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Hand Planes to be more precise...

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David J28/04/2008 14:16:00
28 forum posts

I just finished my Good Woodworking magazine at the weekend and was fascinated to read about how much work and effort goes into making hand planes!  The tolerances are incredible.

It does go a long way to explain the price of some of the planes on the market.  Does anyone here have any opinnions over buying cheap compared to the the Lie Nielson and Veritas's of this world?

I've always thought along the lines of buy the best you can but £100 for a smoothing plane is a lot of money to me.  Would I do just as well with a £40 Anant plane from Rutlands?  In an ideal world I would always buy the best but sometimes I wonder if I could do just as well with a cheaper option...

I'm looking for a block plane and and a #5 Jack Plane.  I do not have a planer/jointer machine and from what I know a #5 would be a good plane to be able to smooth out edges of jointed boards, am I right?


Loving this forum, everyone seems so friendly and willing to help!

Bob28/04/2008 16:30:00
85 forum posts


Not having access to power tools myself, (except on a borrow), I know where you are coming from. I use a No. 5 Jack Plane myself - mainly because its the only one I've got; I ordered it through my local hardware store, but I found out later I could have got it a lot cheaper through Stanley's distributor's website:

A few months ago, there was an article on how to sort the modern run of planes out, so they became fit for use, using this info I got mine sorted in about 3 hours; without the info, I probably would still be swearing!


Bob28/04/2008 16:33:00
85 forum posts


Silly me, I should have said: Andy King's article, near the bottom of the Home page.


Big Al28/04/2008 17:14:00
1599 forum posts
73 photos
Having struggled with stanley planes for many years, I bought a lie nielsen no 5 1/2 about 3 or 4 years ago, and wish that I had done so since. Since then I have bought a veritas low angle block plane, clifton 3110 shoulder plane and a set of veritas spoke shaves and have never regretted any of these purchases. I too had the same dilemmas as you david, until I bought the lie nielsen 5 1/2, and now my poor old stanley planes only get used on ply and mdf. Yes you only get what you pay for and in my opinion these tools are definatly worth the money. Al
Paul Sellers28/04/2008 17:58:00
8 forum posts


A #5 is a good choice from the bench plane range. I prefer the #51/2 because the extra width gives me better balance and more width on the iron is a boon too. A #4 or #41/2 smoothing plane has become something of a workhorse to modern-day woodworking because most people use machine jointer/planer to true up stock. You still need the longer plane for making that perfect edge. The #5 and #51/2 works great for this, but the smoothing plane is great for trimming, levelling and much more. Since the advent of machines, many longer planes are now obsolete except when you want perfect edges for meeting edges of boards. But not all planes are created with with flat faces. The more you pay the better the plane. Three best worldwide plane makers are Lie Nielsen (USA), Veritas (Canada, sold in the UK) and Clifton UK. Anant planes (India) are secondary quality, but you can make them work. Anant and some of the other Indian planemakers producing cheaper planes, could upgrade even slightly to make a better plane to match the old Stanleys and Records. I think that Anannt has done this at times.

 I have had good success buying second hand planes on Take a good look at the description and the record history of the seller before you buy and examine each photograph so that you know what you are buying.

Hope this all helps.

Paul Sellers 

Paul Sellers28/04/2008 18:26:00
8 forum posts

Just to follow up. I have Stanleys and Records that match all of the best known planemakers simply because through the years I have worked with them and kept them flat. I don't think anyone shoud abandon their old Stanleys or Records. Before the modern makers I referred to above came along, the old craftsmen made some of the finest furniture using less than perfect planes. Many people believe that these old planes didn't work well yet thousands of woodworkers in every arrea of the craft used these tools for over a century and all of that without fault. Its all to do with intuitive flexing and pressing as you plane, the like of which you won't find mention of in text books and articles. Only the old wooden planes were without noticable flex. From the era when they were used, the pre metal-cast plane, pre high-tech engineering age,came some of the finest woodworking ever accomplished and, that said, with no machines, minimal lighting and poor working conditions. Discovering that thin irons rarely cause chatter may contradict what magazines and catalogs selling hand tools tell us, but before they invented thick irons from ultra hard steel alloys, planes rarely found time for idle chatter. Chatter is a term given to most surface defects caused by bad planing and poor set-up, but true chatter is more a rarity than the norm.

