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Need New Hand Plane Help

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  • Need New Hand Plane Help


    I am a very new woodworker on a fairly tight budget. I am going to be making several tables and want to do the best i can to get them perfectly flat and smooth. I do all of my planing and jointing upfront but once i am ready to get serious about finishing i know i am going to need to use planes to get that perfect smooth surface.

    The problem is I am clueless when it comes to planes. I know i see them at the airport but that's about it....kidding......

    I can't afford the high end planes. LN and Veritas are out. I have been looking at Groz, Woodriver(Woodcraft brand) and Footprint. Are these any good? I am thinking i would need a jack plane, block plane and smoothing plane? Is that about right for my table top needs?

    I also know zero about keeping them sharp but i realize that this is almost more important that the plane itself. Any good, affordable sharpening systems? I have seen the "scary sharp" system and was going to start there.

    All advice welcome and appreciated.


  • #2
    Re: Need New Hand Plane Help

    Not really a hand plane expert, but have had some experience,

    the length of the base, is the main difference of the plane, the jointer is about 24" long,
    a smooth plane is 12" and a jack is in between, the block is 6" to 8" and has a lower angle of attack on the blade, (for end grain lumber) and there are specialty planes, as well,

    my guess is one could get a used one cheaper than a new one, if it is not rare,

    EBay or craigslist or similar garage sales, auctions,

    the longer the base in theory the flatter or straighter you should be able to make something,

    I think I would suggest a smooth or a jack plane for your project,

    there are holders so one can get the blade sharpened at the correct angle, take a piece of glass and put on the bench and some sand paper of the grit you want to use, and that way you have a wide flat surface to Hand sharpen it on,

    once you have it sharp with paper (this is how I HONE it) take a buffing wheel and put in a bench grinder,, and get some honing/ polishing/ buffing compound come in a stick or tube and put some on the cloth buffing wheel
    and polish the edge, (edge down pointing in the same direction of the rotation of the wheel) and polish the edge to mirror bright, work mostly from the ground edge, which should be the top of the blade, turn over for a few quick swipes to take off any wire edge and re assemble your plane, (most of the time to re sharpen a quick buffing is all that is needed),

    some round the edges of the iron, with a small radius, (blade) so there are not edge marks, when doing a pane,

    look in to hand scrapers you may find them easier for the final touches,
    Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
    attributed to Samuel Johnson
    PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.


    • #3
      Re: Need New Hand Plane Help

      I would suggest you look for Stanley planes. Look at the flea markets and pay close attention to the bottom of the plane to make sure it is flat and is not gouged. I use two waterstones to sharpen the blades a 800 grit and a Norton 8000. B oth of these can be found on the internet or at woodcraft. The 800 is a KING made in Japan.
      There are two good dvd's that you can buy from Lie-Neilsen on there web site they are Plane sharpening and plane sharpening by David Charlesworth. I have an article from fine woodworking by him on tuning a plane that is excellent.
      Send me a private message with your regular email address and I will send the article to you. You need the acrobat reader to read the article which is in pdf
      Last edited by harrison2119; 01-28-2009, 04:09 PM.


      • #4
        Re: Need New Hand Plane Help

        If you are interested in hand tools, and are on a limited budget. You may want to consider visiting Not only can you find decent prices on well tuned planes and other hand tools, but you can also get a plethora of advice on how to tune, sharpen, and use these hand tools, as well as power tools. In fact, I was there earlier today, and one of the members had a smoother and a jointer up for sale; both pieces at very reasonable prices ~$45, ~$80 respectively. Most of the time, I prefer to use hand tools (chisels, planes, scrapers, dovetail saws etc.); hand tools are usually a better fit on the stuff that I work on. When tuned properly I find my hand tools are usually faster than my power tools, and they don't generate the dust or the noise my power tools do. I recently upgraded a couple of my Stanley’s with a couple of L.N.'s and a Clifton. Unfortunately, at this time I am not will to part with my Stanley’s otherwise I would offer to sell them to you.

        To your original question, if you need to flatten a large table you will more than likely need a #7 jointer, at a minimum I would recommend using a #5 Jack Plane 14", and 2" wide. If you go with a #4 smoother it is probably going to be too short 9" long "2 wide. In my opinion, if you want to get the most of your hand tools (not just planes) sharpening knowledge is a must. I would recommend flattening the back of the iron prior to sharpening the secondary bevel. If you would like shoot me an email and I can send you a few links help get over the sharpening hurdle.



        • #5
          Re: Need New Hand Plane Help

          You need to search the forums for past threads on use of planes, sharpening planes, and rehabbing old planes to make them usable again.

          Also search the internet and you will find at least a weeks worth of reading and online videos that will get you a good start. Search here for a post of mine with a link to Roy Underhills' Woodwrights Shop PBS Series, many episodes form his past 20+ years are available for viewing online for free. Roy does all his work with old time tools, and planes are one of his standards so check it out.

          Bob Smalser wrote some excellent articles which he posted here a couple years ago. Search under his name for more threads, here is one on planes.

          "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006


          Time, cost, or quality; pick any two but you can't have all three.


          • #6
            Re: Need New Hand Plane Help

            Perfectly flat tables with hand tools is REALLY tough to do. Smooth can be accomplished with the planes, and it's probably the best tool to use. Don't get too caught up in incredibly flat, as long as it's not more than 1/4" out over a few feet you're ok.

            A good scraper and a method of keeping a wire edge on it is a good investment. Use the scraper to get out most of the dried glue. Scrapers are cheap, and all you really need to edge them is a flat file and a burnisher. There's lots of methods you can search on the web to find out how to do it. It took me a few tries, but now I can put a wire edge on my scrapers easily.

            A smoothing plane would be a good thing to have for a table. The longer, the better. You'll also need a jack plane. Start with the shorter plane to work out the worst of the humps. Once you've got it close, the smoothing plane will finish the job. I'd recommend to knock off just a tiny bit of the corners of the planes so you don't gouge while you're running them. Don't take off much, but just a tiny round on the edges is good.

            To joint the boards before glue-up, you can rig up a "shooting board" to run the smoothing plane down the sides of the boards. Obviously, a jointer plane would be best for this, but you work with what ya got! The better the jointing operation, the better the glue-up will be.

            Since you're using hand tools, the glue-up is going to be your biggest hurdle. Make sure you have enough clamps (you never do, so get a few more). You will have to clamp some boards across the glue-up to make sure the boards stay relatively close vertically. Having even a 1/16" lip on what should be a flat surface will drive you mad and take forever to plane down.

            Get lots of glue. Gallons would be best. Titebond would be a good choice. It has enough "open" time to let you get the boards together and set and clamped. Open time is the amount of time you have before the glue starts to set and you can't move the pieces any more.
            I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.


            • #7
              Re: Need New Hand Plane Help

              Thank you to all who have replied. This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I am off to begin my first hand planing operation this morning.

              Thanks again for taking the time to provide such detailed information,