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Forum topic by bbasiaga posted 05-20-2015 03:23 PM 1059 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bbasiaga

754 posts in 1457 days


05-20-2015 03:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hand plane 4 block

I have a project coming up where I want to have inset drawers. Reading around it seems the best method to do this and get nice, even gaps is to use a hand plane for final fitting. I don’t have a hand plane, so I went ahead and started reading up on them. I have reviewed tons of great threads here with recommendations on first planes etc. Seems there are about 3 schools of thought, and I’m hoping you can help me see if I’ve distilled all this down in a reasonable fashion.

The three most common recommendations seem to be : #5 jack plane, #4 smoother, or a low angle block plane

Since I have a powered joiner and planer, and am looking at working thin edges, I’m feeling like the #5 might be a bit too big for me. Perhaps in the future I may desire something that can be used for flattening longer surfaces, but for now the tasks I have in mind seem to be smaller ones.

The part I’m having a hard time deciding between is the #4 smoother and the block plane. It seems like some of the low angle block planes are not significantly smaller than a #4, though I suppose that can be deceiving not having seen them in person. Watching videos on line, it seems like the #4 is going to be a little more versatile and easy to keep a consistent edge. But, I hear the low angle block planes are better for end grain, which of course two sides of each drawer will be.

So, all pros and cons considered, is a #4 the best tool for this job?

If so, in my budget i’d be looking at a Wood River or new Stanley. The wood river would be great if it is a decent tool, because at that price point I could get a waterstone or other sharpening device to use with it and not stress the budget. Are they any good?

I would not necessarily be opposed to a vintage plane, but don’t think that is how I want to go for the first one, as I’m not familiar with the operation and evaluation of these tools enough to spot what restoration work would need to be done. I’ll save that for the future if I get in to this hand plane stuff.

Thanks,
Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.


22 replies so far

View JohnChung's profile

JohnChung

372 posts in 1536 days


#1 posted 05-20-2015 03:58 PM

Please elaborate on thin edges. I don’t quite get it.

Paul Seller recommends Stanley #4 for most jobs. But there are situation that other planes would be more suited.

View HornedWoodwork's profile

HornedWoodwork

222 posts in 676 days


#2 posted 05-20-2015 04:17 PM

The number 4 is a 70% of the time plane for me. I use it on every project and it is the most versatile tool in my plane till. I have a 5, a 4 1/2, a block, a low angle jack-rabbet, a shoulder plane as well, which are all useful for many tasks but nothing is as versatile as the 4. It is the first thing I reach for to shape, flatten, smooth, or fair a surface. It can do wild and end grain as well as any other plane (mostly), and by changing how you grip it, the frog position, angle of cut, or camber of the blade, you can make it do almost anything. The No. 4 is the most well balanced tool in the till and I would highly endorse you getting one.

A high quality tool that has been previously loved won’t hurt your wallet ($35-100 is common) and, when correctly tuned, will give you a lifetime of excellent results. I would recommend a used Stanley, Bailey, or Miller’s Falls. When shopping ignore cosmetic imperfections and look for a flat(ish) sole and an iron that has no chips. Brass adjustment knobs are better than steel or aluminum, but a steel sole is perfectly good and quite common. You might run across a corrugated sole, they are fine and make flattening the sole easier, but otherwise don’t improve on the plane itself. If you have any other questions, post them here and we’ll help if we can.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

841 posts in 2437 days


#3 posted 05-20-2015 04:47 PM

I’ve just started becoming interested in hand tool methods. I had an el cheapo Ace Hardware block plane and an old Miller Falls #4 that was my wife’s gradnfather’s. I tried a little rehab on the #4 but became frustrated with the process. I recently purchased a Wood River #5-1/2 and low angle block The store manager was very helpful and did a quick initial setup showing me sharpening tips, etc. I’ve been very happy with the WR tools and plan on adding a #7 and #4 or #4-1/2 down the road.

I don’t think I had enough experience with hand planes to be successful with the rehab of the Miller Falls. If you look for a used #4, try to find one already in somewhat working order. For me, I was happy paying a little more additional cost for the WR so my time is spent learning to use the tool, not learning to rehab it.

