Long time lurker here, but brand new to actually working wood.
Have a question regarding which plane(s) to buy. I am assembling my
shop, and have a 6" jointer (Jet) and a portable planer (dewalt). So
far have mostly done some crude tables for the shop, and these have
But now want to start doing what I originally got into the hobby to do:
building my own furniture.
Toward that end, I figure I will probably need a hand plane or two.
Money is at a premium for the time being (did I not just mention the
above two power tools!), but I would rather buy high-quality stuff one
tool at a time than buy lots of things quickly and sacrifice on the
If you all had to buy ONE plane, which would it be?
Bench or block?
Thanks for any help you can give!
First decent plane I purchased was the Veritas low angle smoother. I
suggest that AND get the high angle replacement blade. It will then do
double duty. Great quality. Order from Lee Valley. You can't go wrong
with the Veritas line. I'm now at 4 Veritas planes/scrapers and counting...
If I could only have one plane, it would be the LN Adjustable Mouth block
plane, an interpretation of the venerable Stanley 9 1/2.
Dave's suggestion is a good one, because the Veritas is wider and heavier,
and works not unlike an old Stanley #3, which is also a favorite plane of
mine. I have the Veritas Block plane, and it's a good one, but it's not
the first one I pick up, for most projects.
This notion of one plane, however, is foreign to me. Rather like working
with only one species of wood, or eating only Mexican food, or only
listening to Beethoven.
Buy one block plane now. Budget for a Low Angle Smoother for the near
future. Expect to purchase a high angle blade for it as well.
Welcome to the quiet side, at least a little bit.
A craftsman swears by his tools, a hacker swears at his tools. If you have
never used a plane buy a cheap one at the hardware store. It is probably
better than those used to create the wonders in the Louvre and in
Williamsburg. If you inherit a fortune, by the "best" but don't expect that
the plane will do the work. You will still have to learn how to use it and
that takes a while. Did I forget sharpening? Thats another thing you need
to learn. You cannot buy skill, it's just a matter of your being
interested enough to put the time in. Keep trying!
I do NOT concur. The new planes from the hardware store, especially the
ones from India/China/CZ are not worth the time to flatten. And you
WILL need to flatten them. I looked at a GROZ at Woodcraft and it
rocked on its corners, don't even get me started about Anants or the HF
crap planes. The English Stanleys, Great Neck or the Chinese Buck Bros
are nearly as bad. None have decent, or even fair, blades or chip
breakers. Poor tools are usable by a craftsman, but are a lousey way to
learn how to use tools. Middle level tools, like OLD Stanleys are
usable, and arre probably acceptably flattened. They have usable blades
and chipbreakers. You can learn on them and use them without cursing,
assuming that you can sharpen. Going higher end than that to start is,
in my opinion, a waste of money, as is buying a crap and then getting
bummed out because it won't do the job.
The Old planes, woodies used to build things pre-Civil War work
perfectly well, and some say better, than metal bodies. They have a
learning curve in setting the blade and require care and feeding, but
they are incomparable in their feel when gliding over wood. Hardware
store planes are not at all in their class.
My tu sense,
Dave in Fairfax
reply-to doesn't work
use: daveldr at att dot net
No it isnt, I have some of those 18th century wooden planes and they
work just fine - locally made too. They work a _lot_ better than some
pressed-steel base plane from the usual DIY shops.
And what's wrong with English Stanleys? They're not great, but neither
are they bad. The #92 and family was always better than the US-made
We've had this question come up repeatedly, which I'm sure you've
noticed while lurking. The best advice would be to DAGS on it and read
the threads. The problem is with the question. What do you want the
plane to do. That is what makes all the difference in which one to get
or even which tye to get. The analogy is to say, "I'm moving out of my
parents house, what appliance should I buy?" I'd guess that you don't
have any experience using planes, and possibly not in sharpening. Just
getting some amorphous plane isn't an answer. Getting an expensive one
to use as a learning experience is probably a bad idea. Get one each,
block and bench planes and read up on shapening and fettling, then learn
how to use them. At that point, you'll have a better idea of what plane
to get. DON'T get a Buck or Great Neck or Stanley from the big box
stores. Go to the antique store and buy a few old
Stanleys/Sargents/Millers Falls planes. They'll be very usable if you
get ones without cracks or TOO much rust. A couple of them shouldn't
cost more than the replacement blade for a plane.
Dave in Fairfax
reply-to doesn't work
use: daveldr at att dot net
Great points, all true. In short, I have *no* experience using planes
at all. I've had very little formal woodworking training at all as a
matter of fact, and all of it has been on power tools. I guess I'm not
even sure *what* I'll need a hand plane on...so far my machine work has
been good enough to get me by. However, I'm sure that will change once
I stop building crude tables out of construction pine!!
Here's a corollary question, I guess: Some people rely heavily
(exclusively?) on their power tools, and some prefer the feeling of
hand tools. For the first group, and particularly if you own a power
planer and jointer, what DO you use your planes on mostly? I guess a
little more specifically, I'm most interested in building a variety of
tables, as well as bookcases and, when I get a LOT better, maybe a bed
The blockplane can put a bevel on an edge. It can smooth the edge of a
board. It can be used to fit a board between others,
Shoulder plane is good for fitting a tenon into a mortise or a tongue into a
dado. One pass at a time, it is very satisfying to have that tongue slip
properly into the groove.
The Knight coffin smoother, well, smoothes the wood.
That's exactly what I just ordered, the Lee Valley low-angle block.
Thanks for the advice. Thanks to everyone, too.
BTW, the Lee Valley shoulder planes look nice, and the ability to trim
the end-grain on tenons would be wonderful. The kinds of wood I will
be working will most likely be cherry, walnut, and mahogany. Any
preferences as to the LV Medium Shoulder versus the LV Bullnose?
Yes. They do different things. The bullnose gets into places the shoulder
plane doesn't fit. The shoulder plane takes a different type of shaving,
because the mouth is tight to the blade. A much smoother cut.
I use my shoulder plane a lot. I use the chisel plane I have very little,
although it is of excellent construction and quality. I have never missed
having a bullnose plane.
Another shoulder plane, for larger work, might find a place in my tool
cabinet. But not this week, cartainly.
The LV Medium shoulder could easily be one of the 'first 5' planes.
A penthouse, perhaps. Two more planes in the last 6 weeks, and neither one
has had a chance to be used as yet. Ceramic tile installation in the
master bath was 'interesting'.
A Steve Knight microsmoother, and one of the new Veritas Scrubs...
Perhaps this weekend, while working on the bathroom vanity project.
There's a trove of information at this link, including attempts to
answer questions such as "which plane first?" and "which one plane?"
MY first plane (and I only have 3) was the Veritas Apron plane - an
economical choice I thought for trimming/fitting. It has worked well
for me in this regard.
Crap - typo! (Couldn't paste into the Google "reply" window for some
There should be an "_" (underbar) added in the middle of the word
"handplanes" at the end of the link - i.e.
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