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Hand Planes...Low Angle Vs. Standard

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Forum topic by CRAIGCLICK posted 04-16-2018 04:23 PM 802 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CRAIGCLICK

117 posts in 245 days


04-16-2018 04:23 PM

I have been looking at picking up a couple of bench planes for the shop. I’ve settle on something like a No. 5 jack plane, a small smoothing plane (No. 3, perhaps) and a bigger No. 6 or 7 plane.

I just would like to know what the difference is between a standard and low angle plane. Would I be better off with the low angle, or should I just go for the standard?

Also, let me know if you have any thoughts on what planes are essential for me to own.

Thank you very much.

-- Somewhere between raising hell and amazing grace.


19 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3820 days


#1 posted 04-16-2018 05:05 PM

Owning two I don’t find the arguments in favor of
low angle planes as primary bench planes convincing.
They can be made to do a lot of different sorts
of work if you have different irons and the
patience to get them ground and honed perfectly
square. Cambered irons in a low angle plane
need a more dramatic curve to function and that
makes honing the iron on a stone even trickier.
If that kind of fuss turns you on, they can do some
cool things.

Standard bench planes require a lesser camber that
is easier to hone, and the adjuster lever allows a
wider range of deviation from square in the iron
grinding. The chipbreaker can do marvelous things
if you learn to work with it. While chipbreakers
aren’t a perfect solution to squirelly woods, they
can help. If fiddling with the chipbreaker doesn’t
work I generally go to a scraper.

Derek Cohen is a member here and he has a lot of
insight and experience with different sorts of planes.
I think he may have a website with articles on tuning
chipbreakers and things like that.

View Handtooler's profile

Handtooler

1628 posts in 2304 days


#2 posted 04-16-2018 05:56 PM

Thanks Loren, That’s some graciously appreciated insight to some questions I’ve pondered for quite some time. I’ve honed and tried to tune thus, getting pretty curly slivers , but none gosimer thin like the pros. Any suggestions of what to adjust first in trying to improve on what’s moderately good?

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@outlook.com

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Loren

10477 posts in 3820 days


#3 posted 04-16-2018 07:07 PM

With a standard bench plane the thin shavings
are produced by a sole that’s flat enough for a
minimal blade protrusion to cut consistently.
Mass helps as well, though the Japanese smoothers
are not really that heavy and the experts get
amazing shavings with those. With metal planes
the mass helps keep the iron in that shallow
cut I think.

I’ve never set irons visually for fine cuts. I use
my fingers to feel. If you have the right kind of
light sighting may work but I haven’t always had
that kind of light.

If your plane sole is out of flat this can have an
effect if you’re chasing the most gossamer shavings.
You can get prussian blue machinest dye, apply
it to the sole and then rub it on a sheet of flat
glass. I messed around with this once with a block
plane and never did it again. For everything but
fine smoothing I don’t feel a plane sole needs to
be perfect. In any case, having had a taste of the
labor required to flatten that block plane a little
better I just went with a Lie-Nielson #4. It worked
pretty well out of the box.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

2103 posts in 2810 days


#4 posted 04-16-2018 10:06 PM

Low angle planes always are used with the bevel of the blade facing up.

I don’t want to stir folks up, but I think low angle, bevel-up, planes are overrated.

Veritsas, for example, ships their bevel-up smoother with a 38 degree bevel on the blade.

With the bed at 12 degrees, that gets you an angle of attack of 50 degrees.

You can get the same thing by putting a 5 degree back bevel on a standard plane.

There is an argument that the iron is better supported and the force of the cut more directly transmitted, but I’m not convinced.

I think originally, low angle planes (like the Stanley 60 1/2 block plane) were most usually used with normal 25-degree beveled irons, which gave a 37 degree angle of attack. This was deemed helpful for end grain.

I’m certainly no expert on any of this. I do have a couple of 60 1/2’s and that’s about it for low-angle planes in my shop.

-Paul

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3820 days


#5 posted 04-16-2018 10:42 PM

They have their uses. Stanley only made the low
angle jack in addition to the block planes, where
it makes sense for ergonomic reasons. Electric
saws only started to became widespread after ww2
and before then everybody who didn’t have access
to professional equipment had to crosscut with a
hand saw. The low angle jacks could be set up with
a shooting board to trim rough cut boards. It would
have been an everyday task for a lot of tradesmen.

