What plane to buy or use?

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Forum topic by alittleoff posted 02-15-2016 03:43 AM 813 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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539 posts in 1276 days

02-15-2016 03:43 AM

I haven’t had the need until now to plane or flatten a large surface. The only plane I have is a #4 Stanley smoothing bench plane. I’m going to build a new yellow pine work bench and know I’ll need to do some work on the top unless I’m better than I think I am. The top will be put together in sections of about 10 inches each and run through my bench planer, then all glued together. I want to buy a plane that’s large enough to flatten the top, but don’t want to spend lots of money. Maybe find a used one. Whether I need it this go around or not I need one. Hopefully I’ll just have to work a little on the joints where I glue up the panels the way I’m doing it.

10 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8191 posts in 2576 days

#1 posted 02-15-2016 03:47 AM

Maybe the #6 will work for you, fair enough price.

View jmartel's profile


7897 posts in 2149 days

#2 posted 02-15-2016 03:51 AM

An old stanley #5 or #6 would work well. Probably a #6 would be better for a larger surface. A #7 is better for larger items, but more expensive.

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

View Tim's profile


3807 posts in 1961 days

#3 posted 02-15-2016 04:17 AM

A longer plane can make it a lot easier, but you can learn how to make your #4 work if you really want to. It’s mostly about how sharp it is and the technique according to Paul Sellers. Here’s his series on making a workbench.
I’ve never tried using a #4 for everything the way he says you can since I started with a #5. He also doesn’t say that’s the way you have to do it, just that going out and buying another tool isn’t the only way to do it.

View alittleoff's profile


539 posts in 1276 days

#4 posted 02-15-2016 04:20 AM

The width will be about 34 in. Lenth about 70ln. I looked at the plane I have and it is a no.4 sweetheart. I paid 120.00 for it and used it a couple times. That’s why I don’t want to spend a lot of money. I don’t use them much.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2618 days

#5 posted 02-15-2016 04:39 AM

I think the #4 can do what you want. It needs to be very sharp, then Bob’s Your Uncle. Bench doesn’t have to be perfectly flat anyway, but, that said, if you have winding sticks the #4 can get you there with some patience and attention to detail.

Put it this way: You build and flatten a bench with one plane, and you’ll know that tool very well at the end of it all.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4986 posts in 2493 days

#6 posted 02-15-2016 12:52 PM

I’m sure you’ll find you only need to work on the joints a little. That’s how I built mine, and what will help when you put the larger pieces together is some kind of mechanical alignment aid. I used biscuits, but dowels, loose tenons or something like that helps keep the pieces from sliding around as you tighten the clamps. You could probably use cauls across the surface to do the same thing, but I’m sure the bench will turn out closer than you envision.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View rwe2156's profile


2926 posts in 1480 days

#7 posted 02-15-2016 12:54 PM

They way you’re building it should be fairly flat to begin with so I agree with what Smitty said.

Winding sticks + straight edge + patience.

If you’re not really a hand plane guy then you might consider a flattening sled and a router.
I flattened my bench that way even though I had the planes. Just didn’t have the time plus the bench is 3×8.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View OSU55's profile


1672 posts in 1989 days

#8 posted 02-15-2016 01:01 PM

A #4 can work. Each successive # (5,6,7,8) would be better for your application. 7’s are more plentiful than 8’s and would be my pick. Check with Don at Timetestedtools. Flattening glue ups is how I got started with hand planes, then I discovered what people meant regarding a planed finish vs a sanded finish. Planes have almost completely replaced sandpaper for me. Sharpening is the biggest thing. Clamping cauls help with alignment.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3358 days

#9 posted 02-15-2016 11:13 PM

Yes, it can be done with the 4 you already have, but it would take some experience which it appears you don’t have. I mean no offense, I’m just trying to give you some advice. I think you would be way better off getting yourself a good 7 or 8. Either one can be had for $100 and be ready to work when you get it.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View alittleoff's profile


539 posts in 1276 days

#10 posted 03-23-2016 03:04 PM

I saw this plane and was wondering if it would work to smooth my table top. It came out pretty flat except for one glue join and it’s not really bad. I could probably just sand the top but as you know, it’s always better to buy a new tool. I was looking at this because I already have a no. 4 sweetheart. I think this one is 15 in long from what I saw. Thanks in advance.

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