No.5 plane as a jointer?

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Forum topic by AESamuel posted 02-05-2015 05:32 PM 2163 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 639 days

02-05-2015 05:32 PM


A local 2nd hand tool store has some stanley No. 5s in fairly decent condition for about £25 and I was wondering if I could pick one up and use it to flatten boards and joint them together.
I’m just getting started in woodworking and I’m on a budget so the no 6’s and 7’s are much too expensive for me.
I do know a plane maker who can regrind the plane sole flat – I have my number 4 stanley with him to be re ground as I type.

So, would a flattened No.5 with a non-cambered iron be suitable for jointing and flattening purposes?

Thanks very much for any advice or input!

12 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13565 posts in 2035 days

#1 posted 02-05-2015 05:37 PM

A non-flattened five with cambered iron can be used to joint and flatten, too.

Much depends on the size of stock you’re working; a jack plane is long enough to joint 2’-3’ (one meter?) lengths, but more than that I’d say a #7 or #8. A slight camber can be used without issue; I prefer it on my #8 jointer, actually. And there’s no need for a jack plane to be perfectly flat to work well. Lots of info here on LJs, but suffice to say it’s all about the areas immediately in front of and behind the iron that are critical.

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

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Richard H

483 posts in 1097 days

#2 posted 02-05-2015 05:41 PM

For boards shorter than a couple feet I find a No. 5 is the best choice in my cramped shop. For longer boards it’s not ideal but with a bit of attention and checking the edge with a straightedge often it’s not that hard either. I use a No. 5 or it’s Low Angle counterpart pretty much for everything except when I need a specialized plane for longer boards. They call it a Jack plane for a very good reason as the size does fit well for a lot of tasks.

That’s not to say a No. 6 or 7 won’t make the job a little easier and you might need to pay attention to technique more with a 5 but look at it this way. If you get good at flattening a edge with a No. 5 than when you do get a longer bedded plane it will be just that much easier.

View JayT's profile (online now)


4669 posts in 1627 days

#3 posted 02-05-2015 05:43 PM

Pretty much agree with Smitty on the #5. I really like a #6 for most jointing tasks and around here they cost half of what a #7 does, but that depends on where you are and how easy they are to come across.

The only thing I would add on flattening is that I find there to be three key areas—toe, heel and front of the mouth. If those are all on the same flat geometric plane, the hand plane will work fine. the sole being a bit concave between those is generally not a problem because the plane is riding on the three areas that are flat. A convex sole is almost unusable, however.

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

View Loren's profile


8155 posts in 3064 days

#4 posted 02-05-2015 05:44 PM

I can’t joint a long edge without using a long doorhanger
level to check it. A #5 will do but a longer plane can
make some things easier. Shooting a one meter joint
with a jointer plane is not hard at all. You just kind
of push the sharp plane and the tool does what it is
made to do. With longer joints one’s craftsmanship is
more engaged and there will be various tendencies to
put “english” on the cut, which is not what you want.

Toshio Odate I believe can shoot a square 8’ joint in
one continuous walking stroke with a 14” long
Japanese plane. That’s a mastery skill.

View Ocelot's profile (online now)


1458 posts in 2054 days

#5 posted 02-05-2015 05:45 PM

Since you are just getting started in woodworking, as you say, do you know anybody who has some planes and would teach you or give you a chance to try your hand at it.

I’m new at handplaning myself, and have found that even with a No 7, I have a hard time getting a straight edge on a board. You would think that it would be easy to joint straight a 40 inch board with a 22 in plane, but it seems that it does take some skilll. Going down to a 14” plane would, presumably, make it even more difficult.


View AmericanCraftWood's profile


8 posts in 1289 days

#6 posted 02-05-2015 06:44 PM

Hi Asa, I actually use a Stanley no.6 as my jointer/jack, which isn’t much longer than a no.5.

My no.6 is definitely vintage, and was not ready for prime time when I got it, but there were only two main things I did to get it working like a champ.
1. I got the sole relatively flat – not perfectly flat, but from the toe to the blade is flat, and in line with the heel.
2. I replaced the blade and chip breaker with a new set from Hock Tools (Lee Valley has them too). The new blade and chip breaker are far superior (thicker, better material, milled flatter, and designed better) to what was in there originally and I recommend you save your pennies to upgrade, cause you won’t regret it. It may be offensive to some, but I enjoy planing with my no.6 more than with my Lie Nielsen #4-1/2 I think.

I wrote a blog post about my little rehab you may find helpful here:

As far jointing boards for a panel glue up, here is a great trick that will help you get a good glue joint even if you haven’t developed the skill to edge plane perfectly square to the face of your boards. You lay out your two boards that you’re going to glue up in the orientation you want them in the panel. You then put the bottom faces of the boards together so the edges that will be glued are right next to each other. Clamp the boards in a vise and joint them together at the same time. Whether you plane square or not, the angles of the two edges to be complimentary to each other so when you glue up they’ll come together perfectly.
If you’re a Fine Woodworking online member here’s an old article that explains the technique a little better

Good luck with that no.5!

-- Interesting woodworking projects & plans at

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7665 posts in 1796 days

#7 posted 02-05-2015 09:16 PM

Jack of all trades…


View Tim's profile


3026 posts in 1378 days

#8 posted 02-06-2015 06:42 PM

The shorter the plane you try to joint an edge with the more skill it takes. That doesn’t mean a really long plane does it all for you though. A really skilled person can joint an edge with a #4 plane and probably less.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13565 posts in 2035 days

#9 posted 02-06-2015 09:04 PM

Pls don’t read too much into the sarcasm (limitation of typing vs. speaking), but a skilled person might also be able to rip an 8” 1x with a coping saw. But, why would they?

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

View AESamuel's profile


61 posts in 639 days

#10 posted 02-07-2015 07:05 PM

Great, thanks a lot for all the information! Very useful.

I think I will go for a No.5, seems like it will suit my needs well!

View PatrickH's profile


51 posts in 1304 days

#11 posted 02-08-2015 05:19 PM

I’ve found that a board can be jointed with a Jack, but it takes a bit more time. The Jointer is nice, but not 100% necessary. Just take your time and measure often.


View Tgun's profile


1 post in 987 days

#12 posted 02-08-2015 11:34 PM

If you are diligent on checking ebay and keeping up with bids you can find some pretty good No7 planes! I just picked one up for about $40 plus $13 for shipping. it just needs a little cleaning up and should be good to go!! Just an idea. As far as what you can and can not joint with a No5, I dont know, lol. Im pretty new to wood working my self….....and VERY new to hand tool for wood working. Good luck!!

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