what hand planers should I buy

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Forum topic by Blogarican posted 10-09-2015 03:32 PM 1404 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 994 days

10-09-2015 03:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question planer shaping finishing joining greene and greene shaker modern traditional

Sorry if this is a redundant post but I didn’t find anything in the archives. I don’t have any hand planers but after woodworking for a while and seeing others as well, I noticed that hand planers are definitely are part of their arsenal. my question is: what hand planer(s) should I buy? cost is always an issue, decent quality, ease of use. I would most use to fine tune my projects or plane something down that is either too awkward or large for my power planer. any advice would be great? I’ll make it even tougher, if you could only have 3 hand planers what would they be and why? thanks folks!

-- Gabe, North Carolina

37 replies so far

View BurlyBob's profile


5494 posts in 2264 days

#1 posted 10-09-2015 03:43 PM

Gabe, I got into hand planes a couple of years ago. I started out with a Stanley #4 and it’s probably the one I use the most. I’ve since built up my herd to 28. You can find #3,4, & 5s all day long. They go anywhere from $25-$65. EBay’s got tons of them. Any of those 3 would be a good starter. From their you could branch out to a 5 1/2, #7 or #8. Gabe, Hand planes are like peanut M&M’s. You eat the first one your going to want a couple of handfuls. Go for it !

View MikeUT's profile


170 posts in 1358 days

#2 posted 10-09-2015 03:47 PM

If cost is an issue start looking at yard sales, flea markets, etc. and find yourself some rusty treasure. There are plenty of resources, both here and on youtube, that can help you restore an old $10-50 buy in to something that works like new. If you are anything like the rest of us the restoration process will be almost as fun as making the shavings. If you decide to go for old Stanleys and the like I’d recommend not worrying too much about what numbers to get first, just start with what you find first. You’ll probably come across 4’s and 5’s first because they are the most common but if you find a 6-8 or a router/shoulder plane start there. (if it is a router or shoulder plane you might want to put it on the shelf and save it for when you have a little more experience.)

I’d rather not think of a world that would limit me to 3 planes, that sounds like a cruel version of hell! The 3 I use most often would be my Stanley No. 5, my bedrock 608c, or my Union LABP (clone of Stanley No 60)

View jmartel's profile


7895 posts in 2149 days

#3 posted 10-09-2015 04:02 PM

3 planes? I’d get a #4, #5, and #7.

But then you’re also going to want a block plane. And a router plane. And a shoulder plane. Etc…

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Mosquito's profile


9305 posts in 2291 days

#4 posted 10-09-2015 04:21 PM

All of them.

There’s a support group for it here on LJ, it’s fine :)

But to answer the 3 planes question…

#4 for smoothing, and general use.

#7 for truing long boards and faces

A block plane of some sort, because they’re really useful

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2617 days

#5 posted 10-09-2015 04:27 PM

4, 5 and 8

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

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2350 days

#6 posted 10-09-2015 04:30 PM

any advice would be great?

Bet you can’t just have one. I find that 4 planes are essential. A jack, a jointer, a smoother and a block. Pre-WWII Stanleys are the best bang for the buck but you will have to do some work to getting them tuned and in working order, the plus is that through that effort you will gain a thorough understanding of how they work. You don’t have to get all at once, start w/ the jack and block planes then get the other 2 as finances allow. It takes a while to find these gems at yard sales or online at reasonable prices. Happy rust hunting.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JayT's profile


5631 posts in 2210 days

#7 posted 10-09-2015 04:34 PM

What do you want to do with hand planes? That is the question that needs answered first.

I usually recommend any woodworker have a good low angle block plane and a smoothing plane (#3 or #4) because those can be useful for nearly anyone, even those who use a lot of power tools and machinery.

Past that, a jack (#5 or 5-1/2) is good if you work with rough stock. If you are doing that with machinery, then they may not be needed, though a good jack can help save time and knives in the machinery. A jointer (#6, 7 or 8) is a good addition if you do a lot of large panels that need flattened, like table tops. If you want to use hand planes to work on mortise and tenon joinery, then a shoulder plane &/or router plane would be more useful.

