Hand Plane Survey For Beginners
By Bob Smalser

All featured pictures and text is the property of Bob Smalser.
Minor editing by Joe Lyddon.

The following is a list of Hand Planes in order by typical, general use on roughsawn boards...

...and the more-effective Stanley Cast-Iron Model #'s used for each task (there were also beech-bodied transitional planes that mirrored many of these, and they are also excellent user planes today):

#40 Scrub -

Short, crude plane with thick, convex blade that removes face material quickly to
  • Reduce thickness or

  • Remove warp.

  • Click to see Picture.

    #5 and #5 1/2 Jack -

    Middlin-size plane to follow the scrub plane for a
  • flatter, but

  • not finished surface to a specific dimension.

  • Usually set coarse...

  • takes off the ridges left by the scrub plane.

  • The "half" sizes are wider.

  • Click to see Picture.

    #3, #4 Smoothers -

  • Short,

  • finishing planes for the

  • final thickness, set either coarse or fine.

  • In spite of today's hype about "ease of adjustment",

  • no plane is easy to adjust upwards and tradesman had two on hand if they needed two blade settings.

  • Click to see Picture.

    #6 Try or Fore Plane -

    To remove any real
  • high spots from board edges

  • before jointing.

  • Not many tradesmen bothered with one of these as
  • the #5 worked just as well for the task.

  • Click to see Picture.

    #7, #8 Jointer -

    Long planes to make a perfectly
  • true edge for edgejoining panels.

  • Trademen usually owned one or the other... not both.
  • The #7 was lighter.

  • Click to see Pictures.

    #20 and #113 Compass Planes -

  • These plane curved edges.

  • Modern, neophyte chairmakers complain
  • they don't do facegrain very well...

  • well, they weren't designed for facegrain...

  • you'll have to make a woodie compass with a thick,

  • convex blade ala the #40 to do that well.

  • Click to see Pictures.

    #78 and #10 Rabbet -

    In joining, used to
  • cut rabbet joints...

  • the #10 big rabbets in ships and carriages.

  • Click to see Pictures.

    #71 Dado -

  • Ditto for dados... but

  • only in combination with a now-rare adjustable-depth dado saw.

  • They work well to clean out a tablesawn dado...

  • but so does an upside down bench chisel.

  • There were also dado and plow planes that could do it without the saw....

  • but these weren't as fast or popular as the saw followed by the #71.

  • Click to see Picture.

    # 90-Series Shoulder -

  • Trims cross and endgrain tenon shoulders and cheeks.

  • Click to see Picture.

    #18 and #60-Series Blocks -

  • Pares end grain and lives in your apron pocket for any general trimming/easing.

  • Even machine-only woodworkers need one of these.

  • Click to see Pictures.

    #4 1/2 Smoother -

    Set very fine,
  • planes the final surface on the finished workpiece.

  • A short, wide, heavy plane.

  • Done right, followed by minor work with the

  • card scraper, no sanding is required.

  • Click to see Picture.

    #12, #80 and #112 Scrapers -

  • Put the final surface on faces and edges ready for finish.

  • These are heavier than cheaper card scrapers and were popular because they could

  • "plane" highly-figured wood without the chipping common with smoothers alone.

  • Click to see Pictures.

    #45, #50 and #55 Combo Planes -

  • Also cut rabbets but are

  • primarily to mold,

  • bead and

  • flute edge decoration after the

  • surface was finished or in applied molding.

  • These, by design,
  • have poor throat support and

  • only work on clear, perfectly-straightgrained wood.

  • There's a lot more plane models out there but are usually variations of the above.

    Click to see Pictures.

    Original Forum Links:
    Hand Plane Survey For Beginners

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