it offers an optional tote and front knob (HERE effectively transform it into a bevel-up #3 smoother.
I have one of these planes with the knob and tote, as well as several blades, and it is one of, if not the most, versatile plane I own. I reach for it constantly.

If you were fixed on a smoothing plane and don’t want to consider a jack, this is what I would recommend. Truly an exceptional tool, and made with quality by a very reputable company.

With these two planes, you could literally have the versatility of a whole cabinet full of traditional bevel-down bench planes, and a block plane, while only needing to purchase 2 planes and a few different irons.

If you were to buy a “standard” #4 bench plane, all you would have is a smoothing plane with little versatility. It’s not going to flatten well, and will leave you wanting more immediately.
Either of my above suggestions have the versatility of several more traditional bench planes all rolled into one easy to use and tune plane.

I understand both of these are a significant investment. But, in reality, what you get for your money is likely much more than you would get for a comparable investment in traditional frogged bench planes.
You will have the versatility of a scrub-plane, jointer, fore-plane, jack-plane, smooth-plane, block-plane, toothing plane, and if you were to grind a 90 degree edge on an iron, you could have a scraper plane too! And, you will have the versatility of changing the angle of attack while performing any of the above operations. Literally giving yourself a full arsenal of planes while only purchasing two planes and some irons.

I just don’t think you could possibly do better or get more versatility from any two other planes sold today, bar-none.

Good luck! And if you have any questions about anything I said, just ask.

-- Kenny

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