View nakmuay's profile

nakmuay

82 posts in 1525 days


#6 posted 04-17-2018 01:19 AM

If I had to do everything all over again, I think the first plane I’d buy would be the low angle jack rabbet plane from Lee valley. It has the versatility to “get by” with most tasks,and also give you the “feel” of what a quality plane should be. Tuning up and refurbishing an old Stanley is great, and pretty easy when you know what it feels like, but if your new to it you don’t know what your shooting for.
http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/VeritasJackRabbetPlane.html

This is a great artical from Derek Cohen, he is legend, so in my books his word is gospel.
If you have a low angle plane you have the ability to work end grain too, older low angle Stanley’s cost a fortune.
I’d get the Bevel up jack plain then start adding old Stanley’s, #4, #7, then maybe go for a cabinet scraper.

However there are many more knowledgeable people than me here so take it as you will.

View JohnChung's profile

JohnChung

416 posts in 2246 days


#7 posted 04-17-2018 09:06 AM

If I have limited cash I would buy low angle block plane. It allows various effective angle which also can replicate std angles.

However the std block plane does not have that option.

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1240 posts in 2167 days


#8 posted 04-17-2018 12:25 PM

I have both and like both. The LN low angle jack is very ergonomic to me. I find I reach for it a lot more than my standard no 5. Just preference I guess. I just restored a 5 1/2, and sometimes I will grab that instead of I am working on a wider piece and want to take less passes.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the low angle Jack’s is the adjustable mouth. When coupled with blades honed at various angles, or even toothed blades you can be set up to work any task from stock removal to smoothing figured grain with just one plane.

If you really want to buy 3 planes you won’t go wrong with standard planes in a no 5,3 and 7 like you suggested. It might be interesting to replace the 5 with a low angle jack for some versatility.

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View ColonelTravis's profile

ColonelTravis

1913 posts in 2066 days


#9 posted 04-17-2018 06:24 PM

I love my LA Jack for two reasons and only two reasons:

1.) As long as the blade is as sharp as possible, I can plane edge grain like butter.
2.) Add a toothed blade, it’s great for reducing thickness pretty darn fast without tearout. I don’t have a power planer so a toothed blade has been crucial for me.

Otherwise, if I try to use it like a normal jack, I typically get tearout – not bad tearout but ghastly-bad tearout. Sometimes it’s fine on an edge, but that’s not a guarantee for flawless planing, either. I would not recommend this plane to be If You Had To Own Just One Plane! plane. I wouldn’t even put it on the top 3 to buy, when buying your first hand planes. That’s not to say it’s a bad tool to have. I would never give mine up. But I only have it because of the above two reasons.

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

843 posts in 1756 days


#10 posted 04-17-2018 07:38 PM

There is a person that I see referenced in many hand plane-related threads on LJs. I believe he is a member here, and he sells reconditioned planes of most all types.

I don’t know the website, and I cannot find it via searching the site, at least just now I cannot. Maybe someone could post that link to check out what he has available for purchase right now.

I looked at it before and recall that some are sold ready to go, and some need a little work. For me, I would be looking at getting one ready to go so I could gain some instant experience using it before I had to face the plane iron sharpening exercise.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1240 posts in 2167 days


#11 posted 04-17-2018 07:40 PM

Timetestedtools.net

DonW is his forum name of I am not mistaken.

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

15644 posts in 2790 days


#12 posted 04-17-2018 09:36 PM

^ Bingo.

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

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

2103 posts in 2810 days


#13 posted 04-18-2018 01:48 PM

A great observation!


[...]
and before then everybody who didn t have access
to professional equipment had to crosscut with a
hand saw. The low angle jacks could be set up with
a shooting board to trim rough cut boards. It would
have been an everyday task for a lot of tradesmen.

- Loren


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Ocelot

2103 posts in 2810 days


#14 posted 04-18-2018 01:54 PM

I’ve been wanting one of the Luban low-angle block rabbet planes for awhile. I like the 60 1/2 in the hand, but the rabbet feature seems like a nice addition to the traditional planes, even if it is an Asian import.

View CRAIGCLICK's profile

CRAIGCLICK

117 posts in 245 days


#15 posted 04-18-2018 01:57 PM

Thank you for the information, everyone.

-- Somewhere between raising hell and amazing grace.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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