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Getting into Hand Planes/ Which size/ Lie Nielsen?

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Forum topic by DMiller posted 11-07-2018 12:23 AM 1071 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DMiller

434 posts in 675 days


11-07-2018 12:23 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question bandsaw plane lie nielsen joining modern traditional

I will be finishing up a fairly large project soon and will have a little money to put back into woodworking. A few months ago a kind LJ’s member introduced me to the world of hand planes; before this introduction, I never could fully understand why the go for as much as some bench top planers! After using them for a little while, I can fully understand why they they cost so much; they are, in themselves, a whole “power” tool.

My question to you all is, what is the best size of plane to buy first? I would really like to get a Lie Nielsen, but can afford only one at this time. I do a decent amount of edge joining, but would also like to be able to do some smoothing. What are your thoughts on the No. 62 low angle jack? It seems to be a decent compromise between joining and smoothing?

Are hand planes worth getting into? As of now, if I do decide to purchase one, it probably won’t be till around Christmas. Do any of you know if Lie Nielsen’s go on sale anywhere? Where would you recommend purchasing one? I know this is also another broad question, but is it worth getting a hand plane before a bandsaw? I will have enough dough from my current project to buy about 1/2 a bandsaw; is it worth it to just wait and save for a bandsaw over a plane?

Hopefully these questions aren’t too broad of a topic; I really do appreciate all your advice! Thank you!

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."


28 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10739 posts in 1688 days


#1 posted 11-07-2018 12:40 AM

Different sizes for different tasks.

Smoothing? #4-1/2, #4, or #3. Not a fan of LA bench planes.

I use a bandsaw a good bit so I’d say get a vintage #4 and keep most of the bandsaw budget intact.

On the topic of LN. They make wonderful stuff. Have their chisels and planes. I don’t recommend jumping right into them though. I think fettling is a damn good skill to have.

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

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8iowa

1587 posts in 3963 days


#2 posted 11-07-2018 12:45 AM

Once I started to use handplanes I was “hooked”. Now, every project gets at least some handplane work.

When I began, I didn’t know very much about hand planes, or sharpening. Therefore I purchased a Clifton #5 which was advertised as ready to use out of the box, and it was. Along in time I came across Chris Schwarz’s “Handplane essentials, and quickly learned how to restore used and abused Stanley handplanes back to useful life. I really haven’t purchased an expensive new handplane since.

You can even take a used handplane and restore it with a high quality aftermarket blade, such as those made by Hock and you will have a great handplane that rivals the expensive ones at a fraction of the cost.

The various sizes is a manner of personal preference and also reflects the type of woodworking you do. I started with the #5, and added the #6, #7 and then the smaller ones, the #3 and #4. A block plane and the Stanley #92 shoulder plan pretty well rounds out my selection.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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KYtoolsmith

38 posts in 62 days


#3 posted 11-07-2018 01:34 AM

Completely agree with both replies above! You ask if hand planes are worth getting into… My response is to ask how you can decently fit two pieces of wood together with out using a hand plane? Jointing edges for glue up, shooting a square edge, trimming slightly proud pins or tails… And then for leveling and finishing… How can you do woodwork without hand planes? Worth getting into? Absolutely! But you don’t need to break the bank to get started… Lie Nielsen’s are fine tools, but old Stanley’s are quite good also…

Regards, the Kentucky Toolsmith.

-- "Good enough" is just an excuse. Good workmanship needs no excuses.

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YouthfullMind

31 posts in 353 days


#4 posted 11-07-2018 02:19 AM

I’d start off with a #4 smoothing plane. Last year I got a few old planes that are sergeants rebranded (fulton, and dunlap). I believe I got the dunlap for $12 and the #5 fulton for $15 on eBay. Approximately 1 hour of tuning (flattening the sole, and sharpening) produced very thin consistent shavings. I use the smoother fairly often for a variety of tasks. I wish I would have bought them sooner. They save a lot of time that I normally would have spent sanding and do a better job as well.

I’m sure the lie nielsen planes are much much better quality than the planes I have. However, a cheap old plane can produce the same results.

