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Thread: Planes for Newbies

  1. #16

    I belong in the treasure the old tools camp. Many of my tools were handed down to me, and many (most) were not top of the line tools in their day. With that being said, however, I know from first hand experience that it can be frustrating to learn it all at once - fettling, sharpening, reading grain, technique, and troubleshooting what part you are doing wrong. I think that the advice given here as to selection of a new LN or Veritas is great. It will give you a benchmark for what a good plane should be. Also, the advise to learn to sharpen cannot be over emphasized. You also have a great idea in the classes or club participation. A couple of things I would suggest also are: (1) Practice - A LOT. Take scraps, put them in the vise, and go to it. That more than anything will teach you the feeling, the technique, and even the sound a properly fettled plane makes. It will dull your irons, which will in turn lead to more practice - sharpening. And (2) once you get a feel for it, and think you know exactly how a premium plane should behave, buy an old Stanley for $10 - $15, and make it behave that way. In the process, if you are like me, you will learn so much about how the design of these tools, new and old, can be persuaded to provide such satisfying results. To me, using a tool that I bought in a junked up state, then tuned and fettled it into a functional user just adds to the great feeling I get when I finish a project.

    BTW - Be careful, Its called the slippery slope for a reason.


  2. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    My agreement is with James on this, but only if you are patient.

    Some of my planes were bought on eBay because they looked like junk with some good parts. My #5 came to about $17 including the shipping. It was bought for the handles which were in good shape. If you buy just the handles off the plane, they will cost more. When it arrived, it was in much better shape than the blurry pictures indicated. It is now one of my go to planes. The plane I wanted to replace the handles on was sold. I didn't need four #5s.

    It did take me a while to learn the skill of sharpening, but it is worth it. The ability to clean up an old rusty piece of iron and adjust the metal with a file and set up the parts to make thin shavings puts a smile on my face. This also was something that required time, patience and a willingness to move slow and not try to get there all in one night.

    Learning to read the grain of the wood to avoid tear out is not real difficult, but some woods are easier than others.

    I would bet that others will sometimes mount a hunk of wood just to take a few shavings now and then. Of course, we are just checking the blade and set up.

    Everyone has their favorites, mine are the type 9 through 11 Stanley planes. There are a couple of type 6s in my accumulation also. Some like older, some like newer. They are all pretty good.

    Then, there is the well reasoned argument for buying the newer LV or LN planes. They are very well made planes and offer features not found in the older Stanley line. Of course, they cost more. Being retired, I have more time than money, so my way is to buy the low priced and tune it to work like the high priced.

    Just be careful, it is hard for me not to pick up a plane at a yard sale or antique shop to check it out. It is harder to put it back down if the price is reasonable. Currently, there are probably too many planes in my shop, but facts never get in the way of plane lust.

    On the slope and picking up speed,


  3. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post

    On the slope and picking up speed,

    That has got to be the best tag line ever.


  4. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Pleasant Grove, UT
    There are a number of different ways of going about selecting your first planes. I'm going to throw something a bit different into the mix.

    Consider the most difficult "tweak" that you have encountered. By this, I mean a situation where you have to tweak a cut made by a power tool. Now, think about how you can tweak it, especially if you've moved on from the setup that made the original cut....

    For me, tweaking a dado is, or at least was, a nightmare. That is, until I got a rabbet plane, or more accurately, a side rabbet plane. No trying to get the saw fence set "just so" AND the blade right just right. No risking screwing up a near finished piece just to widen the dado a smidge.

    A side rabbet plane is a pretty specialized tweaker, but like all the other specialized handplanes, the first time you use one, you'll have an epiphany. The true power of handplanes will become crystal clear. The right plane, at the right time, can save you so much time and frustration compared to a power tool, that it's mindboggling.

    With all that said, the most versatile 'general tweaker' is a block plane. I'll echo what other folks have said, go with a low angle adjustable mouth block. If cost isn't a major issue, jump in whole hawg and get the new Veritas NX60. Otherwise, the DX60, a Veritas LA adjustable mouth, or a Lie-Nielsen LA adjustable mouth, which in the interests of disclosure, is my only block plane.

