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Forum topic by Autorotate posted 03-16-2016 10:58 PM 867 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Autorotate's profile


37 posts in 462 days

03-16-2016 10:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane planes hand tools lie nielsen smoother block shoulder veritas

I am interested in adding hand tools to my collection. I am set to take a few planecraft classes within the next few months and wanted to get some opinions.

I am currently looking at a block plane, a smoothing plane, and eventually a shoulder plane. I can say for now most of my jobs will be cleaning up tenons and such. So far I have come up with this:

- I am leaning towards the LN #4 for smoothing. (Saving $50 on the iron instead of brass)

- I am up in the air whether to go for the LN 60 1/2 Low angle adjustable mouth or 60 1/2 low angle rabbet block plane with nicker?

- I also have read some great reviews on the Veritas Large Shoulder Plane. The Whisperer even recommends going large as possible in his book.

With the cost of these, I think I may want to hold off on the Veritas and go with the first two listed for now? Any recommendations?


15 replies so far

View JayT's profile


5054 posts in 1753 days

#1 posted 03-16-2016 11:01 PM

If you are going to get the shoulder plane, I would get the regular block plane instead of the rabbeting one.

If you aren’t going to get the shoulder plane right away, then the rabbet plane could be useful for cleaning up joinery.

-- Pay heed all who enter: Beware of "the Phog" Rock Chalk, Jayhawk

View TheFridge's profile


6284 posts in 1028 days

#2 posted 03-16-2016 11:22 PM

Me personally, I never used my 4 once I got a 4 1/2.

If you are going to get the shoulder plane, I would get the regular block plane instead of the rabbeting one.

If you aren t going to get the shoulder plane right away, then the rabbet plane could be useful for cleaning up joinery.

- JayT


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View OSU55's profile


1157 posts in 1531 days

#3 posted 03-16-2016 11:27 PM

Here are my thoughts on getting started. Don’t forget the most important thing, learning how to sharpen (here is my approach). With a truly sharp blade, the other aspects of tuning fall in place pretty quickly, and regular Stanley and the like planes, bench, joinery, or block, will work pretty well, and save a lot of $.

View Autorotate's profile


37 posts in 462 days

#4 posted 03-16-2016 11:29 PM


Thanks for the responses. A portion of my upcoming classes is one full day of sharpening. I have read quite some bit that is what makes all the difference in a “good” tool.

JayT, thank you much. I was thinking the same exact thing.

OSU55, that was interesting to hear. Other posts I have seen the guys said they had no reason for their 4.5 and preferred the 4. The weight of the 4.5 was the issue of most. More research now….haha

View jdmaher's profile


393 posts in 2121 days

#5 posted 03-17-2016 12:40 AM

Low angle block rather than rabbeting.

4 1/2 rather than 4. I have both and ALWAYS reach for the 4 1/2.

Biggest shoulder you can get.

The ones I mentioned are Lie-Nielsen, but I also have refurbished Stanleys 8, 5 and 3. I like the Lie-Nielsens a lot more, but the Stanleys I have are plenty good enough that I would NOT replace them (plus, I ain’t rich).

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Pezking7p's profile


3161 posts in 1193 days

#6 posted 03-17-2016 01:34 AM

I have the LN large shoulder plane. Every time I’ve used it I wished I had the medium. I don’t understand the advice to buy the largest one, but that’s the advice I followed.

-- -Dan

View JayT's profile


5054 posts in 1753 days

#7 posted 03-17-2016 01:49 AM

Other posts I have seen the guys said they had no reason for their 4.5 and preferred the 4.

- Autorotate

Count me as one that reaches for my #4 size smoothers first. I have a 4-1/2 size, like it and use it frequently, especially on large panels, but the #4 is my first choice. Others prefer the 4-1/2 and some people prefer a #3. Christopher Schwarz even recently made the argument that a #2 is an ideal smoother. It’s all personal preference and no one is wrong as long as they get the job done.

If you can find a place to try the various sizes out, it may help with a decision, but it’s tough to really know until you use one for an extended length of time.
If you can find a place to try them out, that may tell you a little, but until you use one extensively

-- Pay heed all who enter: Beware of "the Phog" Rock Chalk, Jayhawk

View rwe2156's profile


2340 posts in 1023 days

#8 posted 03-17-2016 12:21 PM

You’l get as many answers as “what car should I buy” but its OK. There is so much more important than tools and you will discover them as you work. I recommend just keep on open eye, watch the masters work, explore youtube a lot and practice practice practice. When you start out, I recommend selecting small projects with a focus on skill building, not entering in a juried show! For example, when learning dovetails, make some shop drawers you won’t worry about, or several letter boxes rather than the dovetailed blanket chest or large carcase. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Learn how to fix them rather than throw a project to the fire stash. A master isn’t born in a day. They guys you watch like Phil Lowe, Garrett Hack, etc. make it look easy.

As for your tools, that’s a good plane selection to start with.

LA block: If I had to have one LA block or the other, I would go for the rabbet and be done with it.