The answer to how you want to use them and what kind of work you do will determine what you might want to get. From this:

I would most use to fine tune my projects or plane something down that is either too awkward or large for my power planer. any advice would be great?

- Blogarican

Three planes would be impossible for me. I would have a block plane for a lot of fine tuning. If you are talking about fine tuning joinery, then others might be just as valuable. For large panels, I like a #6, and a smoother is essential. So going with a rabbeting block plane, a #4 smoother and a #5-1/2 or 6 for panels would be the most basic three for me, but still won’t do everything.

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

View Johnny7's profile


373 posts in 1089 days

#8 posted 10-09-2015 08:29 PM

what Smitty said, but I would allow the substitution of a 7 for the harder to find (and more expensive) #8

View CharlesA's profile


3322 posts in 1796 days

#9 posted 10-09-2015 08:46 PM

Read Coarse, Medium, Fine. It’s a great intro to hand planes.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2951 days

#10 posted 10-09-2015 10:26 PM

If I could have three planes only, they would be #4, #5, and #8. #4 for general work and smoothing. #5 for stock preparation. #8 for jointing and general flattening after using the #5.

However, as a couple have noted, if you plan on doing a lot of hand tool work only, other planes will make life much easier. Some to consider:

Block Plane
Shoulder Plane
Router Plane
Hollows and Rounds
Moving Fillester Plane

#45 Stanley or a Plow Plane

-- Mike

View Andre's profile


1832 posts in 1805 days

#11 posted 10-09-2015 10:33 PM

As most of my work is on the small scale I have a lot of Low Angle block planes. A L.N. 102 is never far away, great for almost everything! Did pick up a L.V. apron plane with the PMV-11 blade so expect this plane to take over # 1 spot.
I’m only up to the #6 for the Stanleys and so far see no reason to go any further, all have had the blades replaced with PMV-11 irons!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1771 posts in 1893 days

#12 posted 10-09-2015 11:45 PM

Another fan of the #8. I use it all the time plus a 4,5, low angle block, router, molding. I’ve got a #6, which I use, but if I had to start all over again I’d skip it.

Also have doubles of each bench plane because I’m lazy – one for regular grain woods, another for crazy grain, except for the 8 because I’ve only seen one 8 in person. I’ve got two blades sharpened at different angles for the 8.

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2256 days

#13 posted 10-10-2015 12:01 AM

I have a LV medium shoulder plane for trimming tenons to size, a #4 smoothing plane and want to get a LN 102 for easing edges, etc. Your needs will most likely be different from mine so you will need a different set.

However, don’t overlook the fact that the best plane in the world is worthless unless it is properly sharpened and the tools to do that also have a cost: sharpening stones, slow speed grinder, etc. How crazy do you want to get?

Then there are scrapers that are inexpensive to buy and perform tasks that planes can’t like smoothing highly figured wood without any tear out. It is a slippery slope. Enjoy!!! :)

-- Art

View BurlyBob's profile


5494 posts in 2264 days

#14 posted 10-10-2015 01:52 AM

So Gabe, What do you think of all our advice?

View Don W's profile

Don W

18715 posts in 2566 days

#15 posted 10-10-2015 12:03 PM

I’m with Mos.

I have a few hand planes. I only have one planer.

Its all realitive to price and proximity. Some of my best hand planes have been $5 and a few hours work. Some don’t like the work so they spend more money.

What’s your style.

Start with a good block plane. Look for one with an adjustable mouth. To me the adjustable mouth isn’t that important, but any manufacturer who goes to the extent of adding adjustable mouths, have a decent quality hand plane. Low agle is probably better, but a good deal on a #18 or #9 1/2 shouldn’t be passed up.

Then a smoother. Probably a #4 size. Any good manufacturer will do. Anything from Wards Master to LN will serve you well for a very long time.

By then you’ll know what you want next.

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

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