help me with a choice and some plane education please?

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Forum topic by The Box Whisperer posted 12-26-2013 01:45 AM 1872 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 2066 days

12-26-2013 01:45 AM

First off, sorry if I should have posted this in a different forum, I would have put in in power tools as well. To the point…

I was a good boy this year, and my dad have me a check for xmas this year, for 230 bucks CAD. The conditions are that it all be spent on 1 tool, not supplies or lumber. He would prefer it be somewhat of a splurge tool, so I can treat myself to something I might not otherwise get. He also prefers it to be spent at Lee Valley. He had this in mind.,41182,48944

A Veritas #4 smoothing plane. A beauty no doubt!

I currently have 4 miniature planes form LV, and do use them often. I also have my grandfathers old #5 stanley bench plane. It could use a sharpening but it works well. I am a rookie in the world of hand planes and do feel somewhat intimidated by all of it. Am I correct in thinking that my American made Stanley #5 is similar to the LV #4? Is a Stanley #5 the decent general purpose plane I think it is? Maybe its good enough, because if it were all up to me (which it is) Im eyeing this…,105,68343

A Festool sander. This is a tool I know I would use more based on the work I do, and I also feel well prepared to make the call myself on the quality of the tool once I get it home. I have a lot of hours on ROSs on everything from Mastercraft to Dewalt and everything in between. The Festool is pretty much the only one I havnt tried. If I dont feel the Festoool is worth the 200 bucks Ill bring it back.

Sorry or the long rant, I guess what Im asking for is a little education on planes, and any input form anyone who has tried either of these tools. Also, PLEASE feel free to chime in on how you think I should drop my 230, because if you think of something I havnt I could change my mind. Thanks for the help!

Peace and Love to all during the holiday season.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

12 replies so far

View Tim's profile


3805 posts in 1957 days

#1 posted 12-26-2013 03:01 AM

Can’t tell you much about the festool, but if you think you want that and will use it, then you should probably get that. Only get the hand plane if you have some desire to move in that direction enough to get a lot of use out of it.

The #4 is 9-1/2” long compared to your #5 that is 14” long but they are otherwise similar in both being bench planes. The Veritas will come very well tuned, maybe just needing a final honing for the most part. Your Stanley #5 is the decent general purpose tool you think it is, but specialized tools designed for their jobs will do a little better job at them. The #4 is a smoothing plane often set up for taking much finer shavings. The only way for a #5 to do that and rough work is to have a different blade set up for smoothing, swap it out, move and adjust the frog if needed. The Veritas Low angle smoother or Bevel up smoother are options to consider as well. The low angle of those along with different bevel angles on the blade allows you to tackle some difficult grain you couldn’t with a standard angle plane.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2560 days

#2 posted 12-26-2013 03:03 AM

i used the sander a few years ago and it was pretty sweet, espeically if you also have the vac to hook it up with

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2919 days

#3 posted 12-26-2013 03:10 AM

The LV numbers correspond to the Stanley numbers, so a #4 LV is the same size as the Stanley #4. A #5 is usually called a “Jack” plane, while a #4 is a smoother. A Jack is between a scrub plane and a smoother; as in “Jack of all trades”. If you already have a #5, then you probably don’t want another one, but the #4 is not the same plane. The usual advice is a #5 is the best choice for your first plane.

A smoother is a real nice addition, and the LV is a great plane. It’s my next plane purchase. But then, I have a #5, a #7, a shoulder plane, a regular block plane and a low angle block, so adding a #3 or #4 is obvious for me although I also really need a router plane.

The only thing I would hesitate on the Festool is the dust extraction – do you have a really good dust extractor, like the Festool or Fein? It would be a shame, I think, to spend that much on the Festool ROS and not get the dust extraction feature. I don’t have it, but I understand the Festool ROS mated with a regular shop vac doesn’t work nearly as well as a good dust extractor.

