First hand plane; another question!

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by djang000 posted 11-02-2012 12:23 PM 2091 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View djang000's profile


67 posts in 2127 days

11-02-2012 12:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: handplane veritas woodriver

Hi guys

I know you probably answer this one a gazillion of times, but I didn’t find any answer so far, so please be kind with me! :)

I’m starting to look at handplanes like many others. I have a really small shop in my basement, and powertools are messy and takes all the place. So going down to the road of power tools, I’ll end up with more tools then place to build my projets! :)

I’m mainly doing furniture and restoring an old boat, so I’m not really doing small projects like boxes yet. I have a budget of roughly 250$ for hand planes, and I was thinking at the lee valley low angle jack, since it gets such good reviews and is praised for his versatility by everybody. But with the current sale at woodcraft, I could get a #4 and a #6 woodriver for the same price…

I can see buying more planes in the future, but in a really far far distant future; I’m trying to spend my money on wood rather than tools.

So here’s the question; knowing that my next 3 projects are a workbench, a bed and some night tables, and that I have access to a powered planner when needed, which route should I go?

thanks all for your advices


23 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2946 days

#1 posted 11-02-2012 12:29 PM

One more thing to consider is that $250 could go a long way in getting you a number of key vintage Stanley planes. You can easily get a #5 Jack, a #3 or #4 Smoother, and a #7 Jointer for that amount and still have money to spare. But, if you’re set on a new plane, I’d suggest the Veritas simply because you won’t be dissapointed with any of their products.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View knotscott's profile


8008 posts in 3370 days

#2 posted 11-02-2012 12:39 PM

Brandon W for president…(except that his suggestions make sense!)

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2048 days

#3 posted 11-02-2012 12:39 PM

2nd that ^

-- Joel

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

18707 posts in 2562 days

#4 posted 11-02-2012 12:40 PM

I’m a vintage plane guy. I love vintage tools. They can work just as well as LN or Veritas. That said, I’ve got both LN and Veritas planes, and both are very well made and either will work well. As far as I can tell, the only real difference between LN and Veritas, LN has a more traditional look, were Veritas have a more modern design. I really don’t beleive the design changes change functionality at all.

Read this as well,

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3103 days

#5 posted 11-02-2012 12:47 PM

Hey Sam, as already mentioned, there are a number of good options for you.

Used Planes – You can get more for your money and some quality hardware, but it will take some elbow grease to get them in shape. One very good note about this route is that you will know your plane inside and out by the time you are done. Like it or not, even the highest quality plane will at least require a sharpening of the iron at the get go. Another plus is that you could probably get a smoother, jack, and jointer plane out of the deal. If you want to buy some restored versions, give Don W a holler. He is one of the resident plane experts and he sells refurbs.

WoodRiver – I am not familiar with these planes so can’t offer an experienced opinion. I can tell you that I read good reviews about them as a mix of quality and value. The downside is that the planes will require some tweaking to get them to work ideally (from what I read). Again, this will take you down the path of getting physically familiar with the tool.

Veritas or Lee Valley – I have the low angle jointer plane in this series by Veritas. A Jack is a good option. The fact that you can use multiple beveled blades gives it a great deal of versatility, at a price. If you desire to pick one plane, a Jack is a good choice, it can perform both smoothing and some jointing operations. Though with large sized operations, you might find it a little on the small side for jointing.

Hope you enjoy whatever you purchase,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View djang000's profile


67 posts in 2127 days

#6 posted 11-02-2012 01:29 PM

Thanks guys

I’m not a fan of going into vintage tools. I understand that there’s a lot of really good plane out there just waiting for th right bid, but since it would be my first plane, I would rather have something that will “work out of the box”, and by that I mean something that is already fairly tuned out so I can blame myself the first few months, instead of always doubting about the plane if I don’t achieve the desired results. Plus, every time I buy something used, I spend more then restoring it then using it (believe me; I boat an old sailboat 2 years ago and I don’t see when in a near future I’ll be able to enjoy it! :D).

That’s why I was looking for a new plane (don’t worry; I know it will need to be sharpened). So the question was really more in the type of planes; a good smoothing plane is definitely on my wishlist, and something longueur for jointing. But after reading a lot on the subject, I understand that a lot of people aren’t using their #6 that much. A #7 is definitely out of my price range, even in the woodriver range, which is why I started considering the veritas low angle jack.. But then again; would it perform better for jointing then a #6?? DonW; with all the planes you tried, what is your feeling about a #6?

