Why would I ever want a bench plane ??

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Forum topic by coloradoclimber posted 06-13-2007 10:11 PM 1937 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4309 days

06-13-2007 10:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane planes

This question arises out of this thread. Lots of people own and I assume use hand planes. In fact I’m in the market to pick up a couple more, but I got to wondering…...

A question for all you plane owners, and assumedly plane users, what do you do with your planes, other than polish and admire them? I use mine mostly for clean up and some surfacing, sometimes a little bit of fitting. For any big job, surface planing or edge jointing, I use power tools. How bout you?

This of course leads me to the question of why would I ever need, or want, a bench plane? What do you actually use them for? Do you actually surface and square your lumber by hand !!

My block planes I use quite a bit, my bench planes, pretty much never.

22 replies so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4555 days

#1 posted 06-13-2007 10:16 PM

I keep my bench plane dull to increase the tear out on my furniture.

View Paul's profile


660 posts in 4333 days

#2 posted 06-13-2007 10:52 PM

I have a pretty good collection of planes.

Yeah, they’re pretty much for show right now although I would actually like to get proficient in actually using a wider variety of my collection some day. I see nothing attractive or romantic in spending a signficant amount of time in surfacing and squaring lumber by hand though. I guess that’s what the poor young (and strong!) beginning apprentice got stuck doing 100 years ago!

My pattern of use is pretty much like yours. In order of most often used to least would be 1. a small low-angle block plane 2. a 9” Smooth Plane 3. a 14” Jack Plane 4. Rabbet Plane 5. Wooden Molding plane 6. Multi-plane (Stanley 45) I have several others that I don’t use at all. In fact, I’ve never taken the time to sharpen and tune them up. Somewhere in the back of mind I still have this belief that I’ll try a rough lumber to furniture project someday using only hand tools – just to say I did it. But, we’ll see . . . .

-- Paul, Kentucky

View mot's profile


4922 posts in 4277 days

#3 posted 06-13-2007 10:54 PM

Here’s one reason:

After I used biscuits to align the edging on this desk top, it was pround. The bench plane saved me because there was no other way to trim something that wide unless I had a very long flush trim router bit…which I don’t.

Also, flattening a panel after glueup. End grain squarring. Lots of fine detail things.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View WayneC's profile


13809 posts in 4338 days

#4 posted 06-13-2007 10:58 PM

Dealing with selected boards that are larger than my 6” jointer. Quicker setup in some cases and more control.

Also, the Joy of it….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View kev's profile


125 posts in 4293 days

#5 posted 06-14-2007 02:23 AM

I used my block plane all the time. I was making a picture frame. The wood was unlevel, so I used my Jack plane, it work nice. Just recently I had all my plane blades sharpened.


View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 4340 days

#6 posted 06-14-2007 05:43 AM

It is after hours and you can’t fire up the noisy tools.

-- John

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4552 days

#7 posted 06-14-2007 03:13 PM

I only have one #5 plane and I use it to square up boards, flatten boards, clean up saw marks, round over edges, etc. It’s uses can be almost limitless. I is a more peaceful way to spend my time in the shop, when I don’t have to hurry to make a project. I love the sound it makes when curling those wood shavings.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View WayneC's profile


13809 posts in 4338 days

#8 posted 06-15-2007 01:35 AM

Also, smoothing surfaces that are too small to run across a jointer or though the planer.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Wooder's profile


163 posts in 4427 days

#9 posted 06-15-2007 08:24 AM

All the time.
Mainly because I now perfer them to noisy, dust-making, takes forever to set-up power tools.
1 #3
3 #4s
5 #5s
1 #7
1 #8
4 60 1/2s
3 #110s

Need I say more…lol


-- Jimmy

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4035 posts in 4305 days

#10 posted 06-15-2007 10:25 AM

I use my (all Stanley’s except the#7 which is a Montgomery-Wards) 60 1/2 low angle block and surprisingly a little cheap #102 (no throat adjustment, no advancement or lateral adjustment mechanism, no front knob) often to break edges, chamfer, round over etc. I bought and tuned a old #4, and inherited a #5 and #7. But all told, if possible I prefer machine planing/jointing because I feel it is more precise. This speaks to my lack of patience and practice as well as no developed technique more than the tool’s capabilities.

I have and love The Veritas medium shoulder plane. For the most parts I use my planes to tweak assembled boxes and clean up joinery. As far as using one for smoothing, I rarely use a plane as it is a recipe for tear-out for me, even with a scary-sharp plane iron (hair jumps off one’s arm just by showing the naked bevel to the hapless appendage). But I do enjoy using a card scraper for smoothing. There is something really satisfying in using a 6 dollar steel rectangle versus paying for sandpaper, plus the burnished wood looks more lustrous.

Being an avid catalogue reader, I tease myself that I might be a plane wizard if I had newer tools (Tom, I see you with that fine Veritas bench plane. I’d pick that one or their bevel-up smoother if I gave into my Galoot/Neanderthal urges). For the most part though, I would rather save the cash toward a new router (Triton is looking good) than invest in a Lie-Nieson or a Veritas.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

356 posts in 4257 days

#11 posted 06-15-2007 04:08 PM

I use a 4 1/2 for smoothing and a No.8 for jointing. Run my boards through the planer and then hit it with one or two passes with the jointer plane. I use a shoulder plane for well, shoulders :) And a block plane for various tasks.


-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop - and NO not the one from Ohio!

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4265 days

#12 posted 06-16-2007 11:43 PM

I don’t own a jointer or table saw yet, so I use my #7 jointer to true the edge of my bandsaw-cut stock. Also the combination of my scrub plane (converted old #4) and my #7 can quickly level out an uneven board. I’ve even edge-jointed 7’ oak boards to make the sides and shelves for a bookcase, and the joint is as invisible as you could ask for. The block plane’s uses are too numerous to list.

I’m about to order one of the Veritas large shoulder planes to use on the big tenons on my workbench base.

The key is to keep your planes sharp and well tuned. The rest is just a matter of practice. After a while you just grab the right plane and go without thinking about it. They are truly often faster than setting up a power tool.

Oh yes, don’t forget a good coat of paste wax—it makes planing almost effortless (ALMOST!).

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View WayneC's profile


13809 posts in 4338 days

#13 posted 06-18-2007 07:03 AM

Also, they are nice to look at…. : ^)

My new #1 next to a #8

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Wooder's profile


163 posts in 4427 days

#14 posted 06-18-2007 12:50 PM

Yes they are Wayne!!


-- Jimmy

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3914 days

#15 posted 09-13-2008 04:31 AM

I joint (#7) I even ran my jointer plane after using a friends jointer. Took 2 swipes to get a good full shaving.

My #4 leaves a glass smooth finish that is far superior to anything sandpaper can do.

My 60 1/2 does a good job fitting and it does endgrain too.

My rabbet plane is a lot nicer than setting up the dado for 4 cuts.

I have an almost full complement of power tools (the main 4 I guess + combo sander) Drill press, table saw, band saw, and soon jointer. Hand tools complement those, while you can do everything with hand tools I prefer the hybrid approach.

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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