Paul Sellers 

David J29/04/2008 10:31:00
28 forum posts

Well thanks for all the comments and information so far.

I will indeed have a little browse on ebay and see what I can find.


I read that article and it certainly makes for interesting reading.  I think sometimes it is easy to get bogged down with all the latest offers and newest kit available.  Sometimes its good to stand back and think how much will I use a piece of kit. 

One day I would really love to make my living as a furniture / cabinet maker but right now I am just a very keen hobbiest really.

Olly Parry-Jones29/04/2008 17:22:00
2776 forum posts
636 photos
I agree, you're better off going for older Stanley or Record planes on eBay and learning how to use, fettle and get the know them properly. You can get very good results with time - David Charlesworth's books make for good references - but, if ever you got the chance to try a Lie-Nielsen, Clifton, Veritas or even a Holtey plane, you'd probably notice a significant improvement still.
derek willis01/05/2008 19:47:00
2314 forum posts
1 articles


You don't have to worry about buying old planes if you are like me, you will have had them so long, they are almost antique. 

 Nice to get it all going again, missed it for five days.


mickthetree01/05/2008 21:04:00
146 forum posts
46 photos

I purchased 2 newer stanleys about a year ago. A number 5 and a number 7 from for £50 the pair delivered. secondhand and the ones with plastic handles etc but in great nick.

I flattened the sole on the number 7 (had a high spot just behind the mouth) and got a water stone and sharpened the blades on both.

I'm certainly an amateur in woodworking, but I wouldnt pass up the knowledge I have gained from these 2 tools for a minute. I feel I would be able to use and better appreciate a high quality plane, when, and indeed if, I buy one.

I have got great results plaining 2" thick pine boards ready for jointing for a table top and I have just finished flattening some 5 year old pippy oak for boards with great results.

I say get an old plane. Adjust it, love it and learn from it and if you feel the need after, sell it on and use the money to put towards a better tool that you will appreciate all the more. Its not going to loose much if any value whilt you have it.

my two pence worth  

Mike Garnham01/05/2008 21:15:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos
I wonder if you have all noticed how quiet I keep on the subject of planes......?!!!
Paul Finlay01/05/2008 22:27:00
285 forum posts

Hi Mike

I do now !!! Why is that??

Woodworker01/05/2008 23:08:00
1745 forum posts
1 photos
74 articles
Hi Mick, I agree, second hand planes can be great. One of the nicest planes I've used was an old Millers Falls no.4 with rosewood handles. Did me well until I sold it to raise money for a Lie Nielsen no.4. To this day I regret selling it because the Lie Nielsen is easy to replace, but I won't be able to buy back the bond I had with the MF! Sounds like you were lucky with the no.7. I've got a Stanley number 7 here that I'm working on but the sole is all over the place and it's going to take ages to get it right. My dilemma is time I spend working the sole is time not spent on more exciting furniture projects. Mike, has it got anything to do with that belt sander of yours?
Mike Riley01/05/2008 23:45:00
337 forum posts
5 photos
5 articles
Ben you like a challenge it seems., I don't think Id bother trying to sort out an old No 7, that's far too much fettling. To my mind the time you'll spend flattening it is is worth every penny of the couple of hundred it costs to get hold of an LN/Clifton / Veritas. Smaller planes by all means - a woodie no 7 again easy to flatten as long as the stock isn't twisted and evil - but all that metal? Not for me thank you. If the cost of the new decent No7 is too high you could always make your own wooden one Cheers Mike
1745 forum posts
1 photos
74 articles
Hi Mike, I guess I've of come to the same conclusion, just not fully admitted it to myself yet. The no.7 I have is dated around 1940. It's sitting in my tool cabinet looking hopeful of some attention. It just seems such a shame to give up on it! I borrowed a Clifton no.6 from Matthew Platt recently and was thoroughly impressed. That's probably the route I'll go down when I can justify the cost. Besides, I don't see me having much call for a no.7 these days because I use a planer thicknesser to prep all my stock which kind of makes anything over a no.6 redundant for the vast majority of tasks.

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