Hand Tools Archive

What plans do you have for the plane?
Response To:
1st GOOD plane ()

Derek Cohen (in Perth, Australia)
The difficulty in recommending one plane is that planes best work as a team, and if purchasing just one plane, it will always be a compromise.

Chris Schwarz has a good video out called "Rough, Medium and Smooth". It is worth getting when you are starting out.

Roughing out is done with a Jack plane (15" long - such as as a Stanley #5) with a strongly curved (radiused) blade. An 8" radius is typical. This enables one to take thick shavings and remove waste quickly. The key factor here is the curved blade. A straight blade cannot plane as deeply.

A Medium plane is one that levels the work and gets it flat. This would be a jointer plane (#7), which is set up with a fine camber. For smaller work (not more than 30" long) one could use a #5 as well (rough rule being that the length of the work is limited to half the length of the plane), but now you need a second blade with the appropriate radius.

The smoother comes in as the final plane. Ideally, this plane just takes the minimum of material (making it the least used of the three planes mentioned). A #4 or a #3 are good choices. The blade is now almost straight with just a minuscule radius to avoid tracks.

Block planes are very useful for relieving edges or trimming end grain.

The jack is followed by the jointer, and finally by the smoother. Do it right (most of the work is done by the jack) and there is little smoothing to do. Do it wrong (leave most of the work for the smoother) and you could be planing more than necessary.

Regards from Perth


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