Hand Plane Newb requesting some advice

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Forum topic by jak5quat posted 11-24-2012 06:42 PM 1168 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 2197 days

11-24-2012 06:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

A little background: I’m a commercial photography that got into woodworking about two and a half years ago as simply a way to maximize my profit from the fine art pieces I make on the side, by building my own frames. Knowing my own obsessive personality, I should of known better, because it wasn’t long before I fell in love with working the wood. So now a few thousand dollars later I have a shop with all the major machines and not a care as to when or if the break-even point will arrive. ;-) So naturally, I’ve now began to dabble in the use of hand tools to improve my joinery. My first plane is a $32 Grizzly China-special #4 that with the help of a friend I spent two days lapping and sharpening and fussing over to tune up and it actually works well and taught me a bunch. I used it over the past two months to flatten and smooth my new workbench; the most complex project I’ve ever undertaken and build I’m very proud of. Here’s a sneak peek below, and as I did with another posted project (see my Octagon Box), I photographed the build all along the way, so please speak up if anyone is interested in me putting that together. In the meantime here’s a shot of the finished bench:

So my question, or rather a call for any advice. With the success and pleasure I’ve had using my single plane I’m ready to buy something of better quality. I’ve read, Hand Tool Essentials and several other books and I’ve extensively researched the various sizes and uses and come the conclusion that for a first high-quality plane the most useful for my work is a block type plane, but I’d like to have the versatility of using it as a small smoother also, so I believe I’ve narrowed it to two choices and those are 1) the Veritas Small Bevel Up Smoother – 12 degree bed, comes with 25 degree iron, so 37 degree and I’d add a second 38 blade for quick changes to 50 degrees). OR 2) Veritas Low-Angle Block Plane with the same two blades and add the retrofit knob and tote for better handling and leverage for the push of the steeper blade set-up when smoothing figured wood. The small smoother I know would be a better smoother (a little heavier and longer) but still be good with end-grain etc, but would the added size interfere with using it to trim dovetails and chamfer edges and other fine work. All said and done the total price of each as described is roughly the same. I can only afford one right now (read: With Christmas approaching and two teenage daughters, I can only get away with one and remain on friendly terms with the wife. ;-) I want the biggest bang for the buck in usefulness. Over the next year I’ll probably add the large and small Veritas shoulder planes, followed by the bevel up Jack and the full-size smoother and maybe eventually the bevel up jointer. That’s it. Any thoughts are appreciated! Cheers, Jeff

-- --Jeff - Whenever my dad would catch me wishin' instead of doin', he'd say, "Why don't you wish in one hand and *hit in the other and see which you get the most in!"

4 replies so far

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3035 days

#1 posted 11-24-2012 08:34 PM

I don’t have much advice to offer. The Veritas planes are excellent. I think your acquisition plan sounds good. Perhaps think about the Veritas skew block. It functions well as a block plane but since the blade reaches to the edge of the plane it becomes very versatile, which would be useful for the type of work you like. It also comes with a fence.

The downside of the skew block is sharpening – a little harder to freehand and a skew jig addition to the Veritas honing guide is required (if you use that). Or you can make your own sharpening jig.

But mainly I posted because I’d love to see photos of your bench build. :)

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3384 days

#2 posted 11-24-2012 08:48 PM

Of the two you mention, I’d suggest the block plane. It will be easier for trimming dovetails, softening the edges of your work, and just more versatile. You might want to consider a vintage smoother as the next buy. There are several of us around here that sell rehabbed planes and all the work has already been done for you. Most of us sell planes that are flattened, tuned and sharpened so they’re ready to go right out of the box.

Awesome job on the bench. She’s a beauty.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2865 days

#3 posted 11-26-2012 01:02 AM

Stanly SW block, smother and #6 would fit you needs just fine, with a bit of tuning. The bedrocks are sweet.
please read.
up & down - bevels

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2592 days

#4 posted 11-26-2012 01:18 AM

If you can make the china made grizzly work, a vintage Stanley will be a walk in the park. Veritas makes a great plane, but for the price you can put together a whole set of vintage.

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

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