I am a complete novice when it comes to woodworking and am
just beginning with my first few projects. But at the end of
last year I made the expensive mistake of going to a woodwork
show. There was a Lie Nielsen stand and I came away with a
block plane :) Its just a lovely thing, and I've used it a lot.
Now I think I want a bigger beast for smoothing and jointing.
Ive been looking on ebay at old stanley planes (cheap) as a
possibility or would I be better off buying a new (expensive)
As a novice I have no idea of the difference in performance
of these two tools. Indeed I really don't know which size of
plane to go for, my research points to a number 5 (whatever
that is) are the two brands numbering schemes equivalent?
any comments gratefully received.
Stick with the used Stanleys on eBay. For about 40 to 50 bucks you can get a
#4 and a #5. The 4 for smoothing and the 5 for jointing. Will save you
several hundred dollars over LV or LN. Once you clean those Stanleys up a
bit, sharpen the blade, and lap the sole, you'll be happy to have saved the
money. But don't get me wrong, I have a LV low angle block plane and a LN
small low angle block plane, love both of 'em, just can't see spending
hundreds of dollars on smoothing/jointing planes when there are an abundance
of old Stanleys out there.
Some of my favorite plane websites:
I guess it all depends on whether you want a tool or a project. I'm
sure there are good deals to be had in old planes if you know what
you're looking for, but you can end up with junk too. I bought two
planes on eBay, and am batting .500 on the pair.
One was a Stanley #220 (I think that's the right number; it's a block
plane). It required a little bit of work, but I ended up with a good
tool at a good price.
The other was a Record #5. It was a disaster. The lateral adjustment
lever was basically non-functional. I tried buying some new parts from
Highland Hardware to fix it, but the stuff I bought, even though
advertised to fit Stanley or Record, didn't have the same kind of mouth
adjustment mechanism as the original, so I've still got a pile of parts
that aren't doing me any good.
I've since invested in 3 Lee-Valley planes (5-1/4, low-angle block, and
the new shoulder plane). I spent more money than I might have on eBay,
but I got three useful tools that I could use out of the box.
You pays your money and you takes your chances.
Being a cheap bastud and a used tool junkie, I feel obliged to point
out that in my experience, I would have to bat around .200 on used
hand planes to make it worth buying new. Especially when compared to
Lie Neilsen new prices.
I can buy five No 7. jointer planes at $70 a piece off Ebay for the
price of a new Lie Neilsen. You do take your chances, but chances are
you will come away with a very good tool before you spend Lie Neilsen
money. You can further increase your chances by buying from a
reputable used hand plane dealer.
I can't comment on how much the frustration of buying a lemon is worth
to you. But it warms the cheapest cockels of my heart to know that I
could buy a brand spanking new replacement for every one of those
lemons with the money I saved.
That's my .01 cent worth. (Too cheap to give .02 cents worth)
Nearly everything. Mouths have been opened up, handles are molded plastic (with
mold lines that cause blisters), soles are not flat and take a
loooooooooooooooong time to flatten.
"Wars spring from unseen and generally insignificant causes, the first outbreak
being often but an explosion of anger." Thucydides
get a Lie-Nielsen low-angle jack plane. Lee Valley is going to come out
with their version of this plane soon, however, and the LV planes usually
beat LN in price, to some extent, and add a few features, too. The
fit-and-finish of the LN planes can't be beat, though. I have just the one
LN plane and 2 LV planes, and I'm extremely happy with them all.
Here's a nice article on the merits of a low-angle jack plane that can give
you an idea of why I think it is a good place to start:
Anyway, I also have bought several old Stanley planes from Ebay, so I guess
I've gone to many venues for planes. One thing is true of all the sources -
it is very easy to spend a lot of $$ on planes (DAMHIKT).
On Tue, 27 Apr 2004 01:47:56 GMT, "Mike in Mystic"
Don't forget Clifton, as well. I've decided to stick to LN, Veritas,
and Clifton for future purchases.
My old Stanleys work fine, but the $40-50 models took plenty of work
to tune, and I added Hock irons at $35 a pop. One of the Stanley's I
bought on eBay was incomplete.
Clifton is great, too, I agree. I picked up a fore plane during the
Woodcraft closeout for a gloatable discount. I might not have a complete
set of one type of plane make, but I'm pretty happy with the hodgepodge I
have come up with. And my LV MK.II power sharpener should be here today or
tomorrow, so I'm stoked about that, too. Neandering definitely isn't as
cost effective as it could be, although I definitely haven't made it nearly
as economical as could be, that's for sure.
I found a lot of great information about the MK.II over at
www.woodcentral.com Do a search in the messageboard archive for "power
sharpener" or "veritas sharpener" and you'll find a lot of great info. In
particular, Lyn Mangiameli (sp?) had great tips for making the most of it,
as well as giving it the seal of approval.
Lyn is (has?) done a study of planes and plane blades (I'm not 100% of the
details), but basically he sharpens something like 150 plane irons a day
(probably the same ones multiple times), and he says the MK.II is the best
tool for edge tool sharpening (chisels and plane irons).
I think I can paste a link to the message thread:
There ya go.
Also, there is a review of various power sharpeners in the latest popular
woodworking magazine, as well as a recent woodworkers journal (not this
month, but perhaps the one just previous). Both reviews gave the MK.II high
I'll definitely write up my thoughts when I'm done, but I'll be surprised if
the results aren't great considering the above references. We'll see how
much sharpening skill plays a part, as I am sure to have much less than the
On Tue, 27 Apr 2004 11:37:28 GMT, "Mike in Mystic"
Look at it other ways. Think of the resale value of the good stuff
vs. current Record or Stanley stuff. You could quit wooddorking
tomorrow and get a major portion of the cost of good tools back. Some
Lie Neilsen items may even return 100% of the original cost!
