I need Some Hand Planer Advice

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Forum topic by MT_Stringer posted 07-23-2012 02:04 AM 1319 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3193 days

07-23-2012 02:04 AM

I know there are a lot of you that love your hand planers and restore the old ones. I have a small palm sized one that I have only used a few times. I would like to buy a larger one but I just don’t know where to start.

So, if you throw out the high end ones and the cheap ones, where does that leave me for a first purchase?

Your advice appreciated.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

6 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15278 posts in 2581 days

#1 posted 07-23-2012 02:20 AM

Mike, good question on Hand Planes!

I’m guessing you like what you’re able to do with your block plane, even though you many not use it much. Really big question that will help us answer the question ‘which larger one.’ Unless the question is really, ‘what brand should I be looking at?’

For the former, a good plane for an otherwise electric shop person is a smoother. When you pull stock from the planer or jointer, for example, the smoother (#4 in the Stanley world) will give it a final feel that cannot be beat. It takes some work to get it tuned for the best results. For the latter, a pre-war Stanley is affordable and a top-notch tool. Clues are rosewood handle and knob, Stanley written on the lever cap (or nothing on the cap) without color in the background, and a lever cap that has a screw hole the shape of a keyhole vs. ‘kidney shaped.’ Get those things, and you have a plane that has good lateral adustment, a solid frog and a frog adjustment screw. With those good ‘bones’ you’ll be able to tune it, per very good odds, to take great shavings.

Let us know if this hits close to the mark! Good luck!

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

View ShaneA's profile


6909 posts in 2561 days

#2 posted 07-23-2012 02:20 AM

You have many options, at many price points. For new, maybe a Woodriver #5. They only require minimal work out of the box, about $150 I think. Vintage, unrestored is the cheapest way. But you will have to put time into it. Some like to restore, others…not so much. The cost, maybe $20-40 for a vintage Stanley Bailey. Best option for cost, time, and function might be vintage, but restored. Ready to go, quality out of the box. Cost $50-60. I know Don W routinely offers fine restored planes. In any case you will need a quality sharpening process.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3193 days

#3 posted 07-23-2012 02:54 AM

Thanks for the advice. a smoother might be my best choice. this week, I plan to start building my niece’s graduation present – a teacher’s podium. She recently graduated from Texas A&M and I vowed to build her something can use for a long time to come. Maple hard wood and plywood is my choice.

So, after I get the wood planed, it might be good to have a hand plane to smooth it.

I would rather buy new. I guess I need to make a trip to Woodcraft.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4087 days

#4 posted 07-23-2012 04:07 AM

I had a basic Stanley block plane that my grandfather gave my dad, but it took someone on Craigslist selling me a slightly better one that they’d also taken the time time true and tune to make me fall in love with the block plane.

I think the main difference between the planes isn’t the castings or the design, it’s what’s done with those castings to clean them up and turn them into a well tuned, sharp, plane that does what you want it to do.

Yes, my next plane (and, for that matter, chisel) will probably be a Lie Nielsen, but that’ll be partially for the core of what the product is, and mostly because they’ll have taken the time to take that from a rough forging or casting to turn it into a real thing that I’d like to use, so that when I get it I’ll know what it can accomplish.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View bandit571's profile


19712 posts in 2645 days

#5 posted 07-23-2012 04:16 AM

My smooth planes

and my block planes. Mostly refurbished by me. Even have a few bigger planes..

and a jack or two

Isn’t that hard to do, just takes a little elbow grease…...

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Mosquito's profile


9277 posts in 2254 days

#6 posted 07-23-2012 04:30 AM

Shane brings up a good point…In any case you will need a quality sharpening process.

The planes might not be too expensive if you buy vintage and restore (my path), but I’ve spent a fair chunk of change on sharpening stones to keep the planes happy. You can have the best plane in the world, but it won’t do anything worthwhile if it isn’t sharp…

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

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