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Hand planes…how to choose one, how to use one

This topic contains 219 replies, has 25 voices, and was last updated by  58Chev 2 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #476661

    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    I have a couple of older hand planes that I’ve rehabbed to the best of my ability based upon what I’ve read online. The soles have been flattened and the irons sharpened.

    One is a small smoothing plane (Sears brand, made in England) the other is a low angle block plane (80’s Craftsman, made in England). I cannot for the life of me get the smoothing plane set up properly, and I’m ready to junk it. The block plane is pretty nice for a cheap model, but I’d like something a bit nicer.

    I don’t think a thread like this exists yet, so let’s discuss hand planes and hopefully I can learn some things…and perhaps others as well!

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #476688

    smallerstick
    Pro
    Listowel, ON

    Here’s a good place to start…

    There are only two ways to do things; the right way and again.

    #476703

    Jon, Lie-Nielsen Hand Tools put on events across the country. I attended one a year ago in Chicago. They have all their planes for you to try out and their folks are great at helping you out. They have an event coming up again in Chicago in March. If I am not mistaken you aren’t too far away.

    https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events/USA/108

    #476706

    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    I just so happen to be going to Chicago a couple days after that…I’ll have to see about changing the plans a bit to make it to this event!

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #476797

    woodman_412
    Moderator

    I think general quality is going to be an issue with the planes that you have Jon. Without seeing them I don’t know for sure but it doesn’t sound like they would be very high quality. Cheaper planes have thinner blades, less precise adjustment mechanisms and are machined to less tight tolerances. Do you have any pics? Planes like Lie-Nielsen and Veritas are high quality and work great pretty much right out of the box. It depends on what kind of work you’re trying to do with them too. You want to make sure that all mating surfaces in the plane are flattened. I don’t have time right now to get into more plane setup details but I can post more later.

    Dan

    danpattison.com

    #476821

    r-ice
    Pro
    Durham region, ON

    I don’t know if you have a leevalley or other wood shop nearby they usually offer one day classes on them but if you do have a leevalley close they have classes on how to make handplanes. I find that i use my handmade hand plane more so than any other that I own.

    #476887

    58Chev
    Pro
    Etobicoke, ON

    Good topic Jon. As I recently purchased the Veritas Honing kit and would like to bring a few of my old planes back to life.
    Looking forward to all the input from the veterans.

    “If you don’t pass on the knowledge you have to others, it Dies with you”
    — Glenn Botting

    #476914

    I recently attended a hand planning workshop at the Lee Valley in Halifax, NS and I would recommend it to anyone interested in hand planes.

    Will

    #476916

    Not too sure on Sears brand as any kind of decent plane. You ought to be able to pick up a Millers Falls, Record or Stanley #4 for about $35 or so. As a quick and dirty guide to putting an age on them, take off the blade and look at the frog face (what the blade ass’y sits on), the more metal that contacts the blade, the older (and better IMHO) the plane. As they get newer there is less and less contact area (easier to machine when making) until on the newest ones there is just slightly raised area around the perimeter of the contours of the frog.

    Sharp….sharp sharp sharp….it is always better and cures a lot of problems. Get a method and do it often. I sharpen all my planes (except my #5, which I do to 30 degrees) to a 25 degree angle (Veritas Mk ll guide) and then put a 1 degree micro bevel on them. I only go to 4000 grit, because that is what I have. I can get the edge looking like a mirror. I plan on adding a strope to the process. I bevel the edges of the blade so it does not leave tracks. Some put a bit of a camber on it instead. When I put the blade back in the plane, I put a piece of 1/4″ wood in the vice and adjust the lateral adjustment by running one side of the plane across it, then the other. When both sides take an even shaving, it is square.

    I should mention the chip breaker when putting it together. Generally, the finer the cut, the closer you put the chip breaker to the edge of the blade. My smoothing planes are about 1/16th or so, and my #5 (fore plane) is probably double that.

    I set, and tune, my smoothing planes (#3, #4) the finest. I only want to be taking off thousandths of an inch by then (you can pretty much eliminate sanding too, unless you need to rough it up). My fore plane (#5) is the crudest as it is for hogging off material, usually across the grain. The jointers (#6 and #7) are somewhere in the middle. Note I am using the Stanley numbering system as a reference.

    The Paul Sellers method in the video is a good guide. There are a lot of videos on planes too (I have one on a Record 078) and show my processes through some of my videos (shameless plug). Don’t get hung up on the whole “this is the right way to sharpen” thing. You can get a sharp blade with a myriad of methods. It is only the end result that counts. Some guys like diamond stones, some oil stones, some water stones and some sandpaper on a flat surface (flat surface can be a whole discussion too. Some will swear you need a granite surface plate and others use a piece of MDF).

    A good resource is:

    http://hyperkitten.com/tools/stanley_bench_plane/

    Wood moves……..there is little reason to go for an accuracy of a micron when the medium will change size by 1/8″ through the seasons.

    Most of this is me pontificating on my own opinion, which is mostly other peoples opinions I have gathered over time by watching and doing and seeing what makes sense to me. A lot of the subject is….well….subjective. Over time you will see what works for you and what you like. Some guys like strats, some like Les Pauls….it’s all good, relax and enjoy it. I am sure I have overlooked a lot. I will be following and adding as things come up. I love hand planes.

