View Full Version : jointer planes

Stephen Sebed
04-07-2003, 12:11 AM
I am becoming interested in handplanes and was wondering how you get a perfectly straight, 90 degree edge on a board when jointing? I would like to purchase a plane and be able to joint boards to glue up. what does a jointer plane look like? Is it just longer than a jack plane? I plan on buying old planes and restoring them. What is a reasonable price for a Stanley #5 and a jointer plane?


Tom Scott
04-07-2003, 1:19 AM
First the basics...The jointer planes are the longest of the planes, designed to ride over low spots to get a straight edge. The most common jointer is the Stanley #7. There is also the even larger, but not as common, #8. Shopping through the "Bay", good user #7's can typically be had for about $70. The better ones will go over $100. If you are also shopping for a #5, those are far more common and can usually be had for much less.

The process...Due to the jointer's length and a little practice, the easier part is getting a flat edge along the length. The harder part is getting an edge that is 90 degrees to the face. Again, this takes practice. The key when you are beginning is to stop and check your progress often with a square so you can make adjustments along the way. If you are jointing for glue-ups, you can joint the 2 adjacent boards at the same time. This way, any variance from square in one board will be mirrored the other for a good fit.

If you are really wanting to get into hand planes, I would recommend getting a few books on the subject. Garrett Hack's, The Handplane Book, is excellent, as well as Michael Dunbar's. There is a lot of information in these, and these authors can explain the processes much better than I can.

So, what if any planes do you have now?

Tony Laros
04-07-2003, 1:05 PM
Stephen: What you need is a shooting board, where the piece you want to edge joint lies flat on the shooting board, with the edge protruding slightly, and you plane sideways. The side egde of your plane is referenced to the bench and the iron is 90 to the bench. I'm not much of a handtools guy, so I hope I've explained it enough to steer you in the right direction.

Tom Scott
04-07-2003, 2:32 PM
Well...a shooting board works great for shorter boards and squaring the ends of boards, but not so well for jointing anything of moderate length. First, for a decent size board, you would need a very long shooting board. Second, I haven't tried it, but it would seem very difficult to keep a long narrow board in place while using a shooting board.
I think you will find the jointer plane to be much more versatile if you learn to use it "free-style", and save the shooting board for squaring the ends of smaller boards and panels.
Just my $0.02 (for all that's worth).

Stephen Sebed
04-07-2003, 4:01 PM
Thanks for all the replies. As of right now I don't own any planes. I plan on getting one or two very soon though.


Tom Scott
04-07-2003, 5:17 PM
Just FYI, if I were just starting out the planes I would choose would probably be:
1. Smoothing plane - #4 or #4 1/2
2. Jointer plane - #7 or #8
3. Block plane - preferably a low angle blade
4. Shoulder plane - #90, #92, #93, #73, or equivalent.

You can do a lot with just those. For quite a few years all I had was a #4 and a block plane. After a little more experience you'll have a better idea of what kind of work you want to do and what you want to fill in with.

If you keep sliding down that slippery hand tool slope, you'll probably also be looking at adding a good set of chisels and a hand saw or 2.

Jim Izat
04-08-2003, 10:37 AM
To be honest, especially for a new user, a perfect 90 degree joint may not be all that necessary. Using a combination of a well tuned plane and a square will get you quite close and train your hands and body position, allowing you to work gradually towards the goal of correct muscle and spatial memory.
It you joint both boards you intend to glue up simultaneously (back to back) any small deviation from 90 degrees will cancel itself out giving you a nice flat glue up. To my mind the bigger challenge is to keep the jointed edge straight, and perpendicular to the sides of the jointed boards.


John Wadsworth
04-08-2003, 10:54 AM

How long are the boards you're jointing?

How strong are you?

How much stress will be on the joint?

What kind of glue will you use?

The big #8s are real beasts and take a fair amount of muscle power to use. Many joiners, if the work on relatively short stock, will use a fore plane (#6, in Stanley/Bailey terms) or a jack (#5).

There are fences which attach to the side of a jointer to help you maintain perpendicularity--Stanley's is the #386, if I recall correctly (pricey), and there's a Millers Falls version as well; Lee Valley sells a neat Veritas design that attaches with rare earth magnets.

The there's the question of whether, and how much, to crown the blade in your jointer; some folks whose judgment I trust claim that a crowned blade lets them use one side or the other of the jointer to correct an off-square joint.

As with most hand tool queries, the best answer is the tag line in the old joke--

Q: "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?"
A: "Practice, practice, practice."

Stephen Sebed
04-08-2003, 4:29 PM
well most of the boards I will be jointing will be under 3ft in length and most will probably be within 12 -18 inches. So with that in mind I might buy a #5 jack and start practicing with that. I'm pretty sure that I could handle a #7 or 8 as I am still in high school and I am in decent shape.

Thanks for all the advice

Greg Wease
04-12-2003, 12:04 PM
Stephen, in addition to practice, practice, practice I have a couple of suggestions on edge jointing:

First, try placing a small mirror in front of the board you are planing. That way you can get immediate feedback if you are holding the plane on an angle.

Second, don't hold the front knob. Instead wrap your hand around the sole of the plane in front with thumb on top and fingers against the face of the board. This provides a lot of stability.

Hope this helps,