All Replies on No 7 vs No 8

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No 7 vs No 8

by ScottStewart
posted 03-06-2014 05:15 AM

18 replies so far

View jordanp's profile


1086 posts in 2141 days

#1 posted 03-06-2014 05:26 AM

I own a #7 Stanley and am just learning the ropes with it. I have used a #8 and thought it was too heavy/big for most projects. However I am typically building smaller projects..

Between the two I couldn’t imagine one not being able to do the same thing as the other.

-- J. Palmer Woodworks - Rockwall TX -I woke up this morning thinking “man, I really hope someone posted some soul scarring sh*t on LJs today.” -- - Billy

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3849 days

#2 posted 03-06-2014 05:42 AM

#8 planes are pretty heavy. I’d say go with a #7 unless you
really want a workout and want to do larger pieces. For
furniture scale work a #7 is fine.

I’m using a low angle jointer now. The low center of
gravity pleases me for jointing.

You might want to consider a wooden jointer like an ECE.
They are lighter I think and the wood slides smoothly on
the work. The irons may be bedded at 50 degrees…
the German smoothers often are. ECE and Ulmia
planes are commonly sold in as-new condition on ebay
by sellers who never used them.

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2104 days

#3 posted 03-06-2014 06:17 AM

From what I have seen in the 2- #7s, and 2- #8s “old” planes I have, they are far from flat as found.
I have used a LN #7…..nice. LN planes “they say” are 1/2 of one thousandth .0005” flat, perhaps they are. To approach that flatness on an old Stanley or other brand vintage plane is not an easy task. A while back, I linked to a discussion on a machinist web site on the subject of flattening old hand planes. What was concluded there is- If one is to get one as flat or better then a LN plane, it will have to be hand scraped to a Master surface reference using dye. There is no way around it, here are some reasons why. The casting are thin, can have a hard skin from chilling after being cast. The castings have an uneven and odd shape, causing internal stresses that cause them to warp, twist and get lumpy. Milling, and or surface grinding will get the worst out, but tends to add stress of its own, but still will not get them as flat as a LN hand plane. They still must be hand scraped to finish off. The LN planes are ductile cast iron, better castings-less internal stresses. You did mention LN planes, I stated what it takes to get to that level of sole flatness with a vintage hand plane. And.. that is not going to happen sanding the sole on top of a table saw….that most refer to as lapping. Perhaps sanding the soles is good enough for most users, but not all.

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 2090 days

#4 posted 03-06-2014 06:54 AM

I love my #8. I’m a big guy, it doesn’t tire me out. I also like my #7s. I got by with a #6 for a while.

Our ancestors used em fine oout of the box. I only flatten my smoothers no issues yet.

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2104 days

#5 posted 03-06-2014 07:55 AM

I have heard experts quoted here as saying jointer planes do not need to be flat, perhaps they have never tried a LN jointer. The hard truth is, getting a vintage 24” iron plane flat to .0005” is a time consuming undertaking that takes tools and experience. That’s only 500 millionths. That’s why they say that. Here is one that is in process. This plane is considered a not so good of one, a Stanley 4 squarer 5 1/4 size. More of a cheaper home owners version of a Bailey. This one was bad .015” twist and bumps in the wrong places. Did a terrible job, would get nothing flat. Also, the worst example I have of having a near glass hard skin about .004” depth. when they are that bad I mill them. I used two cuts, got well under the hardness layer the a shallow finish cut using a carbide flycutter. Now scraping it true, the last couple of thousandths In this photo, the master reference-a tool I made over 40 years ago as an apprentice for rebuilding machine tools. This tool has been scraped to another Master. On this tool, prussion blue dye is applied. Then the plane is moved across it. The high spots on the planes sole pick up the dye. The carbide tipped tool in front is used to knock down the high metal on the planes sole. Continue the cycle until the the dye spots are evenly spaced across the sole of the plane. I have just a little ways to go, but the plane is working like a champ at this stage. If looking for the performance of a plane that cost hundreds out of a plane that cost $10, this is how to do it.

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View Don W's profile

Don W

19010 posts in 2768 days

#6 posted 03-06-2014 12:54 PM

Scott, don’t let the stories scare you off of vintage. There are dozens of manufactures such as Stanley, Sargent, Millers Falls, Ohio, Union, etc, etc that sold jointers for centuries. And keep in mind at that time people didn’t have hobbies, they made a living. If they didn’t work, they wouldn’t have sold.

With all due respect (we all have a right to our opinions) vintage tools can be made to work and work well with normal tools and reasonable effort.

