Block Planes

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Forum topic by SouthernBoy posted 01-23-2011 06:45 AM 1403 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SouthernBoy's profile


39 posts in 3820 days

01-23-2011 06:45 AM

I am pretty new to wood working. Made a few candle holders so far. But I just started on trying to make a dipping tray. After I glues up the strips of Maple and Walnut, i realized i didn’t do a very good god of leeping everything level and even. So i had a block plane that my father in law gave me and decided to give it a try. I have to say that I am now a huge fan of what theses tools can do. I’m sure I could have sanded everything smooth, but that would have taken days. Anybody have any tips on using block planes or suggestions on other planes to try?

7 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4771 days

#1 posted 01-23-2011 07:03 AM

Keep it sharp! It is easier to stop briefly doing what you are doing briefly hone the blade and then go back to planing that to really dull it, struggle with the work and then spend a whack of time resharpening and then honing.

Your standard #4 plane is a real workhorse and will probably handle most of your planing. As you get more experienced with them there are planes to do specialized jobs that make your work easier and of a higher quality. I just tried out a router plane and can not believe how much easier it is to use than the saw and chisel method I used to use to do the same task. There is a fair bit of discussion here on the creation of planes and their use. I’d also suggest checking out Youtube for videos on using planes, but better yet if you can find someone local to you to show you how to use the various planes it will really accelerate your learning.

I have a new block plane and it is one of my favourite tools! Enjoy the journey into hand tool use!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4347 days

#2 posted 01-23-2011 07:05 AM

try the #4 or #5 stanley plane, I say these cuz there cheap in price and are very good workhorses in the shop when well tuned. There’s allot of videos on the web about tuning and using planes I’m sure allot of others here will give allot of advise towards the planes. Me i’m more of a do and try and try again type of guy only cuz I taught myself everything about woodworking thus far.I just came up with my own way to turn the burr on my card scrapers. Before that I had or still have my own method for tuning planes and i get them to do what i want them to do. GOOD LUCK in any case.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4056 days

#3 posted 01-23-2011 02:31 PM

I always stress, adjust your iron to take very small cuts (thin curly paperlike shavings).
Enjoy your block planes.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Dominic's profile


34 posts in 3951 days

#4 posted 01-24-2011 12:37 AM

Planes, block or otherwise, need to be kept very sharp for them to work correctly. Your sharpness goal is a fairly low-effort planing stroke with a full width, super-thin fluffy shaving. An affordable and effective sharpening method is the “scary sharp”method. Use spray adhesive to stick fine grits of sandpaper (I start with 600 grit, 1000 grit, 1500 and then 2000 grit) to a piece of glass, use a honing guide (about $12) to maintain a consistent bevel angle. Make sure to lap the BACK of the plane bed flat to eliminate the small wire edge that forms when you hone the bevel. I find that a quality aftermarket blade can be sharpened to a keener edge than the factory blades. Rehone the blade whenever it starts to not cut as effectively.

Always make sure to plane in the direction of the grain. Imagine petting a dog from head to tail, that is going in the direction of the grain. Going against the grain results in tear-out.

If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I would skip buying the cheap planes and trying to tune them up and go right to a medium to premium quality plane. They are worth the extra money if you are serious about woodworking. I love the Lee Valley and Lie Nielsens (about $150 for a block plane), but for a tighter budget, the Woodriver planes (about $90) and the new Stanley Sweethearts (about $100) are good too.

A nicely tuned smoothing plane pays for itself. You can use it instead of sandpaper to get a piece glassy smooth and ready for finishing, and there is no dust, just curly shavings. You get better results in less time.

Good luck with your planing endeavors. Discovering hand planes changed the way I woodwork and my planes are the most used tools in my shop.

-- Dominic P.- Duxbury MA

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4417 days

#5 posted 01-25-2011 07:21 PM

A #4 will do a great job of smoothing and I would suggest getting one (or a #3) next. That said, learning how to sharpen should be a priority for you. Personally, I’m a fan of the older Stanleys and would recommend buying an older plane for $30-$50 instead of $200 for a LV. Yeah, the old Stanley is probably going to need some TLC, but most of us that sell tools here or on other sites are going to sell you something that needs very little (if any) work. Plus, no matter what brand you get, you should spend some time learning how to adjust, tune and maintain the tool. Good Luck and have fun!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 4126 days

#6 posted 01-25-2011 08:32 PM

To go with the keep it sharp advice, I just bought one of these,43072,43078&ap=1 this weekend. Best 65 bucks I have spent in a long time. I plan to do a little review of it if one hasnt been done already. I can sharpen tools by hand, but I am a perfectionist about my edges and despite the tool being very sharp, if the edge looks crappy I’m not pleased. Enough about my OCD. This would be a very helpful tool for a person new to woodworking with not al ot of plane experience. This way you get your blades as sharp as possible and you dont have to deal with that frustration while learning to enjoy your planes. I can also recomend the Norton waterstones to go with the guide or it would work very well using the scary sharp method too. Good luck.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 4478 days

#7 posted 01-25-2011 08:45 PM

I started with a cheap Stanley block plane, then upgraded to a Veritas low angle block plane. The difference is like riding a bike to driving a sports car. Seriously. If you can afford it, buy some Lie Nielson or Lee Valley Veritas planes. I promise you’ll not regret it. One major advantage with high quality planes over the older Stanleys is the plane iron (blade). The irons in new planes is usually much thicker and holds an edge longer. That means you’ll get more life from the iron and you’ll go longer between sharpenings. In addition to that you won’t have to tune them much, if at all. For me, that means I get to spend time building things as opposed to fidgeting with my tools.

For your first three planes, I recommend a low angle block, a low angle jack, and a #4 smoother. You’ll be able to do just about anything with those three tools.

Good luck!

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

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