Affordable hand plane for the beginners

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Forum topic by Geologist posted 04-22-2009 03:32 AM 21124 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 3535 days

04-22-2009 03:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: block plane hand plane cheap plane cheap block plane


I’m just starting out in woodworking and am slowly acquiring more tools as soon as my paychecks come in. And one thing I’ve noticed is that I really could use a good block plane. I purchased a cheap one off of ebay thinking I had gotten a good deal, turns out not to be the case. So 25 bucks down the drain already. I cant really afford a Lie Nelson or a Veritas plane, although I drool about them daily. And ever since the first failure, I’m reluctant to go out and buy a cheapie, being unsure of its quality. So if any of ya’ll have any suggestions, or maybe even a good reliable plane for sale, I would be glad to hear your advice!


Edit 4/22:
Here are some photos of my block plane. I checked the bottom of the plane with a machining square and it was true. Some of the problems that I’m having with it is that I can’t get the blade to catch any wood, and when I finally bring the blade down far enough it will only take chunks of wood out, or just skip. Either way, I have never produced and thin strips of wood, no matter how much sharpening I do! So, if by any chance there is a Lumberjock who lives in southern Indiana I would love to get together sometime and maybe spend a day working with you in your shop? Maybe learn a few tricks of the trade? I would bring a six pack of beer, or steaks to grill, and honey (my family owns a bee business).

27 replies so far

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3555 days

#1 posted 04-22-2009 03:38 AM

Any Stanley plane will be a good start. The trick with a cheap plane is to sharpen it more often. They often use softer grade steel, or lower quality. Keep that blade sharp, and you’ll do fine for a few years, until you can afford an upgrade. Most of the local home centers got cheapies. if you get a good cheap one not a cheap cheap one. check it out, make sure it’s rugged, and built well. find one with a good blade lock, some are cheap and the blade will move on you when you use it.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3592 days

#2 posted 04-22-2009 04:07 AM

Keep your eye at craigslist….with lots of people unemployed, many are selling everything trying to survive the situation…..last week, I saw a Lie NIelsen BP like new there and bought it for $70!!! ($165+tax new)

It’s particular to me, that a Block Plane , as small it is, is one of the planes more affected in performance by its quality construction.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3753 days

#3 posted 04-22-2009 06:48 AM

What was wrong with the first plane you bought?
I thought for a long time that my planes were broken or bad until a friend of mine tuned up my block plane and showed me the proper steps to get a plane planning really well.
I bought most of my planes at garage sales and estate sales for less than $10 each. Estate sales are especially good to find these kinds of bargains although you rarely see anything other than #5s and block planes.
It does take a long time since there may only be one estate sale a week than even has hand tools.

View Geologist's profile


27 posts in 3535 days

#4 posted 04-22-2009 11:57 AM

I guess that could be the case, me not knowing what I’m doing. And it probably is the case since I’m new to it. I have watched several videos on how to tune a plane, and I thought I was at least decent with sharpening, but what do I know. I guess what I really need is for someone to show me what I’m doing wrong…. Hmm…If only I knew someone in this field of expertise.

Thanks for the advice everyone!

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4190 days

#5 posted 04-22-2009 01:30 PM

To address your most recent post there might be a lumberjock nearby who would be willing to help in person. However, I’ll leave the revelation of your location entirely up to you….

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View JimBuchanan's profile


27 posts in 3548 days

#6 posted 04-22-2009 02:56 PM

I bought several planes on eBay that I’ve been happy with. I took a hand tool class at Woodcraft that helped me a lot with regard to sharpening my chisels and planes and using them properly. I would recommend it.

There are a ton of resources on the internet to guide you towards the right plane if you’re looking at older stuff. Restoring them to working condition is a lot of fun, too.

-- Jim

View knotscott's profile


8146 posts in 3574 days

#7 posted 04-22-2009 03:31 PM

Before giving up on the $25 block plane, what are the symptoms you’re getting that keeps it from functioning properly? Someone here might have some ideas to make it work. If it’s really a basket case from the get-go, it’d be a service to others to tells us the brand and model if it’s a new plane.

I’m getting good service from a couple of older reasonably priced planes…a Craftsman 9-1/2, a Record 09-1/2, a Record 060-1/2, and a Stanley 220. The end performance is usually determined by setup and sharpening.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View JimmyC's profile


106 posts in 3601 days

#8 posted 04-22-2009 04:36 PM

I use old Stanley’s and Records exclusively. Just buy Garrett Hack’s handplane book and it tells you how to tune old planes up so they work better than new.

