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Forum topic by ste6168 posted 11-19-2015 02:26 PM 1105 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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255 posts in 1196 days

11-19-2015 02:26 PM

That other thread, “what kind of woodworker are you,” got me thinking. It seems many of use are majority power tool woodworkers. I use chisels on almost every project, to clean up mortises and such, but thats about the extent. As someone else mentioned, I have thought about getting a hand plane or two, to try, but as with everything else, the options are overwhelming.

Not saying that I am going to run out and buy them all (or any), but can we have some discussion on what a good, basic, “starter pack” for hand planes would be? I see block planes, jointer planes, router planes, number 4s, 4.5s, 7s, 71s, etc. If one wanted to start with the basics, what would be some good options.

15 replies so far

View JADobson's profile


1066 posts in 2135 days

#1 posted 11-19-2015 03:00 PM

Right now I’m working with a Stanley #5 1/2C, a Stanley #4C, and a Veritas block plane. So far I’ve been able to do everything I’ve needed to do but I wouldn’t want to be without any of them. The only other thing I’ve thought would be really useful is a router plan and a rebate plane but I’m in the process of building those myself:

Router plane:

Rebate plane:

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2657 days

#2 posted 11-19-2015 03:11 PM

I use power tools the majority of the time, however my block plane sees use on just about every project. My #5 gets some occasional use too. My #4 and #7 haven’t seen the light of day in years.
For a power tool shop, I think the #5/block are about the only planes that are necessary. Although I could have used a shoulder plane a few times too.

Get a #5 and a good block plane…....add as necessary.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1705 days

#3 posted 11-19-2015 03:16 PM

My opinion and it is just that is that if you predominately use power tools than the three planes that will benefit you the most is a good block plane, a good smoother, and a Jack. I have a lot of planes but the three I use the most are a old Stanley 60 1/2 block plane, a #5 low angle jack and a #3 smoother. I personally prefer the #3 over the #4 for the kinds of thing I use it for but that’s me.

Thats bench planes. Now if you are talking joinery planes I think a shoulder plane and router plane are great to have even in a power tool shop.

View TiggerWood's profile


271 posts in 1631 days

#4 posted 11-19-2015 03:32 PM

For squaring wood, a smoothing plane, a jack plane, and a jointer. In other words, a # 3 (or 4), 5 (or 5.5), and a 7 (or 8).

If you want to delve deeper for joinery and such, you can add a shoulder plane, router plane, block plane, and card scraper.

View HokieKen's profile


5227 posts in 1163 days

#5 posted 11-19-2015 05:09 PM

I use block planes far more than bench planes. But, I like having them all available. My 9 1/2 block plane is used most to trim things up flush and ease edges and make small adjustments. My 65 1/2 low angle block gets the call for any end grain or funky grained boards that need tuning. I also have a #5 set up for general flattening of boards, a #4 set up for scrubbing, and another #4 set up for smoothing. If I don’t feel like setting up my face jointing jig for my planer, I can scrub rough lumber and get a face flat enough to go into the planer using my scrub and jack plane.

So, what planes you need are highly dependent on what you need them to do. FWIW, Paul Sellers says #4 is all you really need and that you can do it all with it.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View fuigb's profile


491 posts in 2982 days

#6 posted 11-20-2015 12:31 AM

For someone starting out? A block plane. Nothing more. And when you are using it enough to realize what it won’t do then let’s talk. My sense is that guys load up on tools that they’ll never learn to weild, let alone master, and the result is a lot of money wasted. I’m a big believer in the add-as-you-need approach. It can be haphazard but it also means that you minimize the likelihood of ending up with crap you never use.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View OSU55's profile


1699 posts in 2014 days

#7 posted 11-20-2015 12:53 AM

Here is my recommendation. In that blog is a link to Patrick Leach’s “Blood and Gore” site, which will give you the run down on Stanley planes. I happen to use bench planes more than block planes, and not for dimensioning. If I can use a #4 instead of a block, I do because of the ergonomics. Primarily it depends on what you want to do. For the most part I use planes and scrapers to get flat surfaces (especially glued up panels), to replace sandpaper, and squaring end grain with a shooting board. I use machines for most of the heavy work, but I joint boards with a plane.

The most important aspect of planes is knowing how to get a sharp blade edge, so include that in your research and budget. Here is my take on sharpening. You will get plenty of opinions on which planes and sharpening methods to start with.

View BurlyBob's profile


5551 posts in 2290 days

#8 posted 11-20-2015 05:16 AM

I’ve got to agree with Richard h about that 60 1/2. I got educated about it by Fridge and man was he right. Don’t know how I ever survived with out it. Like many others, I’ve got more planes that I can use and love them all. I think I use my #3,#4 and #4 1/2 the most. After that my #5 and #7. I’ve got 20+ other planes in various stages of restoration and someday, hopefully sooner than later they will be in the arsenal ready for action.

My suggestion, don’t be a wuss! Get one, then get many more! You to will love them as many of us do.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2592 days

#9 posted 11-20-2015 02:26 PM

I can’t image anybody working with wood, be it a carpenter or a woodworker (except maybe a framer) getting by without a good block plane. That seems eseential to me.

Next up would be a smoother, probably a #4, just because they are the most common.

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

View JADobson's profile


1066 posts in 2135 days

#10 posted 11-20-2015 02:31 PM

+1 Don. I reach for my block plane more often than any of my other planes.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View helluvawreck's profile


31378 posts in 2891 days

#11 posted 11-20-2015 03:41 PM

I think that I have about 25 or 30 planes. Do I need 30 planes? No, I don’t need 30 planes but I just love planes along with a whole lot of other people. So, be careful. Planes can be habit forming. So can wood carving tools.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3985 days

#12 posted 11-20-2015 03:52 PM

Aside from the woodies, a #3, 4, 5 1/2, 7, #71 router, #60 1/2 block, #80 scraper.
Love ‘em and use ‘em.


View ste6168's profile


255 posts in 1196 days

#13 posted 11-20-2015 04:58 PM

Some great responses in this thread. I may have to tell santa claus to bring me a block plane this year, to get started down this road. I have never used a plane, and know nothing about sharpening, so I should probably start looking into that as well.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1986 days

#14 posted 11-20-2015 06:11 PM

Some great responses in this thread. I may have to tell santa claus to bring me a block plane this year, to get started down this road. I have never used a plane, and know nothing about sharpening, so I should probably start looking into that as well.
- ste6168

Definitely. The plane without a way to sharpen it is as bad as not having a plane. There are lots of sharpening methods, but as long as you pick one and stick with it for long enough to learn to get properly sharp you’ll be ok no matter what system you use. You can start with sandpaper on float glass or granite, diamond stones, oil stones, or water stones. They all work, no matter what anyone tells you about how much better their system is.

I happen to like the coarse, fine, and super fine diamond stones with a strop because it works well, quick enough, and seems to be about the lowest cost in the long term.

View hhhopks's profile


651 posts in 2402 days

#15 posted 11-20-2015 07:13 PM

+1 on sharpening.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

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