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Which Handplane to buy?

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Forum topic by rance posted 09-21-2011 05:59 PM 2775 views 0 times favorited 54 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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rance

4143 posts in 1856 days


09-21-2011 05:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hand plane

I know my tag line currently says ”...and never buy a hand plane”, but I’m entertaining the thought (again). Shame on me. :)

I’m particularly a power tool guy. I do use hand tools when I see the need for them, its just not that often. I even took up the task of teaching hand-cut dovetails to make myself learn the techniques. It worked. Not that I’m any better than anyone else yet, but at least I’ve foiled the myth that it is beyond a power-tool guys skill level. I even enjoy cutting them.

My interest in this purchase came about in watching an interview with Rob Cosman at the 2011 Woodcraft Trade Show. Aparently Rob is on the bandwagon of pushing WoodRiver planes since he no longer represents Lie Nielsen. His sales pitch worked.

I typically use a ROS for surface finishing on a project(mostly small boxes and other rectangular things), and for chamfering edges(both long grain and cross grain). About 5 months ago I added some edge molding on a piece and was handed a low angle block plane to smooth it with the surface. I ended up buying that plane.

The majority of my handplane usage is with roughing. Taking down corners of a twisted board so it will lie flat before running it through a jointer or planer(the electric ones). I havn’t really used hand-planes for finish work other than maybe chamfering edges.

If you’ve gotten this far without clicking away, thank you. All this to give you an idea of my background and what I expect from this purchase. I’m looking for something that I can:

  1. use to put a prepped finish on a piece
  2. chamfer both long grain, and cross grain on boxes and such
  3. clean up a board edge coming off the TS (Jointing a board per se)
  4. use on a shooting board if the need presented itself(or is that a shouting board?)

I suppose my Low Angle block plane would really be the better weapon for the chamfering(#2).

I’m looking at the WoodRiver #6 Bench Hand Plane, V3(WC Item #150876).

Am I fooling myself in thinking this would fit my needs, uh, I mean wants? I bought a WoodRiver plane(Jack #5 as I recall) a couple of years ago and ended up returning it because of the lousy mechanism for advancing the blade. I’ll be expecting this one to work as I see in the video, otherwise it will be going back too. Am I expecting too much from a WoodRiver plane?

I am confident this will be my only plane purchase in the next 10 years. I could care less about the Bubinga handle. I don’t even know what blade angle it has. Is this #6 the right one for me? Do tell. Unless you give me good reason not to, I expect to purchase it on Thursday(in 2 days). Thank you in advance for any and all input.

FWIW, SWMBO has approved this as an early Christmas present.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--


54 replies so far

View cellophane's profile

cellophane

42 posts in 1204 days


#1 posted 09-21-2011 06:17 PM

What’s your budget? I’d look at the LN low angle or Veritas low angle jack plane before the WoodRiver. The low angle will be good for endgrain and works well on weird grains and regular grains. The size is a good all-purpose plane and since you have the low-angle block the smaller pieces that the large plane won’t work on are covered. If it is your only plane purchase in the next decade you might as well spend the money and get a great one.

I’d also scope out eBay and pick up a #5 Stanley (or #14 Millers Falls) for general work – the Millers Falls was $12 after shipping. I like the Millers Falls more than the Stanley for whatever that’s worth. They tend to cost less too. An eBay plane would most likely require tuning but I usually find that to be a fairly enjoyable process.

If you really want to go hog-wild there are a number of modern builders who make some REALLY nice planes or you can look for a Spiers, Mathieson, or Norris but they can quickly hit the 4-digit mark.

View rance's profile

rance

4143 posts in 1856 days


#2 posted 09-21-2011 06:34 PM

cellophane, I should have mentioned that, sorry. I have an opportunity to get this for less than $100. The LN is nice, but I can’t justify the cost. $100 is pushing it as it is. After watching Cosman do a very nice demo on hand plane setup, I asked what he recommended to get started. He listed about 6-7 planes, about $1700 worth. He obviously had no interest in finding out who his audience was.

I do mostly smaller boxes but I do some larger work too. I’m wondering also if these longer planes are just too big for some of my smaller work. I’ll try the #6 on endgrain before I decide.

I’ll look up the Millers Falls. Thanks for the tip.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1388 days


#3 posted 09-21-2011 06:38 PM

I’d buy a vintage Stanley #5 and if you’re not interested in toiling heavily with sharpening, buy a hock replacement set. You should come in under $100 and have an excellent user. You could also send the blade to a galoot around here and have them sharpen it for you for a minimal fee. Others may disagree, but I don’t think the Woodrivers are worth $100 on their best day. I’d say spend $30 on a vintage stanley or a few hundred on a new LV. The worst thing you could do is spend $100 on a lousy plane and be put off of them forever. That’s a tragedy;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View cellophane's profile

cellophane

42 posts in 1204 days


#4 posted 09-21-2011 06:55 PM

Stanley made (makes?) a low-angle jack plane. Stanley #62

I’ve seen LN planes on eBay but never that low. Using a 14” plane on a box works but you need a good 6” of surface or it gets hard to keep the plane steady and even. Not that it can’t be done but its harder.

What about a cabinet scraper? You can buy a very nice one for about $10. A burnisher will run $25-$30 for a nice one. They are great for finishing and smoothing and a whole lot faster than sanding.

For boxes (how big are they?) I would look at a scraper or smaller plane. LN & Veritas make smaller bevel-up smoothers but they are over $100.

