I've never used a wood plane in my life and I need to buy a few and
learn to use them but I don't know what I need to buy.
I'd like to be able to Join boards for rubbed glue joints, flatten and
smooth table tops.
What would you recommend as a minimum number of planes to buy for the
Next question, will stanley brand planes hold up well enough for a 2
or 3 time per month usage?
I've got a couple in the ~100 year old range, so yeah.
New Stanley's are generally regarded as crappy. Old Stanley's are
abundantly available on *bay, flea markets, yard sales, whatever.
If you have the budget for it, Veritas (www.leevalley.com) or Lie-
Nielsen make really nice ones (www.lie-nielsen.com)
Check out www.supertool.com for the canonical list of all Stanley's ever
Others, I'm sure, will chime in with more information ...
This is a whole religion to learn.
Concept 1 of buying (potentially) sharp hand tools: They probably are not
sharp when purchased and even if they are, they won't be after just a little
bit of use.
Planes (chisels, spoke shaves, marking knives......) require frequent
sharpening to work well. Maybe just a little touch-up, but as often as 10 or
15 minutes of use. Therefore, it is useless to buy these tools without a
sharpening strategy. I'm not going to get into a debate over water stone vs.
oil stone vs. scarysharp vs grinder but I will say that developing a some
modest sharpening skills is actually more important that actual plane
technique (because a poorly tuned hand plane simply will not perform well
even in talented hands).
As to how many planes ... at least 2. Something like 7 (jointer) for
flattening and a 4 for smoothing. But there are lots of specialty planes in
between and for other functions.
DAGS.... there's lots of info out there.
Start with a block plane. Look in Fine Woodworking September/October
2004 #172 for some great info on setting up and using planes.
Yes a Stanley will be fine but you'll need to tune it up first. Read
the article, very very excellent.
There are a LOT of assumptions here.
The 1st question is, "You don't need to be able to do this by, say,
Thursday, do you?"
2nd, "How much money do you want/are willing to spend.
3rd"Do you have experience sharpening things like chisels, or just
Assuming that you can sharpen to razor edgeness, and that you are
willing to spend a couple of hundred bucks, yes OLD Stanleys wil do the
job and more. New Stanleys will take a lot of tune-up before they'll
work acceptably, and even then you'll nprobably need to buy after-market
blades for them. Old Stanleys will have acceptable blades if they are
the original blades. You will need a shooting board and a flat bench,
#s 3 or 4, 5 and 6/7/8 (choose one depending on size of table). You
*might* be able to do it with just a #4 and a #6 or 7, but it will take
a lot of practice to get it done properly with fewer planes. Others
will, no doubt have different views on this. If you want to spend a bit
more money, than antique Stanleys, Lee Valley has *nice* planes. If
you've got deep pockets LN makes pretty ones.
Enjoy the slippery slope,
Just my, way more than, $0.02
Dave in Fairfax
reply-to doesn't work
daveldr at att dot net
We would be remiss if we didn't also mention Steve Knight (who lurks on this
group) and the more than pretty planes he makes. I'm sure he's just waiting
for the right opportunity to jump in here without appearing too
Try http://www.knight-toolworks.com if you want to see some worthwhile
I love the padauk smoothing plane my wife got me for Christmas last year.
Gary in KC
Well, if Steve doesn't jump in, some of his customers will. ;-)
Steve's planes are beautiful, well crafted, and very reasonably priced.
The notion of a wooden plane is intimidating to some, but it needn't be,
really. That's the kind of plane my greatgrandfather used, and beautiful
pieces were made with those tools.
And if you happen to order when he puts things on sale, as he does from
time to time, you can get even more for your dollar.
That said, a Knight smoother, a Knight jack or jointer, and a metal block
plane (Veritas or Lie Nielsen) would make a nice basic kit.
way down the slope, at over two dozen...
All of the advice so far covers just about everything but something I
forgot about (and still haven't resolved so my planes mostly collect
dust) is that you'll need a decent bench to hold the wood for you while
you plane it. That can be a $200-300 if you build it yourself, $500 or
more if you buy one.
My next project is to build my bench (finally) and I can't wait. So
don't let all of these things (multiple planes, sharpening system,
bench) stop you, just spend, spend, spend and you'll be really happy!!
Well, there are options besides a fancy bench. Don't let the lack of a
bench stop you.
A repaired WorkMutt is reported to have been successfully used by a wRecker
in SoCal, according to the ancient archives...
Hmm. A not very fancy bench can be built for a /lot/ less than that. I'm
still using one built from two 2x12x12' and some 2x4 scraps a couple of
years ago. Construction time was about 45 minutes and total cost was
somewhere in the $25-30 range, although the total cost did go up when I
later added a patternmaker's vise. I did, of course, hand plane the top flat
I use the stanley bailey # 4 as my primary (and only) bench smoother
and all around shop plane. It may not be the most precise in the
world, but it will definetly handle any abuse thrown at it. Just make
sure to keep the steel oiled, I put it in a box in my garage for less
than a month and it came out covered in a thin layer of rust.
Fortunately it came off easily with steel wool. Also, do you have a
good way of sharpening? I have a norton crystolon/india oilstone and a
1000/6000 grit japanese waterstone. I use the crystolon as an
alternative to a bench grinder (which I don't have) and the waterstone
for final honing.
