I can second Leon's endorsement of Steve Knight planes. I have the
coffin smoother and a planer. Wood on wood planning has a nice feel to
it. The wook right out of the box, too. The only downside it that it
takes him a while to make them -- the obvious advantage, though, is
that you get to pick the wood he uses.
I also have a couple from Lee Valley/Veritas and a couple from
Lie-Nielsen (made in USA if that's a factor for you, so are Steve's for
All excellent choices. The Lie-Nielsen's are more likely to be
heirlooms and will increase in values when the only manaufaturer left
in America is Lie-Nielsen (and Steve Knight).
: Any advice on an affordable option in hand planes. Links would be
: appreciated. How many and what sizes are recommended? Thanks! Peter
For new planes, I think the best bang is Lee Valley:
Very high quality, good prices, interesting updates to traditional designs.
For used (and older metal-bodied planes are typically very well made),
you can try Ebay, or sign up for the Oldtools list.
-- Andy Barss
First, if you go too cheap on a plane, you'll *almost* certainly be
disappointed with its performance. Anything you find at home depot or
harbor freight would fall into this category, as would many used planes
if you don't spend some good time cleaning/tuning/sharpening/etc.
I'll second that. Top notch quality, work great right out of the box,
no (or very little) fiddling required. A low angle block plane or a #4
smoother is a good choice for a first plane. A bevel-up plane would be
more versatile if you wanted differing blade angles, as you could buy
and re-grind extra blades instead of new planes. If you make a lot of
mortise and tenon joints, I'd consider a "Medium Shoulder Plane," but
I'd say my low-angle block gets more use.
I'll also second the Steve Knight (knight-toolworks.com) recommendation
for a wood plane - I have 2 of his planes, and I especially like the
razee jack. If you call him up and tell him this is your first plane,
he might give you a discount.
You can plan on spending at *least* $100-150 for either of these, but
IMO it's money well spent. Excellent customer service is part of the
If you want to spend just a little more, or just drool a bit, check out
Lie Nielsen (lie-nielsen.com). Also top-notch quality, but they seem
to be a little more expensive than LV.
Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned planes are really available
used (at any real discount) apparently because they're so good people
tend to keep them and/or demand is very high. There were just a few
Veritas (Lee Valley) planes on eBay, and they went for almost-new
If you really can't afford any of the above planes, I'd look for a used
(pre-WWII vintage) Stanley smoother or jack plane ($10-50), and plan on
replacing the blade ($25-35) and possibly the chipbreaker if necessary
($20-35). For good aftermarket blades, look for an A2 blade by Hock,
Lee Valley, or Lie-Nielsen.
No matter which plane you buy, you'll need some reliable means of
sharpening the iron (plane-speak for blade). Google "scary sharp" for
one inexpensive and very effective method, or look into a couple
Welcome to the slippery slope,
: Wow! I must say, this group has been an invaluable resource. Thanks all
: for taking the time to help out a beginner. Peter
Happy to help. Be sure to post back when you have the
first grin-inducing experience of taking a thin shaving off a board
and seeing how nice a surface the plan leaves.
-- Andy Barss
Some time ago I walked into a woodworking store and asked the same question.
The person could not provide an answer. It took me some time to realise
There is no single hand plane which is designed for all woodworking tasks.
Hence you really need to be asking recommendations of hand planes for
specific tasks, e.g.,
planing a straight edge on a long board,
surfacing a wide and long board
taking the rough spots off short length boards
flattening the bottoms of dados or tenons
making an edge to be 90degree after attempting to straighten the board
So ask yourself what do you envisage doing with a hand plane.
I started out thinking I would only need a single tool. I now have about 6
due to their specific designs and functions.
I second the recommendation to look at Lee Valley Tools. Most of my planes
are from Lee Valley.
I'm just starting with planes, here's my experience so far.
Bought a new stanley block plane. Out of the package it was a POS.
Blade wouldn't come through the mouth.. Blade was sharp enough out of
the package to cut soft butter. Spent time making the blade scary
sharp, opening the mouth with a file and lapping the base. Now it
works pretty well.
Went to ebay and bought a Shelton. Didn't even bother doing anything
with it didn't feel right at all. I would stay away from these.
Bought a Sargent on ebay and really like the feel of this tool. Took
it apart for cleaning an electrolitic de-rusting (gasp). Sharpened the
blade and it works well but I'm still working on the tuning of this
I have an old SoJo #4, Millers Falls subsidiary, plane that works well
If you don't have the money to buy something new from Lee Valley check
ebay but stay away from odd brands like Shelton. Be prepared to spend
time cleaning, polishing and sharpening whatever you get used. The
link below is a good resource for old Stanley planes.
Great resource. But no one has mentioned him yet as a source for
tools. Patrick Leach (the author of Stanley Blood and Gore) also sends
out a monthly newsletter of tools available for purchase. I have
bought from him before with great results. He's the type of guy that
you can just email and say "I'm looking for a #5 worker that won't
require a lot of tuning up. What do you have available?" That's the
way I bought my number 8, and felt I got a good deal (not a gloat, but
a fair deal for both of us).
The tool list email has just changed from a detailed list to a web
link. Here is the december list -- been out a week, so it might be
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
You're going to find lots of opinions on which planes to buy first both
on this newsgroup and in books and magazine. However, here's my take:
I use a 12" planer and a joiner (of the electrical kind) for the first
The I use a smoother hand plane. I have a 4 1/2 from Lin-Nielson (LN)
and a Steve Knight coffin smoother.
I also have a chisel plane (LN) which I frequently use to trim out
corners and such. I have a block plane which seems to come in handy a
The other plane I use a lot is the Lee Valley/Veritas Medium shoulder
I have several other planes but they don't get used much so.
If you're a purist about hand tools, you'll need adn want more.