Good Luck.

-- -JimmyC...Clayton,NC- "Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave"

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3847 days

#9 posted 04-22-2009 05:22 PM

I’m with knotscott on this one – before going and spending any more money on another block plane that will give you the same performance (I can almost guarantee you that…) why dont you share with us what’s wrong with your current one? what are the symptoms? whats wrong with it?

we can help you tune it, or at least give you some ideas.

I’m still using my stanley BP that I got from Lowes for $19.95. it works SUPER GREAT!!!!! (sure it’s a bit heavier and bulkier than LN/LV, but for $20, and my current needs, is more than plenty). my point is that even the lower cost planes can prove to be a great tool , if tuned properly.

Heres another great tool I recommend for you: The Handplane Book

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View WayneC's profile


13783 posts in 4296 days

#10 posted 04-22-2009 07:45 PM

I’m in the show us some photos of what you got camp. Hopefully, we can get the value of your $25 back.

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

View treeman's profile


208 posts in 3648 days

#11 posted 04-22-2009 09:27 PM

Most of the old and often called cheap handplanes will work just fine ONCE you really learn how to tune and sharpen them. I’m pretty new to handplanes myself. I had my father’s old Stanley #5 that would even scrape up sawdust. I had tried to use it a few times over the years but mostly it sat on a shelf for over 20 years.

I finally got the bug and deciede to learn how to use it. I read and watched everything I could get my hands on about sharpening and tuning a plane. I tackeled the #5 with mixed results at first. While it was better it was still difficult to use. I re-read and re-watched the tuning stuff again. I paid closer attention and worked on the #5 some more. This time I think I got it right. It will shave a see through shaving from red oak the full width of the blade. The sole is true and slick and it works like a dream.

Since then I have purchased 6 more “cheap” planes from eBay and spent the time to true them up. Every one of them now works as well as the #5. Most of these purchased planes are Stanleys that were sorely in need of attention. One was purchased for only $5 and $4.95 shipping. That was for a Stanley Bailey #3. I believe this one may turn out to be my favorite plane.

I believe that most can be made to work unless it is broken or has some type of mechanical problem. Like everything else in woodworking, you have to keep at it until you are satisfied with the results.

Good luck.

View WayneC's profile


13783 posts in 4296 days

#12 posted 04-22-2009 10:45 PM

If you were looking for a $70 dollar option….

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

View Geologist's profile


27 posts in 3535 days

#13 posted 04-23-2009 02:39 AM

I posted an update on the plane, and pics can be found on the links. It looks like a sharp plane and it is very heavy. I believe after reading all of your posts that this plane can be made into an awesome plane, I just, at the moment don’t yet have the experience to do so. Although, I just purchased the book all of you suggested and I should receive within a week! Thank you all for taking some of your time to help me out!!!!!


Oh, one more thing, if you have any extra time, I posted another thread with some questions on my first woodworking project!!! So if you would be so kind to check it out and offer any possible advice you may have to help me along!

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3847 days

#14 posted 04-23-2009 02:48 AM

looks like a good one… no need to go anywhere and spend anything to get anything else….. yet.

from the sound of it (the problem you described) it’s not a matter of unsharpened blade – the front throat opening, should be as small as you’d like the shavings thickness to be. if you want thin shavings – leave only ~1/32” opening in the throat (yours has an adjustable toe- thats a nice thing to have). leaving the throat too wide allows the blade to dig into the wood too deep, causing large chunks of wood to break off, and the plane to chatter.

either way – worth mentioning , make sure your blade is not sharp – but super sharp, there are many good tutorials on here and on the web how to accomplish that – aim for mirror finish on the blade, both back, and beveled edge.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Geologist's profile


27 posts in 3535 days

#15 posted 04-23-2009 02:53 AM

Thanks PurpLev!

I feel kinda relieved about not having to spend more money on a slightly better plane! I’ll definitely give that a try tomorrow! Someday I look forward to purchasing a LN or Veritas, but before that there are many other tools for my monies to go too. If anyone else thinks of something I should try I look forward on reading your comments! I’ve only been on this website for 2 weeks and I have already learned sooo much.

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