Reply To: What 2 hand planes to start with.


> I am looking for advise on if I am in the right direction.

What we suggest may depend upon what you want to build.

> I am thinking a #5 L-N jack plane(like the idea of the fly wheel/thumb screw to adjust depth on the frog) would also get a 55° frog.

I have built a fair number of things of various kinds in various kinds of wood and so far have not needed the steeper frog. I was attracted by it at first, too, but it is quite likely unnecessary. You can achieve similar things by pushing the cap iron closer to the cutting edge and by how you use the plane. And, if it ever comes to the point that you really do need a steeper angle, you could but a small back bevel on your blade, but even that is something I’ve not resorted to yet.

> I am thinking this would be a good all around plane ( I like exotic’s and tear out prone wood)

I confess to working in more typical North American hardwoods, although some work was in figured maple.

> I would also get low angle jack for shooting board work to clean up 90’s and 45°.

I use my regular #4 and #5 planes on my shooting board. A long angle plane isn’t needed. I know that others say that it isn’t essential that a shooting board plane have cheeks perpendicular to the sole, “Just tweak the angle lever,” but my experience is to dislike that. I have some old Bailey / Stanley planes (cheeks often not perpendicular to the sole) and have a couple of Clifton planes. I use the Clifton for shooting because of the square cheeks. This all being said, many people are completely happy with using their stanley’s with non-square cheeks, so I would at least try.

Big question: How do you plan to sharpen? Are you going to use Paul’s methods or are you going to use a grinder to put a hollowed bevel on the iron? If you are going to use Paul’s methods, the modern planes with thick irons, even if made from O1, are a pain in the butt. There is just so much metal to work by hand. The older irons are thinner and so much easier to work with.

So, with all that as background, I would say skip the L-N low angle plane. We just saved you $300. Use that money to get an old #4 Bailey or Stanley. A #5 is good for straightening, but it can make it hard to do final smoothing with one since it forces you to a level surface rather than a smooth one. If we call that even $100, take the remaining $200, add another $60 more and get a plow plane to make grooves for drawers. A 1/4″ blade will cover your drawer and panel making, I think.

If you want to do joinery with mortise and tenon, you are really, really going to want a router plane. I’d get the Lee Valley router plane, or the L-N. You really only need the stock, straight blade.

So, that’s not two planes, but it is roughly same amount of money as you started off with. You will only have a #4 for smoothing and straightening. If you are getting started, this will be fine. And you will be perfectly fine with it on a shooting board despite what I said. I just gave my preference, not a requirement. Later, if you really decide you like this work, you could look for a #5.

If you do choose to get a Bailey or Stanley #4, see if you can find a spare blade. See Paul’s info about making a #4 into a scrub plane and modify the second blade so that you can use your #4 as a scrub plane. If you only have one #4, just keep the frog back a bit more than normal and you’ll be able to use it as a scrub and as a smoother without moving the frog every time. I’ve not needed to widen the mouth. Or, if you see a junky #4 that is inexpensive but functional, grab it and make it into a scrub plane. I know Paul is big on using a rabbet plane as a scrub, so that’s another option, but I’ve always just used the #4.

(Maybe I should confess that, for very strange reasons, a #8 was one of the first planes I bought. I don’t suggest copying me. Still, it is my absolute favorite plane for the shooting board, but I think that just says I am nuts.)

  • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Ed.