I do think you are spot on with a #4 being a good size to fit your doors. A block plane might be too short and #5 too big…assuming doors are in the average range of 12” to 24” or 36”.

And, be sure to get a good sharpening setup to start with. I think that contributed to my frustration earlier is not having a good way to sharpen. When I bought the WR planes, I also picked up a Norton 1000/8000 water stone and DMT extra course diamond stone for heavy cutting and flattening the water stone.

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

754 posts in 1457 days


#4 posted 05-20-2015 05:06 PM



Please elaborate on thin edges. I don t quite get it.

Paul Seller recommends Stanley #4 for most jobs. But there are situation that other planes would be more suited.
- JohnChung

I mean the 3/4” thick edge of the top, bottom and sides of the drawer face. Probably also would use it on the outside faces of the sides of the drawers to tweak the fit that way.

I’m kind of kicking myself, because about two months ago I bought a 1000/6000 grit combo water stone for sharpening my chisels and card scrapers. The darn thing is too narrow for most plane blades. I”ll have to add another one of those too.

-Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View jdmaher's profile

jdmaher

384 posts in 2041 days


#5 posted 05-20-2015 05:07 PM

Fitting drawers is mostly art.

Me, I try really hard to make the drawer the right size (dime size gap on one side and the top), mostly by shaping and sizing the drawer front to the actual opening I wound up with. AND making absolutely sure that the edges of the drawer front are square to the face. Fitting of the drawer front IS done with a plane. If the drawer front is 3/4” thick (or more), I use a #4 smoother (mine is a Lie-Nielsen). If it’s 1/2” or small, I use either a block (low-angle or standard, I don’t care) or a #3 smoother (mine is and old Stanley). Those are the tools I have and the habits I’ve formed. The work could easily be done with just a good, sharp block plane.

Then I build the drawer as square as I can. Sometimes, my opening wasn’t perfectly square, so the drawer is a little “cocked” one way or another. However, it’s not visibly so – just very slightly off. Drawer sides get made square to the drawer front, back gets made square to the sides and bottom is SQUARE (and sitting in groove with a little extra room).

Final fitting of the drawer is by feel, then sight. For feel, I try to fit the drawer in the opening, feeling for any sticking points. THERE ALMOST NEVER ARE ANY. In the rare case there is, #4 on the sides and #3 or block on bottom – all along the surface (i.e., NOT just at the sticking point).

Last is the sight check. With the drawer in, I check the gaps for consistency. There ain’t NEVER an obvious inconsistency on the sides. Rarely, there is a noticeably inconsistent gap from side-to- side along the top. But it is probably just noticeable to me; a casual observer wouldn’t pay any attention. I take very light shavings with a block or #3 (on the top) to even it out, until my OCD is satisfied.

If you want to buy just one plane for this process (to start), get a really good block plane. I’d recommend Lie-Nielsen low-angle. If you are careful about your sizing and construction, that’s probably all you need.

Later, a #4 is a great smoother (for many purposes). However, since you have a powered jointer and planer, you might find (like me) that smoothing is more a touch-up activity. For that, I prefer my #3.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Tim's profile

Tim

3112 posts in 1423 days


#6 posted 05-21-2015 12:00 AM

A #4 plane can do end grain but it’s a skill that isn’t entirely obvious to learn. If you watch Paul Sellers’ videos carefully, he moves the #4 plane in a kind of circular motion when doing end grain. A low angle block plane can do end grain much more easily. And while I would also recommend a vintage plane, I would only recommend buying one already tuned up and ready to go unless you want to spend time learning how to tune them up and would enjoy that process. It can take a significant amount of time. There are several LJs that sell planes in ready to go condition. They would be significantly cheaper than a WR. You’ll eventually benefit from knowing how to tune up a plane from scratch but it’s good to start with at least one working well.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#7 posted 05-21-2015 12:17 AM

Everyone should have a block plane. Even power tool guys should have a block plane. Carpenters should have a block plane.

