Hand planes?

I am totally clueless when it comes to hand planes but I would like to learn about them and to use them. There seems to be a thousand different styles. Is there an assortment of planes that are the most needed and most widely used to get started? If so could someone steer me in the right direction? Regards. -Guy
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Guy LaRochelle wrote:

Really depends on what you want to do with the plane once you have it.
Personally, I'd suggest starting with:
* assorted quality sandpapers ranging from 60 grit to 2000 grit with as many grits in between as possible
* a flat piece of glass, granite, marble, etc.
* a honing guide, such as the Veritas
(assuming you don't already have a sharpening setup... there's more than one way to do this of course, but this is cheap and easy... for more details, look into the Scary Sharp(tm) method)
Once you're capable of sharpening the iron, you're ready for a hand plane. I'd probably start with a #5. If no #5 is readily available, a #4 is also a good starting place. I hand surface semi-rough lumber with nothing more than one of each, but I have to re-adjust them to do different jobs constantly.
I suggest eBay or Patrick Leach or such for Stanleys. Try to get an old one. Older is better, but you're after a user, so it doesn't matter if it's ugly as long as all the parts are there. The new ones from Stanley are pretty crappy, so an old one is definitely better than a new one. Both will need some attention.
If you got a rust bucket, and if you have a battery charger, you can use the magic of electrolysis to clean it up. Whether you bought an old Stanley or a new one, the sole will probably need some (or a lot of) flattening, which can be done on the same piece of glass/granite/marble, with the same sandpaper you use for sharpening the iron. (This job sucks! Luckily, it only needs doing once.)
Or spare yourself all the trouble and spend some bucks on a new one from Veritas or such. Those $220 planes seem a lot cheaper once you've used up an entire pack of 60 grit paper flattening the sole on an old, rusty plane.
Once you get it cleaned up and the iron is sharp, the rest is pretty easy. Just fiddle with it and make curlies come out.
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On Sat, 10 Jan 2004 02:08:43 -0500, Silvan

- Snip some good advice -
I'd like to add:
The Handplane Book
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)73737929//ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/103-5997910-6893431?v=glance&s=books&nP7846>
It's out of print, so you'll need to check your local library, or buy it used.
Barry
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B a r r y B u r k e J r . wrote:

It may indeed be out of print, but I live in a fairly small town, population 50,000 or so, pretty far from Big City USA. I found this book in hardback at Books-A-Million and Waldenbooks. Barnes & Noble had a much cheaper paperback version. They all had several copies in stock before Christmas. I can't say that's still true.
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You live in a metropolis. We have about 2000 here.

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Thanks for all the info guys............much appreciated. Can someone explain what #4, #5, #9.........all means? Then someone will come out with #220...................quite a spread in the numbers and I don't understand the relationship. It's easy to figure out 6" or 8" jointer but this is not making any sense to me. Regards. -Guy

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Guy LaRochelle wrote:

http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan1.htm http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan2.htm http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan14.htm
You need to go to the website www.supertool.com and do some reading. It will solve most, if not all, your questions. The index to plane numbers is at: http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan0.htm
Asking w/o being willing to follow leads won't make you popular. Dave in Fairfax
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I looked at that website and I think if I was a collector it would be great info. I still didn't really get an explanation of how these plane numbers (#4, #5, #220.......) come to be. From what I can see if I was a renowned plane builder I could build a plane and call it a #10000 and that would be just fine. If it became popular someone else could come along and build there version of it and also call a #10000. Next thing you know that style of plane becomes the industry standard as a #10000. Correct? Regards. -Guy