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TheFridge

10739 posts in 1688 days


#5 posted 11-07-2018 02:30 AM

A well tuned vintage plane can yes. Crap planes are still crap and cheap ones aren’t available everywhere.

Sargent made a damn good plane. Usually pretty cheap because it doesn’t have “Stanley” on it :) millers fall as well. I’d go that route before Stanley if I could help it.

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

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groland

211 posts in 3613 days


#6 posted 11-07-2018 03:45 AM

I have bought used hand planes and new ones. Both routes can work. Here are some thoughts.

One problem with buying used is that no matter what, it is almost impossible to ascertain the condition of the blade from the photos sellers show. The flat back of the blade is almost never shown in photos, and even if it is, you cannot determine if it is flat as it should be, pitted or bowed until you try to sharpen it. Then you may be in for hours of blade shaping to get it into good working condition. One can get a fine blade from Hock, but by the time you buy the plane and a new blade, you have spent nearly as much as a Lie Nielsen plane would cost.

I am a close follower of the work of Englishman David Charlesworth. He recommends a No. 5 or 5 1/2 for beginners. I have a LN No.5, and I can do all I need to with it. I almost never use smaller planes. My second pick would be the 60 1/2 block plane for end grain work.

Buying LN used can work out well.

I know a lot of people get on quite well with the No. 62 low-angle Jack you mentioned. It’s a great plane.

One other thing about LN planes is that most of them have thick well-formed blades that can be used perfectly, after a bit of fine honing, out of the box.

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DMiller

434 posts in 675 days


#7 posted 11-07-2018 04:07 AM

Thank you for the thoughts, guys! Fridge, what makes you not a fan of low angles? 8iowa, thank your for the advice; it is appreciated! KYtoolsmith, I guess my main thought for jumping straight to LN’s is because it seems that a decent amount of the Stanley’s or similar are about half/ three- fourths the cost of LN’s (in decent condition). I didn’t think it was worth getting cheaper planes only to buy nice ones soon after. Wasn’t sure if it was worth getting spending $100- 150 for a plane that would potentially sit on the shelf in two years. Groland, thank you for the advice.
How hard is it to sharpen a “dull” plane blade? Or for that matter, restore an unusable one? Having never really done anything with planes, I really don’t know.
Thank you all for the help, it is appreciated!

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

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TheFridge

10739 posts in 1688 days


#8 posted 11-07-2018 06:27 AM

Oh sharpening. Another can of worms that deserves another forum topic :) can’t have a proper plane without a sharp iron. Can’t have a sharp iron without a means to sharpen. They kinda go hand in hand.

If you have a 50degree iron you can use it for other things like smoothing. Not all woods like low angles and will tearout like a mofo. You combat that with a higher angle (50-55 degree). Is it versatile? Yes. It’s like 2 planes for the cost of 1-1/4. I’m an advocate for single purpose planes and would hate swapping irons around. That and it does have a chipbreaker which is another post in that subject.

If you really want to buy new? Can’t go wrong with a LN.

If you pay more than 100$ for a pristine ready to use 4 or 5, then you are getting robbed.

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

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1970 posts in 2191 days


#9 posted 11-07-2018 01:15 PM

Are hand planes worth it? Absolutely – they can do some things most hobbyists dont have machines for and are superior to sanders/paper for finish prep/flattening. Blog on choosing hand planes.

Sounds like you have used properly tuned planes and know someone with some plane knowledge. No reason not to go the refurb route. Blogs on tuning planes. While I have many new expensive planes I still use my Stanley Bailey design planes a lot. They are very capable. The one area something else is needed is smoothing gnarly grain without tear out – hi angle smoothers and/or scraper planes excel here. For top level planes, I happen to prefer Lee Valley/Veritas to LN. I have tools to use, not look at, and the designs of Veritas are superior IMO. Both are high level, and each will make their choice.

Not sure where you have been looking but good used Stanley Bailey and = planes are not 1/2 to 3/4 the cost of LN. Fridge and Don W can probably set you up with a well tuned user for much less. Get one or two used planes to satisfy your current appetite, and continue to research what to lookout for, then start getting some and do your own refurb.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5128 posts in 4162 days


#10 posted 11-07-2018 01:36 PM

Dale, sending you a PM.

