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Thread: Plane choice for a beginner?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    39

    Plane choice for a beginner?

    So I sold some of my sharpening stones (about $600 worth) and am wanting to invest some of that in a hand plane or two. My dad is letting me borrow his Stanley block plane which I am getting on well with. I want to say it's about 7" long so not a tiny plane. I was making shavings last night 0.0015" thick on hard wood.

    I don't do much work at all as I'm just getting started and don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a veritas. I could but I'd rather not as I'm not a professional.

    I've pondered buying off eBay and "fettling" as you gents say. While kind of appealing I'd rather have brand new. I've gone the buy vintage before with other hobbies before and it's fun but a boat load of work sometimes.

    I'm not sure which plane to buy. A #5 jack has been reccomended a lot reading through threads but I have a tiny workshop (will find the measurements, but it's in a one bedroom apartment so I can't bust out a #7 jointer on an 8' board) and don't have room to do large projects.

    A #5 may be too large for my needs. While interested in furniture making I don't know where to start. A #4 sounds like it'll be good but not for taking off lots of material like a jack could. If i want to start with some pretty ugly stock and would need a scrub too and then would a #4 be enough to true it up?

    I was also looking.at the veritas chisel plane in lieu of a rabbet/router plane.

    Trouble is I don't know exactly what I would need...

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Archi View Post
    So I sold some of my sharpening stones (about $600 worth) and am wanting to invest some of that in a hand plane or two. My dad is letting me borrow his Stanley block plane which I am getting on well with. I want to say it's about 7" long so not a tiny plane. I was making shavings last night 0.0015" thick on hard wood.

    I don't do much work at all as I'm just getting started and don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a veritas. I could but I'd rather not as I'm not a professional.

    I've pondered buying off eBay and "fettling" as you gents say. While kind of appealing I'd rather have brand new. I've gone the buy vintage before with other hobbies before and it's fun but a boat load of work sometimes.

    I'm not sure which plane to buy. A #5 jack has been reccomended a lot reading through threads but I have a tiny workshop (will find the measurements, but it's in a one bedroom apartment so I can't bust out a #7 jointer on an 8' board) and don't have room to do large projects.

    A #5 may be too large for my needs. While interested in furniture making I don't know where to start. A #4 sounds like it'll be good but not for taking off lots of material like a jack could. If i want to start with some pretty ugly stock and would need a scrub too and then would a #4 be enough to true it up?

    I was also looking.at the veritas chisel plane in lieu of a rabbet/router plane.

    Trouble is I don't know exactly what I would need...

    Suggestions?
    Start with a #4 or #5 Veritas with the PMV-11 blade. I would get one with a chip breaker.

    That is if you are going new. My best education was in trying to make a crappy #4 work, was able to figure out all of the things that can go wrong with a plane. After dealing with that, I now know how to tune my better planes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    62
    Hi Scott,

    It sounds like you don't have too much space to store many tools, and want a good all round plane. I would suggest a Veritas low angle jack. It's well worth the money, and as a jack plane is sized to be able to hog out waste, smooth and joint. In the future, if you find yourself progressing your neander ways further, you can add a couple blades that will make it easier to shoot end grain and smooth difficult woods. With a $600 budget you will still have more than half left over for more tools.

    Otherwise I would recommend going the old tool route - you can easily get yourself a smoother, a jack and a jointer for that much money. You do need to be prepared to fix the tools up, which, while not difficult, does take a little bit of experience to do well. If you don't want to waste much time fixing up tools, this probably isn't the route for you.

    As for the chisel planes etc., my suggestion would be to get a couple chisels instead, a 1/4", a 3/8" and 1/2" - they are a lot more versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Hasin Haroon View Post
    Hi Scott,

    It sounds like you don't have too much space to store many tools, and want a good all round plane. I would suggest a Veritas low angle jack. It's well worth the money, and as a jack plane is sized to be able to hog out waste, smooth and joint. In the future, if you find yourself progressing your neander ways further, you can add a couple blades that will make it easier to shoot end grain and smooth difficult woods. With a $600 budget you will still have more than half left over for more tools.

    Otherwise I would recommend going the old tool route - you can easily get yourself a smoother, a jack and a jointer for that much money. You do need to be prepared to fix the tools up, which, while not difficult, does take a little bit of experience to do well. If you don't want to waste much time fixing up tools, this probably isn't the route for you.

    As for the chisel planes etc., my suggestion would be to get a couple chisels instead, a 1/4", a 3/8" and 1/2" - they are a lot more versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks.
    One does not need a ton of chisels to do good woodworking, you will find yourself using the same few chisels all of the time. 20 percent of my chisels do 90 percent of my work.

  5. #5
    "Trouble is I don't know exactly what I would need... "

    I know what you need: a project. The need should precede the tool. The risk of doing it the other way is ending up with a chisel plane that you may never use besides to try it out the first time you open the box.

