Looking to get into hand planes

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Forum topic by RandyMarine posted 06-17-2010 03:13 PM 1442 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RandyMarine's profile


236 posts in 3332 days

06-17-2010 03:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

Good Day All,

I have been woodworking now for about 2 years and thanks to this site and insight from some of my friends and relitives, I have become a decent dust maker.

I have recently gotten into hand tools, as a lot of you have said your skills only get better with practice and new techniques. I have 3 hand planes; a buck brothers block plane and #5 plane and a Stanley #4.

I have used these on my last project and found them to be very fun to use. I started looking for hand planes and got real nervous at the prices. I saw quite a few on ebay but have no idea what is good or not. I know a lot of you buy them cheap and restore them. How do you even get started in something like that.

I don’t have a ton of money to spend on a Veritas or Lee Valley. Can anyone give me some pointers or a place to get info on the subject?

Semper Fi

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

11 replies so far

View swirt's profile


2640 posts in 2935 days

#1 posted 06-17-2010 03:59 PM

I’ve bought several planes on ebay and restored/tuned them. I sitck to Stanley’s because they are more well documented and I have learned what to look for. The important thing I find is to look closely at the photos. Look for what should be there as well as what should not. If the photos show only the tote (handle) and the name on the iron but neglect to show the sole of the plane, keep looking. Unfortunately, most of the planes for sale by people that take good photos of everything, are also the ones who know what they are worth. The amateurs that know nothing about the tools (children selling off their deceased parents tools….) or their value are also the ones that take put up the most useless photos.

If you go the ebay route, keep in mind that unless you are going after very rare collector level tools, there will be other similar tools coming along all the time, so don’t get caught up in the pressure of having to get one specific sale. Patience, helps a lot. ... and so does learning to snipe (bid the most that you are willing to pay, within the last 5 seconds of the auction) Don’t start bidding early, you’ll only drive up the price.

Dan’s Workshop blog has a nice set of rules for buying on ebay that do a better job of summing up what I am trying to say.

-- Galootish log blog,

View rep's profile


95 posts in 3073 days

#2 posted 06-17-2010 04:01 PM

Patrick’s Blood and Gore site has a lot of info on Stanley planes.

The cheap deals on planes are not as easy to find as they used to be – people have caught on to the popularity rise and are pricing them higher.

Restoration is pretty easy for old iron that just has surface rust and no broken parts, but you have to know what to look for.

I use Evaporust to clean the iron, sharpen the blade, and start fiddling around with adjustments to make it work best.

I just jumped in and started with a hand me down plane. (I can’t afford the nice, new, expensive ones.)

The I went to a class on restoring hand planes and found out that what I did was correct. I think it helps if you have access to a properly tuned plane to know and understand how it is “supposed” to work and be used – so you know if what you are doing is correct.

Sharpening is critical. Gotta have a sharp blade for a plane to work well.

-- rick

View Zach117's profile


19 posts in 3023 days

#3 posted 06-17-2010 04:04 PM

If you want to go the old plane route, look at the Stanley Bailey line. You can find some that are in great shape and others that just need a little de-rusting. Most of the Bailey bench planes you can find for under $50 each. Lots of #4-7 on ebay.

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3612 days

#4 posted 06-17-2010 04:07 PM

1st thing 1st – don’t feel uncomfortable about those. planes are basically a collection of metal parts that go together. restoring one is not that much trouble, nor is it complicated. since you already have some hand planes – take them apart to their smallest parts, and put them back together, that will give you a bit more confidence and knowledge as to what’s to a hand plane

you can see how I restored a #6 here:

another great resource is Garrett Hacks ’’The Handplane Book’’:

of course there are some things that needs to be checked, and many planes on eBay wouldn’t be a good fit for a restoration. but as long as nothing is broken, nothing is pitted/overly rusted, and the mouth is not chipped, you should have a good base to start with.

if you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View RandyMarine's profile


236 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 06-17-2010 05:22 PM

thanks for the info people…I read the blog and got some good info. I was wondering, do i need 10 planes? What are the most common ones? I have read and watched a ton of videwo I could find on the subject and am very confused with low angle versus standard planes…the different grades of steel and the like.

Any advise?

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2918 days

#6 posted 06-17-2010 05:55 PM

don’t forget about woodies … it’s not too hard to build your own.

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3612 days

#7 posted 06-17-2010 06:01 PM

I actually started with the very same set you have:
1. stanley block plane
2. buck bros #5
3. Stanley #4

my #5 broke because of poor quality and soft made parts while building my workbench, I then got the Stanley #6 that I mentioned earlier. and these ARE the planes that I have and for now they are more than enough.

I use the Block plane for general stuff, end grain, and chamfering edges.
I use the #6 for milling wood – it’s not as efficient as a #7 but it’s close enough and what I can afford
I use the #4 for smoothing my boards.

As you’ll develop your skills, and have different needs, you can always add more planes per your requirements. otherwise you may just get more planes that will not add to your benefit – although you can always get the same hanplane and set each one differently for different cuts (rough cuts/smooth cuts).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View swirt's profile


2640 posts in 2935 days

#8 posted 06-17-2010 08:23 PM

You don’t need 10 planes, but the more you use them, the more you may feel a need to have more. As many have said in other threads, it is a slippery slope.

As PurpLev says, A block, a 5 and a 4 are the basics and you can do a lot with just those three. From there, you can branch out to where your woodworking style and interest takes you.
If you like starting from rough and working it to square, then a scrub plane can help for removing a lot of material rapidly but a Jack plane with a heavy camber will do that fairly well, if only a little slower.

If you do a lot of panels, then a set of match planes (tongue and grooving planes) may be a lot of fun.

For panels and long boards a couple of old wooden hollows (hollows make round) are nice for rounding over the edges. I find them a lot more fun to use than a roundover bit in a router.

As uufitze mentions, wood planes can be great fun too. My match planes and my hollows are old wooden antiques. I usually get those in antique shops around. Mainly because it is really hard to see cracks or checks in wood in photos on ebay, so I tend to like to actually hold the older ones in my hands before buying. They can be a lot more affordable than vintage stanley’s. And for me they often are no harder to tune…. though there is less access to “standard” parts.

-- Galootish log blog,

View knotscott's profile


7980 posts in 3339 days

#9 posted 06-17-2010 09:00 PM

I made an entry in my blog about buying used planes that might have some info you can use.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2903 days

#10 posted 06-17-2010 10:25 PM

And after the blockplane, a no.5 jackplane, a 4, then probably a 7 for decent jointing, a 41/2 for panelwork etc. etc, you also start getting into spokeshaves…...:-))

Have FUN!!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View RandyMarine's profile


236 posts in 3332 days

#11 posted 06-19-2010 05:25 PM

Thank you very much for all the info…I will be purchasing a few books on hand planing. I have looked a t ebay and others and have decided to hold off on buying any new ones until I have tuned the crappy ones I have up and get them working… But today I am cutting down some black walnut trees in the back yard so that will have to wait…thanks again for all of your help.

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

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