-- bill@magraphics.us

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

3171 posts in 1682 days


#11 posted 11-07-2018 02:24 PM

If you want to skip the refurb route, you can either buy a reconditioned planed from DonW (NOT Ebay!!) or, if you prefer to buy new & save some money, IMO you can’t go wrong with the WoodRiver planes sold through Woodcraft.

I’ve been down the Fleabay/rustoration route a few times and got to the point where I just wanted to buy a plane and start using it, not fiddling around or finding out the sole is warped or cracked (gotta check those pics!!)

I’ve got several, as well as LN and they actually stack up quite well and if for some reason you don’t like it, you can always send it back.

My only knock on the WR’s is the irons can be hit or miss regarding flatness. I’ve had to do quite a bit of work on some and not much on others. Other than that I’m quite happy with them. I have a 4, 6 and 7 as well as the block planes.

Again, IMO, but the first 2 planes I suggest are a #4 and 6. I’m with Bandit regarding the low angle planes. I have one to use primarily as a shooting plane, but in my hands it is too light and not big enough. The #6 is my “go to” for shooting board.

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

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HokieKen

7127 posts in 1340 days


#12 posted 11-07-2018 02:28 PM

Personally, I think if I were starting over, my first plane would be a 4-1/2. It’s an excellent smoother and the wider blade also makes it effective at flattening faces. It’s also long enough that it can be used to joint the edges of shorter boards.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View DMiller's profile

DMiller

434 posts in 675 days


#13 posted 11-07-2018 03:05 PM

Thank you all for the replies!
Fridge: Thank you for the info on low angles. I appreciate- that definitely makes sense.

OSU55: Thank you for the clarification. I guess I was more comparing the cost of good condition used Stanley #7 (around $100-125 on ebay) to the LN low angle #62 for $245. I find it intersting that you prefer Veritas to LN…glad to know your opinion.

Bill White, thank your for the pm. I appreciate it.

RWE2156: Who is DonW? Not sure I have heard of him. I have considered the Wood River, didn’t know much about them though. I appreciate your suggestion of a #4 and #6.

HokieKen: I appreciate your suggestion of a 4-1/2. Thank you.

Thank you all, I really appreciate your advice. My brother has I think a #3 or #4 Kobalt $30 one from Lowes, but having a dull blade and being improperly set up it has mostly sat on the shelf. Thank you all for your help!

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

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PPK

1199 posts in 1011 days


#14 posted 11-07-2018 07:21 PM


Personally, I think if I were starting over, my first plane would be a 4-1/2. It s an excellent smoother and the wider blade also makes it effective at flattening faces. It s also long enough that it can be used to joint the edges of shorter boards.

- HokieKen

Yep. Me too. I really like both of my 4-1/2’s. Reach for them way more than any of the others.
Lots of opinions, no bad answers. I seem to have much better luck with my new LN’s and Veritas Lee Valley planes than I do my old Stanleys, Millers Falls, and Sargeant. That could be cause the new planes have a thicker iron, and haven’t been sharpened poorly and I can just get them sharper more consistently. I’m a huge fan of my Veritas standard Low angle block plane. Item 05P22.71. I tend to like the adjustment on Veritas planes better than Lie Nielsens… Oh, BTW, Lee Valley has free shipping today and tomorrow still :)

-- Pete

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OSU55

1970 posts in 2191 days


#15 posted 11-07-2018 07:30 PM

I also use a 4-1/2 for smoothing/flattening. I like the wider iron, and the iron/ chipbreakers fit the 7 jointer, my most used planes – I have several blades and cb’s so that work doesnt stop to sharpen. I use a 4 for all kinds of things, in many cases where a block plane would be the traditional choice. If you havent yet check out Paul Sellers. He shows all kinds of ways to use a 4.

If you want a BU LAJ, do a detailed comparison of the LN, Veritas, and Wood River. IMO, the Veritas with PM-V11 blade is the clear winner by design and value for $.

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