All Replies on I have $500 and no hand planes...

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View Marcus's profile

I have $500 and no hand planes...

by Marcus
posted 02-08-2013 09:16 PM

17 replies so far

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3094 days

#1 posted 02-08-2013 09:21 PM

Marcus, your plan sounds pretty solid. A couple of planes and something to sharpen the blades. I say go for it. Get the smoother and the block plane as you said you have a need for those two. Once you start to enjoy them, get a jack plane down the road.

Good Luck!

-- Mike

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3790 days

#2 posted 02-08-2013 09:25 PM

A fine and heavy smoother is the bench plane that will
improve your work the most. For most flattening and
jointing work old Bailey planes will serve just fine, but
for smoothing hardwoods the weight of a premium
plane assists in getting the pressure and momentum
to take consistent shavings at very fine settings.

A fine and heavy shoulder plane is good to have if
you intend to fit mortises by hand.

View Mosquito's profile


9459 posts in 2434 days

#3 posted 02-08-2013 09:34 PM

As Mike said, Smoother and Block are probably a good choice. If you subscribe to Paul Sellers school of thought, all you really need is a #4 (smoother). If you plan on doing significant thickness dimensioning, you’ll want a jack plane.

Given the choice between either LN or Veritas with no other options, 9/10 times I’d go with LN. But that’s mostly aesthetics, and American Made, coming in to play. Given any choice, however, I’d go vintage every time (except when buying vintage means paying more than a LN), but I also enjoy the restoration process, and I understand not everyone does.

I know you said you would prefer new, but the money goes a lot further with vintage. Don W here on LJ usually has a bunch of vintage already restored, sharp, and ready hand planes for sale. Just something else to consider.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2196 days

#4 posted 02-08-2013 09:38 PM

sounds like a good plan,
have fun!

-- Joel

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3113 days

#5 posted 02-08-2013 10:18 PM

Clifton planes were rated a better value and best overall recently by Fine Woodworking Magazine.
Would be worth a look anyway. Similar price range I think.

View CL810's profile


3843 posts in 3130 days

#6 posted 02-08-2013 10:25 PM

Another plus with Veritas is the bevel up series. I have the BU Smoother and it is a great plane. I believe the bevel up smoother and jack planes have interchangeable blades which will give you more flexibility down the road.

Having said that, +1 to what Mos said. Vintage doesn’t mean it needs tons of work.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View rkober's profile


137 posts in 2434 days

#7 posted 02-08-2013 10:48 PM

If you go bevel up I would recommend Veritas and CL810 is right about the blade interchange. I like a larger plane (#7) for cleaning up dovetails so I’d actually lean toward the BU Jack with a 25 deg and 38 deg. Unlike most others, I rarely use a block plane and like the #4-#7 size.

For bevel down I’d go LN (since you want something new). The newer Woodriver’s are pretty well reviewed though.

-- Ray - Spokane, WA - “Most people don’t recognize opportunity because it’s usually disguised as hard work.” - Unknown

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3501 days

#8 posted 02-09-2013 12:14 AM

If you’re only looking at new, I’d suggest the Lee Valley bevel up smoother and the low angle block plane. The pair will eat up about $360 of you $500 and that is money you can spend on sharpening supplies. If you decide you’re interested in vintage, there are plenty of us around here that sell vintage tools.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2428 days

#9 posted 02-09-2013 12:25 AM

I believe the bevel up smoother and jack planes have interchangeable blades which will give you more flexibility down the road.

They do indeed, as does the BU jointer (#7) plane.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Don W's profile

Don W

18959 posts in 2709 days

#10 posted 02-09-2013 01:11 AM

I’d go vintage. For $500 you can have almost a complete set, and they’ll do anything new will do except eat up more of your budget.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 2161 days

#11 posted 02-09-2013 10:57 AM

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I was afraid this thread was going to turn into a “that plane is awful, get this one”, but instead it’s full of extremely helpful info for me.

A bit about my want for new instead of used (I do like the word vintage being used to make it sound fancier than user). I’ve watched ebay a bit and check craigslist regularly and it just seems like a world I shouldnt be in…yet. The idea of buying a LN or Veritas plane with no fuss appeals to me, especially since sort of a treat for me to celebrate a hard year’s work.

