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Thread: First Plane

  1. #1

    First Plane

    I know that this subject has be broached a number of times but think that deciding on a first plane can come down to what you're trying to do rather than a catch all "first plane has to be a #4!". I've considered myself a "builder" for quite some time but really just figured things out as I went along without much guidance or instruction. Over the last year or so I've tried to become more of a "woodworker" and tried to learn as much as I can. With that, I'd like to start getting some planes that are useful to what I'm doing. Primarily I have been working on learning different joinery and a friend has asked me to build them a dining room table when they move into their house in a month. I think using all hand tools on a dining room table is a bit much for me to bite off at this point so I'll probably be relying on my joiner and planer for a bulk of the smoothing for that project but I would like to throw in some mortise and tenons on it if that's something they are wanting. I initially had in mind the medium Veritas Shoulder Plane but then heard about the Lie-Nielsen rabbet block plane which then lead me to the Veritas Jack Rabbet. With the Jack Rabbet, my line of thinking was that I could get a plane that would be a plane to handle multiple different jobs instead of buying multiple different planes. I've read Derek's Jack Rabbet review and found it very helpful and since then it looks like Veritas has added a few extra attachments that Derek had made himself. Although with the length and heft of the Jack Rabbet it wouldn't replace a simple block plane.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    I have been doing hand tool woodworking since 1970. Two of the tools you mentioned were on my list to buy decades ago, but then dropped off the list. I never owned any of them. If I had to pick one that might be useful to you, I would pick the shoulder plane.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    If you're relying on a powered Jointer and Planer to get flat and smooth, there's little point in buying any handplanes. The interesting parts of joinery can be accomplished with fine chisels and well tuned saws.

    Listen to Warren - then read the FAQs.

    We all go down this same road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Missouri
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    I have and use a Jack Rabbet. It is a great plane and will multi-task very well. It does work well as a jack plane and a short jointer. I have cut raised panels with it. I have cut wide tenons with it. You will need multiple blades for it if you plan for multi-tasking. I also have shoulder planes. They also can do different tasks. When you say first plane it seems that you are trying to jump past a little of the learning curve expecting the plane to help you out. Both of the planes mentioned are more advance joinery planes. If youíre comfortable with all of the primary tasks than go for the Jack Rabbet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Hello Patrick and welcome to the Creek.

    Someone mentioned reading the FAQs > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?103805 < there is a lot to digest there.

    You seem clear on an important point:

    I know that this subject has be broached a number of times but think that deciding on a first plane can come down to what you're trying to do rather than a catch all "first plane has to be a #4!".
    A rabbet plane can be useful. It isn't essential. It is designed to cut rabbets or trim up to a wall or an edge. It isn't as useful when trying to smooth a surface.

    Like many others my chisels are used more often for adjusting joinery than any plane.

    Since you mention Veritas and Lie-Nielsen it doesn't sound like you are interested in looking for old planes to rehabilitate.

    You do not mention if you already have any hand tools such as chisels or even a sharpening set up. That is also something to consider when getting started in hand tools. Planes, chisels, saws and even marking knives need to be sharpened.

    A low angle block plane may actually be a good starting point for you. It would be good for when a glue joint isn't aligned. It would also be good on end grain your jointer/planer won't touch.

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

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Itapevi, SP - Brazil
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    IMHO the best start is a block plane. Followed by a Jack plane. All the best quality you can get.

    Follow a smooth plane. Classical no. 4 cannot be wrong.

    After them, the "specialized" planes: router, shoulder, shooting, rabbet, molder and a big jointer planes.

    If you have very deep pockets and time to use all of them, you can add to the list Japanese planes - one parallel universe with lots of options.

    Good luck and enjoy your trip!

  7. #7
    Get a LN block plane and learn the ropes on that. Then follow what Osvaldo said.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
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    Iíve only been making stuff for a couple of years, and just for fun, so take this as input from someone without much experience. If I was going to use a powered jointer and planer for dimensioning stock, then Iíd stick to chisels and saws for the joinery.

    A router plane is handy for fine tuning tenons, but not essential. I donít have a rabbet block plane or a shoulder plane, and Iíve never felt the need to get either.

  9. #9
    Thanks for all the replies and input.

    A few responses to various reply

    You do not mention if you already have any hand tools such as chisels or even a sharpening set up. That is also something to consider when getting started in hand tools. Planes, chisels, saws and even marking knives need to be sharpened.
    I have a set of 3 Narex dovetail chisels and a set of cheap Kobalt. I’ve gotten a marking gauge, Narex marking knife, a 9.5” Suizan dovetail saw and sharpen the chisels on the scary sharp system using the Veritas Mk. II.

    Since you mention Veritas and Lie-Nielsen it doesn't sound like you are interested in looking for old planes to rehabilitate.
    I’ve got a full time job and a 30 month old daughter so my time is the shop/garage is pretty precious so I’m not interested at this time in restoring an antique.

    you are trying to jump past a little of the learning curve expecting the plane to help you out
    Very possible that I’m trying to jump past the learning curve as patience was never my strong suit but dovetails is going to beat patience into my I think. I wouldn’t say that I’m looking for a plane to help me out, more that I’m trying to be more traditional in my building.

