So, I have a Block Plane... What Next?

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Forum topic by Logan Windram posted 01-06-2012 09:26 PM 1392 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Logan Windram

347 posts in 3917 days

01-06-2012 09:26 PM

I am ready to start building an arsenal of planes. I have collected all the power tools I need, and while they are super fun to play with and do a great job, as my skills have developed I have begun to think about how much better can my finished products be with competent, skilled handwork?

I have a full set of Chisels and have become very good at getting those babies razor sharp.

I have a Lie-Nielsen LA Block Plane that I love- in fact, I use it alot to break corners and edges on my doors where I used to sand- I sometimes walk into the shop at night just to get another look at the fresh chamfer on finshed cabinet door… tight, quality, and precise….

So what is next?

I have been doing some reading and I hear the next Plane I need is a Smoother…. LN sells a Low Angle Smoother, a #4 Smoother and a 4.5 Smoother…..

My question:

1. Is the Smoother the next move?
2. Low Angle or Regular Angled?

6 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4073 days

#1 posted 01-06-2012 09:38 PM

First off, you need to get yourself over the Handplanes of your dreams thread with these questions. Lots of knowledge over there and you’ll fit right in…

Second, input to your actual question. :-)

Besides the block that you have, essential bench planes include a smoother, a jack and a jointer. If you’re already using machines to get stuff ready to work, and primarily want to expand your use of blades to get projects ready for finish, a smoother is your next step. #4 or #4 1/2 only depends on the scale of your work. The #4 1/2 is simply a wider smoothing plane, suitable for larger panels. Your call.

A jack (#5) would be good if you want to get rough material ready to work.

The jointer (#s 7 or 8) gets edges and faces absolutely flat.

Without a smoother, the jack and jointer are somewhat out in the cold. So I’d suggest a smoother.

That’s the very quick answer. If you’re up for some self-study, consider a handplanes book by either Garrett Hack or Christopher Schwarz. I have the latter, and it is excellent for answering all of your questions. The Hack volume comes highly recommended by others.

Good luck!

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

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 4109 days

#2 posted 01-06-2012 09:52 PM

Agreed on jumping in on the epic thread…there are some serious plane dorks in there (myself included. )

Really it boils down to what kind of work you do and how you want to do it. Smitty is right on the core set of tools, but that is geared towards a handtool user. If you use a power jointer and planer in your shop I would go a slightly different route.

Skip the Jack, the power tools cover it’s purpose. I would grab a Jointer first. NOTHING can get a panel as flat and perfect as a hand jointer, ditto for edge joints. The Jointer cleanes up any tool marks your power tools leave while making your stock perfect for finish and joinery. If you need to remove a few plaing marks and tear out grab a second blade that you can camber (and sharpen at a high angle) for your block plane while you save up for a smoothing plane. Most guys like the 4.5 because of the wide blade, but the narrower planes are way easier to push….your call.

You don’t need all the planes. Jointer, Jack, Smoother, Block….then get on with life….Saws on the other hand, you can go a bit nuts on, but’s that’s another day and another forum.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Don W's profile

Don W

20381 posts in 4022 days

#3 posted 01-06-2012 10:57 PM

Beware, if you head to the epic thread you may need a larger storage area for your planes. I’ve expanded 3 times since joining that thread.

I agree it depends. A #4 for smoothing or a jointer for jointing and flattening. Each a valuable asset depending on what you would use more. I had a smoother first. No good reason, it just worked out that way.

I just bought the LN #62. Very nice. Vintage #4 Stanley work well and are pretty reasonable.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5368 posts in 5415 days

#4 posted 01-06-2012 11:33 PM

What’s next? DRUGS!!!! You’re sucked into a huge void. Nah nah nah!!!!!
Though I don’t have one (yet), a #5 is a go-to. I have a #3, #4, #60 1/2, #7, other small Stanleys, and a whole chest full of wooden planes. My next add will be a #5 with a cambered iron.
I buy older Stans ‘cause I enjoy the rehab process.

-- [email protected]

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4814 days

#5 posted 01-07-2012 12:41 AM

I would also suggest a smoother (4, 4 1/2 or 3 if you have small hands), a jointer (7 or 8) and a jack (5) for all around work. I’m another fan of the vintage Stanleys/Baileys, Sargents, Union or Millers Falls. I have many, many planes and I find that the MF, Sargents and Unions work every bit as well as the Stanleys/Baileys. When you’re ready to buy, drop me a note. Good Luck and Have Fun!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 4380 days

#6 posted 01-07-2012 01:22 AM

Both Veritas and LN make top quality planes, the guys have given you great advice here. All the Best!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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