    Planes come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, styles, and even materials. Often, people group them by origin, or size, or style, and of course by materials. Methinks such grouping can be, and usually is, misleading. Planes are best grouped by function.
    It came to pass...
    "Curiosity is the ultimate power tool." - Roy Underhill
    The road IS the destination.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    "I'm guessing it would be a good idea to take a class at woodcraft or maybe even join a woodworkers club to get some hands-on tutoring."

    This is, by the way, the best possible advice one of us could've given you (but neglected to). Written insturctions, whether found in a book or in a tool's box, can be followed and will eventually get you there, but watching someone that knows what they're doing will give you all of that information and more, and in about 30 seconds. Sharpening, in particular, is a skill that's best learned by looking over someone's shoulder while he/she is doing it. There are tons of books (the Taunton one written by Tom Lie-Nielsen's a keeper) out there, but again, it's a heck of a lot easier to learn by emulating someone that's already good at it.

    One other thought - regarding whether to buy a new, "high-end" plane or a flea market bargain, keep in mind that quite a few of us on this forum and others are -ahem- excessively "frugal", and that tends to color responses. The reason I enclosed "high-end" in quotations is that the planes from Lie-Nielsen or Lee Valley aren't high-end, nor even expensive.

    They only look that way in comparison to made-by-slave-labor offerings in the big-box stores, and you've already found out why they're so cheap. Pre-1950's Stanley planes are cheaper than LV or LN, of course, but that's only because they were necessary tools in pre portable planer days, and there's so many of them out there and so few finish carpenters these days even know how to use them that the price has been pushed far below manufacturing cost. In their day, Stanley planes were at least as expensive as, and in some cases considerably more expensive than, Lie-Nielsons or Lee Valley's offerings.

    This is, by the way, a good reason not to buy on price, at least in this range. If you like the looks of a Lie-Nielsen, buy one of those, regardless of whether the Lee Valley equivalent is a little cheaper. The reverse is also true - if you like the looks of the Lee Valley new block plane, buy it rather than the Lie-Nielsen. The simple reason is that you're likely to have these tools for the rest of your working life, and the money differential is extremely small, and it'd be a mistake to forever wish you'd ponied up a few more dollars for the tool you really wanted. And it's cheaper to do this than it is to sell what you've just bought and then go buy the one you really wanted.

    As a reference point, remember that neither Lee Valley nor Lie-Nielsen make "high-end" planes. This is the purview of small, independent makers in this day and age. Bridge City, Ron Brese and Philip Marcou are on the lower end of this class, with planes going for roughly $600-$1400. The mid-range is someone like Konrad Sauer, who makes and sells superb infill planes that go for between $2000 - $4000, and ultra-high end is someone like Karl Holtey, whose infill planes are celebrated for their perfectionism, and the entry price is well north of $6000.

    The only reason Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen look expensive is the extraordinary drop in prices of tools manufactured in large volume during the 20th century (such as workshop machines), and the existence of extraoridnary numbers of used Stanelys and other brands from before the 1940's. Were these to not exist, Lie-Nielsens and Lee Valleys would be considered to be extraordinarily cheap (which they actually are, given the quality that goes into them).

  6. #21


    Dave, Mr Keller beat me to it. A couple weeks ago I was going through exactly the same pains. As of now I am the proud owner of 4 vintage planes,1 worksharp 3000, 5 nice thick pieces of custom cut, & edge polished glass, 1 veritas honing jig, & serveral other small dodads & gadgets. All neatly stowed away awaiting the arival of the plane fairy. All the books, DVDs, and informed post here, won't take the place of some hands on mentoring, by a plane guru. (Unfortunatly I live In the middle of nowhere and the plane fairy Don't Go Here.)

    Good Luck, (and seek out Yoda)

  7. #22
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Colorado Springs, CO

    Before you buy

    This is a great thread. Everyone has added good advice. I will throw in that I would recommend watching Rob Cosman's video(s) before buying any plane. He has one on sharpening and planing. It is great for a beginner wanting to know where to start. He is a big Lie-Nielsen guy and recommends their stuff (which is a great recommendation) but Veritas planes are top notch too. I own both and have no qualms with either. I personally like the LN's but that is strictly on looks. The Veritas perform very admirably.

