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Forum topic by soccer272 posted 01-15-2019 06:11 PM 1119 views 1 time favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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soccer272

2 posts in 185 days


01-15-2019 06:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner hand plane help

Hey,
I’m just starting out in woodworking. I just bought a 13” thickness planer, 6”jointer, and a table saw. I do not currently have a plane, and figure that I am going to be a somewhat hybrid woodworker, mostly using power tools, but using the occasional hand tool. I know that I need to get a plane of some kind before I go to a lumber yard, or at least that is what I read. Mostly so that you can see what the grain of the wood you are buying looks like, please correct me if I am wrong about that. I figured if I am getting one might as well make it one that can have as much versatility as possible. That lead me to either a jack or a low angle jack plane. I’m honestly not sure if they do different things, or not, I figured they do the same thing differently. I would love recommendations on what I should get. I really only want to get 1 plane, at maximum 2 somewhere down the road. And would love it if the first one I get can do almost everything. Versatility is so important when you are starting out!

Thanks,
Alex

Let me know if there is anything else that I should ask


34 replies so far

View Robert's profile

Robert

3436 posts in 1899 days


#1 posted 01-15-2019 06:20 PM

#4 smoothing plane and a block plane are the two starters :-)

Hold off on the LA jack till you’ve got your feet wet.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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MPython

135 posts in 230 days


#2 posted 01-15-2019 07:03 PM

There are about a million things you could ask, but you got off to a good start. Hand planes have different uses. Long ones are for flattening and leveling rough wood. Short (the ones with handles or “totes”) are for smoothing after the wood is straight and flat, and there are hundreds of specialty planes for all sorts of tasks. But for someone just starting out, you’re in the right ballpark. A #5 jack plane is called a “jack” because it is the “jack of all trades.” It falls between long planes and short ones and does a fair job at both tasks and many general use tasks in the workshop. The low angle jack does the same things as a regular jack except is works better on end grain and sometimes less well on flat grain. A jack would be a good first plane. I also agree with rwe2156, you should consider a block plane. They’er small but they’re the workhorse in many shops. He’s also right that a #4 smoother is a good starting place too. They’er kind of the standard plane everyone has, and the one many started with.

When you buy your first plane, you need to make a commitment to learn how to sharpen it. Sharpening is the key to the enjoyment of any edge tool, especially hand planes. When I was a kid my father had a Craftsman #5 jack. I tried and tried to use it, but came away knowing it’s primary purpose was to destroy whatever I applied it to. It wasn’t until I learned what a sharp plane could do and how to get my planes sharp that I began to enjoy and look forward to using them. I hope you have the same epiphany I had.

Good luck.

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soccer272

2 posts in 185 days


#3 posted 01-15-2019 07:43 PM

From what I have read, the LA Jack does everything that a normal jack plane does, but better. And you can get attachments for it so that it can do pretty much every single job. Why wouldn’t I go that route?

I’m fine with hand sharpening. Been sharpening knives for a few years, not too worried about that. I’ll probably get the hang of it after a few tries.

The highest grit I have is some 2.5 micron diamond paste on a leather strop. I think that is somewhere between 8000 to 10000 grit.

What does a block plane do that a jack wouldn’t be able to do?

Also is there any Merritt to a japanese style plane vs what I talked about above?

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corelz125

751 posts in 1394 days


#4 posted 01-15-2019 07:57 PM

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GaryLSU

4 posts in 213 days


#5 posted 01-15-2019 08:07 PM

I started with a low angle jack, but if I was to start over I’d get a #4. Low angle is really only good for end grain, unless you get more irons so you can put a 40 or 50 degree bevel on for smoothing. You will use the smoothing function more than end grain function based on your mostly power tool direction and the #4 with a close set cap iron will control tear out much better.

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HokieKen

9940 posts in 1557 days


#6 posted 01-15-2019 08:44 PM

I agree with Gary. If starting out with a single plane, IMO a smoother is the best option. You have a jointer and planer so you won’t need a handplane to flatten rough-sawn stock most likely. What I think you will want it for is tuning stock thickness for joints and getting rid of machine marks left by power tools. This is where a smoother shines. A jack plane would be a close second on my list because it still makes a fair smoother but can also do the job of jointing in a pinch. My favorite plane is a 4-1/2 over-sized smoother. The wider iron and longer base make it my go-to plane for smoothing large panels and jointing smaller boards. I could probably give my #4 and #5 away and never miss them because I almost always grab the 4-1/2.

A block plane is highly useful for a lot of things. However, block planes and bench planes, while functioning in the same basic way, are very different animals.

While a low angle jack would be an nice addition to a plane arsenal, I don’t think I would consider it as a “primary” plane. It excels at end grain but doesn’t perform as well with any figured, knotty or direction-switching grain as a plane with a higher bed angle. You can have multiple blades of course but in my experience that’s not really a practical approach.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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ColonelTravis

1976 posts in 2312 days


#7 posted 01-15-2019 10:05 PM


From what I have read, the LA Jack does everything that a normal jack plane does, but better. And you can get attachments for it so that it can do pretty much every single job. Why wouldn t I go that route?