    In general, I would argue that it's best to start with the smoothing planes and work up to the jacks and jointers. The reason is that smoothing - while not easy - is straight forward. you know when you have succeeded, and you know immediately if you have failed. For jointing and flattening, you need to do a lot more diagnosis with each stroke to figure out if you are doing it correctly. Also, the general milling planes require a lot more physical effort and work holding acumen (IMHO). It can be discouraging to mill a board especially when with each drop of sweat you're thinking, "I could just do this with a power jointer / planer in 1/100'th the time". But with a smoother, the payoff is an arguably better surface than sanding, with much less dust, and time. So the payoff is bigger. Good smoothers in the vintage market are also abundant and affordable.

    That being said, I still think you should first pick a project. A good small wall cabinet or box is a perfect hand plane project (I went through a couple this past fall). Pick your wood wisely.

    My 2 cents.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    62
    Absolutely Chris. I have too many chisels, but I find I go back to my three standbys, the 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" for most work. I do like having wider chisels to clean up mortises but I could definitely do without.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
    Posts
    740
    If you have to pick two, go with a #4 bench plane and a low angle block plane. They will take care of 90% of what you need to do.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Hasin Haroon View Post
    Absolutely Chris. I have too many chisels, but I find I go back to my three standbys, the 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" for most work. I do like having wider chisels to clean up mortises but I could definitely do without.
    I have too many as well, but when I need larger or odd sized ones, I really need them. Nice to have a tool and not need it than need it and not have it...I also like having a few spares so i do not have to stop and re sharpen in the middle of working on something.

  9. A #4 size sounds like what you need. You'll have a hard time finding anything new outside of the "premium" brands worth having, but there are several reputable dealers online from whom you can buy a fettled vintage user. Get 3 sets of blade/chipbreaker for it and set them up with 3 different cambers.
    Last edited by bridger berdel; 03-23-2017 at 1:08 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    15,205
    Hi Scott,

    As others have mentioned, it is best to choose your projects before choosing your tools.

    With both Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen the resale value is close to the cost of new. If you do not like a choice it can be resold without the lesson costing a lot.

    A chisel plane is a very specialized tool most people do quite well with out ever owning.

    The #5 size plane is often referred to as a jack plane. That is in reference to "Jack of all trades." It can be used like a jointer, a smoother, a try plane or a scrub plane. Some of those configurations might require a different blade. Blades and chip breakers are relatively cheap. A minimum of two blades would have one with a little radius for a scrub blade and then one with a closer to square profile for all the other needs. A fresh sharpening before smoothing would produce a good surface.

    Paul Sellers is often quoted as saying a #4 can do it all. Again, different blades for different modes would be the easy way to go from scrub to smoother.

    Jointing an edge with a #4 or #5 would take a bit more care than if you were using a #7, but that is how things get done in a smaller shop.

    For a smaller jack plane the #5-1/4 is my preferred plane.

    A rabbet plane is a useful plane to have but the work can often be done with a more versatile plow plane.

    A router plane can be handy if one is making shelves or cabinets requiring a lot of dado work. This can also be done with a chisel which can be faster in some cases.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by bridger berdel View Post
    A #4 size sounds like what you need. You'll have a hard time finding anything new outside of the "premium" brands worth having, but there are several reputable dealers online from whom you can buy a fettled vintage user. Get 3 sets of blade/chipbreaker for it and set them up with 3 different cambers.
    Even then, sometimes Wood Craft runs sales on their #4. Dollar for dollar, not a bad plane for a beginner. At the same time, no where near as nice as the Veritas and Lie Nielsen planes.

  12. You've set yourself a bit of a challenge if you don't want to fettle an older plane and you don't want to invest in a Veritas (I am assuming Clifton and Lee Valley would also fall into the "arm and a leg" category). There is very rarely a free lunch. You can save money but have to spend some time, or save some effort and buy something that is pretty much good to go.

    What are you building? The advice you've received about let your project dictate your purchase makes complete sense. I would suggest buying one good new plane and become friends with it. If your project is smaller (say some sort of box) opt for a smoother (equivalent to a Stanley No. 3 or a 4). If it is larger then consider going to a 4 or 5 (or maybe a 51/4 though those tend to carry a bit of a price premium). A reasonable case can be made for both bevel up and bevel down. You can successfully cover an awful lot of ground with a jack plane (maybe with a spare blade or two) and a low angle block plane.

    How are you holding your work? That is an issue you will want to resolve if you have any hope of being successful with a plane.

    Good luck with your purchase.

  13. Start with a low angle block plane with adjustable throat, a jack plane plus a small rabbeting plane.

    Buy quality, used planes, not brand new or vintage.
    Anything is possible when you don't know what you're doing.

  14. #14
    Dollar for dollar, I don't think you can beat vintage tools. There are several folks here (myself included) that sell tools that have had the fettling done when sold. You can get get a good #4, #5, and and a low angle block plane approximately $125 plus shipping. IMHO this beats buying blind from eBay sellers. As others have suggested, you should let the type of work you want to do dictate the tools you buy. Good luck!!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Cedar Rapids Iowa
    Posts
    180
    If you can find a good deal on a No. 3 get it. It will serve nearly as well as a number for smoothing. I love using my No.3
    No, the sky is not falling - just chunks of it are.

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