How many block planes?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 11-04-2014 04:09 AM 1195 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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660 posts in 2107 days

11-04-2014 04:09 AM

For a user of hand tools, as opposed to a collector, is there any benefit to owning more than one or two block planes? Can multiple block planes be set up differently for different purposes?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

14 replies so far

View GeneralDisorder's profile


45 posts in 764 days

#1 posted 11-04-2014 04:25 AM

I work on string instruments and use 102’s on fingerboards from violin to upright bass. I have at least 12 and at least as many 202’s as well as other variations. I try to set them up the same and when one gets dull I put it down and pick up another sharp one. At least I try to set a few up the same.

View Tedstor's profile


1625 posts in 2057 days

#2 posted 11-04-2014 12:13 PM

Generally speaking, I’d bet the vast majority of woodworkers use one block plane 90+% of the time.
I have a:
Stanley Low Angle Block Plane
Record Standard Angle Block Plane
New model Craftsman block plane (bought as a $20 throwaway in 2009 for a scrub job).
Strangely, I reach for the craftsman almost every time a job calls for a block plane. Its considerably bigger and heavier than the other two, and just feels better in my hand.
I’m sure there are some people that buy multiple block planes and set them up differently. But the trend seems to be to buy multiple blades for the same plane, and sharpen them with different grinds.
I personally would gain nothing from either ‘strategy’, and get by just fine with my $20 beater.

View bigblockyeti's profile


3587 posts in 1145 days

#3 posted 11-04-2014 12:31 PM

I have three; A rough, but tuned and sharp old Craftsman standard angle. A nice Stanley low angle and a nice Stanley standard angle. If you’re using one most of the time, I can see where it would be beneficial to have another sharp and ready to go and sharpen multiple blades at once vs. having to stop and sharpen a blade then get back to work.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1359 days

#4 posted 11-04-2014 12:52 PM

I have a LN low angle adjustable mouth. It’s the only block plane I have, and I have made it for a while. If I ever get another one, I will get the LN rabbeting block plane. There have been multiple instances when I needed that exact tool and didn’t have it.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View knockknock's profile


332 posts in 1597 days

#5 posted 11-04-2014 01:06 PM

I have 2:

Veritas low angle block plane – permanently set up with the chamfer guide for chamfering.
Veritas left skew block plane – used for block plane duties, beveling, rabbeting and shooting.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13576 posts in 2042 days

#6 posted 11-04-2014 01:14 PM

Generally speaking, block planes are inexpensive tools that seem to multiply on their own when you reach three or so. There are different types of blocks (rabbet, skew, low-angle, etc) geared to excel at specific tasks, and there are general purpose blocks. Is there a benefit to having, for example, a half dozen #220s to setup in different ways? Not that I’m aware. But a single, general-purpose #220 is good to have. Then maybe a low angle block. Finally a rabbet / skew type. By then, you’ll be at three, so look out…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2264 posts in 1793 days

#7 posted 11-04-2014 02:01 PM

I have 2. I have my grandfather’s Stanley 9 1/4 which sees little use. I use it for rough tasks like trimming down dowels or splines quickly, but the lack of an adjustable mouth limits it for me. I have Stanley 18 with an adjustable mouth that I keep set for very fine cuts, and use it more often for finished cuts, like chamfering an edge.

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

View JayT's profile


4687 posts in 1635 days

#8 posted 11-04-2014 02:24 PM

How many block planes do I need? One more. :-)

One of the things you find with block planes is that they are so varied and can be so useful that it almost always seems like adding one more will be helpful. Could I get by with just a couple block planes? Probably, I just don’t want to find out. Like Tedstor, I use one block plane most of the time for general tasks, but there are times when certain features of a specific plane are useful, like a different blade angle or a skew or the rabbetting feature or a smaller size or a bigger size or …..

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

View waho6o9's profile


7125 posts in 2001 days

#9 posted 11-04-2014 02:34 PM

Get one with a fence so you can attach a block and

make different bevels etc…..

I have Stanleys, a Veritas, but my favorite is the LN:

View JohnChung's profile


367 posts in 1498 days

#10 posted 11-04-2014 05:51 PM

Apron plane for trimming
Std block plane for chamfer and planing small stock
Low angle block plane for end grain.

Each to it’s own. It depends on the work you are doing.

View felkadelic's profile


212 posts in 1964 days

#11 posted 11-04-2014 06:12 PM

I have:

Lie-Nielsen Low-Angle Adjustable Mouth
Lie-Nielsen Rabbeting Block
WoodRiver Low-Angle
WoodRiver Standard Angle

The Lie-Nielsens are my everyday planes. The Woodrivers are still in boxes—someday I’ll sell them. The Craftsman is my beater block which gets used on glue lines, etc.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17882 posts in 1991 days

#12 posted 11-05-2014 01:17 AM

there’s only a benefit if you have a need, and the need is dictated by the kind of work you do. I do most of my work with 2, but like mentioned, once in a while I grab the right or left handed skews, or one of the others I have set up for a particular reason.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View fuigb's profile


391 posts in 2381 days

#13 posted 11-05-2014 02:38 AM

One should be enough, but I’ll cop to being with the pack and having a couple. My shop is sorta spread out at times and so the wood equivalent of a stash gun comes in handy. An old Stanley found at a rummage sale and a Craftsman are my guys.

Had to chuckle after reading Tedstor’s remark. I’ve accumulated some old clunker hand tools -pass-alongs from friends cleaning out Dad’s box, crap found on the side of the road, and it surprises me how often these are the go-to tools. Just trying to use them up so that I can throw them away without guilt, I suppose, but I’ll be damned if some don’t live on and on. Maybe there’s also a special pride that comes from doing good work with nothing but junk, but either way…

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

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 1808 days

#14 posted 11-07-2014 11:35 PM

I have 2, got by with one for about 5 years.

One does not have an adjustable mouth. I use that one for chamfering and other non-fine work.

The other has an adjustable mouth, set very tight. I use it almost as a small smoothing plane, often for cleaning up after I’ve glued up a set of dovetails.

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

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