First Hand Plane Ideas

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Forum topic by teenagewoodworker posted 06-01-2008 10:52 PM 2755 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3795 days

06-01-2008 10:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

I am looking into getting my first hand plane and since i have had no luck looking at yard sales and flee markets i guess that i am going to have to be forced to buy new. i am looking veritas because i can’t afford lie Nielsen at this point and i want something that is high quality. i just want something to be able to smooth the surface of my wood especially on large panels, so these are what i am looking at

so the first that i was looking at was a traditional scraper plane from veritas


then a low angle smoothing plane


then a bevel up smoothing plane


and last a #4 smoothing plane


so these were what i was thinking of mainly for smoothing surfaces so if anyone has any other suggestions for a good beginner hand plane or any comments please leave a message. thanks

32 replies so far

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3740 days

#1 posted 06-01-2008 11:05 PM

if you only can only afford one hand plane i would go with a nice number 4. they are great all around.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4095 days

#2 posted 06-01-2008 11:21 PM

I can’t argue with any of these choices. They are all great for their functions. I wouldn’t go with the order of purchase, myself. I’m doing the same brainstorming you are at the moment. I’m with Roper in that the #4 is widely considered the most versatile. It’s middle of the range size, allows it to get the best of both ends somewhat. It own’t hog away lumber like a scrub, or edge plane like a LA Block, but it gets the job done. So far, a new Bailey #4 is my only “nice” plane. I got many cheap ones that get my ok with better blades. If I had to guess what I use the most, it would probably be the #4 to remove machine marks, a long jointer for precision facing/edging, and a block plane for end grain and chamfers.

Since smoothing is your stated need, I’d start with a 4 or 5. A scraper plane is great for big things, but I’ve managed to get by with a card scraper in a holder. They do the same thing, but the scraper plane gets it done more efficiently. There is of course the $100+ difference in costs to consider. I absolutely wouldn’t go for the scraper if you haven’t tried a card scraper.

On the other hand, the big investment is for a tool that literally could last generations if taken care of. The $200 planes aren’t so expensive in that light. What power tool can you get that stands the test of time?

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3771 days

#3 posted 06-01-2008 11:22 PM

I agree with Roper. The low angle plane is a nice choice too. I wouldn’t even put the scraper on the list of first planes to buy. I think you can do just as good with a card scraper.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3795 days

#4 posted 06-01-2008 11:55 PM

thanks for the help. it looks like the #4 would be the best choice. i’ll wait to hear some other opinions though. i really only put the scraper up there because it was under smoothers but i think that i’ll look into the #4.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4015 days

#5 posted 06-02-2008 12:35 AM


-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3675 days

#6 posted 06-02-2008 01:10 AM

I’m not quite sure why you feel you need to buy a new
plane, but for general smoothing a #4 is a good choice.

I’d just go on Ebay and buy an old Stanley Bailey
for $10. You can get some waterstones too and then
you’ll not only have a plane, you’ll have a sharpening
method that can give you razor sharp irons.

Reviving and tuning old planes is a lot of fun and
you can often get really fine working tools for
not much money this way.

It’s also not hard to make your own planes. If you
haven’t read any of James Krenov’s books I recommend
you do. They are awesome and may cause you to
fall in love with the idea of making your own tools.

Also Japanese pull planes are really fun to use and
produce amazing results.

Aside from weight and sharpness good smoothing can
be achieved with speed and pressure. With wooden
pull-planes the pressure and speed “enliven” the wood
fibers, increasing their “chatoyance”, the prism like
quality hand-planed wood sometimes has, especially
noticeable with softwoods.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3795 days

#7 posted 06-02-2008 01:24 AM

thanks for the help loren. my parents are a little skeptical about ebay so thats why i can’t really take that option but i think that i might look into making my own.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3811 days

#8 posted 06-02-2008 02:25 AM

I’d second what Loren said – Go for an old Stanley #4 on eBay.

-- Eric at

View jcees's profile


1060 posts in 3826 days

#9 posted 06-02-2008 03:30 AM

Okay I’ll bite and cast a vote for a #7 size low angle jointer. The Veritas is a honey and I’ll probably throw down for one someday. Maybe when I wear mine out. HA!!! I use mine for for all sorts of work. Keep two blades with different grinds and you’ll be set for getting a lot of work done. And I’m convinced that the low angle version with its adjustable throat will be even more versatile. The mass of the plane while heavy seems to do a lot of the arm work for you. Just sharpen it up enough to shave with [if you’re shaving yet] and git-r-done!

Ultimately what you choose should be immediately useful in the work you’re doing AND the work you aspire to do. Build your collection from there. Besides, soon enough whichever you choose now will lead you to another… then another… kind of like beer on a hot summer night. Dang, I’m gettin’ thirsty.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3795 days

#10 posted 06-02-2008 03:31 AM

i would but the only problem is i have no way to get it off of ebay. my parents won’t order off of ebay and i have no other way to get one.

View Zipsss's profile


204 posts in 4140 days

#11 posted 06-02-2008 04:04 AM

Make your own. It is not hard to do.

-- Zipsss

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4222 days

#12 posted 06-02-2008 04:12 AM

If I were in your shoes and couldn’t get to ebay, (and, mind you, I’m not advising you to go against your parents…I’m just saying what I’d do) I’d find a friend to bid and get a Stanley 4 1/2 on ebay. The 4 1/2 is heavier than the 4 and most plane guys prefer the weight for good results. Prices vary from $45 – about $85 and you’ll get every bit the plane as you will by spending more for a new one….But that’s only what I’d do.
How ever it goes… enjoy. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4124 days

#13 posted 06-02-2008 04:14 AM

Hmmm. What about a block plane? I would give some strong consideration to a low angle block plane (one on left).

Relative to the planes above I would get one of the smoothers (low angle being my choice) or an old Stanley. Also try your local antique malls. They can often be found there. Then I would get a jack plane for rough work (#5) and a jointer plane (#7 or #8).

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

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3850 days

#14 posted 06-02-2008 04:15 AM

If I had to do it all over again with what I know now my first would be a four and half smoother than followed up with a Number 5 and half jack plane…with that said the number 4 is one of my favorite plane to use. My reason with going with the half sizes is that they cover more ground and have a long base which gives a quicker and flater surface than the 4…good luck with your decision hope this helps…Blkcherry

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4124 days

#15 posted 06-02-2008 04:18 AM

Also, a great book on making planes is Making and Mastering Wood Planes by David Finck.

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

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