Getting started in hand planing

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Forum topic by skeemer posted 12-19-2011 05:39 PM 1613 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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95 posts in 1826 days

12-19-2011 05:39 PM

I’m just getting my start in woodworking and recently bought my first table saw. Now the fun can start!

Being on a low budget, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t be able to purchase a jointer and/or thickness planer for quite some time, maybe years from now (just about to start having kids).

I’ve been doing a lot of hand planing reading, watching, and learning and am I think I’m ready to start preparing my own boards rather than having them made S4S at the yard.

I’m preparing to either buy a Stanley Bailey #5 on ebay and tune it up, or the Groz #5 from Woodcraft based on some positive reviews I’ve read on here. I don’t mind putting the time and effort into tuning up a plane as I can’t afford to buy a LN or Veritas (or even a Wood River), so lower end is what I’m faced with. I will be using the scary sharp method to tune it.

I guess I only have a few questions:

1. I don’t yet have a workbench built yet. It looks to me like the standard (and best) way to plane a board face is to place it between a bench dog and a vice dog. Since I do not yet have a workbench (it is in the near future, but a vice might not be included right away), what would be the best way to secure a board so I can plane the face? I am currently using an old solid wood desk and a wooden table (both 1.5” thick tops) as my work areas.

2. How likely am I to want to upgrade to a Hock (or similar) iron? I also need to have some money for wood in order to use the plane!

Any other suggestions on getting started with hand planing will be much appreciated!

20 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13003 posts in 2155 days

#1 posted 12-19-2011 05:44 PM

Stanley all day, brother. You’ll have to tune either up; you might as well go with a quality plane. Stanley #5’s are so common that you could get a very nice OLD one on Ebay for a song. You might even find a 605 for a good price. I wouldn’t waste my time with the Groz or any planes of that ilk. Look for a nice three-patent #5 with a keyhole (not kidney bean) shaped cap. I use Scary Sharp exclusively and I can promise you that you can get that Stanley going as well as anything else out there. Congratulations on your fine decision to pick up handplanes. Once you get it, go over to “handplanes of your dreams”. Any possible question you can have will be answered there and they like newcomers. I warn you though, those guys have the disease really bad;)

Oh, I forgot: I wouldn’t bother with the Hock just yet. See what your old vintage iron can do first. Once you get the practice tuning up an old Stanley iron, buying a Hock will feel like Christmas for $40. I like Hocks but a lot of my buddies are starting to switch over to the IBCs. I use the old iron unless it’s exhausted, badly pitted, or damaged in some way. I bought almost all my planes on Ebay and I have Hocks on less than 1/3 of them.

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

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4450 posts in 3423 days

#2 posted 12-19-2011 05:47 PM

You are SO toast! Next thing you’ll need is a bigger work area for all the planes you’ll want.
Rehad a bunch of OLD Stanleys. You won’t be unhappy.


View jmos's profile


736 posts in 1832 days

#3 posted 12-19-2011 05:49 PM

you do not need a vise at all to plane the face of a board, use a planing stop. I’ve seen a number of articles where they warn against clamping as it can bow the board, although other articles swear by it. I have an end vise, but I still usually just clamp a scrap of wood across the end of my bench, sticking up just enough to catch my workpiece without coming up past the top surface. Plane into the stop and the board will not move.

You can also make a bench hook; a piece of flat stock (MDF or plywood) with a hardwood strip on the bottom of one edge and the top of the opposite edge; hook it onto your workbench and plane into the stop.

I would aim for the vintage plane over the Groz; better quality if you put in the effort to tune it up. If it has the original iron, and it is in good shape, that should be good enough to get you started.

-- John

View Bertha's profile


13003 posts in 2155 days

#4 posted 12-19-2011 05:58 PM

^My bench is so tiny that not even 1/2 my planes would fit on it, lol. However, my bench is up against a stud and is rock solid, with only a face vise and dogs. To be honest, I’d probably wait to design your bench until you get some handplaning under your belt. The bench I’d build today is Worlds different than one I would have built two years ago. I have different planes now, different bench requirements. I’ve got a big bench build in my near future and I’m glad I waited. It’s a very expensive project not to be totally satisfied with.

