Economical but good hand planes? Chisel?

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Forum topic by trippcasey posted 02-28-2013 02:59 AM 1979 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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72 posts in 1952 days

02-28-2013 02:59 AM

Hey guys. There are probably forum posts similar to this already here, but in my usual state, I find it better to ask for forgiveness than for permission sometimes. (lol)

I want to learn about hand shaping wood, whether flattening or shaping curves. I cant afford a plane that is $100, but can see buying a couple that would cost that much. Same with chisels. Any ideas or pointers? I know nothing about them and reviews on websites can be misleading. Please share your experience with what you have/like.


-- I almost post pics....until I see the daily top three...then I delete my post.

22 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2515 days

#1 posted 02-28-2013 03:06 AM

My personal preference for learning about hand planes is to buy some used ones at yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, eBay, etc. and learn to sharpen and tune them to work at the highest level they can.

I don’t know of anyone who has gone from no hand planes to curves, dadoes, rabbets, moulders, without going through the basics first. (I could be wrong ya’ know).

Good Luck!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2626 days

#2 posted 02-28-2013 03:12 AM

Vintage planes will offer you bang for the buck, plus a chance to get to know them during the rehab process. I have some Ashley Iles chisels, don’t cost too much relatively speaking of course. The new Stanley SW are modestly priced as well. Those would be good choices in the new “semi premium” level. Vintage chisels are out there too, but can exceed cost of new.

View waho6o9's profile


8208 posts in 2605 days

#3 posted 02-28-2013 03:29 AM

Files, rasps, and floats are items that’ll help you make
shapes as well.

Craigslist is a great place to get wood working tools that
are reasonably priced.

View Upraiser's profile


5 posts in 2007 days

#4 posted 02-28-2013 03:30 AM


Restoring old planes & chisels is a hobby of mine. I find the old Stanley Bailey models are of good quality when restored. I avoid any that are cracked, welded or badly pitted. Dirt and rust are common. I pull the thing apart and look it over, if light rust, poor paint etc. I make an offer. I get them for $10 to $25 depending on the size. I find that some

Old chisels are also a challenge and I will try about any of them if the price is right. I rarely find the old socket type but I like to put in new handles and they have all been good quality. I have a few old Craftsman are good quality. Usually they are in box of misc. tools in a garage sale or even antigue stores.

The key to any of these tools is to make them sharpe.

Have fun!


-- Curt Drahn

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2383 days

#5 posted 02-28-2013 03:34 AM

Most anything you get will need tuning and sharpening so it’s a wise investment to get a decent set of sharpening stones and maybe a book on sharpening and tuning as well.

Most new tools aren’t sold very sharp, and alot of people tend to think that that type of tool doesn’t work really well because of it. However the only brand I can think of that does come setup right, is lien nielson, and I don’t even think you can get one of their planes for 100 bucks.

Buck Brothers planes are ok, good when sharpened and tooned, but don’t buy the cheaper of the two bench planes, it’s worthless.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View trippcasey's profile


72 posts in 1952 days

#6 posted 02-28-2013 04:55 AM

Thanks guys! I appreciate your comments.

-- I almost post pics....until I see the daily top three...then I delete my post.

View Schoffleine's profile


47 posts in 2938 days

#7 posted 02-28-2013 05:09 AM

Here’s how I did chisels and sharpening on a budget. Seems to work alright:

Chisels. These didn’t come with a good edge, but I can get them sharpened to a nice edge that functions well. Seems you could buy that used set for $4 cheaper too. Free shipping with Prime.

Sharpening. They’re 1 inch wide and about 3 long. Pretty small, but large enough to do a chisel blade on. These were cheaper when I bought them ($12) not too long ago. Not sure why the price went up so much but it’s still cheaper than the large water stones and what not.

I’m sure people will rave about the advantages of their $100 and $200+ chisel sets, and ‘buying quality’ and all that, and they’d be right, but if you’re on a budget like me, and simply can’t afford the high end stuff, then those two above will get you moving while you save for the larger sets. And at the same price as the cheapest high end (Narex 4 pc set for $35 + shipping) I could find.

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2388 days

#8 posted 02-28-2013 05:11 AM

my advice: start out with a 4 & 5; go with a Stanley/Bailey—don’t go with lesser Stanley models or other makers for now. As a novice you want to take advantage of the huge amount of information out there on the SBs. (similarly if you were a car guy, I’d be telling you to use a small-block Chevy for your first build). Don’t get hung up on the type studies (but do familiarize yourself with them). Your best bang for the buck willl be type 19s (about 1948-1961). Some guys insist on Sweethearts or type 11s, but as someone who has restored (owns and has used) literally hundreds of planes, I can tell you that these planes are (or can easily be made) the equal of any mass produced plane from the past.
Then learn to sharpen—if you don’t start with a sharp plane, you’ll never know if it’s you or the plane. And don’t think you can avoid this by buying new—eventually that one will get dull too.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2383 days

#9 posted 02-28-2013 05:22 AM

Doc, you just told him to get like 200 dollars in planes…

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Richard's profile


400 posts in 2719 days

#10 posted 02-28-2013 05:24 AM

Doc’s got it right. Get a vintage #5, learn to sharpen the iron (a discipline in and of itself) and get busy with it.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 2439 days

#11 posted 02-28-2013 06:57 AM

If you are on a budget, get a blade and chip breaker from Hock tools and make your own plane.

-- Kelby

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1989 days

#12 posted 02-28-2013 11:45 AM

Like everybody else said go vintage. You can get high quality tools that way without breaking the bank. You can also learn and then decide where and when you want to splurge on premium tools later.

When you buy vintage you can either buy all the supplies and learn how to restore it yourself, which as mentioned has some advantages, or you can pay a little more upfront and get vintage tools that have already been restored for you. You still need to learn to sharpen, but you don’t need to spend money on the restoration supplies when you just want to restore a few tools plus it gets you started sooner. Lumberjocks like Don W sell rehabbed tools at reasonable prices. People constantly recommend him for planes. I’m sure there are others too, and maybe someone for chisels.

Google for minimal hand tool lists and you’ll find different perspectives on the best tools to get first to get you started. Here's a good one for starters.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1989 days

#13 posted 02-28-2013 12:54 PM

Oh I forgot, Narex chisels are often mentioned as a very good value. Some magazine wrote them up as the best value in new chisels. Price may have gone up since then I don’t know.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2595 days

#14 posted 02-28-2013 01:34 PM

I usually suggest starting with a vintage #4. A Stanley, Millers Falls, Sargent, Union, any of the quality made planes from days past. A #4 (or #4 size) is easy to find and reasonably priced. I know most recommend a #5 first, but most users want to smooth before they size their wood by hand, but a #5 is not a bad idea either.

There is plenty of help restoring and tuning, which helps you learn how the plane works.

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

View bondogaposis's profile


4769 posts in 2379 days

#15 posted 02-28-2013 01:47 PM

My recommendation is to get an old Stanley #5 and a block plane. Restore them and learn to tune and sharpen them and you will be well on your way. Over time you will want to get some others and can fill in the gaps as you can afford it. In the meantime you will be able to do a lot of productive work w/ the #5 and block plane.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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