    I will definitely go through the FAQ and give it a good read.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Stone Mountain, GA
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    I have a Jack Rabbet and it's a nice tool. But in the 7 years I've owned it I have only used it a few times. Mostly I just tend to use it as a giant shoulder plane, for cleaning up big rabbets or tenons. But only rarely.

    In an all hand tool context, the one thing it's really well suited for is cutting very wide tenons for things like breadboards. Normal tenons are better done with saw and chisel, and most furniture-size rabbets would be better served with something like a Skew Rabbet.

    It is not well suited for bench plane work in my opinion, being a Rabbet type and being bevel up. It would do ok for Jack plane duty if you can manage to get a decent camber. But with a jointer and planer I don't think a Jack plane is high priority for you.

    My advice would be a bevel down smoothing plane for your first, that is something you will use on every project if you get good with it, even if you do most work with power tools. It will work fine on a shooting board as well, without having to cobble together a side piece and screw it into the plane body every time.

    If you want to move to all hand tools, you will end up needing quite a few planes, and I would advise against do-all types.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Big Bend/Panhandle, FL
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    Hi Patrick,

    From my experience the folks on the Creek are amazing for their willingness to offer input and advice. The FAQ's are a great starting point, but there is so much there! It seems like we come from similar starting point--I always considered myself a competent "builder." About a year ago, my interest shifted from power tools to hand tools. For me the slope was very slippery. (It all started with a cheap plane I found sitting in an "antique" store. From there, I found myself devouring as much information as possible and acquiring a very small arsenal of older Stanley and Record planes.) Just from my very limited experience, I would say its hard to go wrong with a #5 jack plane. I love my type 11 Stanley jack. With a slightly cambered and a straight iron, I use it for so many things, even in places where a more specialized plane would have made sense. (I used the #5 with the 2 different irons for making moderately sized desktop for our now very much used home office. For edge jointing and flattening those boards, I am convinced a #7 would have been very helpful, but I made it work.) My very long winded point is that you may want to consider a solid, vintage #5. These are readily available from reputable dealers. I purchased mine from Jim Bode. I probably overpaid a little, but it was worth it to know that it would not take much, if any, real rehab to get it working properly. Patrick Leach is another great source. (Not an endorsement, just my experience.)

    I warn you though it may not quench your thirst. The #5 will lead to a #4. That will probably lead to a plow (plough) plane, then maybe a light combination plane, and then a couple of hollows and rounds because they are just awesome to use. Enjoy the slope, build something fun, accept that mistakes will happen, it will take longer than you think it should, and that things may not turn out like the stuff Derek posts (his apothecary build from a couple years back boggles my mind.) Most of all enjoy the process knowing that all your work can be accomplished without waking your toddler from her nap!

  12. #12
    I would recommend you pick the plane you "desire", since you don't have much experience yet. You will be happy, planing is rewarding
    Be wary not to make your choice based on pre-supposed versatility and gadgets. There is no real "jack of all trades" planes, not even the aptly named "jack plane" isn't so much, if you use power tools for the grunt work.

    Personally, my first planes were wooden ones. I like tight-fit joints but there is nothing quite like revealing the fine texture of some nice piece of wood with a sharp plane. They aren't very versatile / tunable, so I have many, each set for a specific job.
    I also bought veritas low angle jack and skew block plane. They are heavy, precise and versatile with their adjustable mouth and swapable blades.

    The jack rabbet plane is a specialty plane and won't be so great for smoothing and shooting, which are important and enjoyable activities.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Just got an email making me wonder if someone up in Ottawa is reading this.

    Blades and accessories for the Veritas Router plane have just gone on sale to launch the new Veritas Router Plane Box.

    My wife has already let me spend a bunch of money on a new Shooting Board Plane. Good thing my router plane has just about everything already.

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

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    I started out with spokeshaves (The woodworking bug that bit was for making wooden practice swords for a Korean martial art... maybe it was the cheap bug...) But the first bench plane I bought was a Veritas low angle block plane. Still using it today. Love it.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Hmm...
    Block Plane Box, Next....JPG
    Careful....or you will wind up with this....
    Plane Til, project post, both doors opened.JPG
    For what I build....that #3 seems to get a LOT of use...
    Plane Til Drawers, front planed #2.JPG
    Then there is a Millers Falls No. 11 Junior Jack plane....because, most times I don't need to use a long jointer..
    Door hinge install, bevel plane.JPG
    Like a #7 or a #8.....
    Block Planes, side view.JPG
    These do come in handy....
    Plane Til Doors, rebate planed.JPG
    Skewed Rebate plane....cleans up rebates
    Saw Til Project, Wards 78.JPG
    Made by one of these....
    Plane Til Drawers, dado cleaner.JPG
    Or, just cleaning up a dado, or 2...

    First planes I started out with in the late 70s, early 80s.....Stanley No. 110 block plane ( chrome cap..) Great Neck No. 4, and a Stanley Liberty Bell No. 128......working with old pallet wood like Oak. Things kind of took off from there....despite Norm Abram.....was more of a Roy Underhill type of thing. Found out...it wasn't so much who made the tools, it was HOW those tools got used.

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