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Thread: Hand plane or electric hand planer as a first plane?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    San Francisco

    Hand plane or electric hand planer as a first plane?

    I have a couple of stuck doors to fix and need a plane. I did some metal working as a hobby for years but I am a beginner woodworker and want to get tools that will be useful in a long term.
    Lie-Nielsen Low Angle Jack Plane seems to be very popular but it is quite expensive at $250. I can get a good electric hand planer much cheaper.
    Would you get an electric one for a first plane? Is there any less expensive alternative to Lie-Nielsen Low Angle Jack Plane?
    Any advise is appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Lawrenceburg, Tenn.
    As a general rule, you should start with hand tools before graduating to power tools. That said, you can get a block plane at any Borg for a few dollars, and it very useful to use to tune up a door, as well as learn to sharpen. If you are looking for a larger plane, Woodcraft offers an affordable set of bench planes that work well. Lie-Nielsen and Veritas have very nice planes, but as you note, are also very expensive.
    As Cort would say: Fools are the only folk on the earth who can absolutely count on getting what they deserve.

  3. #3
    A simple Stanley hand-plane will suit your purpose just fine. And... very reasonably priced.

  4. #4
    I would say you will find a handplane more useful. The electric planes are not great at much else but trimming doors etc and even then you can do it more accurately and leave a better finish with the handplane, with hardly any difference in the time it takes. The electric plane is not really any use for flattening or squaring large areas, just for hogging off material or roughing out. A jack would be an excellent start, a good size for trimming doors and big enough for some flattening tasks. You don't have to spend on an LN, check the Woodriver planes which I think are excellent for the money, around $150 for the jack I think.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    'over here' - Ireland
    +1 on getting a hand plane. I've had a Makita electric for heaven knows how long, but very rarely use it. It's quite a decent tool, but I actually can't think of a single job it truly excels at.

    Realistically you wouldn't use a good quality hand plane like a Veritas or Lie Nielsen on a door - it's even questionable as to whether you'd use one of the more recent generation of cheaper Eastern copies which are still pretty decent tools.

    The blister pack items at your local hardware won't take a great edge, won't old whatever they do take very long and won't be much use without a lot of tuning for work needing finesse - but on the other hand are dirt cheap and will do odd household jobs where there's paint and the odd nail about - plus teach the basics of set up and sharpening. Leaving you free to upgrade anytime if you decide you need it....


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Escondido, CA
    Buy an old used Stanley, sharpen the blade and have quiet fun.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    LA & SC neither one is Cali
    If you continue woodworking you will use the handplane a LOT you will RARELY use the electric one. A block plane would be perfect and a cheap one will do the job, I might suggest you move up to a mid-priced plane (viewing LN ans Veritas as upper end, which it really isn't to the true hand tool faithful). If you get a decent one you can use it for a very long time.
    Of all the laws Brandolini's may be the most universally true.

    Deep thought for the day:

    Your bandsaw weighs more when you leave the spring compressed instead of relieving the tension.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Cincinnati Ohio
    Lee Valley makes a Low angle jack.,41182
    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
    - Rick Dale

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Courtenay BC Canada
    +1 For a hand plane..

    I have an electric .. if you lived closer you could have it .. if I could find it.. I have not seen it in years, but its probably in a drawer somewhere.

  10. #10
    I have an electric plane and it works very well after I dissembled and adjusted the shoe. That being said, I still agree that a hand plane would be your best bet. you will learn a lot about wood grain and tools by using, adjusting and sharpening a hand plane. And you will have it for ever and pass it on.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    north, OR
    +1 on a block plane, they are the most flexible/handy. You can likely get used older stanley locally for not to much. I saw a decent shape sweet heart for $29 a couple days ago at an antique store, the blade needed a little work but that's about the expected price (maybe $20-25 at a yard sale - more at a dealer).

    Look for one that is actually cast, the bent metal ones will just never work great comparatively. For your first plane I have a hard time justifying the LV or LN ones (not saying that they aren't awesome, they are.. but.. for fixing a couple of doors...), the main advantage is really if you aren't comfortable/familiar with sharpening they come mostly good to go, and you're pretty unlikely to end up with a stinker.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    St. George, UT
    I had a cheap block plane for years and hated it. I bought a L.N. low angle block plane and absolutely love it. I have fixed several doors with it and it is a joy to use whatever the task.
    Best Regards,


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    DuBois, PA
    I would opt for an LN 102 low angle block plane and the LV bevel up jack plane. The LN will be used for all sort of tweaking jobs you'll have and the LV is a very handy plane that can do jack duties, some smoothing and shooting.
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    I gave away my electric plane. A nice block plane is always handy in a woodworking shop but, if all you want to do is un-stick a couple doors, some 150 grit sandpaper wrapped around a flat block of wood will do ya.
    "The Danish government believes that if we train 5,000 designers, and produce
    one Hans Wegner, the money is very well spent." - Ole Gjerlov-Knudsen

  15. #15
    Don't dismiss the power plane as a rudimentary construction tool. Nakashima was known to use them to flatten slabs that were to large to do any other way. That being said a hand plane will probably serve us average guys a lot more than a power plane. My bag has a Stanley Low angle block and a LN #4. They cover most every Planable problem I've com across.

    One thing to remember is that hand planes will require two skill sets. Obviously, one must learn to set up and use the plane. But, one must also learn to sharpen and hone an iron. IMO the latter is much more difficult and for me has been much more expensive.

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