I understand the plus value in term of quality for the veritas, but I have a hard time figuring out how one #5 can outperform a #4 and a #6…

thanks again!

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

18707 posts in 2562 days

#7 posted 11-02-2012 02:02 PM

First, let me make one statement. If you buy a restored plane from one of the reputable restorers, and there are several here on LJs even, your plane will work right out of the box. Period!

Now for the 1 #5 or multiple question. I couldn’t work with a single plane. I wouldn’t by a shopsmith, I have 2 bandsaws, etc etc. I hate stopping mid project to reconfigure my tools. Will one #5 fit all bills to a reasonable degree? Probably. Would I do it. No. And its not a shot at all those who bought a low angle #5 and change blades for different purposes. We all work different and the idea is to enjoy the time. I have a LN low angle #5. Its a great plane and I’ll never sell it, but I really don’t find a great need for it. I will use it sometimes just to take it out of the cabinet. Its a pleasure to use.

Stanley made a line of bench planes, and most other manufacturer made very similar or exact sizes. I have every one. Each one has a purpose. I’m not suggesting you need every one, but I will say, if you have every one, and you do a lot of woodworking you will find a use for them all at some point.

A #6 is a decent mid sized plane. It can be used as a jointer. So can a #5. Actually, if your building 12” boxes, so can a #4, and I’ve jointed with my #18.

So if you want my advice, here is what I would do. And I would do it in this order.
I’d buy a #3 or a #4 vintage. I sell them ready to go for about $55.
Then I’d buy a #7. I’ve got 2 that’s priced around $75. (i’m not sure if one is ready yet or not)
Then I’d buy a good block. I’ve got a decent #18 that’s about $35, but even a cheaper #220 will work.
Then I’d buy a #5 jack (get it sharpened as a jack). Again, mine go for about $55

I’m torn as to the sequence of the block versus smoother. Some guys are going to say the block should come first. I’m not going to strongly disagree. Some of this decision has to come from how you work and what you plan to build.

These are all Stanley/Baileys. You can save some money going no named, or lesser known (not lesser quality), that are identical to the above planes.

From a bench plane perspective, that’s a complete set of what you need. But be careful, these suckers are addicting.

There is one more point I’d like to make. Don’t spend a lot of time making a decision. Just buy a hand plane. If you decide you went the wrong route, re-selling is fairly easy and you won’t lose a ton of money on any of the above, vintage, LN or veritas. Wood river and a mid line, you’ll lose a little more, but it still won’t be substantial.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3643 days

#8 posted 11-02-2012 02:06 PM

One thing to keep in mind >

out of that $250, put aside a good amount to invest in sharpening/honing materials (stones/sandpapers/honing paste/jigs/granite surface/grinder/etc). without this , not even the LV plane would work ‘out of the box’ – they will all require at least honing of the blades if not more.

Other than that, restoring an old/used handplane really doesn’t take that much effort and will have a plus side being your first hand plane – it will educate you on the parts of the hand plane and make your familiar with how it’s parts are working which translates to how it performs, and how you use it. this is how I finally understood some things about using hand planes (not so from my ‘first’ one which came “not so ready out of the box” as I hoped it would)

if not used, then of your 2 options, I’d go with the LV one.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

18707 posts in 2562 days

#9 posted 11-02-2012 02:14 PM

PurpLev makes another very good point.

And to be clear about my last post. I would much rather help you restore your own so you really learn how the plane works then sell you a restored plane. To me the restoration process is as much fun as using it after.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Swyftfeet's profile


170 posts in 2166 days

#10 posted 11-02-2012 02:22 PM

Don W for the win on this… All my planes are vintage, mostly picked up in yard sales or antique shops. I have a #7c picked up for free from an Amish friend. I have 3 #4s one sharpened with a camber, one normal, and I ordered the scraper insert for Xmass. I have a #220 and a #9, both picked up for 25$ or less. I got the Veritas Sharpening jig, a old granite tile and some sandpaper. ? I have a wood Rebate plane of unknown origin.

I have attempted to use them, I’m still new at this and have no training, and find in some cases its just a hell of a lot faster and safer due to stock size than using my jointer or setting the saw up for a lap joint.