I agree LN tool are nice, but at well over $400 for a jointer, you better have a pretty good job if your putting together a set of hand planes. To scare off a young hobbyist woodworkers by telling them they need to buy LN to do a decent job is insane.

I also agree the #7 is more popular based on request I get for jointers. I’m sure that’s a combination of cost and weight. My Stanley type 11 #8 weights 8lbs 14oz. The #7 is 7lbs 7oz so there is quit a difference.

I’m 6’ tall about 245lbs, (yes I could stand to loose a few) and a #608 is my favorite jointer. My advice is look for either, and take the first good deal you find. Either will do you well.

I have, on occasion, found a few vintage out of whack enough that I used the belt sander to get them close, but the norm is a few minutes on a granite top, if it needs anything at all.

Note, when a plane goes out of my shop, its been tested, not with feeler gauges and other measuring tools, but with a piece of wood. It just has to work and work well.

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

View Mark E.'s profile

Mark E.

387 posts in 3943 days

#7 posted 03-06-2014 01:30 PM

I agree with Don.

Perfect flatness is very difficult to achieve unless you have to proper equipment. If that level of flatness is important to you, you would be better off investing in one of the premium planes.

There is very little that a No.8 plane can do that a No.7 can’t do. The No.8 gives you two more inches of length and 1/4” of width and adds about 1-1/2 lbs. If you have some figured wood to work or are jointing long pieces, the No.8 may give a slight advantage.

-- Mark

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2104 days

#8 posted 03-06-2014 01:33 PM

I think the fellow says I am insane!
Just conveying the truth proven with a photo. And.. the truth is hard sometimes.
Out of true planes can work pretty good, if the lumps, bumps or twist are not in the wrong places. But, one will spend much more time making corrections on the work to compensate for the error in the plane.
I do not offer scraping the soles of hand plane as a service for profit, far too time consuming.
Really, if you cant do it, don’t whine about it, or call people insane.
The OP brought up LN planes, I simply showed how to make a vintage plane perform nearly as good.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19010 posts in 2768 days

#9 posted 03-06-2014 01:52 PM

Sorry Bob, I didn’t mean to offend, and I wasn’t calling you anything. If it sounded as such I do apologize.

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

View JayT's profile


5960 posts in 2412 days

#10 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

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2104 days

#11 posted 03-06-2014 03:48 PM

Thank you Don, I misunderstood.
Some observations on the planes I have.
I bought a set of #7 style planes from an estate #4 to #8. Along with those was a #8 Diamond edge brand.
The #8 Stanley was hardly used at all, it just didn’t work well. Inspecting the plane, the mouth opening protruded beyond the rest of the sole a considerable amount. When the plane was put on a flat surface it would rock toe to heel, pivoting at the mouth. That one had error in the worst spot. The overall sole was more convex with a bit twist.
The Diamond edge plane was used a lot, the iron is about used up. So, that old craftsman used the best plane out of the two. The sole on the DE was more on the concave overall, with the mouth opening slightly sunk in.

Metal is a lot like wood, it has grain direction “s”, built in stress, at times hard and soft areas. Over time, these flaws relieve themselves and cause warp, just like wood does.
I am about half way through working the 18 bench planes I have, various years up to WW2 vintage. The more stable ones seem to be the ones with patent dates, and the WW2 models.
Some that I have scraped continue to drift out, and need to be touched up. For example, the Stanley #8, the mouth opening still drifts out. I have reworked it 3 times over the last year, its stabilizing however.
The worst one so far is the 4square model, a couple of weeks ago, it was flatter then that the dye shows now. probably pulled from the mold too soon causing the hard surface and a lot of internal stress.
On that 4 square, as I was working on it, getting it pretty close to flat. I would test it, then tap on it with a small hammer, to help further relieve the stress, test it again- it would still twist in the same direction it was in.
I just keep working them until they some what stabilize.
The first plane I did was a early patent date 5 1/2 in not so good of shape. But, the 5 1/2 when done, far out performed the #8 planes, so I then did the #8 planes.

View Rb12's profile


80 posts in 2429 days

#12 posted 03-06-2014 05:31 PM

I went back and forth bt a vintage stanley and a new LN no 7, I also considered going with an 8. In the end I couldn’t justify the price tag on the LN. I got a good liking mid-40s stanley that was lovingly cared for, added a LV blade and chip breaker and it runs like a dream with very very little tlc. I can open it up to take big slices or have it tuned in to take full blade length wisps. I have not doubt the LN is fantastic but at 1/3 the cost and impeccable performance I am good with the Stanley. My sole was pretty darn flat as well.

