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Squaring stock: Jointer Plane vs Foreplane

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Forum topic by ChrisCarr posted 719 days ago 4102 views 1 time favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1531 days


719 days ago

I am looking to start woodworking with hand tools exclusively. I have gotten very good with cutting mortises by hand over the last year. I can cut them almost perfectly square.

I want to be able to square my own rough stock without power machinery and am looking for hand planes. I have experience using only a no.4 plane for mostly small sections of work (smoothing).

When flattening a board’s face by hand i have read your suppose to start with a foreplane to remove stock quickly,then move to a jointer-plane to get it nice and flatter. My question is can i get by with only 1 of them?

I figure the jointer-plane would give a flatter surface because its longer, but am not sure. I want to buy my planes new or in good condition used, and buying both would be too expensive. I want to get into all hand tool use not only because it seems very rewarding but because of my lack of space and money for a shop right now.


40 replies so far

View Brett's profile

Brett

621 posts in 1315 days


#1 posted 719 days ago

The length of the plane is not the only factor that’s important; how you sharpen the iron is just as important (if not more) to the job at hand. You want a jack (or fore) plane’s iron to have a large camber, to remove stock quickly. The jointer (or try) plane’s iron should have less camber, to flatten the board and remove the high spots left by the jack plane. Finally, the smoothing plane’s iron should have little or no camber, to leave the smoothest surface. (It’s like golf clubs; the longer ones not only have longer shafts, but the club face is also more vertical; with planes, the right length is important, but the shape of the cutting iron is just as important, if not more so).

Ian Kirby (I think) recommends buying a size 5 or 5 1/2 plane and several cutting irons. You would then sharpen each iron to perform the job required (thicknessing, flattening, or smoothing). You could use a size 6 plane, instead; and I’ve even heard that some old masters used a No. 7 for everything.

Here’s a good article on how bench planes work together:

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/2-CoarseMediumFine.pdf

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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Brett

621 posts in 1315 days


#2 posted 719 days ago

Also, if you don’t mind doing a little work to tune them up, you can buy an old Stanley jointer for about $75, an old jack plane for about $35, and an old smoother for about $30 (these are eBay prices; you can pay more, but if you’re patient, you should be able to buy at these prices); you might spend another $50 for something to remove rust, and a sandpaper-and-glass system to flatten the soles. It’ll take a few hours to flatten and tune them up, but you’ll have the right three planes and won’t have to constantly worry about switching out irons on a single plane.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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NiteWalker

2709 posts in 1209 days


#3 posted 719 days ago

Christian Becksvoort did an article, One Bench Plane Can Do it All where he has a LN 62 and 4 different blades for most tasks. I plan on doing the same with my veritas low angle jack since my only other plane for now is a veritas low angle block plane.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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Brett

621 posts in 1315 days


#4 posted 719 days ago

The downside to using one plane for everything (with multiple irons) is having to change and re-align the irons constantly. There are upsides, too, but this one downside is what steered me away from the one-plane approach. Different strokes, as they say.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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Mosquito

4632 posts in 925 days


#5 posted 719 days ago

This is the line-up I’ve been using the past couple of days to square up some stock

That’s a Stanley #5c, #7c, and #4 1/2 (#4 works too). In that order. I hit it on the diagonals with the #5 to roughly even it out, then I retract the iron a little and make a few passes lengthwise. After that I use the #7 lengthwise until I get a full shaving all the way down whatever I’m squaring up. Then I switch to the #4 1/2 to smooth it out, and or correct any twist that may be present.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN -- Stanley #45 Evangelist - www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

9806 posts in 1251 days


#6 posted 719 days ago

Coarse, medium and fine translates to jack, jointer and smoother. Or 5, 8 and 4. Go w/ pre-war Stanley planes and it won’t have to break the bank. Most do not need lapping or evaporust baths. Just iron, chibbreaker and cap work and they’re good to go. Good luck!

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

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NiteWalker

2709 posts in 1209 days


#7 posted 719 days ago

Brett, changing irons and adjusting them is very easy on the veritas LAJ. It has set screws to keep the blade in line and a nice norris style adjuster.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View ChrisCarr's profile

ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1531 days


#8 posted 719 days ago

Is there anyway to use a jointer-plane todo the work of a foreplane/ no. 5/6? different angle blade, etc?
I can only afford one and want to get something that works out the box (sharpening/honing is the only thing i want to do when i get it).

Also can a hand held Power plane substitute the foreplane for initial roughing?

View sikrap's profile

sikrap

1002 posts in 1991 days


#9 posted 719 days ago

You can use a jointer to do the rough work, but you’ll want an extra iron and you will probably need to play with the frog to get the type of cut you want. The extra iron will cost at least $20, so I would suggest getting a nice used Stanley #7 and a nice Stanley #6. IMHO, the extra $40 or so will be worth the time and aggravation saved. There are several of us here that sell planes and most of us would ship tools ready to work when you get them. If you buy a #7 of ebay, you will probably pay $80-100 and then you’re going to need to clean it, tune it and work the iron. Then you’ll need to buy the second iron. If you check with DonW or some of the other guys here (including me), you could probably get both planes for around $150. Whichever way you decide to go, don’t forget about getting sharpening supplies. Also, you might want to check out the dvd’s “Hand Plane Basics” and /or “Coarse, Medium, Fine”. Both are by Chris Schwartz.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Brett's profile

Brett

621 posts in 1315 days


#10 posted 719 days ago

Thanks, NiteWalker. I’d heard that, but forgot since I don’t have a Varitas LAJ.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1531 days


#11 posted 719 days ago

Is camber on the iron really a must? Or could i get away with the iron straight?

Also should the corners of the iron be rounded on a jointer or no. 5/6? or are they just rounded for smoothing plane iron’s?

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4836 posts in 1209 days


#12 posted 719 days ago

A slight camber prevents the edge and or edges from digging into your work and causing a ridge.

+1 for Don W.

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nwbusa

1016 posts in 919 days


#13 posted 718 days ago

I’ve a Veritas LAJ and it’s a great plane, but lately I’ve been using my scrub plane for the initial work. It takes the lumber off with the quickness.

-- John, BC, Canada

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Don W

14880 posts in 1200 days


#14 posted 718 days ago

I just sold a decent #7 here for $70. It would have done what you wanted. I’ve got several #4, #5 and I think there’s a Union #6 listed.

I hate changing blades. It drives me nuts, and I don’t understand why people do it for the price of vintage stanley planes. That’s my opinion, and we all work different, so I’m not judging others, I’m stating when I work, I want to grab a plane and use it.

Dave and others above gave some good advice. If you can only afford 1 veritas plane, then buy 3 vintage stanley’s.

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

View Brett's profile

Brett

621 posts in 1315 days


#15 posted 718 days ago

I think camber is important when a jack plane is used to reduce the thickness of a board. If you use a jack plane like a jointer or smoother, it probably doesn’t matter.

When reducing the thickness of a board, you push the plane either straight across the grain or diagonally across it. The cambered iron works like a cross-cut saw, in that the edges of the iron sever the fibers of the wood rather than shearing them off. If you push a jack plane with a straight iron across a board, the iron will lift and tear the fibers rather than actually cutting them. A cambered iron, whether on a jack plane or a scrub plane, make a lot of sense for planing across the grain.

Camber on a jointer or a smoother helps too, but since these planes are usually pushed along the grain, the camber (or rounded corners) helps to reduce plane tracks rather than to cross-cut the fibers.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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