-- Brian

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2571 days

#11 posted 11-02-2012 03:42 PM

My recommendation is the veritas low angle jack plane. It’s a beautiful workhorse. Like a unicorn. Or Pegasus.

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

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2280 days

#12 posted 11-02-2012 03:57 PM

I’m just getting back to hand planes and having just purchased a #3 Stanley and A Millers Falls #14 (like a Stanley #5 size), I think I can speak to the restoration of an older plane. Now…. not as thoroughly as Don W as I don’t have his expertise for the restorations, BUT to get from and under $20 eBay plane to a very serviceable usable plane, was a total investment of about an hour and a half each and less than $8 worth of waterproof sandpaper to get them “Scary Sharp” (I already had some and I already had the plate glass). That includes going back to them and REsharpening them because I wanted more camber on the blades of the #3 and #14. Very slight on the #3 and more pronounced on the #14.

So from this:

To this:

in about 90 minutes.

You want a prettier one, buy one from Don W. After doing these 2 I can tell you he’s not getting rich selling those planes at those prices. :) And from what I’ve seen of his work, you’ll have a real treasure. BUT… on a low budget you can have what you want, sharpened the way you want it, without a big investment in time or money. These aren’t sailboats. :)

View Loren's profile (online now)


10376 posts in 3642 days

#13 posted 11-02-2012 05:08 PM

I’m big on the standard Bailey #4 and #5. I have a low angle jack and hardly
ever use it. I have a L-N bronze #4 and use that a lot. I think the
added mass gives it an edge over iron #4 planes, but I don’t see
much advantage in the Bedrock-style frog.

I use a standard Bailey #5. Actually I prefer a corrugated sole #5,
but the preference is probably irrational.

I owned a #8 for awhile but it is a very heavy plane and I sold
it. In over 15 years of woodworking I’ve never owned a #7 but I intend to pick one up one of these days. I use
a 24” wooden jointer I made occasionally, but I generally
joint longer edges on a machine jointer and the #5 does
fine for shorter boards and is handy.

One thing I can say about the premium planes is they do
hold some resale value a lot better than power tools do,
so it’s hard to choose badly. If you only have experience
with low angle planes you may not know what you’re
missing out on with standard-pitch planes.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3153 days

#14 posted 11-02-2012 05:21 PM

Get something used.

New planes do not necessarily work out of the box.

You’ll need to learn proper setup of a new plane anyway, especially after you’ve dulled the blade the first time.

Like Don said, the only one that is guaranteed to work out of the box is a used plane from a reputable restorer. From what I’ve heard, Don himself is quite a good one.

But for me, I’d get a good block plane first. There’s not a time I’m in the shop when I’m not using it.

-- jay,

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2141 days

#15 posted 11-02-2012 05:26 PM

If you’re dead set on new, I’d recommend going with the WoodRiver planes. I don’t know that I would buy a #4 and a #6. Perhaps a #5 and a #3. For me, in terms of smoothing planes, there’s not a lot of difference between a #3 and a #4. I have both and tend to just grab whichever is closer. A #5 is about as versatile a plane as there is. It can be used for heavy stock removal as well as smoothing. Grab an extra blade for it. Put a camber on one and keep the other mostly straight across and you’re set. Woodcraft sells replacement 2” blades for their #4 and #5 for under 20 bucks. Or you could go with a nice Pinnacle or Hock blade.

If you’re open to vintage, you can get a lot more for your money. Don W has told you what he has ready to go. Or you can invest some time and elbow grease and get even more. I’d recommend looking for plane lots or lots of misc tools that include planes. For the $250 you’re looking to spend, I’ve gotten 2 Stanley Bailey #5s, 2 #4s and 2 Stanley Handyman H1203s (basically #3s). I’ve also gotten a bunch of braces, an eggbeater drill, some Yankee screwdrivers, a bunch of auger bits, and 5 vintage saws. Actually thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that’s cost me less than $250, more like $200. And the restoration process is enjoyable, and not overly expensive. I think I’ve spent about $30 on some Evapo-rust, sandpaper, Simple Green and valve grinder.

Whatever route you go, you’ll have to spend money on a sharpening system. Scary Sharp has a cheap initial buy in. Diamond stones can be had relatively cheaply. Good waterstones are a bit more. And then there’s Worksharp and Tormek and on and on. Good luck!


showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics