|Forum topic by mot||posted 10-13-2007 01:29 AM||3504 views||3 times favorited||29 replies|
10-13-2007 01:29 AM
First, let me start by saying I’m not a hand plane expert. Hopefully our resident experts will chime in, but I’m going to pass on some information that I gathered from questions, posts, private messages and some unsolicited information that was given to me.
In a nutshell: (Most of this information was gleaned from woodnet forums and predominantly from a user called rfeeser)
What if I was to buy….
A single plane:
- A low angle block plane. This is probably the first plane to get for most people. There are a lot of things you can do with a block plane, such as cutting small bevels and fitting drawers. Unfortunately, the low cutting angle can cause tearout in figured hardwoods. But it is superior for softwoods and endgrain of all woods. A version with an adjustable mouth is the most flexible. Both Lie-Nielsen and Veritas currently make them. The Stanley #60-1/2 is the most common version.
- A jack plane. In terms of metallic planes there are three basic types: smoothers, jacks, and jointers. The jack is Mr. Inbetween. It is almost short enough to do a good job smoothing, and in fact there are those who prefer its heft and length for smoothing. On the other hand, it is almost long enough to do a good job straightening. In fact, you can do just as good a job straightening a face or edge with a jack plane as you can with a jointer, but it takes more workmanship to be able to do it. The #5 jack plane has been the mainstay of carpenters for ages. Many people these days prefer the wider and heavier #5-1/2, but it is less common and more expensive.
- A large smooth plane. The #4 smooth plane is probably the most commonly used plane of all. Personally, I would not select a #4 as my only bench plane because one of its most common uses would be for straightening edges, and a #5 does a better job of that.
- A low-angle jack or smooth plane. Although I do not have much experience with these planes, the favorable things I keep hearing about them from people I respect make them sound like a viable choice. Although Stanley made the #164 low-angle smoother and #62 low-angle jack plane, they are both rare and expensive. Both Lie-Nielsen and Veritas now make these planes. They are mechanically simpler than standard bench planes, making these low-angle versions a little less expensive from those expensive marks. Their proponents say that by equipping them with an additional iron or two with the bevel ground at a higher angle you can make them perform excellently to smooth hardwood surfaces. The stock iron angles are good for softwoods and rough work. If so, one of these planes with two or three blades sharpened differently could well come close to being a universal bench plane. I want to emphasize that I do not have enough personal experience with these planes to be comfortable recommending them myself.
A low angle block plane plus a jack or large smooth plane. The jack or smoother can be either regular-angle or low-angle. If it were me I’d choose the jack plane as the sole bench plane. In fact, that’s what I did years ago. Dad had only two planes his whole life, a cheap little #102 block plane and a #5 jack plane. Those are the planes I learned on.
A low angle block plane, a #4 or #4-1/2 smooth plane, and a #7 or #8 jointer. For this option, where you can have two bench planes, it makes sense to pick one of the smaller ones and one of the larger ones and leave the Mr. Inbetween jack plane out. The difficulty that gives you is that since both smooth and jointer planes are used for fine to medium work, you have nothing to handle rough work and large amounts of stock removal. However, unless you flatten and thickness rough wood by hand, you should be able to do with any roughing planes. An interesting thing to note about this three-plane solution is that you can’t get here from the two-plane solution unless you chose a #4 or #4-1/2 as your only bench plane.
Add a #40 scrub and a #5 or #5-1/2 jack plane to the above three-plane suggestion. To save money, an old #3 or #4 can be converted for use as a scrub plane by opening its mouth wide and grinding a pronounced curve on the cutting edge. These additional two planes, especially the #40, are only needed if you are flattening and thicknessing rough lumber by hand. Lie-Nielsen currently makes a scrub plane, and I understand that Veritas will be adding one to their line in 2005. To me, though, the absolutely best scrub plane available is the wooden one still being made by ECE. As a bonus, it only costs about half as much as the Lie-Nielsen and Veritas ones.
I hope this helps and sparks some discussion
-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)