I have no objection to used tools, and in fact a good number of the tools I have are second hand. When it comes to hand planes, I just dont have the time, patience, and (most importantly) knowledge to dive into the second hand plane market. I dont know the difference between a $40 no 4 stanley and a $200 no 4 stanley (I’m not sure I want to at this point). If I did get a used plane, I am guessing my refurb skills on it would not be to the level that I could get it in tip top shape either.

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2502 days

#12 posted 02-09-2013 12:29 PM

Marcus – Lot’s of solid info here. I totally understand the ‘spoil myself with a year of hardwork’ philosophy. I think you have a solid plan in mind already, just make sure you get the right stuff to tune up and flatten/sharpen everything. From what I understand (I only own used) even brand new LN/Veritas planes need a little work out of the box. – Less than most, but some still.

I can’t tell you which brand/model will do, but I can tell you as someone who has taken the plunge into hand tools you will cuss and want to quit if you can’t get it set up right. A finely tuned tool – regardless of brand – is a joy to use. A dull tool will piss you off and send you running for the power jointer and random orbit sander.

You may want to get your planes, get your sharpening stuff – and find/subcribe to the Chris Schwartz videos on popular woodworking so that you can learn how to set up/sharpen the tools.

Regardless of choice – good luck! Make sure you check back in and let us know which ones you went with!

-- Steve

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3501 days

#13 posted 02-09-2013 01:13 PM

Just to clarify, when Don W or I suggest vintage tools, we aren’t suggesting tools that would need to be refurbished. Both Don and I sell tools that have already had the work done. Again, I’m not trying to talk you out of buying Lee Valley or Lee Nielsen, but any planes that I sell are ready to go to work when you get them. As for Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen, the only work either of them should need is polishing the back and honing the bevel. Good Luck and have some fun!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Don W's profile

Don W

18959 posts in 2709 days

#14 posted 02-09-2013 01:33 PM

I agree with Dave and will add a few points. Its good to plan on a mix. I’ve got vintage, lots of them, but I own Veritas and LN as well.

For new, I tend to lean toward LN just because of the traditional design. I bought a LV scraper because vintage are pricey and the LV had the best reviews. I should mention I did eventually find a #12 and a#112 for a good price at a flea market, so now I’ve got 3. I can’t sell any because I like them all equal.

I also bough the LV skewed blocks because they went on sale at Xmas and the price was really good. The vintage #140 doesn’t have a fence and I was looking for something with a fence.

I bought an LN #62 because its an improvement on the original. Again, I went LN for the design. Vintage #62 are expensive and very collectable. They also have a tendency to crack around the mouth.

I’m also thinking about a LN #164. Vintage 164 are better left to collectors.

Sorry for the long winded response, but I believe a mix of vintage and new will get you a better overall collection of good user hand planes at a much better price than all new.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15566 posts in 2760 days

#15 posted 02-09-2013 01:40 PM

Marcus, you are right. There is a ton of information out there regarding vintage tools, and trying to sort through it all before getting to work just doesn’t make sense. ‘Buy cheap, if it doesn’t work, upgrade.’ That’s a path, but not a very attractive one.

I’m not a plane seller, but seriously, for $500 I could outfit you with a near-full set (as Don suggests) of pre-war Stanley bench planes consisting of a smoother, jack and jointer, as well as a pair of block planes and a sharpening system. Heck, maybe even add a #50 plow plane to the mix, too, for dado and rabbet work. That’s the thing some of us think about as a frame of reference when ‘I’d like a pair of planes for $500’ comes up.

I bought my first LN plane last month, and couldn’t be happier. I know fellas with LV tools that also swear by them. Either of those choices are top-notch. Good luck in your foray into hand planes; using these tools has brought me immense satisfaction, and I hope it does for you, too.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3056 days

#16 posted 02-09-2013 03:10 PM

Here is another option to make one of your (soon to be) smoother/fore/jack planes MORE useful. Lee Valley makes a scraper plane insert that works well. I ordered the additional ‘thicker’ 0.024in blade as well. I have mine stuck in an early Sargent 418 (#6) plane. The point here is that for under $40 you can make one of your planes pull double duty as a plane AND as a scraper. And BTW, this is very easy to switch out in less than a minute.

”...The great advantage of this insert is that it fits all standard plane bodies from #4 to #8. It comes with a 2” scraper blade (0.016” thick), bevelled and honed with a hook on it, ready to go. 2-3/8” blades are available for #6, #7 and #8 planes. ...”

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View waho6o9's profile


8406 posts in 2719 days

#17 posted 02-09-2013 03:20 PM

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