Hand Planes

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Forum topic by MOJOE posted 02-16-2011 02:28 AM 1677 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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548 posts in 3268 days

02-16-2011 02:28 AM

I am looking into purchasing my first serious hand plane. I have been looking at the different makers for months now, and realize that almost all planes (excluding the very high end) will need some tuning. I am prepared for that. My question is this…..which manufacturer do you suggest? I have been looking closely at WoodRiver, but just keep coming across Groz, Anant and e-bay Stanley’s that are quite a bit cheaper. Are the cheaper makes really that much worse, as I don’t really have a practical amount of time to work a lot of bugs out (2 young kids occupy a lot of my time) Any help would be appreciated… the way, I have narrowed my size to a No. 5 to act as a “do-all”. Once I figure this all out, I will likely look into a No. 3 or No. 4.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

9 replies so far

View kckevin's profile


41 posts in 3238 days

#1 posted 02-16-2011 02:59 AM

I did my hand plane shopping on Ebay. Over the past couple of years I have picked up several good user planes on there. My favorite was a 604C Bedrock that I just finished restoring. I even added a Ron Hock blade and chipbreaker. I ended up with an excellent plane for about half the price of a Lie-Nielson or Veritas. But of you want to buy new, I would go with Lie-Nielson. They will be doing their Hand Tool Event here in KC on March 4th & 5th. Check out their website for details.

-- KCkevin

View TechRedneck's profile


768 posts in 2856 days

#2 posted 02-16-2011 03:03 AM

I had an old #3 that was my grandfather’s. (over 80 yrs old) I was able to get it working (with a lot of work) and found that there were many uses for it in the shop. I then decided to do some research and get a better quality plane. Was in WoodCraft over the holidays and bought a Wood River #4. HUGE difference. The latest generation of the Wood River series are excellent in my amateur opinion. The thing is heavy, beefy irons, and only took a few minutes to tune up the blade and add a micro bevel using scary sharp and 1500 grit.

I am now hooked, it is easy to use, adjust and produces nice see-thru shavings. I think the Wood River series gives you a nice quality plane for the money

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View wasmithee's profile


58 posts in 2692 days

#3 posted 02-16-2011 04:17 AM

I tried out the Stanley Sweetheart block planes and was very disappointed. I bought two of them and had to take both of them back t the store due to manufacturing flaws. (One had a mouth that would not close smaller than an 1/8” and the other had a crooked bed seat so it would never take an even shaving.

I ended up buying Veritas ( I have three of their planes now and am quite happy with them. Nice paper thin shavings and the tools were flat and true from the factory. I literally could use them right out of the box, though I do recommend sharpening any blade you get from any source.

If I were starting out again I would place a higher emphasis on learning proper sharpening techniques and having a good sharpening system in place to begin with. No matter how good the plane is that you get, you have to be able to sharpen the blades really well or your experience will not be as satisfying as it can be. There is nothing like a sharp, tuned tool in your hands.

In fact, I find myself doing some board flattening by hand now that I could do with my machines, solely due to the sheer enjoyment of working wood by hand.. I never thought I would like it this much.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4217 days

#4 posted 02-16-2011 04:27 AM

I was recently researching the same question, and everything I read said that the cheap planes like Groz and Anant just don’t cut it. Lie-Nielsen and Veritas definitely have the edge in good reviews. Some people prefer one, and some prefer the other, but the Veritas is a good $100 cheaper for a #4.

All that being said, I also had read that the old Stanleys were excellent planes when cleaned and tuned, so I decided to go that route. Did you see the project I posted the other day? For an investment of under $100 and a little elbow grease, I ended up with a pair of planes that are of good quality and perform really well.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 2973 days

#5 posted 02-16-2011 04:49 AM

I like the Lee Valley Veritas and the Lie Nielsen products…I have two of each.
As a bonus, both are made in North America.
You don’t need to buy a whole collection, but a couple good solid well made planes like these will make using them a pleasure rather than a hassle and you can pass them on to your kids.
Agree with studying and learning sharpening methods as well

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3128 days

#6 posted 02-16-2011 05:30 AM

I know plastic handles are a turn off, but the run-of-the-mill Stanleys are tunable and will work surprisingly well, but its a lot of work getting them there. Veritas are IMO the best value for a professional no-tune-up plane.

View rwyoung's profile


409 posts in 3471 days

#7 posted 02-16-2011 05:45 AM

Right now, the most bang for the buck in a new bevel down bench plane is probably the V3 Woodriver #4 or the latest edition of the Stanley Sweetheart #4. Both may require some minor tuning and honing of the blade but you should be up and making shavings very quickly.

If you spend a little more and get a Veritas or LN you should expect those to work out of the box with perhaps a quick hone of the blade.

If you do want to try your hand at setting up a vintage Stanley or Union look for one that was made pre-World War II. Google for “stanley plane type study” and read up on how to identify them. Replacing the stock blade with a Hock, Pinnacle, IBC or R. Cosman will make a big difference but will also make your vintage plane cost $40 to $100 more, putting you right back at nearly the cost of a new V3 Woodriver #4.

And one last thought about spending a bit more for the Veritas and LN planes (and Clifton but they have been a bit of a crap-shoot in recent years for quality) is that the Veritas and LN planes hold their resale value should you decide you don’t like it. You have a good chance of re-selling them for only a little less than you paid (excluding shipping).

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3268 days

#8 posted 02-16-2011 01:21 PM

Thanks for all the insight guys…..I also agree with the sharpening suggestions, and have been looking into some sharpening equipment. I appreciate all your help.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View knotscott's profile


8015 posts in 3375 days

#9 posted 02-16-2011 03:39 PM

My comments are captured here in my blog

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

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