If all you really are using it for is rough work the #5 Stanley or equivalent MF would be more than enough I’d think. I use my 5 for shooting, flattening, jointing etc. I however am a scrub and still new to wood working and am not necessarily good at those tasks ;) And what Bertha said.

View wingate_52's profile

wingate_52

219 posts in 1265 days


#5 posted 09-21-2011 07:11 PM

Try a LA62 Quangsheng. I do not know if wood river do a version. I have a new one in the UK and it is a great all round plane. If I ws starting again with planes, I would go for the QS-wood River planes. The Cosman blade is terrific, I also like and use Smoothcut laminated blades with QS chipbreakers in my Stanleys and Records.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12295 posts in 2793 days


#6 posted 09-21-2011 07:36 PM

if your stuck on the #6 size….

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Stanley-Bedrock-606-Vintage-Woodworking-Hand-Plane-/140609660195?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20bcfd2523

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

15278 posts in 1263 days


#7 posted 09-21-2011 07:43 PM

I’ve got a few extra. I’ll sell anyone of “these #5 except the A5. Make me an offer.

A couple of stanley's

or the millers falls

or the shelton #14

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1388 days


#8 posted 09-21-2011 07:53 PM

LOL, we’ll have to start calling it DonBay. Pretty soon, he’ll add a searchable database;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

15278 posts in 1263 days


#9 posted 09-21-2011 07:57 PM

I know how to do that! But that’s to much like WORK Al !

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3507 posts in 2656 days


#10 posted 09-21-2011 08:03 PM

I have used a #4C for years. Added a #3 for kicks ($15.00 at an antique shop), and just bought a #7 for jointing some big timbers. Have a low angle as well for the small stuff.
Plane use is a skill determined by the user. You can use what ya have for a multitude of jobs. Sure, you can buy a zillion specialty planes if you have the bucks and the desire.
My advice FWIW is to learn to use what you have, and learn to sharpen well.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5369 posts in 1294 days


#11 posted 09-21-2011 08:19 PM

I have a woodriver #5, it was a recent gift. After fiddling around with it(it is my first,only plane) I found it makes shavings like you guys on tv and internet do. I am looking to get other planes, like a small block and a rabbit plane. These things are expensive in my opinion, and being a plane newbie,and a power tool lover maybe I am missing something. If the blade is sharp, the sole is flat, the ergos are ok, and its tuned properly it will work as intended, no? where the heck is the value/benefit to these expensive/or old school planes. From an outsiders perspective, it seems like some plane elitism is taking place. But I am an uninformed powertool guy. I have read many positives about woodriver planes, and like the one I have. Heck I am still trying to understand the difference between the stanley block plane at lowes for$30 vs the one at woodcraft for $60. And $200 for a shoulder plane? Really? Does it do something i am missing. Like clean house? Maybe the powertool guy will never really “get it”.

View cellophane's profile

cellophane

42 posts in 1204 days


#12 posted 09-21-2011 09:14 PM

Shane:
Build quality is one of the biggest issues. The quality of the recent Stanley planes is questionable at best most of the time. Some of their newer planes are correcting this but the general rule of thumb is anything post 1960 or so isn’t worth much in terms of quality. The Lie-Nielsen planes are superbly crafted and have a high quality iron on them. They are also made in the US – so labor costs are higher. For the average user a $20 flea market 1930 Stanley will clean up and work just as well as a $200 LN plane but for 1/10 the price. The Lowes block plane is a regular plane, the $60 plane is a low-angle and has an adjustable throat and lateral adjustment. All those little bits add up in terms of production costs. The LN et al. planes also last a lot longer. There are a lot of stamped planes that have cracks in the sole that make them unusable. If you really want to do a side-by-side take a Buck Bro’s jack plane (HD / Lowes) and compare it with your Woodriver, a LN or an older stanley. There is absolutely no comparison. My first jack plane was a BB and I haven’t touched other than to wonder how it got so much rust on it it since I got my Stanley.

The shoulder planes I haven’t figured out… I want one but tend to choke at the price. Even old planes on eBay cost that… I would guess it has to do with the extra amount of metal and milling that goes into one but I really don’t know. As I mentioned – there are some ‘arty’ planes that people make now but they have things like dovetailed soles in contrasting metals, crazy infill woods and tolerances down to 0.0001”. I can see why they cost alot.

Personally I like taking an old rust magnet and cleaning them up so I don’t mind buying a used plane. If I had the cash I would definately own some LN planes however.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1388 days


#13 posted 09-21-2011 09:23 PM

^Cellophanes comments are quite accurate, in my opinion. If you’re in the market for a shoulder plane, Cello, look no further than LN. If you can stand the stylings, the Veritas is nice, too. I’ve got the Clifton and if I had it to do over again, I’d go spanking new LN even though I’m a vintage guy. Forget even the early Stanleys, if you ask me. Like you’ve already said, forget anything recent Stanley. Aside from the infills, they’re all copies of the old Preston, which I obviously would prefer; but you’re right, shoulder planes can get absurdly priced. Just ask fellow LJ JusFine, he collects the good ones;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View pierce85's profile

pierce85

508 posts in 1258 days


#14 posted 09-21-2011 09:42 PM

Don, do you have a #6 you’d be interested in selling?

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

15278 posts in 1263 days


#15 posted 09-21-2011 09:57 PM

sure, I’ve got several. 2 are shown on that same page.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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