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View Trevor's profile

Hand Planes

by Trevor
posted 11-30-2007 03:35 AM

21 replies so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3988 days

#1 posted 11-30-2007 03:43 AM

Actually, I don’t think any one plane will do it. It sorta needs a set. #4, #5, #7. Each is used for a different task. Your low angle block is part of the set as well. I would say your next plane should be a #5. A jack is a very versatile plane and can be used almost for a jointer and smoother. I always suggest E-Bay and learn to tune on Stanley’s.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View rjack's profile


110 posts in 3881 days

#2 posted 11-30-2007 04:18 AM

Garrett Hack recently wrote an article in Fine Woodworking about what planes he considered most important. Here is the list in priority order:

1) #4 bench plane
2) Adjustable block plane #60 1/2
3) Jointer plane #7
4) Shoulder plane
5) Smoothing plane (Typically #4 1/2)
6) Spokeshave
7) 2nd block plane for rougher work
8) Small router plane

I personally find the smoothing plane #4 1/2, block plane, and shoulder plane very useful.

-- Roger - Havertown, Pennsylvania

View Trevor's profile


16 posts in 3898 days

#3 posted 12-01-2007 01:41 AM

rjack – Thanks for the response, I did find that article on

ebanista – I noticed the Veritas bevel plane and I was wondering what the advantage of the bevel up planes were. Why did you buy the bevel up rather than the regualr plane?

View Trevor's profile


16 posts in 3898 days

#4 posted 12-02-2007 03:11 PM

ebanista – Thanks again, I read the tool review and it sounds like the bevel up plane is the tool to have. I was wondering, why or when would you buy a traditional smoother?

View Trevor's profile


16 posts in 3898 days

#5 posted 12-03-2007 02:51 AM

ebanista – Thanks for the additional information, it is greatly appreciated.

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 3914 days

#6 posted 12-04-2007 11:42 PM


My second plane was a Veritas Jointer plane (low angle). In my opinion, if you are strong enough and willing to use it, it can replace a #4,#5 and #6 easily. Only on pieces of wood 6” or smaller (when you block plane will do) it is too large. I think the main reason they had so many planes in the old days is becouse the plane mouth was not adjustable. You need then a smoothing plane, a roughing plane, a jointer plane, etc. The Veritas plane has an adjustable mouth. Since the blade sits with the bevel up, changing the bevel angle changes the effective cutting angle. Purchase multiple blades and the same plane can behave like diferent planes with different frog angles. The only reason why I’m considering purchasing a smoothing plane is to have them side by side and have the Jointer plane set to a larger cut. Now I readjust the depth of cut on the large plane (takes few seconds).

In between my block plane and Jointer plane I can do most things I want. I bought some old planes (one #4 and one #5). They are preaty good but I still prefere the Veritas Jointer (have not touched the others for one year).


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3988 days

#7 posted 12-05-2007 01:51 AM

Francisco, perhaps it is a matter of choice. I tend to use my #4’s most then the #5 and the #7 in it’s place. Everyone will find his own way when using tools.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Operaman's profile


153 posts in 3872 days

#8 posted 12-05-2007 02:53 AM

The priority case has been overstated a bit in referencing Garrett Hack’s article in FWW. First, Garrett uses the words ”...rough order of importance”. Secondly, Garrett is a dear friend and I know that, while he believes that every woodworker starting to use handtools should begin with a No. 4, the other tools are greatly variable depending on what kind of work you are to be doing: thus the rendering “rough order”.

-- Cheers!

View schwingding's profile


133 posts in 3851 days

#9 posted 12-05-2007 05:46 PM

I’m a hand plane junkie but by no means an expert. I have dozens of hand planes and keep on buying them, it is sort of an addiction.

By far the 3 most useful planes, for me, are my #4, #5, and a stanley low angle block plane. I have several smoothers, basically number 4s, from different makers, and actually prefer the antique 1858 Auburn Tool Co. coffin smoother to all of the other smoothers, including the LN #4 and the Knight japanese style smoother.

Sometimes I just spend an hour using the smoothers on practice wood because I find it so enjoyable.

I have a Stanley 78 that I use for shoulder work, even though I also have a LV shoulder plane. The shoulder plane is a valuable tool, I’d put it at number 4.

Overall though, the jack (#5), the smoother, and the block plane are my 3 choices. I might use the jointer for table tops too wide for the planer, but I also might use the belt sander.

-- Just another woodworker

View Trevor's profile


16 posts in 3898 days

#10 posted 12-07-2007 12:00 AM

Thanks for all of the feedback this certainly give many different points of to consider.

