I'm a newbie with a miniscule budget who needs a good all-purpose plane.
Yes I know that no such things exists, but if it did, what type (smooth,
jack, bench, jointer)and brand would it be?
Something for under $50 would be perfect
A decent sharpening stone and eBay ?
There's no one all-purpose plane. But the nearest you're likely to get
is a #5 and a block plane, preferably low angle. Old is good.
Ignore #4s. They grow on trees and they'll start popping up of their
own account before too long.
Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
Kind of depends on what you want to do, but the #5 was the "jack" o' all
trades. Lucky for you they are the cheapest and most available. Probably
has a lot to do with past generations also needing a "good all-purpose
I've had decent luck off eBay. It's worth seeing if your library has a
copy of Garrett Hack's "The Handplane book"
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)67302330
/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/102-1874752-3101702?v=glance&nP7846> and give it a
read *before* you go a-buying, then pick a copy up for yourself later.
It's a great reference and I found it very helpful when I started
Yes, why not? As previous posters have indicated, go for a #5, or even
better still, a #5 1/2. Reason is that a plane does 2 things - it flattens
a surface, and it makes it smooth. The shorter the plane, the more quickly
it will smooth. The longer the plane, the better it will flatten. I would
choose a #5 (long) over a #4 (short) because a #5 will smooth better than a
#4 will flatten.
As regards popular brands, my preference - if cost is no object - would be:
Karl Holtey - the hand-made metal plane par excellence. You'd be looking at
one of the A1 series of panel planes to equate to the #5 lengthwise. Simply
outstanding in every respect, except for price, which is outrageous - you're
talking in the several thousands of dollars rather than the mere hundreds.
Only a very rich man or a high-earning craftsman at the peak of his craft
would buy one.
Lie-Nielsen - terrific quality, still expensive, but much more affordable
Clifton - Great quality and about 1/2 the price of L-N, but much more than
1/2 the quality. Probably the best value for money in up-market planes,
IMHO. You can also get thick Stay-set irons.
Stanley (US, Old). Good workmanlike planes, which may need a little bit of
attention and tuning.
Record (UK, Old). Good workmanlike clones of Stanley, but, by consensus,
not quite as good quality. Will need some tuning to get the best from them.
Once tuned, I personally don't think there's much difference
performance-wise between them and the old Stanleys. In some respects, like
Stay-set irons, they were better.
Stanley (UK, Old) - Never reached quite the heights as their US cousins,
dunno why, but still a good plane.
Record (New). Not bad. I have a couple, but they don't seem to have the
same amount of metal as the old ones, and they have nasty plastic handles.
You can buy replacement wooden handles. They also need tuning.
Note that I don't rate the new Stanleys at all. They're now pitching
themselves at the DIY market, rather than the serious woodworker.
In compiling this list I've gone on personal experience - some of which, I
admit, was limited to a quick clutch at a trade show - and tried not to be
partisan. Some people may howl in protest that I haven't talked about the
many excellent Swiss or German planes etc on the market, or some of the
better custom-makers This is only because I have no experience of them and
so cannot judge. The list above is very subjective and is the outcome of
one man's experience and research. YMMV.
As regards source, well, eBay, flea markets, garage sales, car-boot sales
and local auctions are caveat emptor. If you see one of the above at a good
price, then snap it up. Be wary of any plane with cracks round the mouth.
You can live with a little cupping (crosswise) or bowing (lengthwise) of the
sole within a few thou, since you can flatten it out, but ignore any plane
which has a twist to its sole - you'll need to remove so much metal to
straighten it that you won't have a viable plane. Chipped, cracked or
missing handles, knackered cutters or back-irons aren't an issue if youre a
user, rather than a collector - you can easily replace them.
Frank, I don't understand why a longer plane doesn't smooth. Also, you
didn't mention Veritas planes. Any particular reason or do you not own
any of that brand? I'm thinking of getting a low angle block plane
Frank McVey wrote:
I'm not really sure of the answer about the long plane and smoothing issue,
but I can highly recommend the Veritas low angle block plane. It's a
wonderful tool and I use it all the time. If you want to go all out, the
Lie-Nielsen one is probably better in fit and finish, but I doubt it
performs all that much better in use than the Veritas.
It will - it just takes a lot longer, because you have to get the
surface both perfectly flat _and_ smooth. With the shorter plane,
you can smooth a hollowish area without having to bring the rest
of the surface down to the same level (note that by "hollowish"
I'm speaking in terms of a plane shaving thickness or so - a
scarcely perceptible hollow).
