LumberJocks

Building a hand plane collection

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by MikeUT posted 09-05-2014 07:16 PM 2012 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MikeUT's profile

MikeUT

123 posts in 824 days


09-05-2014 07:16 PM

I have been following the forums here for a little while and thought I’d post my first question. I need advice for a strategy in building a hand plane collection. I have had a few cheap HF planes and have used them sparingly only when needed. I recently picked up a Stanley No. 4 type 17 and a bevel-up block plane at an estate sale and my whole perspective on hand tools has changed. I think I am addicted! I want to know where I should go from here. I’ll probably eventually collect for the sake of having a collection but for now I am looking to add tools that will be useful as well. I know that the 4 ½ and 5 are popular but would I be better off looking for a larger Jointing plane or a smoothing plane?

Also, is there a guide somewhere that shows approximate values of planes and what I should be paying for them? I love the discovery aspect of flea markets and estate sales but will probably look on ebay from time to time as well and I’d like to get good deals if possible. I only paid $15 for the Stanley Bailey #4, I’m pretty sure I did well on that one. Later that same day I had the opportunity to get a Craftsman jointer plane that was around 14-16” for $30. I passed because it didn’t look as old and I didn’t know if I could count on Craftsman being a good buy at that price point. With older antique planes should I stick closely to Stanley or are there other brands out there that are quality? I know that is a lot of questions wrapped in to post, sorry about that. All thoughts are welcome and appreciated.


24 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#1 posted 09-05-2014 07:50 PM

First off, welcome to LJ and the wonderful slippery slope of hand planes. There are more than a few of us here with the same addiction.

I’ll try to address a few of the questions.

For planes that are going to be users, what sizes you need depends heavily on what type of work you will be doing. I recommend that people start with a smoother and a block plane, because they are the most useful to almost any woodworker. You’re there with your #4 (the most common size smoother) and block. A #4-1/2 is just a larger smoother, so is kind of redundant. I use a #4 size for most smoothing tasks, occasionally reaching for the 4-1/2. I’d put that on hold until after you build up your user set a bit more.

Going past those. Are you working a lot with rough stock or planning to use hand planes to dimension thickness? Then a #5 set up as a jack plane with a cambered iron (radiused cutting edge) will be a good addition. Doing a lot of large furniture and need to joint edges for glue up and flatten panels? You will want/need a jointer plane of some kind. A #7 will work, though I use a #6 size for the majority of those tasks. It’s long enough to maintain a good, flat reference surface, yet just enough smaller than a #7 to be easier and less fatiguing to use. Plus, #6’s generally cost about half of a #7.

Beyond the basic bench planes, a router plane is probably the most versatile joinery plane and usually a good investment. For rabbets, a #78 works well. If you want to make dadoes and grooves, then you would be looking at a combo plane, such as a #45 or #50.

There are lots of good vintage brands out there, Stanley is simply the most common. Millers Falls, Sargent, Union and Ohio Tool, among others, all made planes just as good in quality as Stanley, or even better in some people’s eyes. Then you can get into the re-branded lines. For example, Keen Kutter and Winchester were made by Stanley. Craftsman sourced planes from Stanley, Millers Falls and Sargent at different times. These were exactly the same as the manufacturer’s own planes in quality, just with a different name. In the end, unless you are trying to collect a specific brand or style, you are better off learning to identify the characteristics of a good quality plane and not worry as much about the brand.

There are several valuation guides, but the market is so flexible that I don’t know how well you can count on them to be accurate. For the most common planes, I find the best place to get a feel for pricing is ebay. Search for a certain plane and view the sold listings to see what they have been selling for over the past few months. That starts to give you an idea of the value range and you will learn to recognize whether prices are fair or not.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4456 posts in 3425 days


#2 posted 09-05-2014 07:57 PM

Down and dirty: #4 Stanley, #3 Stanley, #5 Stanley, #7 Stanley.
Won’t need any more basic planes than these.
You can go very esoteric with molders, profiles, etc. but, for just the basics, you won’t go wrong if you can find some good ones.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Loren's profile

Loren

8309 posts in 3113 days


#3 posted 09-05-2014 08:15 PM

Like JayT says above, there are bargains to be found
on planes that are as good as Stanley/Bailey. You can
look on ebay. Some of these are pretty interesting.