I went with 7 over 8 bc the right opportunity came along. I have not used an 8 but the 7 has worked phenominally on the 20”x40” desk I am working on right now.

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2585 days

#13 posted 03-06-2014 06:08 PM

After looking around for a metal jointer plane for a while, I ran across an old Ohio tools 22” woodie. I admit, it took a bit of a learning curve, some sole flattening ( a much quicker job on a woodie), and some small adjustments to the wedge…but I learned how to use it, and have since stopped looking for a metal jointer. I have a plane that works well, weighs less than a metal plane, has a gigantic thick tapered iron, and will be easily flattened again when the time comes.

I use a Stanley #5 jack, #3 smoother, and metal Stanley block plane, but am completely satisfied with a wooden jointer.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Gilgaron's profile


19 posts in 1786 days

#14 posted 03-06-2014 06:20 PM

I have a no 8 instead of a no 7 because I won an auction for an 8 before a 7… if you do the rough work with a 5 or 6 first, I doubt it’d make much difference.

View MrFid's profile


886 posts in 2105 days

#15 posted 03-06-2014 07:31 PM

Hey Scott.

I love my Bailey No 7 jointer plane. See my blog on restoring it. For what a jointer does, I’m not concerned with a few places being out of perfect flatness, as long as the mouth is in good shape, and the plane registers flat on a table saw or other flat surface. I am also taken by the LN jointer, having tried it but never owned it. If you have $400 bucks lying around that you can’t seem to spend on anything, I’m sure it’s a dream to use.

Also, where are you located? I’m sure someone on here could use a Jet jointer…

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View ScottStewart's profile


120 posts in 2333 days

#16 posted 03-06-2014 10:47 PM

Thank all of you for sharing your wisdom, it is really appreciated.

I am just getting started in the hand plane slippery slope. I have a #5 that I have used for a couple years as a catch all plane, and I recently cleaned up a 6 I got from a co worker whose father had passed. I have been using the 6 as a jointer and have had some pretty good results (good enough that I can tell the shortcomings are me and not the plane).

It’s encouraging to me that the general consensus is that there are a lot of workable vintage jointers and I shouldn’t be completely scared off them. It’s also nice to see that there doesn’t seem to be a huge functional difference between a 7 and an eight.

I guess I am going to open my search a bit and see what is out there. Lots of extra shifts last year means that I have the ability now to buy a premium plane (I had been leaning toward a vintage 4 1/2 and a LN8).

2 more questions related questions to try to help me come to final decision… (and thank you for your patience)

1. For those of you that have used both, what were the differences b/t a good vintage Stanley Jointer and the LN model?

2. My impression (mostly from Schwarz’s blog) has been that if you are going to buy one premium plane, buy the jointer premium and tune up a vintage jack and smoother. Is there more difference between the vintage and premium new with the jointer plane or the smoother planes?

My learning with planes has to be more reading and trial and error since I dont have any ww buddies that already know what they are doing with hand planes. I am not looking to buy a premium plane just for the nameplate, but if there is a difference in getting it to work for a newb like me, that is important.

Thank you for all your input.

PS I’m in the St. Louis area and the jointer is a Jet JJ6CSX model if anyone is interested.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19010 posts in 2768 days

#17 posted 03-06-2014 10:57 PM

Here’s my opinion
1. Cost and an LN will pretty much work out of the box with just a little fussing or you send it back. A vintage may take a bit longer.

2. I’d disagree with Swartz. Buy a LN smoother and a vintage jointer. (Actually, I’d say stick with vintage for both, but that wasn’t the question)

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

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2585 days

#18 posted 03-07-2014 12:13 AM

1. I have used a LN Jointer plane for a bit at one of their hand tool events. It is definitely nice, and the difference is something I would say about any LN vs Vintage: There’s simply nothing wrong with it. If you get a vintage plane of any size, you will likely clean it up, grind and sharpen the blade, fiddle with the frog placement, perhaps file the mouth, flatten the bottom…then you will use it for while and discover something else you want/need to fiddle with to get it working better. Then perhaps after several rounds of this, you will have a tool that functions about as well as the LN…and for a lot less money, and it has a nice antique look to it. But it will never BE as good, because LN simply uses better, more modern materials, and machines to higher tolerances than Stanley ever could. And finally, on a vintage plane iron, there is always the posibilty of pitting that could leave tiny imperfections in your cutting edge…A New LN plane, or a an old plane with a new Iron, will not have this problem.

2. I believe Scwartz’s advice is simply based on size…It is a lot more work to flatten a jointer plane than a smaller smoothing plane. So if you are going to tune up one plane and buy the other, you will end up the same place (2 really well-working planes) with less work.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

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