I'm about to construct a frame and panel chest with Mahogany. It looks like
a local supplier is going to be able to do a little ripping and maybe
resawing to get me the general sizes of stock I need since I don't yet own a
tablesaw. I hope to finish the job with handplanes. I'm looking through
the Lee Valley catalog and I can't figure out what the most useful plane
would be to add to the low angle block plane and shoulder plane I have now.
I won't be planing anything over 40" in length for this project. I will be
edge joining a few boards to make the panels I need but the stock I'll be
using should be pretty square on one edge so I shouldn't have to worry about
taking off lots of material to prepare for joining.
Is that enough info to make it possible to offer good advice? I can't
decide whether I should get a bench plane or a smooth plane here. I'm
leaning heavily toward the Veritas #4 smooth plane. It seems I've read
about low angle block planes and #4 planes being good starting points as
both are pretty versatile. Is 9.5" long enough to true an edge on a 40"
board if needed or should I maybe think about the #51/4W since it is 12"
long? What about after I've joined the boards to build the panels and need
to smooth the joint? Will the #4 do that job well or should I be thinking
about using a scraper for that anyway?
I know I've asked a lot of questions here. I've been doing research myself
and I own The Handplane Book, which I'm about to go read a little more but I
thought I would ask here as well.
Thanks in advance for any help!
If you plan to do jointing by hand, you are better off with a longer
plane, like a jack plane.
Have you thought about how you might raise your panels or rabbet the
edges, and how you will make the dadoes on your rails/stiles?
Good luck with the project -- enjoy!
Seems Lee Valley and George has a fine "Junior Jack" which is long enough
for careful joining, and short enough for surfacing. Even a ham-handed guy
like myself can grip it easily with the clearance available in the new
design, and the ease of blade adjustment makes it ideal for new folks.
With Mahogany, since it runs to "rowed" grain, you might consider a second
iron, back-beveled for a little higher angle of attack.
EVERYONE should have a scraper (or three) at hand, and the dial-a-burnish LV
sells gives finest shaving to glue-busting angles over and over again.
That's the 51/4W I mentioned. I have pretty much decided it will either be
that one or the #4. I think the 51/4 would be better suited to this project
but I think I'll want to get true jointer and smoother planes later. Would
I ever use a 12" plane if I have a 9.5" plane and a longer, maybe 18" or so,
plane? Or, would the "Junior Jack" do smoothing just as well as the #4 so
there would be no need for the slightly shorter plane? I'm very good at
making thngs complicated.
Thanks for this info.
I haven't tried one yet but plan to. I'll have to look up the burnisher in
their catalog since I haven't noticed it yet.
I'd make that smoother a low angle. Since I have a nice smoother, I use it,
but when it really counts, I find myself reaching for the low angle which,
paradoxically, gives me a fine surface on figured hardwood. Supposed to use
high angle stuff for that. With the Junior Jack and the low-angle I could
pass up the old Stanley smoother, though he's a fine plane. Have an old
Fore I use when I don't use a power jointer, but mostly jointing is too easy
on the machine.
You can raise panels with your shoulder plane. Scribe, rabbet your reveal,
scribe the bevel, cut; then scribe and rabbet for the insert into the frame.
It's a technique which was once common. Marlowe is where I first met it.
Even if you do end up routing, take the bulk out with your planes, the
bearings will thank you.
I have a router and a half finished table for it. I don't know if it's
powerful enough to turn a panel raising bit and it is not variable speed so
rabbets are probably the way I'll be going.
The Lee Valley/Veritas and LN planes are surely very high quality
tools capable of doing very fine work. However, on a limited budget
IMO money would be better spent on some used Stanleys. For the work
you described you could edge joint with a #5 and do some of the
finishing with a #4. If edge jointing longer boards is in your future
look for a #7 as well. I have a #6 that I find very useful though many
others will say it is a wasted size. For what a single Veritas plane
costs, you could buy a used Stanley 4,5, and 7 that would of course
need some tuning and work, but probably be capable of doing 95% of
what the more expensive planes will.
