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Combination plane vs Plow plane

4393 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Grasshopper000
Hey, I'm a novice woodworker and new to the forum and was hoping you could help me out. I recently bought an old "new" right out of the box Craftsman 3728 plane that I believe is similar to the Stanley 45. A guy I met recently in town also has a nice Record 044 out of the box with all pieces and parts. Won't both function to make dado and rabbet cuts? Why would I need the Record in addition to the Craftsman? I will explore all the things the 3728 will do in time, but mostly wanted it for the 2 cuts I mentioned. Also he has a Millers Falls 77 router plane, similar to a Stanley 71. His stuff is in great condition and complete but also not at bargain prices but I'd hate to pass up on nice pieces in my own backyard. Like a lot of folks I could get carried away buying planes but I will use these and not just collect them, so trying to get my thoughts together and would appreciate any opinions you have. Thanks!
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The Stanley 45, 55, craftsman 3728 are examples of tools that sound good but do not and will not work as well as a single dedicated tool. They will cost a little more but look at LV's plow plane and slew rabbit plane, in the long run you will be happier and do better work.

BTW I have a like new Stanley 45 in the box with all the cutters, been carrying it from shop to shop for close to 30 years and I'll bet it hasn't touched wood a dozen times. There are better tools for any of the jobs it will do.
Thanks, Bubba, I appreciate the input. ALso sounds like you'd be a bigger fan of newer planes rather than vintage, is that right? I'm patient and don't mind buying them over time. Thanks.
When set up correctly and used correctly the 45and I assume the 3728 will do an excellent job on rabbets and dadoes. They do require some practice don't expect to cut proper dados and rabbets the first time out.
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Its mostly about your style of working. If you have a plane dedicated to dados, it will always be ready for dados. If you use the #45, it may be set up for t&g when you want to dado.

I've got two #45s, but tend to use the dedicated because its quicker.

If you're the kind of woodworker who would buy a #62 because it can do it all, will love the #45.
I love my #45 and they are capable of very good work. I will agree with DonW about changing it over, you just have plan out the cuts on your project to make sure that all of the same size ones are done at the same time. They take a bit of time to set up for a new cut, but not that long once you get used to the plane, maybe a couple minutes. It's no different than a router table, when it is set for one cut and you need to do a different one. I can actually set up the #45 faster than a router.

Combo planes are very useful and a lot of fun, but do have strengths and limitations. They excel at grooves and rabbets with the grain in straight grained, knot free wood. If the wood has swirly grain, they can still work with light cuts and a very sharp cutter, but you have to be careful. They are slower going cross grain for dadoes, but can do a good job there, too, if you take your time and have sharp nickers.

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Doing stopped grooves and dadoes is also an issue because of the length of plane in front of and behind the cutter. That is one place where a good router plane, like the Millers Falls 77 you mention comes in handy. If you don't have a router plane, I'd really recommend grabbing one-they are probably the most useful of the joinery planes.

One thing to keep in mind is that the limitations I mention are all also limitations for a new plow plane, with the exception of changeover time, and the combo plane has the advantage in the number of operations it can do for the price and space of a single plane. My recommendation would be to try out your Craftsman and see if you like it. As Bruce mentioned, there is a learning curve, so practice on some scrap, but you may find you like it as much as I do.

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John, Don and Jay, thanks so much for the input, your posts are helping me think it through and helping me learn a good bit, much appreciated, particularly the detailed info on the types of woods, with and against the grain, etc., the Craftsman combination plane will work best with. In terms of a router, any recommendations for planes I should look for? Would you recommend the Millers Falls 77 (like a Stanley 71) or another model that might be more useful? Also, any perspectives on older planes vs. newer models from Veritas or LN, etc.? Really appreciate your comments. I need to go get some wood this weekend to get practicing!
there is a forever debate on the HPOYD thread about vintage versus new. Its again, about your pleasures.
I have a Stanley 71 and like it-the Millers Falls are also supposed to be really good.

If you are looking new, I've heard good things about the Veritas router and really like what I see of the design improvements from the old Stanley design, but haven't used one. It would be my first choice if buying a new one. You just don't hear as much about the LN router, but you might PM BigRedKnothead-he picked one up recently.
Thanks, Jay,helpful. I'm guessing you're talking about the Veritas Small Router -,41182? One other question, it shows the Veritas as having only a 1/4" blade, but the Millers Falls has several sizes, sounds like more sizes would be more desirable and versatile? Or am I missing something? Thanks.
No, I was talking about the Veritas Large Router Plane, which is similar is size to the Stanley 71. The small router you linked is like a Stanley 271 and of much more limited use.
Oh sorry, missed that on the site. Thanks for the link. Didn't see it under Specialty Planes.
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