Spot on John. If you consider the surface of your wood to be a series of
miniscule hills and valleys, a long plane will bridge the valleys and only
ride on the tops of the hills. It will not smooth the valleys until the
hills have been levelled. Ashort plane will tend to follow the terrain
better and smooth the hills and valleys at the same time.
Given a perfectly flat surface to start with in the first place, both long
and short planes will smooth equally well.
I have one Clifton plane and two Veritas planes (no Lie-Nielsen yet), and
although I really like my Veritas tools, I think Clifton is by FAR a better
quality plane than the Veritas ones. I'm not giving my Veritas ones away,
mind you, but when you do a side by side comparison it becomes clear. One
caveat is that they aren't the same types of planes. I know I've seen a
review of bench planes that included these three brands and some others, I
just don't know exactly where I saw it. maybe woodcentral.
in message wrote:
If you're not familiar with planes, I'd suggest buying from one of
the dealers - Pat Leach or Tom Bruce or one of those folks. That
way you'll at least be sure someone knowledgable has looked at
the plane & verified all the pieces are there, etc.
Patrick Leach is at www.supertool.com
Tom Bruce is at http://www.mindspring.com/%7Etrbruce/toolhut/catalog.html
You could email either with your question and I'm sure they'd
have suggestions & advice.
Shot it down before it ever took off. There is no such thing as a new
GREAT plane. Heck, even a beat up Bedrock is $100 up.I can take a
cheap plane, a Ron Hock iron, a set of waterstones and you would love
it. Maybe you could lower your sights. MAybe you won't use it much so
you just need a cheap used one.
If I had it all to do over again, I'd get a #5.
I only own one plane, and it's a #4. I just used it to turn a 6' walnut
board into a box to hold checkers, and a frame for the board. Only eight
small pieces of lumber for the project, really, and it's sort of depressing
when I dwell on how much time I spent getting those eight small pieces of
lumber ready to use.
I did it though, with nothing but a #4. I jointed one edge of the board
enough to get a reasonable first rough crosscut, then I jointed the the
resulting two boards to very near perfection (cheating by using a
shop-built jointing fence I rigged up out of angle iron I had on-hand.)
Cut one of them again, yielding three boards. Then I cut two of the boards
into four smaller boards each, and thickness planed them all. I should
have thicknessed the two boards while they were still one piece,
incidentally, as it was a bitch to get both sets of four to the same
After it was all assembled, I used the plane to smooth the wood. I never
did get all the chatter marks and other gotchas out of it, but I'm
learning, and it looks pretty decent. All in all, I had to re-sharpen the
plane iron at least four times.
Again, I would get a #5, but if you want to follow in my footsteps, here's
how the cost breaks down:
Veritas angle jig: $40 (shipped)
chunk of granite: $ 0
new Stanley #4 $40
That's about $105 to get your foot in the door. You could maybe go cheaper
with some inexpensive stone for sharpening, but sandpaper is seriously less
expensive than a good set of stones, and it does work beautifully.
Once you get the necessary equipment for sharpening (a copy of Leonard Lee's
"The Complete Guide to Sharpening" is very helpful too) the price of the
next plane is much more reasonable.
Except there aren't any other $40 planes. Not new ones anyway. You can try
your luck with eBay, but I've been hunting for a cheap, winnable plane on
eBay off and on for a good bit, and I haven't taken one home yet. People
keep upping the ante out of my budget.
(*) 60, 100, 150, 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000 grits
Anyway, I'm just getting started with this stuff, and I offer my account in
that light. I'm no expert. Just someone taking his first baby steps, and
really enjoying the hell out of it.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
I gave up on auctions, Stanley and Record low angle block planes kept
hitting $40-50. Figuring that I'd add a Hock iron anyway, I dropped
the extra $10 and bought a new Veritas low angle block.
I'm a happy guy.
+ + +
I don't see it. I once bought the Stanley 220. Since I hated it, I upgraded
to a 220A (world of difference: pitched the 220). I forgot to buy a 60-1/2A
when it was available and later succumbed to a 60-1/2. I regretted it ever
since, this is not suitable even as a doorstop (anybody want one,
practically unused ;-)?). Cannot stand to see this compared to a Veritas low
angle block, which appears to be a pretty sweet thing.
If I'd buy only one plane and planned on doing something with it I'd go
looking for a #6. Nice heft to it (if my arms were shorter I might try a
#5?). Won't quarrel with a Veritas low angle block, but it is such a little
plane, many jobs will be too big for it.
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