I love my LA Jack, but the only thing it can do better than a bevel down plane is produce horrific tearout. The exception is if you use a toothed blade. It will remove a lot of wood without tearout, except on the ends of a face, which it can rip to shreds. If you do this with the board wider than you’re gonna use, then who cares. I dumped my scrub plane for the toothed blade for this reason.

It is versatile, it works great on end grain, it can save you money if you buy multiple blades instead of multiple planes. But changing multiple blades and constantly resetting the mouth size and blade length through the mouth gets annoying sooner than later. At least it does for me. You can find rehab-able 4’s and 5’s for the price of a LA Jack blade. It can be good at smoothing, not great. It can be good at jointing but its size limits that. It is called, after all, a jack plane for a reason. I also use my LA Jack with a shooting board but I’m getting sick of holding that thing on it’s side. I would like a dedicated shooting plane.

Fine plane to own if you understand what you’re getting into. Just not the Super Plane that some think it is. I don’t know why that myth got started or why it continues.

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

16141 posts in 3036 days


#8 posted 01-16-2019 04:44 AM


From what I have read, the LA Jack does everything that a normal jack plane does, but better. And you can get attachments for it so that it can do pretty much every single job. Why wouldn t I go that route?

- soccer272

Nonsense. There aren’t attachments for JA Jacks that make them smoothers, they’re too long to get where #2 and #3 smoothers go. Nor it is a wide panel smoother like the # 4 1/2. And LA Jacks are too short for jointing long stock, that’s what the 24” #8 does best.

Get a regular #5 jack, followed closely by a low angle block that fits your hand well. My .02

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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PPK

1432 posts in 1227 days


#9 posted 01-16-2019 04:13 PM

Let me know if there is anything else that I should ask

- soccer272

Yes, Don’t ask about what hand plan is “best” :-) There are many different schools of thought out there. Good work getting some tools, looks like you have the core set. Now start building some stuff and don’t forget to post your projects!

Do lumberyards let you plane off a chunk of wood to see the grain? Interesting thought…

-- Pete

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Andre

2668 posts in 2224 days


#10 posted 01-16-2019 04:25 PM

From what I read in your inquiry you need a LN brass 102 to start with, small enough to put in your pocket when you go shopping for lumber. That being said I never take a plane to the limber yard, maybe I should but I’m nowhere close to the level of expertise it takes to tell the grain inside a plank from the outside. A shaving on the outside will give you a clear Pic. of the true color but reading grain is a whole lot different?
PS. when I bought my LN Brass 102 it came with a leather case.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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OSU55

2356 posts in 2408 days


#11 posted 01-16-2019 04:51 PM

Read this blog on getting started with handplanes.

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Phil32

579 posts in 322 days


#12 posted 01-16-2019 06:15 PM

From what I read in your original post I think you have the wrong idea about your need for a hand plane. It would be inconsiderate to plane the surface of a board in a lumber yard to check the grain figure until you have paid for it. Even then you would know only about the small patch you planed.

With the woodworking machines you already have it is unlikely you will use a hand plane often. Don’t be misled by those of us who obsess over hand tools on this site. I am a woodcarver and prefer to use hand tools, but I accept the reality that many carvers use power carving equipment exclusively.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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Andre

2668 posts in 2224 days


#13 posted 01-16-2019 06:36 PM

It would be inconsiderate to plane the surface of a board in a lumber yard to check the grain figure until you have paid for it.

I am assuming the seller/yard is okay with testing a small piece, picked up some Doussie(Afzelia) from Glimmers in Portland a few years back and they had no problem shaving of a few places just check actual wood color. :) Did use my 102 to build my workbench, just not to flatten it.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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OSU55

2356 posts in 2408 days


#14 posted 01-16-2019 09:17 PM



With the woodworking machines you already have it is unlikely you will use a hand plane often. Don t be misled by those of us who obsess over hand tools on this site. I am a woodcarver and prefer to use hand tools, but I accept the reality that many carvers use power carving equipment exclusively.
- Phil32

Not at all accurate…While I use machines to dimension the pieces, I use hand planes for final fitting/trimming and almost no sandpaper to flatten glue ups/surfaces and prep for finishing (flat work) – handplanes are better and faster when you want smooth and flat. Maybe a drum sander but not many have one.

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JayT

6226 posts in 2629 days


#15 posted 01-16-2019 09:28 PM

#4 smoothing plane and a block plane are the two starters :-)

- rwe2156

I would agree with this. If you are using your jointer and thickness planer to flatten and dimension lumber, then a smoother and block will be the best additions. Most of the work of a jack plane will be done by your machines until you go farther down the slippery slope of hand planes.

A reputable lumberyard selling rough sawn hardwood should have no issue with you planing a small area to check grain and color. It is polite to ask first until you have built up a relationship with them. I’ve gone from taking a block plane to a very small card scraper. Fits in the pocket easier and still removes enough to see what you need to see.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

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