Craftsman sourced planes from Millers Falls and other
makers I think and those can be good planes at lower
prices… not that Bailey bench planes should cost
you that dearly.

Now when you get into shoulder planes and other
joinery planes then some of them are worth a bit
and for good reason, because they are made to
precision standards. Some planes are rare because
they were costly in the first place and most tradesmen
could not afford them, and so forth.

There’s some maker… can’t recall the name right
now, but it sounds like a gun maker… not Winchester
(there are Winchester planes), but some other
American gun maker had a line of planes that
are really cool looking and don’t attract a lot of
attention on ebay… maybe somebody will remember.

View dlgWoodWork's profile

dlgWoodWork

159 posts in 3219 days


#4 posted 09-05-2014 08:38 PM

The bench planes questions I think have been answered well. It really does depend on what you plan to use them for.

As mentioned, a router plane would be a nice one to have, especially if you cut many dado joints. They are good for putting in hinges too. New, Veritas and Lie Nielsen both make excellent router planes. You can find a good used Stanley #71 for around $50 or so usually.

If you do much mortise and tenon work, a shoulder plane would be a nice to have tool tool. The size will depend on the size of projects that you do.

-- Check out my projects and videos http://dlgwoodwork.com

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3562 days


#5 posted 09-05-2014 08:46 PM

Plane size is by function and preference in weight and hand size. (e.g. if you have small hands you might prefer a 3 over a 4).

3, 4, 4 1/2 are smoothing planes.

5 is a jack plane – rough stock removal

7, 8 are Jointer planes are used to true stock. Order of use is Jack, then jointer then smoothing plane.

Other planes to consider

Block planes, Router planes, combination planes, Rabbit planes, dado planes, etc. Picked up based on what you are working on.

Some good Plane brands to consider besides Stanley… Ohio, Sargent, Millers Falls, Union, Keen Kutter, Winchester, and Vaughan Bushnell

Look at flea markets, antique street sales, antique stores and yard sales if you have the time. Look at eBay to get a feel for “retail” and use that to judge if you have found a deal. Carefully inspect the planes for damage and missing parts.

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

View Ub1chris's profile

Ub1chris

85 posts in 845 days


#6 posted 09-05-2014 08:48 PM

I was where you are a week ago mike…I had a #4 and a couple blocks, and wanted more. I got a good buy on a 5 and a 7. Have just tried some practice cuts, nothing on a project yet, but I’m happy with what I got.i guess if I have a 4,5,and7 then I’m missing a 6 :)

Chris

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3562 days


#7 posted 09-05-2014 08:52 PM

LOL @ Chris

It will be quickly 1 to 8 with all the fractional sizes, of the same type (e.g. type 15s) and then you migrate to Bedrocks. After that you see the various Lie-Nelson planes that Red stages in his project posts and they start coming home.

Then you see cool combination plane, rabbit planes, etc. (this is known as the slippery slope)

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

View MikeUT's profile

MikeUT

123 posts in 824 days


#8 posted 09-05-2014 09:04 PM


Then a #5 set up as a jack plane with a cambered iron (radiused cutting edge) will be a good addition.

I appreciate the info. I assume you have to make your own cambered iron, how much of a radius do you grind in to the iron?

Thanks for all of the responses everyone! My wife is worried that I’ll go crazy collecting hand planes but I am looking forward to it!

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

14594 posts in 2148 days


#9 posted 09-05-2014 09:20 PM

According to Chris Schwarz, a 8” radius is about right for a fully cambered iron. Can be done on the shop’s grinder, just mark a black sharpie line to show the curve, and grind away.

