Jack plane for newbie

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Forum topic by JMott posted 12-10-2012 02:41 AM 1265 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2195 days

12-10-2012 02:41 AM

I’m new to fine(ish) woodworking, but have a lot of experience with rough carpentry (framing, crude workbenches, etc…). I’m looking to get a jack plane for smoothing my own table tops and general use, but I can’t spend a ton of cash to get a Lie Nielsen or Lee Valley. Any suggestions are appreciated.

14 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3150 days

#1 posted 12-10-2012 02:43 AM

Some suggest Woodriver planes (sold at Woodcraft). I personally prefer the vintage Stanley planes you can get from ebay for a fraction of the cost of a new plane, but is still very solid. Or message DonW who sells planes on this site, I’m sure he has an extra #5.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

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2202 posts in 3357 days

#2 posted 12-10-2012 02:49 AM

I have a Woodriver #5 that I love. Highly recommended.

-- jay,

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2345 days

#3 posted 12-10-2012 03:23 AM

Yeah, either buy and restore an old Stanley #5 from ebay or hit up DonW here or Patrick Leach ( or Josh Clark ( for a slightly more expensive, but already restored one.

DO NOT buy a cheapass Groz or Anant plane. They are absolute crap. This is experience talking. They are not worth the frustration.


View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2832 days

#4 posted 12-10-2012 03:03 PM

I have a vintage Stanley #5. I think I paid $25 for it. Honestly, knowing what I know now, I’d have paid double for it. Works beautifully and will undoubtedly be the only jack plane I’ll ever have to buy.
I don’t see how a better value could be had.

View bondogaposis's profile


5088 posts in 2550 days

#5 posted 12-10-2012 03:05 PM

Vintage Stanley, you can’t beat them.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View jayman7's profile


218 posts in 3704 days

#6 posted 12-10-2012 03:07 PM

I have a Millers Falls jack from ebay for $25 that I spent a lil time tuning up and it works wonderfully.

View JMott's profile


8 posts in 2195 days

#7 posted 12-10-2012 03:21 PM

Wow, thanks for all of the advice everyone.

I just picked up a Vintage Stanley #5, Type 16, in great condition ready to cut with for $55 shipped. I can’t wait to get it and try it out.

Now that I have one on the way, are there any definitive online resources for tuning and caring for planes?

Thanks again for all of the recommendations!


View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3197 days

#8 posted 12-10-2012 03:23 PM

Vintage planes are great. I wouldn’t necessarily advise a #5. I would say grab a jointer since you mentioned an interest in table tops. They are great for glue ups and you can flatten a table very nicely once you get it close. Add a block plane and you can handle anything.

Once you get used to them, you can fill in a bit of other things. A smoother is nice and can surface areas faster and more comfortably than a block plane (not really any better, just faster). A scrub is great for leveling glued panels quickly.

Also you can make your own. I have made a few of my own and they are very inexpensive. Just for support, the first one I bought a kit from Ron Hock. Wonderful product. Once I had made one and found how easy they were to make, I was hooked.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2345 days

#9 posted 12-10-2012 03:23 PM – Handplane 101

Also, if you’re a fine woodworking subscriber, there are several articles there. Lots of good stuff on LJs as well. Look at DonW’s blog.


View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2832 days

#10 posted 12-10-2012 03:34 PM

Type 16. Last of the pre-war Stanleys. Nice.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2568 days

#11 posted 12-10-2012 03:43 PM

I picked up a Stanley 26 transitional plane for something like $10 at a antique store, and have been pleased with it. Just needed some flattening and sharpening, and was good to go.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19007 posts in 2766 days

#12 posted 12-10-2012 03:48 PM

When you say ” jack plane for smoothing” you mean a “jack plane for leveling”? A jack plane is meant for faster stock removal and will have a cambered blade.

a bit of an explanation is here

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

View JMott's profile


8 posts in 2195 days

#13 posted 12-10-2012 04:38 PM

@Don W – What I meant to say is for flattening out or evening up glued panels. That being said, I’d like to pick up a #4 and a block plane as well to really get to learning.

I just sent you a message regarding picking up the other 2 planes I’d like.

@Rich – Thanks for the resource!


View USAnative's profile


1 post in 2257 days

#14 posted 12-10-2012 05:02 PM

I have got the handplane bug. ebay.garage sales ext. cant stay away. 5.00 -10.00 . i made an electrolysis rust remover so i have put them back to work looking pretty on the shelf .i have found that the older ones are made of rolled steel and not cast i am guessing . they are heavier or the steel is more dense nothing is more satisfying than to bring something back to usable life

-- ken tucker

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