Reply by JayT

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Posted on Intimidated by Hand Planes

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6296 posts in 2725 days

#1 posted 03-02-2015 07:22 PM

Skip the inexpensive new planes, either go good quality vintage or premium new. Vintage is definitely less money, but usually a bit more work.

Totally agree with bondo about not starting with a #7—a #4 or #5 is a good place to start. Both are useful and they cost a lot less, so you can learn on a $20-40 plane instead of a $100 one. Tuning/fettling a plane is actually pretty straight forward, just takes some common sense. Parts that mate together need to fit well, sole needs to be relatively flat and the iron needs to be sharp. The last one is where a lot of people miss, but is probably the most important.

One suggestion I make is to consider purchasing your first plane completely tuned, sharpened and ready to use from someone that really knows what they are doing. That way, if you go on to acquire more planes, you have a standard in mind to shoot for. I started with a couple and thought I was doing a good job tuning them up, but then traded with another LJ and the plane he sent me was on a whole different level, especially sharpness. After using it a couple of times, it was a lot easier to work over my others until they performed similarly.

Welcome to the slippery slope.

Edit: Another possibility is finding a hand tool user in your area that’s willing to take a little bit of time to get you started on the right foot.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

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