I have one of them in a jack plane right now. Hungry devil, too. Big, wide open mouth to allow thick chips to fly right through. Yes, i said chips, these do not make shavings. besides, when you are taking a roughsawn board down to close to flat, a hungry plane is about right. You can also have a second iron set up for the Jack plane, to act as both a short jointer ( for shorter stock) or a LONG smoother, just knock the corners back a bit but leave a straight edge in the middle.

Of course, SOME of us have several of each sizes. I have several jacks, each with a slightly different grind to the edge.

Then, there is a little plane at harbor freight. A “Windsor #33” @ around $10 or so. About the same size as a #3 smooth plane. However, IF you put a 3” radius on it’s edge, it is one wicked Scrub plane. Works just like a Stanley #40, too. It will cut forever. Had mine for almost three years, have sharpened the edge twice. Worth a look, IF you get a lot of rough sawn lumber.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View JayT's profile

JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#10 posted 09-05-2014 09:21 PM


Then a #5 set up as a jack plane with a cambered iron (radiused cutting edge) will be a good addition.

I appreciate the info. I assume you have to make your own cambered iron, how much of a radius do you grind in to the iron?

Thanks for all of the responses everyone! My wife is worried that I ll go crazy collecting hand planes but I am looking forward to it!

- MikeUT

I could type out the whole process, but it’s already been done here

There needs to be a support group for the wives. Plane-Anon, anyone?. Mine’s very tolerant and just rolls her eyes when a new plane shows up in the mail or I have to ship one out.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View diverlloyd's profile

diverlloyd

1444 posts in 1322 days


#11 posted 09-05-2014 09:52 PM

Paul Sellers just did a scrub plane video on YouTube. You should check him out if you haven’t. He is very knowledgeable about hand tools. Oh welcome to lumber jocks and it’s a slippery slope you are on now. Hand tools are addictive my wife is even on the look out for them now.

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2533 posts in 1440 days


#12 posted 09-05-2014 10:02 PM

You let your wife see them JayT?? I always have them shipped to my office and then sneak them home before she gets off work.

She does always ask why I make tools and then ship them off to someone else though.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View MNclone's profile

MNclone

187 posts in 1049 days


#13 posted 09-05-2014 11:08 PM

I’ve just started down this path this summer. Picked up a craftsman #4 smoother equivalent, a wards master #7, a Defiance #5 and most recently a Stanley Bailey #4. When I got the Bailey home I kind of expected to find it of better quality than the others. That doesn’t really seem to be the case. The Defiance is the only one that doesn’t seem to be of as high quality.

Heading to an estate sale in the morning that had 3 tables of planes and hand tools in the listing pictures. Looking to pick up a nice block plane or 2. I’m excited and my wife thinks I’m crazy. She thinks I have some sort of disease.

Are wood bodied planes worth picking up for users? Or are they for the shelf?

View fuigb's profile

fuigb

404 posts in 2422 days


#14 posted 09-05-2014 11:23 PM

My Defiance #3 borders on disappointment, which is why I sprung five for a Bailey #3 with a cracked handle at a flea market last week. Half way home I started kicking myself for leaving the Stanley #8 at $40 behind. Got a #7. Got a#6. Now I’m thinking life will be unbearable without at least trying an #8. Might head back tomorrow morning to see if the old guy still has it.

Oh, actually the guy took four for the #3. I told him for i’d give him four and he could slug my buddy in the balls. Buddy was all oblivious, looking at at a rusty $15 #78 without a blade or lever cap. He wouldn’t a known what’d hit him.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View JayT's profile

JayT

4783 posts in 1676 days


#15 posted 09-06-2014 12:38 AM



You let your wife see them JayT?? I always have them shipped to my office and then sneak them home before she gets off work.

She does always ask why I make tools and then ship them off to someone else though.

- Hammerthumb

Mine is also a bit confused why I would build tools and ship them off. She did love the coloring of the plane you sent me though.

I have her convinced that I pay for the new ones with the profits from the ones shipped out. Don’t tell her any different, please. :-)

Also time to break this back out.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com