Plane Speaking

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I've been using power tools for a while now and while they're great for accuracy, saving time, etc., I find I'd still like to try using hand tools more often, especially planes. So here are my questions:
If you could only have four planes, which would they be? What brand? Where would I go to find the best information in tuning and using them (besides here)?
TIA for the help.
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Here is a place to start looking. Steve Knight often contributes to the group and hand builds each of his planes. I am sure he would be glad to answer your questions with good answers.
http://www.knight-toolworks.com /

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I have found Steve Knight, "Ted" at Lie-Nielson, and the folks at Lee Valley all to be exceptionally honest and not wanting to steer you wrong just to make a sale.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Ben) wrote in

This question is analogous to asking which of your children is your favorite.
Only four? What of the other twenty or so?
And does that preclude new additions?
Patriarch
These, however, I use more frequently than the others: Lie Nielsen Adjustable mouth block plane 1920's vintage Stanley #3 1960's vintage Stanley #6 Lee Valley (Veritas) Low Angle Apron plane
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On Sun, 26 Sep 2004 03:16:42 GMT, patriarch

So, how many kids do you have? Lose count above 20? ;-)

... and you want more?

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on re-reading, I guess that COULD be easily misunderstood. ;-)
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On 25 Sep 2004 19:25:00 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Ben) wrote:

Just three.
A block plane. The Lee Valley low-angle block plane. Best there is.
A bench plane - Stanley #5, either an old one off eBay and tuned up, or else a brand new Lee Valley equivalent. Not a #4 - the length of the #5 is more useful.
A smoother - Stanley #4 1/2 (eBay again), Lee Valley, or maybe one of Steve Knight's. The width of the #4 1/2 is useful compared to the #4.
If you really want a 4th, go for a #80 scraper. If you're rich, a #112 scraper plane. Lee Valley again, maybe Lie Nielsen, but not an old Stanley.
A #92 is a tiny rebate plane, good for cleaning cross-grain dados, or for cleaning up edge mouldings. The slightly larger #78 rebate plane is handy for some work too - much better for rebates, because it doesn't jam with chips.
One of the best resources around on tuning planes is Jeff Gorman's site: http://www.amgron.clara.net/planingpoints/planefettling/fettling.htm
IMHO, "tuning" a Stanley bench plane involves throwing the iron away and fitting either a Samurai iron, or a Clifton iron on a big plane. Others have their favourite brands, but I'd avoid Hock for beginners because they need a lot of sharpening work before they're ready for use - they're also an ugly shape with protruding corners.
The big list of Stanley variants is over here http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan0.htm Great reading, but you do _not_ need many planes !
Don't buy a #4. They grow on trees - pretty soon you'll have a dozen and be wondering what to do with them.
Don't buy a modern plane from a "big" maker. Manufacturing quality is rubbish.
If buying old Stanleys, anything from between the wars will work for you. Let the collectors fight over the weird variants - you don't need them as a user.
You really _don't_ need many planes. Have a handful of good ones, not a shelfload that either don't work right, or that you never use.
The Stanley Bailey adjuster is basically rubbish. Almost all the alternatives (Norris, Lee Valley, Calvert Stevens, even GTL) are a big improvement.
If you think Stanley bench planes are sloppy rubbish, you should see the block planes. You can make their old bench planes work, but most of the blocks are beyond hope! (buy that Lee Valley)
Avoid woodies, except for Steve Knight. Not because his planes are better, but because he ships them sharp and ready adjusted. He's one of very few planemakers where you can lift it out of the box and actually use it straightaway. As woodies _are_ a little awkward to set up right, they can be frustrating to beginners. Easy to use though, once they're right.
For adjusting woodies, ask again for advice (there's an old FWW article on Japanese planes that's good, if you can find it). Don't just wale away on a woodie, or you'll dent it.
Today I am mostly killing woodworm in a crateload of old English moulding planes....
--
Smert' spamionam

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Ben did say:

You're going to get a lot of "it depends" answers - here's another: Generally, the modern metal bodied planes are easier to use than wooden planes, but I find it more pleasurable to work with wooden planes. (with exceptions) My favorite "do everything" plane that works well on every wood I've tried regardless of figure is a Knight Toolworks infill plane. I've got the serial # 1 infill. (a little drive-by for your gloat reading pleasure)
A couple of knight medium woodies with different angles handle most other duties. A knight small smooth plane for the little stuff. (seeing a pattern?) When I want to remove lots of wood in a hurry, I've got a L-N scrub plane. It's a pleasure to use, but I do really need to get a wooden scrub...
A jointer plane of some sort is a necessity. I've got an old #7, and a japanese style wooden jointer for that. This is one size that I prefer the metal plane over the wooden one.
At some point you're going to want a plane that will shave it's full width, a rabbet plane in one of its variations for rabbets and shoulders. (better yet, one of each. It gets kind of addictive after a while) I'm kind of rambling here... back to your 4 planes. If limited to 4, I'd choose a low angle block plane, a rabbet plane, a medium sized bench plane (perhaps a #4 1/2 size), and a jointer plane. There. Now I pray to the woodworking gods that I never have to actually make that decision. I'd be paralyzed for months trying to find the right four. And I'll never give up my infill, so I can't possibly do with just four!
As for learning to use and maintain them, you could do a lot worse than Taunton's Handplanes in the Woodshop video. Watching the techniques used is far better than reading about it. If you have access to an experienced local woodworker who's willing to spend some time with you, that's even better. By the way, I have yet to talk to a woodworker that wouldn't be happy to spend some time passing along their knowledge to another. They're a very friendly bunch as a whole, so don't be shy about asking someone.
Russ
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I'm a newbie myself (2 years) but have picked up some ideas along the way...
First, a professional cabinet maker and instructor (at the Peter Korn school and Anderson ranch) told me that only two planes are needed: the Lie-Nielson (LN) adjustable mouth block plane and the LN #five and a half which is a compromise between a "baby jointer" and a big smoother.
Many others have told me that you should get planes in this order.... block plane #4 bench smoother jointer
If you're planning to take wood from the rough to finish, a scrub plane is good. Some folks think a scraper is important but I use the Lee Valley Veritas (LV) hand scraper. Beside the plane scrapers are reputed to be tricky to use - I don't know.
All that said, I've found many occasion to use a shoulder plane (Veritas Lee Valley medium) and a LN chisel plane.
A friend of mine bought the Steve Knight coffin smoother and raves about it so I just ordered one. (It should arrive next week - whoopi!) He claims there's nothing that beats the feel of wood on wood. Steve was such a pleasure to work with and willing to deviate from the woods on his web page to provide me with what I think will be a piece of art, that I also bought one of his razee style jointer planes.
However, LN and LV and also good to work with but they are more pricey, especially LN. But .... LN is usually considered the benchmark to beat.
Here's what I have currently: LN adjustable mounth block plane - I use this one more than any other, usually after I've built something and need to shave a littel here or there....
LV medium shoulder plane - Also used frequently to clean tenons.
Steve Knight coffin smoother - should arrive soon but based on the direction I'm headed, will be used a lot (instead of sand paper - dust, noise, etc).
LN #4.5 - beautiful plane. I haven't used it much. However as I have improved as a woodworker (and I have a long long way to go), I've began using is more.
LN small chisel plane - lot's of folks said I'd _not_ use this one much but I do. Sometimes I have large tenons which need cleaning. I go in from the end with the block plane and then finish up to the sholders with the chisel plane.
Steve Knight Jointer plane - since I have a powermatic 6# jointer, I'm not sure whether I'll use this one. It would sure be quieter and produce less dust though. Steve sent me pictures of the coffin smoother he's building and made me a great deal on a matching jointer. I couldn't refuse. Bloodwood with hard maple.
Next: Oh, maybe the LN #5.5 as the "pro" mentioned above. Or the LN skew angle block plane. A spoke shave may be in my future, too.
Lastly, let me say that there's lot's of people that do good work w/o a single plane. There's lot's of people that eschew power tools. I have found (and some of the books advise) a blending of the two. Going into hand tools is sometimes referred to as the "slippery slope". That's true. They have charm as pieces to collect and they have utility as tools and they are fun to use...to a point.
There are many plane makers but I've discoverd that Steve Knight, LV, and LN can meet all my plane lusts. The other manufactures don't seem to have the same plane sex appeal (with the possible exception of ECE). I also like buying American when I can. The Canadians (LV) are also nice.
BTW, I recently posted "What Plane Next" and some of the replies were quite good. Do an advanced search in rec.woodworking with the author Never Enough Money.
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Ben) wrote in message