    My You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA5AretE3xPoVDV61AxUdUA

    I don't do a fast job. I don't do a slow job. I do a half fast job.

    #476917

    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    I can take some pictures Dan. They aren’t very high quality, but they were free to me…

    The Sears model smoothing plane has a bit of plastic on it, but the Craftsman block plane looks just like an older Stanley block plane.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #476948

    A bunch worth watching:

    My You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA5AretE3xPoVDV61AxUdUA

    I don't do a fast job. I don't do a slow job. I do a half fast job.

    #476950

    and more..

    My You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA5AretE3xPoVDV61AxUdUA

    I don't do a fast job. I don't do a slow job. I do a half fast job.

    #476959

    Doobie
    Pro

    I recently attended a hand planning workshop at the Lee Valley in Halifax, NS and I would recommend it to anyone interested in hand planes.

    I signed up for that as well and unfortunately couldn’t attend due to family needs issues on that day.

    This is one of the weak areas for me in my shop and woodworking pursuits. I have bought a whole bunch of planes from LV over the years, but I have no clue still what I am doing. 🙁

    #477020

    I will be interesting watching this thread . I don’t know much either about block planes .

    Always willing to learn .

    #477086

    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    Thanks for the videos Jim. I’ll give them a look over this evening. In the mean time, here are my two planes.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #477172

    jkirk
    Moderator
    halifax, nova scotia

    personally i generally have stanleys.. 2 standard block planes and a low angle block plane.. i have a cheap smooth plane from busy bee tools.

    dan might be a really good person to chime in on this topic he use to work at lee valley and i think he uses planes regularly

    heres a tip, dont fart in a space suit

    #477181

    Thanks for the videos Jim. I’ll give them a look over this evening. In the mean time, here are my two planes.

    The little block plane looks like most knock offs of the Stanley 110. Pretty common, and will be a functional tool, I have similar in different brand names. The Sears one would be copy of a Stanley #4. As always, you can get it to be a decent user. The casting looks a bit light, but if you follow the Paul Sellers video, it should be OK. Being a smoother, you will want it to be taking light cuts any ways. Set fine I think you will be happy with it.

    My You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA5AretE3xPoVDV61AxUdUA

    I don't do a fast job. I don't do a slow job. I do a half fast job.

    #477247

    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    Set fine I think you will be happy with it.

    So after about 3 minutes of watching videos, I realized that I had the dang iron upside down…after picking it up and playing with it numerous times over the past few months I finally figured out why I couldn’t get anywhere…I feel stupid.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #477263

    Hand planes are a must-have in my opinion. I recommend getting a well tuned plane for a company like Lie-Nielsen or Lee Valley if you are getting into planes as it is nice to have one working the way it should out of the box. On older planes, while it is fun to restore them and put them to use, it can be frustrating as you are getting to use them. Attending one of the shows Lie-Nielsen puts on is a great way to get some good instruction for free and right from the experts. Tom is a great guy and offers world-class customer service – stands behind their products. I dropped my #8 jointer plane on my shop floor and dinged it up – shipped it off to Lie-Nielsen and they fixed the broken tote, knob and made sure the plane body and sides were perfect and they did not charge me a dime — even paid return shipping to me.

    I recommend learning to sharpen and put a secondary bevel on the blade. I use a honing guide (a Veritas model) and it makes it idiot proof. I also use oil stones, but that is because I do not want any rust on my planes. It is a slower way to sharpen, but I do not worry about water and that is what Garret Hack uses (a renowned woodworker who has lots of expertise in hand-tools and has written a few books on the subject). If I were buying a new sharpening system I might got with ceramic stones as they cut faster, do not wear very fast and while they use water as a lubricant, it is just sprayed on the surface and so a lot less mess.

    In terms of planes to get, I recommend a block plane as a first plane to anyone looking to get into it and follow that with a jack plane. I like a low-angle block plane and really like the little bronze plane Lie-Nielsen makes. The low angle excels at end grain cutting and little trimming jobs. I prefer a low angle jack plane as well (I like the Lie-Nielsen 62) as you can sharpen the iron at different angles and use the same body with different blades for different purposes. I have a toothed blade for really knarly wood to reduce tear-out and a couple of other blades sharpened at different angles to mimic low-angle planing or higher angle planing to match grain and to reduce tear-out. A jack plane body is long enough to allow some flattening, but short enough to work as a smoother. It is very versatile.

    After that I would get a jointer plane (either a #7 or #8) — you can get perfectly flat and straight stock with one and also a smoother to round out the collection. These 4 planes will allow you to tackle the bulk of any finishing and stock prep tasks and they supplement machine or hand tool use.

    One of the tips I have always used that I got from Lie-Nielsen is to use a little block of wood to set the blade square to the sole. If you take a shaving from each side of the plane you can compare the shavings and make sure you are not taking a heavy cut on one side of the blade. This is important when you insert a newly sharpened blade. It is easy to over correct the lateral adjustment and also to move the frog for too deep a cut. The wood block is a quick way to gauge your blade and make adjustments before taking it to wood.

    Lie-Nielsen has some great videos on its You Tube channel that covers some good techniques on using planes and how to set them up, etc… that are worth watching if you are new to the subject.

    Orange County, CA

    #477307

    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    So after about 3 minutes of watching videos, I realized that I had the dang iron upside down…

    Well at least you got it figured out.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

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