I think that #4 is really a good match to your dad’s requirements. I’ll give you a couple more ideas:
3 of the LV PMV11 bench chisels.
Or maybe these:,41504
The LV Shoulder plane – the large one is nice, but the medium may be more useful all around
One of the Bad Axe saws
What’s on your bench? The Veritas twin screw vice is very nice
This looks really cool:,43838,70865&ap=1

View JohnChung's profile


408 posts in 2070 days

#4 posted 12-26-2013 03:43 AM

@The Box Whisperer

On planes and why so many configuration are due to it’s functionality like jointing, scrubing, leveling , smoothing , chamfering and etc. Yes a #4 and #5 looks similar just the difference would be the length which also introduces it’s own weight.

I do own the LV #4. It can take fine shavings. It is somewhat no better than the Stanley #5 if the Stanley was properly tune in terms of shavings. The LV #4 ergonomics are more for smoothing. More for short repetitive shavings. Stanley #5 can be a smoother but it is just to heavy for continuous smoothing activities.

I use many planes with many blade configuration for the job. If you do buy the LV #4 you would need to buy more than one blade for smoothing. The edges would need to be rounded or the back blade would need an higher angle for nasty wood grain.

I would suggest another plane which is not on your list. A block plane. A quality block plane. It allows you to work on chamfers and small stock. I use this often. It complements my bench planes.,41182,48942
The low angle block plane with it’s blade configuration would help a lot.
I would suggest that you add the optional grips.,41182,48942
The tote and front knobs. It will help a lot!

View Loren's profile


10381 posts in 3644 days

#5 posted 12-26-2013 06:34 AM

A premium standard #4 is a good investment. The #4
is the plane I use most since I have machinery to
establish accurate geometry. If you don’t want to
use a jointer and other machines, get a jointer plane.
A jack plane is only a substitute in smaller scale work.

I am not a fan of low angle planes for smoothing. I would
love to have end grain come out nice from a plane, but
honestly I file and sand it. I have both low angle planes
and standard.

I don’t use block planes much… just for casual chamfering
and carpentry mostly. I think they are over-rated and
lack the mass to make an excellent cut. If you make small
things like guitars or fine boxes, tuning block planes
to function as fine smoothers can work well. Brian
Burns does it (guitar builder). I use his sharpening
system but do not share his enthusiasm for block
planes. I also don’t build a lot of guitars.

Festool sanders show their virtues in dust collection
and reduced vibration. The vibration issue is not
as important to the hobby user. To the pro who
uses them a lot, vibration in orbital sanders can
contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome and numbness
of the hands. It is super annoying and even Festool
sanders cause numbness eventually. The difference
is the number of hours you can sand and be able to
do it again the next day. Festool sanders are said
to be precision balanced (like a car tire perhaps),
which is a step most orbital sander makers don’t do.

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 2066 days

#6 posted 12-26-2013 12:30 PM

Wow! Thanks to everyone for all of the information. I feel better prepared to make a decision. This is why I love this site, I post last night and wake up today to good advice!

I would be using the plane in a similar way Ive been using the stanley, as a general purpose plane. I am a power tool guy for the most part and like Loren I use machines to get to the dimension Im after. I do find myself ROSing for hours at a time, and have gotten the hand numb thing myself. I also have major back issues and the vibes bother that as well, so a big part of the festool was the low vibe. As far as dust collection, I have a decent shop vac/dust deputy system as well as a dedicated 1hp 820cmf unit. I would think that would cover it.

As much as I love that plane, I do think Im leaning towards the sander. Its a tool I would use a lot now, couldnt otherwise afford, and my current sander is a weak point in my shop. I used to have a dewalt and lets just say now I dont. I have a mastercraft 20 dollar deal, and for 20 bucks its actually pretty good for rough stock removal at 80g, but its not very good for finish work. My thoughts are that the festool would be a step up from my old dewalt, and if it isnt Ill know pretty much right away.