I agree re: the larger shoulder plane. This is definitely the first SP to start with. I have both LV and LN. I prefer the LV because of the set screws and the ergonomics.

I think you’re philosophy in starting with the highest quality tools is a good one. For many years I used inferior quality tools thinking I either didn’t “deserve” good ones or I wasn’t skilled enough. Turned out the tools were inhibiting my skill development. I think WoodRiver planes are a good choice if $$ is an issue.

Good luck in your endeavors.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4158 posts in 2035 days

#9 posted 03-17-2016 01:05 PM

I have the LN large shoulder plane. Every time I ve used it I wished I had the medium. I don t understand the advice to buy the largest one, but that s the advice I followed.

- Pezking7p

What he said: I also bought the LN large shoulder plane and found it was too large for a lot of stuff. Since then I’ve added the medium and it gets used on just about everything. The Veritas medium is also very nice. The large one just doesn’t get used all that much anymore.

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

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 3295 days

#10 posted 03-22-2016 09:49 AM

Not trying to be a fly in the ointment here, but I think you could do just as well by buying used bench planes. I am a huge LN & Veritas fan, but the old Millers Falls & Stanley’s are every bit as functional for a fraction of the cost. As a admitted plane junkie, I have been through the gauntlet of used an new planes over the past couple years. A good used plane will function as well any new plane made today.

Blocks planes are a personal choice. I do not own a rabbet any longer since my son decided it would look better at his place. ;) I love my old Stanley 60 1/2 and Millers Falls no#46, and they work just as well as my Lie Nielson

I also go with the others on here with the “medium” shoulder plane. I bought a used large LN Lie Nielson from a friend and ended up selling it to another friend. It was a very nice plane, but a bit clunky to work with. The friend I sold it to….. has it sitting on his plane rack collecting dust. I might go after the Lie Nielson medium shoulder plane this Christmas…....with shameless hints to the wife ;)

Is the no#4 going to be your only plane?

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

302 posts in 3510 days

#11 posted 03-22-2016 12:25 PM

My choices for someone starting out:

1. Block plane – LN 60 1/2 or LV DX60 in the adjustable mouth types, or the LN#102 in a small size. Forget the LN Rabbet block. It is a great plane but too specialistic at this stage.

2. Smoother – Stanley #3 or 4, or LV LA Smoother. The former is cheapest, and latter is the easiest to set up and may also be used on a shooting board.

3. Shoulder plane: LV Small Shoulder plane. This is 1/2” wide and you will rarely need something wider for tenon shoulders. In any event, I prefer a chisel most of the time. The Small is exquisitely balanced and useful for rebates as well. (The Large is too .. large).

4. Router Plane: LV Large Router Plane. Best range of blades. Use it on tenon cheeks as well.

5. Plough Plane: you need to make grooves. The LV Small Plow is shaping up as a terrific and versatile plane.

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

View Autorotate's profile


37 posts in 462 days

#12 posted 03-23-2016 03:12 AM

I just wanted to thank everyone for their posts and the suggestions that you had. I did end up pulling the trigger on (2) nice pieces. I went with the #4 smooth plane and the #102 low angle block. And of course I had to add in the scrapers since they were inexpensive….haha. I can’t wait to give these a go.

Next up will be my shoulder plane. I am leaning towards the medium size since that is what majority suggests and what I have read.

Derek, I recently watched Paul Sellers do some amazing work with a Router Plane. It was awesome.

View waho6o9's profile


7425 posts in 2119 days

#13 posted 03-23-2016 03:14 AM

Congrats on going with quality Autorotate, may they serve you well for years!

View dbockel2's profile


107 posts in 492 days

#14 posted 03-23-2016 03:40 PM

I have found that finding/ordering vintage/used hand tools on Ebay and then attempting to restore/recondition them has given me a greater appreciation for them, generally speaking. I have restored 2 #4 Stanley/Bailey’s and they are both awesome (I use one more as a scrub and the other as a smoother). I got some old handsaws and built new handles for them and sharpened them up as well. They are all a joy to use and I like that they all have my own signatures on them (i.e. new handles/grips that I made in the process of restoring them). Plus they prices are hard to beat if you do your shopping right. About $20 for each plane.

That said, I was recently gifted a brand new #5 Record jack plane and a similar Record rebate plane. Even though they are new, I am following a similar process to make sure they are perfectly tuned before using (lapping the soles to make sure they are not hollow/are perfectly flat, sharpening them up to about 10,000 grit, etc.).

Just my 2c. I wish I knew more about vintage handsaws and they were more accessible…

View Aidan1211's profile


190 posts in 368 days

#15 posted 04-18-2016 05:17 PM

If you need more planes in the future you can get an older hand plane that is every bit was good as the new stuff fully cleaned tuned and ready to work for a looooooooot less than LN or veritas. I personally rather buy older tools that are ready to go simply because I can get more tools that work the same for the same money as one newer tool. If you need any tools in future let me know.

-- its better to plan on the task at hand than actually doing it........ You look smarter.

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