I work on string instruments and use 102's on fingerboards from violin to upright bass. I have at least 12 and at least as many 202's as well as other variations. I try to set them up the same and when one gets dull I put it down and pick up another sharp one. At least I try to set a few up the same.
Generally speaking, I'd bet the vast majority of woodworkers use one block plane 90+% of the time.
I have a:
Stanley Low Angle Block Plane
Record Standard Angle Block Plane
New model Craftsman block plane (bought as a $20 throwaway in 2009 for a scrub job).
Strangely, I reach for the craftsman almost every time a job calls for a block plane. Its considerably bigger and heavier than the other two, and just feels better in my hand.
I'm sure there are some people that buy multiple block planes and set them up differently. But the trend seems to be to buy multiple blades for the same plane, and sharpen them with different grinds.
I personally would gain nothing from either 'strategy', and get by just fine with my $20 beater.
I have three; A rough, but tuned and sharp old Craftsman standard angle. A nice Stanley low angle and a nice Stanley standard angle. If you're using one most of the time, I can see where it would be beneficial to have another sharp and ready to go and sharpen multiple blades at once vs. having to stop and sharpen a blade then get back to work.
I have a LN low angle adjustable mouth. It's the only block plane I have, and I have made it for a while. If I ever get another one, I will get the LN rabbeting block plane. There have been multiple instances when I needed that exact tool and didn't have it.
Generally speaking, block planes are inexpensive tools that seem to multiply on their own when you reach three or so. There are different types of blocks (rabbet, skew, low-angle, etc) geared to excel at specific tasks, and there are general purpose blocks. Is there a benefit to having, for example, a half dozen #220s to setup in different ways? Not that I'm aware. But a single, general-purpose #220 is good to have. Then maybe a low angle block. Finally a rabbet / skew type. By then, you'll be at three, so look out…
I have 2. I have my grandfather's Stanley 9 1/4 which sees little use. I use it for rough tasks like trimming down dowels or splines quickly, but the lack of an adjustable mouth limits it for me. I have Stanley 18 with an adjustable mouth that I keep set for very fine cuts, and use it more often for finished cuts, like chamfering an edge.
One of the things you find with block planes is that they are so varied and can be so useful that it almost always seems like adding one more will be helpful. Could I get by with just a couple block planes? Probably, I just don't want to find out. Like Tedstor, I use one block plane most of the time for general tasks, but there are times when certain features of a specific plane are useful, like a different blade angle or a skew or the rabbetting feature or a smaller size or a bigger size or …..
there's only a benefit if you have a need, and the need is dictated by the kind of work you do. I do most of my work with 2, but like mentioned, once in a while I grab the right or left handed skews, or one of the others I have set up for a particular reason.
One should be enough, but I'll cop to being with the pack and having a couple. My shop is sorta spread out at times and so the wood equivalent of a stash gun comes in handy. An old Stanley found at a rummage sale and a Craftsman are my guys.
Had to chuckle after reading Tedstor's remark. I've accumulated some old clunker hand tools -pass-alongs from friends cleaning out Dad's box, crap found on the side of the road, and it surprises me how often these are the go-to tools. Just trying to use them up so that I can throw them away without guilt, I suppose, but I'll be damned if some don't live on and on. Maybe there's also a special pride that comes from doing good work with nothing but junk, but either way…
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