First hand planes

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Forum topic by PhillipRCW posted 03-27-2015 03:51 PM 1543 views 1 time favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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475 posts in 1286 days

03-27-2015 03:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

I am a complete virgin to hand planes, but I really want to pick up a few to start getting into it. I use a local saw mill for a lot of rough lumber and would like to finish some by hand rather than a planer every time. What would the top 3 planes be to start with? I don’t want to spend a ton of money to start, but a budget of around $250-$300 is where I’m at right now.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

32 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


7950 posts in 2172 days

#1 posted 03-27-2015 03:58 PM

Buy a some old Stanley planes, pre-WWII. Look for a #4, a #5, and maybe a #7. You should be able to get all 3 for under $200.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4119 days

#2 posted 03-27-2015 03:58 PM

If you want to put work into them restoring a set of Vintage Stanley’s made between 1910 and 1940 would be a good start. Other good brands are Union, Millers Falls, Ohio, Sargent). Stay away from post 1950 mass produced planes.

Lee Valley, Lie-Nielson make top tier modern planes but you would have to raise your budget
Woodriver (Woodcraft) would be a bit lower in cost, but you may have to do some tuning work.

Sizes 4, 5, and 7 or 8. ( Smoother, plane for rough stock removal and jointer plane)

Block plane 60 1/2 (Low angle block plane with adjustable mouth. )

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

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4119 days

#3 posted 03-27-2015 03:59 PM

Oops, Jmartel beat me to the punch

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15366 posts in 2640 days

#4 posted 03-27-2015 04:03 PM

A #5, a #7 and a #4 are the essential planes for finishing rough lumber. Consider a google search for a Chris Schwarz discussion on coarse, medium, fine as a decent foundation.

For new in that price range, getting all three may be tough. Wood River planes are good workers from what I’ve read. LN and Veritas will be out of that range. And there’s always vintage. Towards that end, to get where you want to be quickly, consider a reputable seller of used hand tools. There are a few, but fellow LJ Don W always comes to mind and has constant inventory coming and going (timetestedtools is his site).

Good luck!

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

View JayT's profile


5668 posts in 2233 days

#5 posted 03-27-2015 04:04 PM

For that budget you will need to look at good vintage planes. For good quality new ones, you would have to triple the budget.

Since you are starting with rough lumber, these planes will get you from rough to finish surface.

#5 jack with a cambered iron (radiused cutting edge). This cleans up the rough sawn surface and is used to quickly take boards to dimension and work out cupping and twist.

Jointer plane to flatten faces and true edges. The #7 is the most commonly used jointer plane, but I prefer a #6 size most of the time with no issues. Bonus is that #6’s usually cost half of what a #7 does.

Smoothing plane to get to the final surface. #4’s are the most common and easiest to find. A #3 or #4-1/2 would be fine, too, but they tend to be more expensive.

Pricing. You should be able to find user ready #4’s and #5’s for anywhere between $25 and $50. A #6 will be a little higher and a #7 is generally $100 and up.

Three sizes will get you from rough sawn to ready to use. I would suggest adding a good low angle block plane, as they are incredibly useful.

Edit: or +1 to the others, especially Smitty’s Coarse, Medium, Fine recommendation. With the budget left over from the planes, invest in a good sharpening system.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15366 posts in 2640 days

#6 posted 03-27-2015 04:04 PM

Wow, those guys type fast!

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

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3093 days

#7 posted 03-27-2015 04:04 PM

You can buy a used Stanley jointer plane, jack plane, and #4 plane for well within that budget, with a little money left to put toward some sharpening gear. If you don’t have a block plane already, you might want to pick up one of those, too. At worst you can sharpen with sandpaper, but if you can swing it use a belt sander or grinder just for the coarse grit(s), then a double-sided diamond plate with medium and fine/super-fine grits, and finish with stropping on a piece of leather or hard maple charged with honing compound.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View artsyfartsy's profile


985 posts in 1180 days

#8 posted 03-27-2015 04:07 PM

If you like cheap like I do, you should try going to estate sales. You can find some good tools at very low prices and you could probably find those planes previously mentioned. I’m always looking in the local paper for estate sales and auctions. But, you’ve got to get there early because antique collectors get to these estate sales before the coffee pot is done perking. I’ve found some of my planes for around $5.00 and they are good ones too!

