View Full Version : Second Handplane Purchase

Greg Phillips
03-02-2003, 2:50 PM
I recently purchased a LN low angle block plane. What an incredible tool! I think I'm going to be addicted.

I'm ready to purchase my second hand plane, and I am still a bit bewildered by the selection. I am planning to use my handplanes to face joint boards wider than my 6" Powermatic can joint. What plane would you use first in that process. I guess I am leaning toward the LN #5 or #4 1/2. Am I heading down the wrong road? Any good suggestions for this Neanderthal rookie? What about low angle vs. standard vs. high angle?

Thanks in advance.


Jim DeLaney
03-02-2003, 3:13 PM
Well, it depends...

If you're going to be face planing rough-sawn stock, you may need to use a scrub plane (like the LN 40 or Stanley 40/40) to bring the stock to 'near flat' before taking the 4 or 5 (personally, I'd use a six - two actually - one set coarse, and then one set fine) to it.

If your stock already has a fairly decent smoothness to it, then use the 4~7 to bring it into the smoothness you want. Again, make a coarse pass, followed by a finer one.

As to high/low or standard angle, it's gonna depend on what you're planing. The high and low angles are often better in highly figured woods, but the 'standard' 45 angle works just fine about 95-99% of the time.

Alan Hamilton
03-02-2003, 7:45 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by "face joint." But please do not confuse "smoothing" and "flattening." They are separate operations that are ideally done with different tools.

For flattening you want a long bodied plane--the longest one you can get that's suitable for the size of the boards you want to flatten. A long bodied plane will ride over the low spots and will remove wood from the high spots. When you can take a shaving from end to end anywhere across the width of the board it is flat. For most furniture work I use my #7.

Once the stock is flat it's time to drag out a smoothing plane. For this work a shorter plane works just fine: a #3 and a #4 are called "smoothing planes" and are made for this task. I own one of each--but my #4 is a Lie-Nielsen, so I rarely reach for my #3 these days.

If you work from logs or rough, undimensioned stock, the usual progression is: 1) bring the stock to rough dimensions and remove and twist, cup or bow with a scrub plane; 2) refine the dimensions with a jack plane--a #5; 3) flatten and bring the stock to its final dimensions with a long plane; and finally 4) finish smoothing the stock.

Wow. Am I ever long winded. Sorry.


John Sanford
03-04-2003, 8:21 PM
What I'd suggest is that you get a plane that will allow you to do something that is a real nuisance to do with machines. Which takes you further into the realm of fitting, and away from the realm of bench planes.

I'd suggest a shoulder plane.

IF you want a plane as part of an exercise regimen, then go ahead and get one of the "stock prep" planes. If, however, you want one that will contribute mightily to your joinery, then look toward the shoulder planes, chisel planes, rabbet planes, and the like.

After all, I'll bet that L-N you have now spends a lot more time fitting joints and planing joinery down than it does dimensioning stock, right? :cool:

Dennis McDonaugh
03-05-2003, 9:47 AM
Hey Gregg, good responses in answer to your question. Hand planes are like Lays potato chips, you can't buy just one! If you are talking about taking a rough 10" wide board to a smooth 10" board, then Alan's advice is right on the money. You need a #40 Scrub, a #5 Jack, and a #4 smoother, or their wooden equivelent, A #7 jointer would be nice too. A shoulder plane is also an excellent addition to your arsenal, they're especially useful for cleaning up joinery. Don't even get me started on scraper planes. Let us know what you decide.

Steve Schoene
03-07-2003, 4:12 PM
Since you have a forked tail jointer, I assume you have a lunchbox or better planer. In this case, all you need to do is flatten the board on one side, it needs to be flat and moderately smooth but not smoothed to final quality. When flat then run through the plan** to make the other side parallel and "machine" smooth. Flip and then bring the first side (the one you planed by hand) to "machine" smooth. Then finish with a smooth plane. This saves work but not necessarily the need for several planes. You still need a #3 or #4 smoother--you can sell your ROS and Belt sander to finance. But you also need a scrub for starting with rough stock, and a longer plane such as a #7. You should have two blades for your number seven, one ground dead square and straight for use in Jointing edges (not this question), and the other for flattening which is ground with a modest camber--subtle, not nearly as large as a scrub plane.