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Would you and or could you post the pics of your yet to arrive Steve Knight planes? ;~)
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Start with a bog standard 4 or 4 1/2 which is what I use, then see what comes up cheap/free in need of TLC, got a 5 and 4 that way, and drew a bead on a 6 last week, if the old bugger will let it go....It might be covered in fine red but it will clean up just dandy for a user.
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Oh, I forgot to mention -- lot's of my friends swear by the low angle jack. LV sells a good one at a good price. For some reason, I personally have never been interested in it -- I guess it's because I've been told it's great for beginners (who tend to tear out the wood). Although I AM A BEGINNER, I don't want to admit it -- denial I guess...go for the real man's planes and all that stuff....
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Ben) wrote in message

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1. Low-angle adjustable mouth block - either Lie-Nielsen or Veritas.
2. Lie-Nielsen 4.5 smoother.
3. Lie-Nielsen jointer or fore plane (#6 or #7).
4. Lie-Nielsen rabbetting block plane.
then, you'll discover you want/need others:
- low-angle jack plane - shoulder plane(s) - scrub plane - more bench planes - specialty molding planes
To find out information about tuning them and using them, a great source is Lee Valley's website (look at a plane and then click on the info link and you get a lot of great info) and Lie-Nielsen's website (look for a Use & Care link).
A few others I have found invaluable:
http://www.antiquetools.com/sharp/index.html http://www.yesterdaystools.com/tuninga1.htm http://www.woodcentral.com/articles/metalplanetune.shtml and by far the most comprehensive and helpful http://www.amgron.clara.net/planingpoints/planeindex.htm
Good luck and have fun!
Mike
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Also do a search in rec.woodworking. I found "Re: small sets of hand planes (lists of 2, 5, and 8 planes)" by Lyn J. Mangiameli to be a good.
[snip]
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Never Enough Money wrote:

Good thread!
Here's a google cache: http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&c2coff=1&safe=off&threadm=mNlh6.700%240m5.84551%40newsread1.prod.itd.earthlink.net&rnum=1&prev=/groups%3Fhl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26c2coff%3D1%26safe%3Doff%26selm%3DmNlh6.700%25240m5.84551%2540newsread1.prod.itd.earthlink.net
BugBear
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Bugbear posts:

groups%3Fhl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26c2coff%3D1%26safe%3Doff%26selm%3Dm Nlh6.700%25240m5.84551%2540n
It's excellent, but let's not forget the date on the thread whenyou start considering shoulder planes. Veritas's shoulder planes weren't even all the way on the drawing board, so to speak, at that time, but exist now in several varieties. And that is not to knock the Lie-Nielsen models that are truly excellent, just to offer another choice (and to keep adding to the confusion, of course).
Charlie Self "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half." Gore Vidal
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Ben) wrote in

1 - a good block plane. In my experience, used (i.e. vintage Stanley) block planes are pretty well used up, so I'd suggest a new Lie-Nielsen or Lee Valley plane.
2 - a jack plane (#5). Lie-Nielsen if you have plenty of money, other wise an older Stanley.
These two are useful for trimming & adjusting even if you decide to stick with primarily power tool woodworking.
Beyond that, it sort of depends where you want to focus first. For finish work, the third & fourth would probably be a smoother (#3 or #4 size) and a scraping plane (like the L-N #112). Alternatively, if you wanted to focus on casework, etc, then you'd probably make a jointer (#7 or #8) and a shoulder plane the next two.
John
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On Mon, 27 Sep 2004 16:33:24 +0000 (UTC), John McCoy

I would put a decent medium shoulder plane in front of the #5.
My own experience suggests that the shoulder plane is more often used than and of my bench planes, as I use power tools for surfacing and edging.
Barry
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I find it interesting that no one has thought to ask the OP what sort of woodworking he will be doing. So, Ben, what'll it be--cabinet work, something with a lot of M&T joints, only Windsor chairs? Or maybe you, too, are a well-rounded individual and plan on doing a little of the lot? Your choice of planes would depend to some extent on what you want to do.
I have a bunch of old Stanleys, and keep getting more. Haven't sprung for the new high priced stuff. But I'm kinda cheap. :)
Dan
Dan
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On 27 Sep 2004 20:46:02 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gte.net (Dan Cullimore) wrote:

For just three or four planes, it doesn't matter.
Five or six start to make a difference.
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