-- DWelch. Michigan, The only dumb question is the one not asked!

View PhillipRCW's profile


475 posts in 1286 days

#9 posted 03-27-2015 04:09 PM

Wow, yeah I definitely need to get more information on the planes. I think I know now why I like power tools so much.

There’s some things I just don’t see why people would waste their time with hand tools, but to take the rough lumber to smooth and ready just seems like it would be satisfying to me. I love seeing the final product scraped with a card scraper and look almost polished. Very cool. But rabbit planes and round overs, I’ll just swipe it across the router table instead.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

View oltexasboy1's profile


250 posts in 1726 days

#10 posted 03-27-2015 04:10 PM
You might contact Don at his site or Patrick about buying planes from them, to get an idea about how much they will cost. Don, I think is a little less expensive for the beginner and he is very helpful and knowledgeable about information you need to get stated. I have bought stuff from both of them, and trust them both.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 1616 days

#11 posted 03-27-2015 04:43 PM

I just got my very first hand planes. I went through Time Tested Tools, and was put in contact with someone who sold me a world war II vintage Stanley #5 for $53 shipped. He cleaned it up and tuned it and sharpened it. This is useful so that I now know what a well tuned hand plane is like.

My second hand plane that I just received this week is a Faithful #7 from Amazon for $110. This plane is clearly not as well built as the Stanley, but I believe I can get it tuned up to work just as well. This plane seems to be in a sweet spot in terms of price and quality. I’ve seen enough positive reviews of it, but it’s not super-expensive like the WoodRiver $300 equivalent. The only other one in it’s realm is by Grizzly, for $80, and it doesn’t review as favorably. Also, that one has a corrugated soul, which I am not keen on, though I have no experience either way.

After a quick use of the Stanley on the edge of a board, I realized that a fence on my plane would assist me in keeping the plane perpendicular to the face, and so I hope to build one of those soon.

After a time, I may look at some local antique stores to see if there are other planes available that I may be able to restore.

A good reference is Mark Spagnolo’s (The Wood Whisperer) book “Hybrid Woodworking.” In it, he details the combination of hand tools and power tools that he uses, and why. From this I have planned to eventually get a shoulder plane, a block plane or a rabbeting block plane, and a router plane.

View ckytle's profile


2 posts in 1176 days

#12 posted 03-30-2015 02:08 AM

I was in your shoes about 2 years ago and I purchased an antique Stanley #4. I was totally NOT impressed with the quality of this tool. I did some more research….and purchased the Lie Nielson #62 Low Angle Jack Plane. The only thing I am sorry about is I didn’t make this purchase earlier. The quality is OUTSTANDING! and the plane is very versatile. I now have many of their planes, chisels and saws.

This is a very slippery slope! I have been replacing most of my power tools with good quality American made hand tools.

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1925 days

#13 posted 03-30-2015 05:00 AM

Well, Stanley planes are not created equal. Some of even the best years can have problems.
The LN planes are super nice, but unfortunately out of my budget.

View waho6o9's profile


8204 posts in 2599 days

#14 posted 03-30-2015 05:19 AM

+1 for ckytle go for quality and forget the frustration.

Low Angle Jack Plane

Patterned after the Stanley No. 62, the Low Angle Jack Plane is one of our most versatile and outstanding planes. The massive blade is set bevel-up in the milled bed at 12°, giving you maximum support of the cutting edge and a low angle of attack. The precise depth adjuster, moveable shoe for adjustment of the mouth opening, and the hefty blade allow you to tackle the most difficult jobs with the power of a Jack or the finesse of a Smoother.

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1925 days

#15 posted 03-30-2015 08:19 AM

Wow, I just noticed LN revised how flat their planes are from .0005” now to .002”, that’s a bunch.

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