low angle vs regular

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Forum topic by poser516 posted 12-03-2008 05:16 AM 5425 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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41 posts in 3866 days

12-03-2008 05:16 AM

Hey Everyone,
quick question.

I have a low angle block plane and a jack plane. I know the low angle plane is great for end grain, tricky knots, and can even go across the grain, while a jack is more of a work horse that must be going with the grain.

I also have come upon a few long angle jack planes.

My question is,
If low angle blades are more versatile, why aren’t all planes made low angle?

The woodshop guy in town told me that it’s because low angle planes don’t have chip breakers, but I just found one online that looked like it did, and I don’t know why they wouldn’t put a chip breaker on one and call it a day knowing they have made a more versatile tool.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for your help,

5 replies so far

View poser516's profile


41 posts in 3866 days

#1 posted 12-04-2008 02:53 AM

really….nobody on this forum knows?

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4082 days

#2 posted 12-04-2008 04:57 AM

It is my understanding that high angle planes work better in figured hard wood and don’t tear out as much because they present more of a scraping cut than a slicing/lifting cut. Even the low angle LV planes have the same effective angle as the high angle baileys because the blade is placed in the plane bevel up so the angle of the frog plus the angle of the bevel on the blade is close to that of a high angle plane.

You can see a little discussion of it here.

And here,41182,52515

Basically, the bevel up plane gives you the ability to change the angle by replacing the blade with differently beveled blades while the bailey style planes swap out the frog.

Low angle – straight grained wood and end grain.
Regular angle – hard wood and lightly figured wood (the most versatile pitch)
York pitch – highly figured woods. Expensive infill planes are usually set to this pitch

I know one thing for sure, hand planes have been around for a long time and the designers and users of these planes settled on a versatile angle a long time ago (bailey). Although they may look different and have different adjustment features, handplanes really haven’t changed significantly in 100 years or so. So if it aint broke, don’t fix it <g>

I am no expert. I use my 9 1/2 block plane, my #4 a lot and my my #5 and my #7 from time to time. They are all bailey style and they are all 45 degree planes.

-- Scott - Chico California

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 3793 days

#3 posted 12-04-2008 10:10 PM

60 degrees for hard woods, 45 and less for soft and then there are the other 4,000 different opinions…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View poser516's profile


41 posts in 3866 days

#4 posted 12-05-2008 03:55 AM

thanks guys, great answers.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3914 days

#5 posted 12-05-2008 07:31 AM

Low-angle planes are awkward and fragile when made of
wood…. that’s why the standard pitch plane is the standard -
it goes back to the real olden days, or at least that is my theory.

Both styles have their advantages. There are subtle differences
between say a jack plane and a low angle jack sharpened to
present the same cutting angle to the wood. Momentum,
center-of-gravity, feel are different.

For smoothing I prefer a high-angle plane. Even for end grain
I do not like a low-angle plane so much… but for some things
my L-N low angle jack is the right tool at the right time.

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