Essential hand planes for the workshop

IMG 3028resized250I love hand planes! I use them and collect them. I believe I have over 70 hand planes in my collection. But despite what you might think, I am not an ALL “hand tools woodworker”. I make my living producing furniture and I use many power tools every day. But I still feel for the need for hand planes in the work that I do. So i thought I would list them for the ones interested in using and owning hand planes.

When I started writing this blog article I had the idea that I was going to list the top essential planes for a woodworker workshop. But as I started listing them I realized that each one had a description that was worthy for an article on it’s own. So instead of trying to pack everything into one article I am going to do a series on them.
But to list the planes I will talk about, here are the following;

block plane- this is the little gem that every woodworker or carpenter should have. I’ll show how and where this plane is used and different features of each block plane.

bench plane- this is a confusing category because it encompasses the jack, try, and fore plane. I will do my best to break them down in the upcoming article and try to explain the difference of the three and which one to own.

jointer plane- the is the biggest battleship in the fleet. It’s more than just truing up the edge of the board. This monster is a must for your shop, and i will feature it in the near future.

smoothing plane- this is probably what everyone has in their shop, basement or garage. Although a lot of carpenters and handymen rarely use it. This fellow is the hardest working one and is the one that leaves your last mark on the piece before completion. However, not every smoothing plane is equal. On the market there are all kinds, bevel up, bevel down, wooden, metal, domestic and foreign. Again i will do my best to break it down.

These four are the ones I reach for everyday. However, that is not the end of the planes I would suggest. In my second series of “Essential hand planes- part 2: I will talk about;

rabbet planes- This will include shoulder planes and varies rabbet planes with different features. Some are hipe some are helpful.

scrub plane- not nearly as as important as a bench plane, but if you are going to work with green furniture, this is a good one to have.

router plane- this plane leans more to the “all hand tools category”, but none-the-less i feel it’s a good one to own.

plough plane- plough or plow, it’s the same. Again this falls into the “all hand tools category” but this plane can be faster at making a groove for one board then setting up a router. For many woodworkers these are the crown jewel in their collection. Build with beauty and precision these work great and look awesome on a shelf.

The information for these articles are a comparison of the information found in the following books -Michael Dunbar,”Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools” , Graham Blackburn “Traditional IMG 3029Woodworking Handtools” Garrett Hack “The Handplane Book”, Roy Underhill “The Woodwright Shop working wood with wedge and edge” and my own experiences from using and collecting for the last seventeen years.

So I hope you follow me on this eight week journey as we explore the wonderful world of hand planes!

Go dance now people!