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

View crank49's profile


3981 posts in 2433 days

#5 posted 12-19-2011 06:15 PM

I have a couple of Groz planes. Actually three of them. A low angle block, a #5 Jack and a #6 Fore.
The Groz plane’s castings may be copies of Stanley/Bailey, but the tote was made for Indians. Actually, for the money, the block is a pretty nice little plane once tuned up. the #5 and the #6 cramp my hands. The grip is too small.

If I was starting over, I’d go for vintage Stanley, plus maybe a Veritas or LN bevel up (low angle) jack with some extra blades.

The new Woodriver V3 planes are pretty good but cost more than a good used Stanley that they try to emulate.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Bertha's profile


13003 posts in 2155 days

#6 posted 12-19-2011 06:19 PM

^I’ve heard good things about the new Woodrivers (and the Quansheng sp?). New for me means LN. Old for me means Stanley. All simply personal preference and being generally stubborn;)

-- 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

Don W

17960 posts in 2030 days

#7 posted 12-19-2011 06:43 PM

Vintage Stanley without a doubt. Everything Al said in his first post is spot on. Take a look at some of my blogs, they may help, along with WayneC , Mads and Dan's if you want some tuning/restoring advice.

I agree, don’t worry about blade replacement unless you get a plane with a spent blade. The performance difference is minimal and you really want to learn to sharpen before buying a brand new one.

Also don’t be afraid to buy a Stanley or Millers Falls or a knock off. Wards Masters, Unions, Sargents, etc all made exceptionally good users.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View wingate_52's profile


224 posts in 2032 days

#8 posted 12-19-2011 07:14 PM

Go for a Stanley, or a Record (pre 70’s) Or a WoodRiver, I have a few Quangsheng (U.K. versions from WorkshopHeaven) they are excellent. IBC Cosman blades are the best, followed by QS blades and chipbreakers (Workshop Heaven again). Clamp a batton of wood across the bench and plane away. Face side, Face edge, etc.

View Bertha's profile


13003 posts in 2155 days

#9 posted 12-19-2011 07:17 PM

^another vote fo the IBC. I’ve got to get me some!

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

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 1816 days

#10 posted 12-19-2011 08:58 PM

You don’t need a workbench to start planing. I’m building a workbench, and while technically my stock is on a workbench almost any horizontal surface would work. In fact, given how much my workbench wiggles around (which is why I’m building a new one) a pair of cinder blocks or sawhorses would be better for this application.

Check out the clamp on the end of the board, I picked that up from the mini-roubo that Christopher Schwarz built. It keeps the board from sliding.

-- Blog:

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2030 days

#11 posted 12-19-2011 09:15 PM

My workbench was loaded with a project and I wanted to scrub off some lumber. I just clamped the pile down on saw horses. Its not ideal, but it worked. You will need something to hold them down. I had the weight of the pile, but attaching to something solid, or adding a stretcher and weight would do the trick.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13717 posts in 2081 days

#12 posted 12-19-2011 09:21 PM

@Joe – Plane races! That’s Cool! :-)

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

View Bertha's profile


13003 posts in 2155 days

#13 posted 12-19-2011 09:24 PM

^looks like the bevel up is winning, as usual;)

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

View andrewr79's profile


36 posts in 1814 days

#14 posted 12-20-2011 10:05 PM

Get yourself that #5 and you won’t look back. Even a dodgy looking example can come up really nice (have a look at the tool restoration links on my blog for examples of an old Record 5 1/2 coming from a rusty piece of junk to something that’s a joy to look at and use :).

I love the line “so lower end is what I’m faced with”. Remember that these tools are what our fathers and grandfathers built the houses we are living in and the furniture we treasure with. Sure, there have been some advancements in recent years but it doesn’t put shame to a design that has been nearly unchanged for well over a century because it does the job.

-- Visit my blog @ to see what I've been up to

View interpim's profile


1158 posts in 2921 days

#15 posted 12-20-2011 10:09 PM

I’ve actually pin-nailed a small strip of wood to a cheapo built in workbench before to act as a plane stop. Just but your wood up against it and go to town. Just make sure your not running your planes across the stop because the nails will ruin your day LOL.

-- San Diego, CA

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