  8. #23
    1) I know this is necroposting but this is the only thread I could find that deals with newbie plane users (like moi)

    2) I have been learning woodworking in a class for the last few years (well, not the last two years ) but was going along pretty well prior to that.

    3) Class is mostly power tools but I read enough on this forum and other WW forums to see the usefulness of learning to use a plane

    4) Received a Veritas Low angle block plane for Christmas

    5) Despite a call to Veritas I cannot get the plane set up correctly even for initial use, especially concerning the little set screws on the side.
    (And depending who you talk to the Veritas those folks are not very patient with newbs, because we weren't born knowing everything the Veritas guy has obviously know since before the dawn of man)

    6) I did join SMC a few years ago when it was free, but have also been a paid subscriber off and on (currently on a recurring monthly payment subscription)

    7) I would like some help setting up the plane

    8 ) please... and thanks (in advance)

    I cannot get the blade to stay stationary side-to-side without getting the set screws so tight that it prevents moving the blade forward or retracting it.
    It's like an all or nothing situation. And from what the little (Yellow) paper says that Veritas sends you, once the side to side motion is eliminated, you should never have to mess with those set screws again.
    Well, it isn't happening that way for me.
    Last edited by Patty Hann; 01-25-2022 at 6:17 PM.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Fairbanks AK
    Patty, where are you located, about? A thing that might take 45 posts and two weeks over the interwebs might, possibly, be solved in 3.2 seconds in the correct hands face to face.

  10. #25
    Hi Scott... oh, tell me about it....hands on demo with someone who knows is worth a thousand posts/emails.
    I am one on those people who learns (and learns pretty well, if not better) by copying what others do.
    So...I'm in the Phoenix metro area (a long way from AK, I'm afraid), east side
    (PS... I envy you having the Aurora ...someday I intend to get up there and see it myself)
    Last edited by Patty Hann; 01-25-2022 at 6:24 PM.

  11. #26
    Dave, Iím self taught and relatively new to this.
    do you have a bench set up for work holding? It can be a fairly frustrating experience if you donít.
    there is definitely a learning curve to hand planing but if you take the time to practice, and troubleshoot you can get some decent results. The creek is an excellent resource. So is YouTube.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    Hi Patty, along with Scott, my first question was going to be about your location. Hopefully someone local to you will see your post and offer to help.

    If that doesn't occur you may want to create a new post.

    The most common errors made with block planes is putting the blade in with the bevel down instead of up.

    Funny that a Stanley #4 purchased a few days ago had the blade installed with the bevel up. That is also a common error.

    Your plane doesn't need the screws adjusted to get it working. The cap over the blade (lever or leverage cap) does need to be tightened, not cranked down but tight enough to secure the blade.

    Here is an old post on "getting started with hand planes" > <

    Try retracting the blade with the cap barely tightened, this should be back to just enough to not cut. Then with the cap still not fully tight advance the blade slowly while pushing the plane over a piece of scrap. This can be a bit awkward. When the plane first starts to take a shaving stop advancing the blade.

    Some folks like to use a small piece of wood held in one hand to run over the sole of the plane to judge blade engagement.

    Check the shaving from both sides of the blade to make sure they are even.

    The blades on Veritas planes have in my experience arrive plenty sharp off the shelf. Once the plane is cutting then set the screws. Turn one in until it just touches the blade then back off 1/8 to 1/4 turn. Then adjust the other the same way.

    Beyond this, it may be necessary for you to include images if you can for additional help.

    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 01-27-2022 at 10:50 AM. Reason: corrected common of to off error
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #28
    Thank you Jim... I will give it a shot. I think I can get it right because of your step-by-step instructions.
    Will let you know.
    Oh, and thanks for the link...will look at that too.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    Quote Originally Posted by Patty Hann View Post
    Thank you Jim... I will give it a shot. I think I can get it right because of your step-by-step instructions.
    Will let you know.
    Oh, and thanks for the link...will look at that too.
    Glad to help, let us know how it goes.

    I also sent you a Private Message.

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

  15. #30
    Worked ...thanks..Jim (Also sent you a PM...did you get it?)

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