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There's no rhyme or reason to the numbering. 90% of the conversations can be followed by remembering a few of Stanley's numbers:
#4 is a smoothing plane used for, uhm, smoothing #5 is a jack plane used for fairly rough work #6 is a bit longer than the jack plane #7 is a jointer plane for leveling surfaces and getting straight edges #8 is a longer version of the #7
#9-1/2, #60, #60-1/2, #65 are various incarnations of block planes
Manufacturers other than Stanley have their own numbering systems. People use terms like #4 & #5 because you can't go to a flea market or antique store without tripping over a Stanley bench plane. Millions were produced. Heck, when I started letting coworkers and relatives know that I was into hand planes I was given at least two of all the above mentioned planes. Seems everyone had a few kicking around their garage or attic because their father or grandfather had one for trimming doors.
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Sounds like the same rules and standards as the first versions of Microsoft Windows and windows applications (meaning there were no rules or standards) <grin>. Thanks for the info. Regards. -Guy

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Guy LaRochelle wrote:

You're pretty close to right with the analogy. Stanley is the original BORG. They either bought out, or run into the ground just about all the competition. Since they were the largest, amny of the competitors just used the Stanley numbering sequence on their planes. Some added a 0 in front or used the length of the plane, but the reality is that the Stanley numbers became the defacto standard. Memorize the site word-for-word, you WILL be tested, %-) and there shouldn't be any problems. You'll also be required to memorize the Miller's Falls and Sargent numbers and be able to cross reference them at a moment's notice. Oh yeah, there are about 20 "Types" of each number so you'll need to memorixe the type study as well. There you go, that should keep you busy for the rest of the afternoon. <BSEG>
Dave in Fairfax
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In germany things are (of course!) different: Plane types adhere to a standard (or several), there is a DIN (Deutsche Industrie Norm) for each type of plane, so the planes from different manufacurers look rather similar. Also the planes dont have a number, rather a name, for example theyare called something like "Rauhbank" (jointer plane), according to DIN 7311 with iron according to DIN 5145
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That makes good sense. Regards. -Guy
Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869

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On Sat, 10 Jan 2004 10:05:07 -0600, "Guy LaRochelle"

Angle subtended between the moon and Sirius on the night the first castings were poured. It's pretty much arbitrary.
http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan0.htm will give you a good lookup for the types of Stanley around
http://www.amgron.clara.net/planingpoints/planeindex.htm Jeff Gorman's planing notes will tell you more about how to use them
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I really depends on your woodworking style and what you want to achieve. As you say, there are a great variety of planes that can be had. For many woodworkers, you want to start with the basics. Perhaps the most useful first plane is a low angle block plane with an adjustable mouth. The Stanley number for this model was 60 1/2, but that may vary by maker. The block planes have fewer parts to tune, so are easier to get to know. You would use this plane for small, trimming jobs. They are especially well designed for trimming end grain, but a small block plane is just nice to have around for all sorts of trimming jobs.
That's where I suggest you start. If you get the bug, you may want to read Garrett Hack's Handplane Book. This will give you a good tutorial on the different types of planes and what they are used for, how to tune them up and the correct techniques for getting good performance. He also discusses many of the jigs that go along with handplaning.
Cheers, Eric
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Guy LaRochelle wrote:

www.supertool.com is a good starting place. Check the Blood & Gore link. If you have further questions, contact me via e-mail to save bandwidth or DAGS this NG for planes. Dave in Fairfax
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I'd start with a block plane such as a Stanley #60 or #220. These show up on eBay all time for prices under $20. The problem with eBay is it's hard to tell what shape the tool is going to be in, and sometimes historical/collector interest drive the prices up way beyond what value the item really has as a working tool.
Highland Hardware is currently selling a Stanley #9-1/2 block plane on sale for $30. I'm not sure of the subtle differences between a #9-1/2, #60, and the #220, but they're all basic block planes and all perfectly good as a first plane to buy. At $30, it's hard to go too far wrong, and unlike eBay, you know what you're getting.
If you don't mind spending a bit more money, Lee Valley (Veritas) and Lie-Nelson sell their own high-end versions of block planes for about $100. These are very nice tools, but quite a jump up in price and probably not what you're looking for as a first item to own.
At this point, what you want to do is get a decent item at a reasonable price and spend some time learning how to use, adjust, and sharpen it.
I wouldn't waste my time with anything they sell in Home Depot or similar consumer outlets. The Bucks Brothers stuff is pure junk, and much of the Stanley stuff you'll find there is their economy line of tools (i.e. junk). I'd go with the #9-1/2 from HH for $30.
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As somebody who just got started into handplanes (and traditonal woodworking in general) about 18 months ago, I can tell you what planes I've acquired, and which I use the most.
First off, you have to decide whether you prefer to buy brand new planes, or buy older planes and tune them up. Some of the new stuff (specifically Lie-Nielsen and Veritas) is good stuff, while there are other brands that aren't go great. Many woodworkers prefer older (as in pre-1960 or so) planes, as the quality was usually pretty good and they can be purchased for less than LN or Veritas. You'll need to learn how to tune them up to work well though.
In all cases, you'll need to learn how to sharpen blades properly. It's not difficult, and there are many methods for doing this. I personally use the Scary Sharp system, as it's inexpensive and effective.
Now, onto which planes to get. As others have stated, a block plane is pretty much necessary for any kind of woodworking, even if you're the biggest power tool junkie on the planet. They're useful for a variety of trimming operations. There's both a "standard" block plane, and a "low angle" block plane. The principle difference is that the blade sits at a lower angle in the plane than a "standard" block plane, which makes it better for trimming end grain. As you learn more about handplanes, you'll find that the angle at which the blade sits in the plane, as well as the angle you sharpen your blades at, makes a big difference in how well the plane works on various woods. I own a low angle block plane, made by Veritas.
The two planes I probably use the most (and would recommend you get next) are old Stanley bench planes: a #4 smoothing plane and a #7 jointer plane. As the name suggests, a #4 is usually used for final smoothing of flat surfaces prior to finishing. A #7 plane does a lot of different things, including jointing the edges of boards for edge gluing and getting the faces of boards flat. It's 22" long, and the length is what allows it to make surfaces flat. A #4 would follow the dips and high spots on a board, thereby not actually flatting the board. A #7 spans the high spots, planing them flat. Both of mine are old Stanleys, dating from the 1920s. Even if you do everything else with power tools, a #4 will allow you to quickly put a very smooth finish on boards, eliminating the ripples from planers and negating the need for sanding.
I also have a Stanley #5 jack plane, and the Millers Falls equivalent of the #3 plane. The #5 is kind of a "jack-of-all-trades" bench plane, and is the one you want if you can only afford to buy one plane. I'll use it to joint or flatten narrow or short boards, since it's lighter than the #7 and won't tire me out as quickly. It can also be used as a smoother in a pinch. The #3 is a smaller smoother than the #4, and I honestly don't use it much. I'll use to smooth a really small board, or pull it out when my #4 is getting a bit dull.
Other planes I own include a Veritas medium shoulder plane (for fine trimming of tenon shoulders and cheeks, or flatting the bottoms of rabbets/dados/grooves), a Stanley #78 rabbeting plane (for making rabbets on the edges of boards), a #71 router plane (for smoothing the bottoms of dados and the such), a #48 tongue-and-groove plane (for making tongues and grooves on the edges of boards), a #79 side rabbet plane (for widening dados and grooves), and a Stanley #45 combination plane (for making all sorts of dados/grooves, reeding, beading, etc.). All of these planes are really for people who prefer to do their woodworking by hand, and as such I wouldn't recommend their purchase unless you really take a liking to working with handplanes. They all require a fair amount of practice to master, especially the #45.
As others have said, Garrett Hack's "The Handplane Book" is a great reference. It should be the first book you get on the subject.
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Thanks for the info.....................much appreciated. Regards. -Guy

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"The Hand Plane Book" by Garret Hack is the best reference I have seen. Almost all of the planes I have are used Stanleys or close copies. If you choose that source, for getting started/general use I recommend a Bailey #4, a #5, and a low-angle block like a 60 1/2. Get a 9 1/2 too. All of these can be found for reasonable prices from flea markets, ebay, yard sales, etc. or a soemwhat higher prices and in enerally better shape from several dealers on the web. Patrick Leach comes to mind.
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