Not to mention the sheer pleasure a really good tool, hand or power,
is to use.
Or the fact that you'll pass it down your family tree. <G>
I don't think the last two thoughts have a monetary price.
Any of out UK-resident experts wish to chime in with opinions reflecting
currently available options over there?
IF the OP were in North America, the above answers would be right on. I
don't know if there aren't other answers more applicable. There certainly
are/were excellent British products made in past years.
heading to a show this weekend in California....
I have bought many old Stanleys in various conditions and have never
regretted it. Forget Ebay though. The pictures usually suck and the bidding
war idiots usually run everything way beyond what its actually worth. I find
planes at yard sales, flea markets and auctions. A couple weeks ago I got
three old Stanleys all #4's for $20. That's for all three, not each! I had
about an hours time getting them back to user condition but they are
absolutely dead on now and work great. I'm fairly proficient however at
grinding and honing bevels if I may toot my own horn so that phase of the
re-conditioning doesn't take me very long. Your mileage may vary.
Tom, for a beginner I think the best is buying a few used planes.
Check Ebay, estate sales, classifieds, local and mail order used tool
dealers. I'd reserve my money for the planes that LN replicates where
the orginals are way too expensive and rare to use reguarly in your
shop...such as the low angle smoother and jack.
One poster suggested getting a Stanley #5 jack, but I'd advise getting
a #6 fore plane instead. It's a bit bigger and heavier, but to me
personally it's more versatile. You can use it to thickness, smooth,
joint and trim end grain. Because of it's longer length you can joint
longer boards than with a #5 and the extra weight helps you through
I'd say get a #4, #6 and a #8 and skip the #5 and #7, but that's just
my opinion. To me the difference between a #4 and #5 isn't big enough.
Once you clean and tune your used Stanley planes they'll perform just
as good as the LNs or LVs. One note: stay away from the plastic
handled Stanleys and Records. No matter how much I've tried tuning my
plastic handled #4 Stanley it won't shave as well as my wooden handled
#6 Stanley which I haven't tuned at all. I'm not sure what vintage the
#6 is but I'd guess 70s or 60s. The #6 will make shavings as thin one
ply of facial tissue. The #4 can't even come close.But it's not
wasted. I just use the #4 for hogging and whenever I need to take off
more to get to the marked line. I was lucky with the #6 though in that
it was in cherry condition....barely used if at all.
Yes. They are the same for all brands, Clifton, Record, LV, LN,
Stanley, etc. Go to:
for THE best source on Stanley plane models.
to learn how to tune a hand plane.
And finally, go to:
and click on the "planing notes" link. In it you'll discover a wealth
hope this helps,
I've never owned a Lie Nielsen, so I can't comment there. They are
pretty much the Cadillac of planes, though ... lots of people swear by
I can tell you that the old Stanley planes are extremely good. I
recently got a Stanley #3 (about 1927 vintage I think). Just a
sharpening, and that plane cuts like a dream ... little thin long
wispy shavings or long corkscrew curls. Those old rosewood handles
fit like a glove. It has a gorgeous old patina, and it hefts just
right. Usually I look at my tools as means to an end - but with this
old plane just using it is an end in itself.
I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think you'll be sorry with a
good condition old pre-WWII Stanley.
I would ditto some of the comments about E-Bay, and except for the
"collector" type of tools, most of the "user" stuff there is
overpriced, at least in my local (NJ) market of flea markets, garage
sales and the like. After you pay the "premium" for
shipping/handling. If E-Bay is your best bet due to geography, look
for the planes with holes drilled in the soles (a lot of folks drilled
holes to hang up the planes on nails) as the collectors view them as
damaged goods and the price goes down. I copy the pictures on ebay to
my photo editor and vary the exposure/light/dark/contrast to get a
better look at the plane. Read "Blood and Gore" (supertool.com) to
get an idea of what to look for as far as dating. Pre WWII is nice,
but actually, the "wartime" 4s, 5s, and 6s are solid tools, lacking
only the frog adjustment screw (which only make the frog adjustment
easier, i.e., the frog is fully adjustible) and have beefier castings,
which I happen to like. They do take some time to lap properly,
however. "Collectors" tend to avoid WWII production, because they
have hardwood handles and lack the brass adjustment knobs, so you may
find a "bargain" there on ebay. Personally, I get my planes from yard
sales, fleas and swap meets. good luck
To add to the excellent comments you've received thus far, I'd
recommend you go slightly larger than a #5 for your next plane. A #6
would give you more flexibility, IMHO, as you can joint, surface, and
even smooth boards with it. Rather than going for a L-N or LV, or
Ebay for this plane you should do fine by contacting a reputable
oldtool dealer (Patrick Leach or Tom Bruce come to mind) and saying
you want an old user #6. You should be able to get one from them for
somewhere between $60-90, and will likely want to upgrade the iron to
a Hock or other aftermarket iron.
You might also want to consider the LV/Veritas line of planes.
They have made some real improvements to the basic Stanley/Bailey
designs, and they are priced nicely between the old planes and the
high-end stuff. I would save the L-N purchases for specialty planes,
and even at that, LV is rapidly encroaching on their territory.
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