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Reply by Don W

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Posted on First hand plane; another question!

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Don W

15565 posts in 1320 days


#1 posted 11-02-2012 02:02 PM

First, let me make one statement. If you buy a restored plane from one of the reputable restorers, and there are several here on LJs even, your plane will work right out of the box. Period!

Now for the 1 #5 or multiple question. I couldn’t work with a single plane. I wouldn’t by a shopsmith, I have 2 bandsaws, etc etc. I hate stopping mid project to reconfigure my tools. Will one #5 fit all bills to a reasonable degree? Probably. Would I do it. No. And its not a shot at all those who bought a low angle #5 and change blades for different purposes. We all work different and the idea is to enjoy the time. I have a LN low angle #5. Its a great plane and I’ll never sell it, but I really don’t find a great need for it. I will use it sometimes just to take it out of the cabinet. Its a pleasure to use.

Stanley made a line of bench planes, and most other manufacturer made very similar or exact sizes. I have every one. Each one has a purpose. I’m not suggesting you need every one, but I will say, if you have every one, and you do a lot of woodworking you will find a use for them all at some point.

A #6 is a decent mid sized plane. It can be used as a jointer. So can a #5. Actually, if your building 12” boxes, so can a #4, and I’ve jointed with my #18.

So if you want my advice, here is what I would do. And I would do it in this order.
I’d buy a #3 or a #4 vintage. I sell them ready to go for about $55.
Then I’d buy a #7. I’ve got 2 that’s priced around $75. (i’m not sure if one is ready yet or not)
Then I’d buy a good block. I’ve got a decent #18 that’s about $35, but even a cheaper #220 will work.
Then I’d buy a #5 jack (get it sharpened as a jack). Again, mine go for about $55

I’m torn as to the sequence of the block versus smoother. Some guys are going to say the block should come first. I’m not going to strongly disagree. Some of this decision has to come from how you work and what you plan to build.

These are all Stanley/Baileys. You can save some money going no named, or lesser known (not lesser quality), that are identical to the above planes.

From a bench plane perspective, that’s a complete set of what you need. But be careful, these suckers are addicting.

There is one more point I’d like to make. Don’t spend a lot of time making a decision. Just buy a hand plane. If you decide you went the wrong route, re-selling is fairly easy and you won’t lose a ton of money on any of the above, vintage, LN or veritas. Wood river and a mid line, you’ll lose a little more, but it still won’t be substantial.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com


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