Dummy questions about Planes

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Forum topic by Richard posted 04-06-2011 11:06 PM 1562 views 2 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2717 days

04-06-2011 11:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane

Ok I am a plane dummy so here is my question. What is the major difference between the various wood planes? I have really only used what I belive to be called a bench plane(may not have been the right one to use but it was what I had available) so I am not sure what the difference is in say a Bench Plane , Block Plane or a Jack Plane as they all pretty much look the same to me except for maybe the size and shape of the handles.
I may have been lucky that I havent really needed to use them much but I am sure I will need to more so I want to learn more about the proper use for the different ones so that I can make a better choice of what I buy, not so much brand as the proper type.
Also are there any good online resources that anyone knows to give me a quick education on them?


9 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4245 days

#1 posted 04-06-2011 11:26 PM

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2701 days

#2 posted 04-07-2011 12:19 AM


We are NOT dummies! (I’m as clueless as you, regarding planes) I too, would like an online link to video/tutorials.

Your question is proof that the only dumb question is the question NOT asked. Whenever someone has a question, there is probably ten or more other people afraid to ask! So Richard, on behalf of all of us plane dummies, thanks for asking the question.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4245 days

#3 posted 04-07-2011 01:58 AM

Here is a short online article:

Google is your friend…. there is lots of info out there. My recommendation is to look for an old Stanley #4 on eBay. They can be purchased for around $20-$30 or so, and will clean up very nicely. Plus the experience of taking it apart to clean it up will give you a much better understanding of how planes work.

Here are a #4 and #5 I cleaned up recently.

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

View TheWoodNerd's profile


291 posts in 3218 days

#4 posted 04-07-2011 02:15 AM

“Understanding Handplanes” video from Lie-Nielsen is a good intro …

-- The Wood Nerd --

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2701 days

#5 posted 04-07-2011 03:22 AM

CharlieM1958 & TheWoodNerd,

Thanks for the links.
As luck would have it, I found a Stanley Bailey #4 (along with a “Stanley Handyman” and another unknown brand, small mouse sized plane) while cleaning out a storage room at work and the boss GAVE them to me! They all need some TLC. I’ll be sure to check out those links and your (CharlieM1958) plane rehab.

Again, thanks for the links.

Richard, you can have your thread back (I’ll just be looking over your shoulder). I Hope you don’t mind?

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3813 days

#6 posted 04-07-2011 03:24 AM

If you want the flavor of what a young lad wanting to go into woodworking in the early 20th century was expected to know, you may want to peruse this on-line book. It also has a lot of other valuable info on the other hand tools of the trade, how to use them, and why they are used. Chapters I, III, and XXI will answer a lot of your questions about planes.

As for “Bench” vs “Block” plane terminology, etc., you will find some disagreement. For instance, the newer design planes on the market now made possible by better materials and technical design are called “Low-Angled” planes. Lie-Nielsen classifies these as “Block Planes” because of their low angle of blade bedding, but Lee Valley gives them their own category. In size and use, they are more similar to the traditional “Bench Planes” (i.e Smoother, Jack and Jointer).



PS: Beware that you are delving into the dark sciences of woodworking, and it can have unintended consequences. Some say that the “old ways” are best forgotten and best not revived, because it can lead to independence from the spirit of energy called “electricity”, on which the rest of the world relies. It can furthermore lead to the acquisition of the tools of the dark side, from which arcane products of great simplicity and longevity can be made, threatening the power of the Borg to sell more disposable power tools.

-- Go

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3115 days

#7 posted 04-07-2011 03:32 AM

Here’s some good videos, I particularly like the one on the bottom of the page. They dont go into real detail, but it’s a very good introduction. There are lots of good introduction videos on this site to get you into various tools and skills.

( be sure to go to the previous page button at the bottom, there are a lot more videos on older pages in this section)

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2694 days

#8 posted 04-07-2011 11:50 AM

Lots of info at my blog

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2717 days

#9 posted 04-07-2011 06:40 PM

Wow lots of great information provide her, as I knew there would be since this forum is a great source of information for me and everyone else who needs a little extra help in thier woodworking projects.

Thanks to everyone for thier information, I will start checking out all the information tonight after work (work always gets in the way of woodworking, but then it does help pay for it too) and Randy no problem keep looking at the thread, it was posted for me and everyone else out there that is confused about these things. Also sounds like a great find on thoes planes at work. And to those that say I am getting into a dark side of woodworking, well I hope I am not getting as far into it as some of the LJ’s that seem to have more planes than I have tools in total. Not that thats a bad thing for those people.
Again thanks for all the advice.

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