Get yourself a hand *power* planer. Don't listen to these jokers with
their manual push planers; you want electricity. Man, you'll be
hogging down wood so fast it will make your head spin. Meanwhile the
Ludds will be staring through their micron-thick-see-through shavings
and wishing they could take off nothing at all! Any brand if fine,
just make sure it has *power*!!!
(remove all letters after y in the alphabet)
Well, there's the scrub plane that can take a bunch of wood off fast.
Maybe not as fast as your electric thing, but fast and a lot less
It's all a trade-off anyway. Hand tools are rewarding in their own way.
Electric tools are in another. I could trump your "hand power planer"
with an even more expensive tools. To each his own. BTW, sometimes I
enjoy being a Ludd with micron thick shavings, just like sometimes I
take a walk instead of driving.
On Dec 11, 7:00 pm, email@example.com (Ken Muldrew) wrote:
On 10 Dec 2006 10:58:48 -0800, " firstname.lastname@example.org"
Don't overlook flea markets or antique stores. A couple of months ago
I was in Ohio Amish country and found a Stanley 4 1/2 in nearly
perfect condition for just over $100. Decoded the markings/features
and discovered it was made around 1921...
I recently got somewhat interested in using hand planes. I'm
personally not one that would use these instead of a particular
power tool, but more that I use them with my power tools. I'm not an
expert with these things by any means, but I have been able to
incorporate them into what I do and they are useful.
Now here comes some heresy. If you're not sure what you need or
how you're going to use a hand plane--you don't need to buy a
Lie-Nielsen plane or other vendor's expensive plane to start out.
Buy an inexpensive #4 smooth plane from Home Depot (probably a
Buck), Lowes (Stanley) or a Groz from WoodCraft. These are about
$30-$40. Then get a bunch of the different grits of sand paper; a
hefty piece of flat glass or a granite surface plate and some type
of honing guide. Now read up on the Scary Sharp method of
putting an edge on these things. When you get all this home, prepare
to spend some time tuning it up before you ever have it touch any
This is essentially what I did, execpt I started with a Groz #5
jack plane. I got the combo Honing Guide and Jig Set from Veritas
and the granite surface plate. With the granite plate, you don't
need to use any adhesives on the sand paper to get it to stay put,
just get it wet and it'll stick to the granite.
Once you've got a sharp edge on the iron, put it all back together and
prepare to spend some time playing with it on scrap wood. Be further
prepared to have to take it back apart again, tweak the mouth opening
and so-forth. This is one of the tools that it takes some time to
develop a technique for how to use it. Expect to spend some time just
making shavings with some scrap wood. Also try using a variety of
different types of wood, if you have them available.
Don't get me wrong, if you've got the money, listen to what everyone
else has said and get one of the better and more expensive planes like
a Lie-Nielson. All though I don't currently own one, I certaily would
like to at some point.
I've currently got two Groz bench planes (a #4 and a #5) both
purchased from Wood Craft. I've also got a small Buck block plane
and one of Buck's little bitty block planes, both purhased from
Home Depot. After tuning and sharpening they all work great. No,
they're not as good as the equivalent Lie-Nielson planes, and no
their irons probably don't hold an edge as long as as the
Lie-Nielsons--but they *do* work and they leave a nice smooth finish.
: http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid "4
If you want to reply via email, change the obvious words to numbers and
Michael, I like your post but we should all remember the same advice
you offered for hand tools also applies to power tools. If you're not
sure how you're going to use them, don't go out and buy yhe best Dewalt
or Bosch. Buy a used one or some cheapy thing. Maybe one that needs
some work to make it work, like the cheap planes you bought.
I happened to think "quality is economy." If I buy I buy good stuff. In
the long run that strategy harly ever fails me. Oh wait, my moniker is
"Never Enough Money." Maybe I need to rethink this thing..... Cheers
One more thing, I'd much rather make furniture than spend time making
tools works -- i.e. bringing a cheap hand plane up to snuff.
Awhile back, I owned neither a hand plane or an electric jointer. I
had reached a point where I realized I needed to be able to edge joint
boards for the things I was doing. So I started investigating how to do
this. I wanted to buy an electric jointer, but that was not financially
feasible at that point in time, with jointers typically running $400 and
up. So I looked at the hand plane option, but when I noticed some of
these were nearly as much as an electric jointer, I despaired of finding
an affordable way to do what I needed to do.
Awhile later, I discovered Wood Craft sold planes that were affordable
(i.e., Groz). Now the hand plane option was looking to be both an
interesting and affordable solution to accomplish my goal of being able
to do edge jointing.
As it turns out, I've got more time than money, so gettting the Groz
#5 (while not actually a jointer plane) turned out to be a cost
effective way to accomplish my goal. Sure it took some time to get it
tuned up, but then, I'd *never* done it before either. I learned
quite a bit and when I started making some nice translucent shavings
with that plane, I felt like I had accomplished something. Having done
this, I feel like now I could probably tune up just about any plane
and get it doing something useful. I can also now appreciate what a
better plane can do.
I've since purchased another Groz (a #4) along with a Buck block
plane and a Buck trim plane (very small, goes for about about $8
at Home Depot). I've been able to tune all of them up, get a nice
sharp edge on all of their irons and use each of them to do useful
work. All of them are what I would classify as affordable, which
is what the original poster of this thread wanted to know about
when he asked:
Any advice on an affordable option in hand planes.
If you want to reply via email, change the obvious words to numbers and
You either got the two that worked, or Rockler got the junk. There were
zero, zip, zilch, none, nada in the store's shipment that were worth
cleaning the crud off of when they came in a couple of summers back.
I didn't really believe I was _that much_ of a tool snob until then.
thinking that old Stanleys are the way to start, and LNs the way to blow a
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