A #4;is for smoothing. A block plane is for fitting and touchup

Block plane first, #4 next,, hands down.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

754 posts in 1457 days


#8 posted 05-21-2015 12:39 AM

Lots of great stuff here. I would be open to buying a restored model from a trusted LJ. I will have to look in to that.

What do you guys think of the Veritas low angle smoother? It is equivalent to a #3 according to their description. While more than the wood river #4, the 1.75” blade means I can use the stones I already have ao total cost would be similar. I know they are well regarded tools. I am sure i will eventually add a nice block plane and probably some larger ones as well. But for now does this one seem like a good candidate for the job?

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6565 posts in 1612 days


#9 posted 05-21-2015 03:04 AM

I have the LV Low angle smoother. It’s a really nice plane. The blade it comes with is good for end grain, but I picked up a 50 deg blade for figured wood as well. You should be good with the stock one and just make a quick micro bevel with a higher angle if you are running into tearout. Like 5 swipes at a steeper angle. Don’t need much.

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

View BubbaIBA's profile

BubbaIBA

383 posts in 1838 days


#10 posted 05-21-2015 03:58 AM

Some folks that sharpen a lot like narrow stones for plane irons, stones that are not as wide as the iron they are sharpening. Working the whole stone with a wider iron helps keep the stone from developing a “dish” in the middle.

I use both wide and narrow stones, the end product is about the same.

ken

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

14559 posts in 2145 days


#11 posted 05-21-2015 04:12 AM

If the stone I’m using is too narrow for the iron….I just turn the stone 90 degrees. Something along the lines of the runway being too short…but a mile wide.

Depending on the size of the drawer being fitted. I have used one of my Millers Falls No. 14s, with a non-cambered iron, a #9 by Millers Falls, or a Low Angle Millers Falls block plane. Even an older Stanley 9-1/2 set fine, can fudge that last little bit. The plane I have for “bad” grain is a York Pitch Dunlap #3.

So, depending on the size of the drawer I’m fitting, will determine the size of the plane I use. Seems to work out

These were more about alignig the front and side’s bottom and top edges. Fit is almost piston tight. I will even use a block plane to ease the edges a bit.

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

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

3663 posts in 1727 days


#12 posted 05-21-2015 04:20 AM

Hey Brian, Don W hit the nail on the head. Try wet/dry paper on granite countertop scraps. It works great and if you get a longer piece it also works to flatten and lap a plane sole. I’ve found wet/dry paper to 3000 grit at auto paint supply shops.

View mandatory66's profile

mandatory66

201 posts in 1592 days


#13 posted 05-21-2015 04:24 AM

I have a few WR planes and I find they work as well as my lie Nielsens,just not as pretty.I would suggest a Lie Nielsen 60 1/2 block plane for trimming drawers. Most of the time they only need a little shaving here & there to get the right fit. My favorite all around work horse is a vintage Stanley #3. You will soon be doing a lot more than fitting drawers with your plane, when that starts you will be wishing for a larger plane. In this situation the LV low angle 3 would serve you well. (and also work well on the drawers.) The world of hand planes is addictive you have been forewarned.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

14559 posts in 2145 days


#14 posted 05-21-2015 04:28 AM

Addictive?

Whatever gave you that idea??? ( and this is just the iron bodied ones…)

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

View JohnChung's profile

JohnChung

372 posts in 1536 days


#15 posted 05-21-2015 01:38 PM


Please elaborate on thin edges. I don t quite get it.

Paul Seller recommends Stanley #4 for most jobs. But there are situation that other planes would be more suited.
- JohnChung

I mean the 3/4” thick edge of the top, bottom and sides of the drawer face. Probably also would use it on the outside faces of the sides of the drawers to tweak the fit that way.

I m kind of kicking myself, because about two months ago I bought a 1000/6000 grit combo water stone for sharpening my chisels and card scrapers. The darn thing is too narrow for most plane blades. I”ll have to add another one of those too.

-Brian

- bbasiaga

I would use a #4 for such work. A block plane would be a good starting plane but a #4 with be more adequate for this purpose. More weight and can remove the face of the board when required.

I started with sandpaper with glass backing for sharpening. But you should upgrade when you are ready for more sharpening. I mostly use hand tools for my wood work.

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