My other fear, is that by getting a hand plane, Ill become addicted, start collecting and spend all my money on planes! Because that never happens to Festool users right? :)

Thanks again everyone, Ill keep you all posted on what I end up doing.

You guys rock, Happy boxing day

PS, to answer brtech, whats on my bench? right now nothing! so good suggestion, however I am kind of hung up on building my own vise…..maybe Ive done this all backwards, but I learned about and how to use power tools first, and am just getting into hand tools lately.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2967 days

#7 posted 12-26-2013 02:07 PM

Not going to disagree with you because it’s your call, and you know your tool usage better than anyone here.

I would like to point to the fact that using a #4 smoother as a general purpose plane kinda misses the point of having a smoother in the first place.

Hand tool users would point out that the smoother, when tuned and used as a smoother, will eliminate a great portion of the sanding required on many, if not most, projects.
Often, smoothing with a #4, followed with a scraper is all that’s required before finishing.
Depending on what you are making, of course.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8515 posts in 1978 days

#8 posted 12-26-2013 02:16 PM

What’s wrong with being addicted to hand planes;-)

I don’t blame you for sticking to what your comfortable and use more. Sanding was the only part of woodworking I didn’t care for. I became determined to succeed with handplanes. Yes it takes time and effort. Yes I got hooked and have bought way more than I “need.”
But smoothing went from a despised task to a joy along the way.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

546 posts in 2374 days

#9 posted 12-26-2013 03:00 PM

I’m becoming what some may consider a festool junkie and I’m also heading down the slippery slope of buying a lot of the veritas planes. One thing I’d like to point out here that others haven’t yet is that if you buy the ETS (I have an ETS 150/3) you will also need to purchase the Festool sandpaper which is NOT by any means cheap. You’re better off buying in bulk or going on the FOG and seeing if someone is selling their bulk order as split groups for cheaper pricing and after all is said and done you have another $200 in sandpaper :). I would not by any means use any other sandpaper on the ETS because if you do you basically eradicate any usefulness of the sander and turn it into a regular ROS, to an extent.

As for your vac setup, you have to make sure you have the 27mm fitting that works with festool sanders. If you don’t I would suggest buying the Bosch (non anti static) hose off of amazon which has that fitting for $35. It’s a nice hose and fits the festool tools exactly the same as regular festool anti static hoses that are five times the price.

-- Matt, Arizona,

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#10 posted 12-26-2013 10:19 PM

You get addicted to hand planes because they are fun to use. You use a ROS (even a Festool) only when you have to. So it sounds like you’ve narrowed your choice down to fun or not so much fun.

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

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2380 days

#11 posted 12-27-2013 12:01 AM

Unless you are going to commit to using the #4 for final smoothing…you should go with the ros…you have a jack plane for when you need to remove 1/4” from the edge of a board…then you have to get a finish-ready surface somehow: set the #5 really fine, use a smoothing plane or sand it. Sounds like this step for you means sanding more than planing.

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

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 2066 days

#12 posted 12-27-2013 11:43 AM

thanks again to everyone for the advice, Matt, if I may pick your brain….I was going to go with the festool and also get this…,42500

But now youre saying Ill need a 27mm adaptor as well? I looked on amazon, and the bosch is nowhere to be found (Im in Canada). If finding an adaptor is needed, that is bringing my total cost up yet again…Not to keep flip flopping around with ideas, but that brings me up into the realm of

A Dewalt 12 inch chop saw is 350 at HD


A triton 3 1/4hp router is on sale for 270 at BB.

My current chop saw is a travesty, no guard, POS, was given to me free years ago. My router is better then this, but still mid range, has seen a ton of miles, will see a ton more and has been giving me troubles. This new chop saw or router would be a long term investment for me, just like the plane or the ROS. Yes we are getting outside of the original budget of 230, but I dont mind kicking in for a high end tool. The router would be good to go out of the box, and I can live with the stock blade on the dewalt for a little while.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

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