Which Hand Plane?

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Forum topic by javaboy posted 11-27-2012 07:38 PM 1702 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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104 posts in 2312 days

11-27-2012 07:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

I use power tools for 98% of all my woodworking operations and am quite happy with that method of work. Sometimes I do think a handplane would be useful. So here is the question:

What is a good choice of handplane for someone who is a dedicated power tool user? Which type of plane would be most useful for general type work in a power tool environment?

-- Sow justice, reap peace

15 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5056 posts in 2529 days

#1 posted 11-27-2012 07:44 PM

I would go w/ a low angle block plane. An old Stanley 60 1/2 is ideal. If you are going to get a new plane then look at Veritas or LN. Don’t mess w/ the new Stanley’s as they are junk.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View chrisstef's profile


17721 posts in 3184 days

#2 posted 11-27-2012 07:46 PM

Id be willing to bet a small block plane, well 2 small blocks, would serve you well. Something for planing end grain and something for just trimming a hair off. Id go vintage peronally and go with Stanley 9 1/2 and a 60 1/2 for the end grain. They do make them new, and they are fairly inexpensive.

I find that with power tool use i am usually just a few hairs off and the little bit of planing will sneak right up on a perfect fit.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2663 days

#3 posted 11-27-2012 07:51 PM

I’d say that a smoothing plane such as a Stanley #4 is indispensable, as well as a good block plane. The smoothing plane can remove the machining marks left by the jointer and planer, also any burn marks from the table saw. The block plane is good for smaller detail work, and the low angle ones are great for attacking end grain.

-- Brian Timmons -

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3286 days

#4 posted 11-27-2012 08:22 PM

As a power tool user, most of what you would use a plane for is cleaning up of any power tool marks. Good planes for this are as follows -

Block plane – Good first choice because these are used to clean up saw marks on edge grain (Low angle block plane is used on end grain) and produce a chamfer to take down hard edges. Another advantages is they are usually the least expensive plane you will buy.

Smoothing Plane – Useful for reducing the need for power sanding. Use it to smooth surfaces with very light passes. Less sanding, less clogging of wood pores and makes for a more pleasant surface.

Shoulder Plane – Good for cleaning marks off of tenons, rabbets, out of dadoes, etc. Good one to have if you do a great deal of joinery.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

18992 posts in 2745 days

#5 posted 11-27-2012 08:27 PM

I agree with a block plane. Even most carpenters have a block plane in their pouch. Its a must for any kind of woodworking task.

I like vintage. Almost any vintage block with an adjustable mouth will get you what you need to start with.

Then a smoother, a #3 or #4.

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

View javaboy's profile


104 posts in 2312 days

#6 posted 11-27-2012 08:29 PM

Thank you all for your thoughtful suggestions—they are greatly appreciated!

-- Sow justice, reap peace

View AdmiralRich's profile


3 posts in 2704 days

#7 posted 11-29-2012 12:48 AM

Whatever you buy, you’ve got to know what “sharp” is, and how to achieve sharpness, as planes are nothing more than jigs that hold an edge tool. Any plane with an iron that’s not truly sharp will be a frustration for a first time user.

-- Elvem ipsum etiam vivere

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3981 days

#8 posted 11-29-2012 01:24 AM

Block plane is ideal. Smoother is pretty good.

I would therefore recommend a Low Angle Jack (Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, now Stanley though I have no experience with the model). There is basically nothing you cannot do with one other than the tight joinery work of a shoulder plane, it works as a very large block plane, it is long enough to work on jointing, and they are great smoothers. They are the classic ‘desert island’ plane.

View javaboy's profile


104 posts in 2312 days

#9 posted 11-29-2012 03:28 PM

”Whatever you buy, you’ve got to know what “sharp” is, and how to achieve sharpness, as planes are nothing more than jigs that hold an edge tool. Any plane with an iron that’s not truly sharp will be a frustration for a first time user.”

A big 10-4 on that AdmiralRich! Right now my most used hand tools are a set of cheap Sear Craftsman chisels. I worked hard flattening their backs and keeping them razor sharp—that transformed them from worthless junk into functional tools.

-- Sow justice, reap peace

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2754 days

#10 posted 11-29-2012 04:40 PM

I’m also a primarily power tool woodworker. I went with the veritas low angle block plane. Spendy, but well worth it. The apron plane is nice too and a bit less.

A vintage low angle block refurbed by one of the guys here or on woodnet would be a good choice too.

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

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2351 days

#11 posted 11-29-2012 05:18 PM

Interesting discussion. I’d go for block plane too! Watch this video .

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2562 days

#12 posted 11-29-2012 09:38 PM

I’ll be an oddball out and suggest that if you’re willing to spend the money, a Veritas small bevel-up smoother would be great…Here’s why:

with the 100+ pricetag of the new nice block planes, you can pay 50-60 more and get a plane that has end-grain capabilites due to the bevel-up design, but also works for general smoothing.

Of course, you can find a good vintage block plane for really cheap. That’s where I would go based on money reasons,

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3091 days

#13 posted 11-29-2012 09:41 PM

IMO, you need at least three (in my priority preference):

1. Low angle Block Plane
2. #6 Foreplane – with a high quality blade
3. a Shoulder Plane #92 or #93

Oh FWIW, I have a decent #4 and find myself NOT using it in favor of the #6, when I need to use a hand tool to assist with a project.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View javaboy's profile


104 posts in 2312 days

#14 posted 11-30-2012 07:04 PM

Lots of food for thought in this thread. Good to see a consensus on the low angle block and smoother planes, but also interesting to see the alternatives suggested and the reasons why.

Thanks to everyone for all the good advice—it is greatly appreciated!

-- Sow justice, reap peace

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15659 posts in 2796 days

#15 posted 11-30-2012 07:24 PM

+1 vote for a good smoother, typically a #4. Then a jack. Then a block.

Blocks are fun, it’s easy to get too many of them once you start, but they are not as useful for me as others find them. Especially if you have a bench and are working from there. Blocks are made for one-handed use, hence Don’s very accurate observation about carpenters having them in the field. But if you’re at a bench, you can just as quickly knock off corners and clean up edges with a sharp smoother and two hands.

If you get into wanting to take more material each pass than what your smoother will do, a jack is next. It usually has an open mouth and is designed to hog off material quickly.

Good luck as you move along the hybrid path!

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

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