Thanks Larry. I've read a lot about buying used planes and tuning them and
thought about going that way. In the end, I decided that it's worth it to
me to buy something I know will come out of the box ready to use after a
little honing of the iron and very minor tuning. Even with the reading I've
been doing on tuning used planes I just don't know if I want to try it right
now. And with my lack of experience at this, I just don't know what to look
for in a used plane to be sure it doesn't have some kind of damage or
whatever. It will certainly take me longer to build a collection this way
but I will be proud to own them and know that I have a quality tool that is
going to last my lifetime. Though I'm sure an old Stanley would last a very
long time and do quality work also. I don't mind spending the money for
good tools but I don't want to buy the wrong tool or one that I will no
longer use much once I add tool X to my collection.
I am not one of those people. I have a #6 and use it for just about
every planing job. I've used it for thicknessing, jointing small
boards and boards up to 5ft., planing end grain, and smoothing.
I find it's size just about perfect. Longer than a #5 to joint long
boards, but not too heavy to smooth faces of smaller boards. In fact,
I like the extra heft when face planing. It's a very good all around
The #6 sure seemed like a good size to have when I was reading about planes
and what is available. I actually had it on my list before the #7 before
reading so many negative comments about it's usefulness. It's actually
pretty weird to see the general attitude about this plane. I still think I
might pick one up at some point. I got my new rusty old Stanley #7 tonight
You're off to a good start, but don't fool yourself into thinking
you won't be adding to your "collection". If you really go for the
handtool thing, you'll be buying a rabbet plane, shoulder plane, plow
plane, scraper plane, lower-angle plus higher-angle smoothers, etc.,
I came upon this thread late, or I would have weighed in with those
who suggested a #6. I bought my old WWII-era foreplane after I owned
a smoother and low-angle block, and it quickly became my most-used
plane. It's long enough for most medium jointing tasks, works well
for surfacing panels and such, and can be used as a smoother in some
While I love my vintage Stanley, if I was in the position to buy
one now, I'd probably opt for the Lee Valley plane. It fills the
niche between the really high-end boys and the old Stanleys, and when
you figure that you'll likely need to replace the old iron in the
Stanley with a Hock or similar upgrade ($40+), it makes even better
Anyhow, you might want to start playing around with your Lee Valley
plane first and as you get accustomed to what it can do, it will give
you a benchmark (no pun intended) for the old #7. The adjustment
mechanisms aren't the same, but at least you'll know what the
end-result can look like.
Have fun and welcome to the slope.
Just say (tmPL) It's slippery down here ... wheeeeee!!!
I'm thinking pretty seriously about ordering the Veritas #6 after my next
paycheck. I would have loved to have picked up that Lie Nielson #7 instead
of the old Stanley I bought but $400.00 is pretty hard to swallow for a
single handtool. If I prove to myself that I'm really going to use these
things maybe I'll go for it down the road. Once I get a basic collection of
hand tools I need to save some pennies for a good table saw though. I've
come so close to going to Home Depot and just picking up the BT3100 to use
until I can afford what I want but haven't done so.
You might want to check of ebay for the Clifton #7 that Lee Richmond
www.thebestthings.com is offering. I bought mine from Woodcraft on closeout
and got a great deal. The sole is dead flat as it came out of the box.
2 points for you.
1) If you are into hand tools, check out wooden hand planes
(http://www.knight-toolworks.com ). I have metal and wooden and LOVE
to use my wooden plane (soon to be planes -- I have another on order).
It's beautiful to look at (purple heart coffin smoother with curly
maple inlay) and makes the most fluffy shavings -- my heart speeds up
each time I use it. Just a suggestion.
2) As for picking up a less expensive table saw -- check the
classifieds in your area. I wish I had started there, I've picked up
tons of stuff for CHEAP through the paper. Examples: $300 mortiser
-- $100. $900 8" Jointer -- $450. $150 router -- $5 (my favorite
steal ;). $350 drill press -- $130. $800 bandsaw -- $250. Most of
these things have seen very little use (1-3 years max). Reasons sold
vary too -- divorce, moving, upgrading, quiting, etc. I bought my
tablesaw brand new, but I've seen Dewalt, Delta, Grizzly, Jet from
cabinet to contract for anywhere from $350-$900.
Good luck and enjoy!!
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