Reply by JayT

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Posted on No 7 vs No 8

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5926 posts in 2383 days

#1 posted 03-06-2014 03:39 PM

You’ve gotten a lot of good responses, but I will still add my 2 pennies worth—you might ask for money back at the end though. :-)

The plane you pick is largely personal preference, as long as it is large enough to do the job. A few things to consider:

  • If you are mostly working with smaller pieces, then a #8 may be overkill. I actually do 90+% of jointing with a #6 size. I like the smaller footprint and overall balance of the plane. Edge jointing a 4/4 board can be enough of a challenge with that size. Using a #8 on a narrow edge makes it exponentially more challenging trying to balance the wider and heavier plane.
  • Using a #8 can give you a workout. It doesn’t seem like the extra size should be that much different, but it is. It’s not just the weight of the plane, it’s also the resistance of the extra width of cut. That’s part of the reason I usually use a #606. That said, there is nothing like using a massive piece of iron to flatten out a large panel.
  • If, heaven forbid, something happens to a vintage #8, parts are much harder to find. Since the #7 was both more popular and shares pretty much everything except the body with the #6, #5-1/2 and #4-1/2, there are just a lot more available replacement parts. Try finding a #8 frog sometime.

I agree with Don in maybe just seeing what you can find that is a good deal. I would encourage you to consider a #6, as well. As mentioned before, I use it for the vast majority of my jointing and could easily use it for all if I didn’t have the larger planes. An added bonus is that #6’s are not as popular for some reason, so prices are much lower—you can easily pay $100 or more for a #7 or #8, while finding $40 #6’s is pretty common.

There are several of us here on LJ that restore and sell vintage planes. If you are worried about buying vintage, that would be a good alternative. That way you would get a jointer that is tuned and ready to go while still saving quite a bit over a premium quality new plane.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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