1 low angle block plane such as a Stanley '60 1/2' for end grain shaving
1 Stanley #4 smoother as for initial use (about 10" long, 2" wide cutter)
1 Stanley #6 fore plane for the next stage (18" long, 2-3/8" wide cutter)
1 of either #7 (22" long, 2-3/8" wide cutter) or #8 (24" long , 2-5/8"
wide cutter) for final jointing. At the minimum. #8 is much more
MY NUMBAH *8* is a MONOLITH OF POWAAAAAHHHH!!!!!
... HAA-HAAAAA!!!!! (cough)
There are MANY Stanley planes out there, of a great number of models
and model numbers:
http://www.supertool.com/index.htm "Blood and Gore".
A fence, such as a Stanley 386 (eBay) or the Veritas jointer fence (They
fit on the side of the plane, for edge jointing). New ones are also available
here: http://www.stjamesbaytoolco.com /
Read-up on scraping for smoothness of the wood too.
Any kind of bench to work on, which will clamp your lumber on top flat
and on it's front standing up on it's side, and some kind of "stop" for the
other end of your lumber. Also called a "bench dog".
A classic woodworking bench is the best way to go, the entire design is
all about clamping wood in different ways, and it is cost effective to build
your own. If you buy a new "Sjoberg" bench, you don't get much for the
Sharpening waterstones and a basic honing guide. I bought the set of dual
grit Norton water stones (on 06/01/05 actually, don't have them yet).
Or, a thick piece of glass and about four or five, six grits of abrasive papers,
a can of 3M super 77, all known as the "Scary Sharp" method (search to
learn) (this is not a joke), it works extremely well and is quite cost effective.
220, 400-420, 800, 1200, 1500 grits, of waterproof black aluminum
oxide or silicon carbide. You might find the deal on a piece of glass at a
junk shop like I did, I paid $10 for a piece 18"x18"x3/4" thick. Highly
Used old and new Stanleys have to be "tuned" to become accurate. That
is another "search to learn" subject, but easy to find. It is a lot of hard
work (for me at least but I will do it).
New Veritas planes do not need tuning and they are highly precision
machined and ready to use, except the blade will need a final honing.
When planing, make sure it is in the direction that is along with the grain
"traveling up", and away from you, never "into" the grain as it points
toward you or the cutting edge, or you will get bad tear-out.
As above. Four at the least. Used smallest first to the largest last.
Not a problem, they will last you all your life, but they need to be tuned.
They also have the glorious advantage of plastic totes and knobs. They
are "un-precision" made in England. But the old U.S. ones are worth
buying and fixing up, if in decent condition in the first place.
Sure. And get back to us all!
Alex - newbie_neander in woodworking
I'm having a bit of sticker shock at the moment, But after reading as
much as I can find on the net I can understand why quality planes are
Last week I ordered a combination lathe mill from smithy and bought a
new P/C plunge router (favorite tool), and built a functional wood
table using my radial arm saw with a planer head to make it as flat as
I could get it. Needless to say I'm going to be poor for about a month
but perhaps my wife can buy me a tool or two on our anniversary in
I do like those knight planes though, they scare me a bit though, I'm
afraid I'd mess one up through inexperience.
Right at the moment I think ebay is my best option.
On sharpening, I'm good with sharpening chisels and knives, but I
think I'll need something that will help me maintain the proper cut
angle until my hands get used to doing it. Currently my hands seem
preprogrammed to do a 25 to 30 degree angle that I use on my knives.
Thanks for all the advice, its all welcome and I'm following all the
My 2 cents :-)
For edge joining & flattening something biggish, like a table top,
I'd say the two planes you need are a #5 jack and a #7 (or #8). A
smoother, like a #3 or #4, isn't really ideal for a big surface.
In metal planes, your choices are pretty much either an older
Stanley (*) or a new plane from Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen. If you
have the funds, get them all from Lie-Nielsen (**). If you need
to be more discrete with your money, then choose older Stanleys
for some or all of them. It is easiest to make an old #5 work
well, and hardest to make an old smoother work. So if you can
only afford one new plane, make it a smoother, and look for a
jack & jointer at the flea market/ebay/etc. If you can afford
two new ones, make them the smoother & jointer, and get an old
(* there's other old brands which are good - Miller's Falls for
example. My #5 is "Revonoc" brand, it's actually a better plane
than a Stanley)
(** Lee Valley's are very nice. Lie-Nielsen's are, in my opinion,
a tad better, so if money's no object that's the way to go. Others
here have the opposite opinion)
I doubt it. Pictures don't do them justice. They're big beastly things
made from the hardest woods, and they have big, thick irons.
Adjustments are trivial. A few minutes of practice and you'll have it
down. A plane hammer is nice, but not absolutely necessary. You can
get one from Steve Knight's site that is a work of art, or a somewhat
cheaper one from Lee Valley.
A further note, of all the Stanley planes out there, two types to avoid
are with plastic tote and knob, and ones that are maroon colored, very
shabby build quality. Blue and black Stanleys are fine. Sargent and
Winchester planes are good and acceptable too.
Alex - newbie_neander in woodworking
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