View drknoxy's profile


31 posts in 3508 days

#11 posted 01-07-2009 11:28 PM

What is your need? or what have you been frustrated by that is lacking in your low angle block plane?

-- Knoxy for short

View gusthehonky's profile


130 posts in 3768 days

#12 posted 01-07-2009 11:49 PM

LN suggests this answer on their FAQ page:

. I want to purchase a plane but don’t know where to start, what are your suggestions?

The single most useful tool is a low angle block plane. We have several, and any of them would be used every day in the shop. Next, I would consider our Low Angle Jack Plane. It is a very versatile tool, and in many peoples hands it can double as a smoothing plane. I t is also a unique tool with no other equivalent. With those two tools you can do a lot of work. Third, I might like a dedicated Smoothing Plane.

-- Ciao, gth.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#13 posted 01-07-2009 11:52 PM

it really depends on your array of tools at your disposal – for example, if you don’t have a jointer/planer – then a jointer plane should be your first pick, as it will let you square/parallel your rough stock – which is the beginning of each project, and to finish – you could get by with sanders/etc. if you do have a jointer/planer, but need a way to prepare your pieces for finishing – then your first pick should be a #4 smoothing plane…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3780 days

#14 posted 01-08-2009 12:58 AM

The lists above are very good place to start, I have started my ventures down this path myself, I am very much looking forward to going to the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool event on Friday.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3787 days

#15 posted 01-08-2009 04:02 PM

I have several “antique” Stanley planes, which I haven’t got around to tuning up yet. I mostly use a hand plane and winding sticks to true up rough stock before putting it through the planer. Last year I purchased a Clifton #5 jack plane from Highland Woodworking. What a beautiful tool, and ready to go right out of the box.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3988 days

#16 posted 01-08-2009 04:24 PM

If you build your own, they can be anything you want.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View azor's profile


62 posts in 3469 days

#17 posted 01-08-2009 05:35 PM

Acquiring planes is one thing, tuning them up and using them is another. Veritas and Lie Nielson planes work well out of the box, but eventually you will need to take on the task of sharpening them. Buying used planes is less money, but then there is the rehab part of it. As a nephyte plane user, I am always working on keeping the planed surfaces square with the rest of the piece which is mostly a problem on edges. The other part is keeping consistent pressure from beginning to end of a pass. If you are good at that then collecting what has been offered is your decision. If not, you have another adventure ahead of you.

-- It isn't as easy as the demos make it seem.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3653 days

#18 posted 01-08-2009 06:48 PM

I would say that the jack should be your next plane. Get a couple of blades for it. Camber one of the blades and use it for rough work with the mouth open. Keep the other blade straight with relief camber at the edges only and use it for smoothing/jointing with a tight mouth.
They don’t call it a jack for nothin ya-know :)
It can handle everything from light smoothing to jointing and with a rough setup will give a scrub a run for the money.

My only regret with my hand plane collecting is that I didn’t spend more time getting to know my jack before buying a bunch of other planes. Now I see a fair amount of overlap in my planes. There really is no need to have all the stanley bench planes other than the sickness that overwhelms once you start collecting by numbers. On my latest project I have used my jack for about 80% of the planing. I am happy to use the smoother, jointer, and specialty planes when the time comes but boy is that jcak versatile.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View garrett's profile


13 posts in 3443 days

#19 posted 01-30-2009 03:56 AM

I would concur with the general consensus. This is my preference list:

1. Adjustable mouth block plane
2. #5 jack
3. #4 1/2 smoother
4. #6 or #7 for jointing and shooting
5. Medium shoulder for mortise and tenons
6. Scraper
7. Large router

and of course there are plow, beading and other specialty planes if you’re into that type of woodworking.

I generally use a plane when I want precision in removing small amounts of material, not necessarily speed. However, pins or tails standing proud of a dovetail joint is one example where your block plane excels in both precision and speed. Certainly better than sanding.

Make some shavings, it’s good for the soul!

View pete57's profile


134 posts in 3437 days

#20 posted 01-30-2009 06:13 AM

while we are talking about planes, does anyone know where I can get a handle for a C74 Stanley? under the frog stamped on the sole is C74 and the frog has Stanley Handyman which I think is the wrong frog. The plane has a screw that goes up through the plane sole into the handle. it measures 14.5” long X 2.5” wide.

I have all Stanley planes and am pleased with them. I learned how to use them and sharpen them. Azor mentioned tune up and if done properly a plane can leave a top ready for a finish. Itry to use them as much as possible and it is great exercise.

-- Humble Wood Servant

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3763 days

#21 posted 01-30-2009 06:59 AM

A chisel plane comes in very handy. I use one quite often. It gets into tight spots. Lie makes two very good ones.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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