What 2 hand planes to start with.

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  • #778413
    John Carey
    Participant

    Hello,

    I am looking for advise on if I am in the right direction. Not new to wood working(carpenter by trade) but am new to cabinetry wood work. Will be building boxes, small-medium size projects no large ones yet.

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

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

    I appreciated any and all advise, thank you for your time, John

    #778414
    Matt Mahan
    Participant

    Oh boy, you’ve opened the floodgates, John! I could wax philosophic for hours on this topic (many of us could) but to be brief: you’re headed in the right direction. You’re almost guaranteed to never regret having a no. 5 in your kit. Only advice I might offer is to try a LN before taking the plunge if you haven’t already. They’re beautifully made but quite heavy and for that reason I prefer vintage Bailey planes (or any of their numerous spin-offs). I don’t have much to offer on low angle planes – I personally have never found a use for them in my work, but people like them. Regarding tear out in exotics, the absolute best performance I’ve seen comes from my very-traditional single iron coffin smoother, bedded at something like 55 deg. You can certainly get exceptional results by fine tuning the breaker and mouth opening on an adjustable metal plane though.

    #778415
    John Carey
    Participant

    Oh boy, you’ve opened the floodgates, John! I could wax philosophic for hours on this topic (many of us could) but to be brief: you’re headed in the right direction. You’re almost guaranteed to never regret having a no. 5 in your kit. Only advice I might offer is to try a LN before taking the plunge if you haven’t already. They’re beautifully made but quite heavy and for that reason I prefer vintage Bailey planes (or any of their numerous spin-offs). I don’t have much to offer on low angle planes – I personally have never found a use for them in my work, but people like them. Regarding tear out in exotics, the absolute best performance I’ve seen comes from my very-traditional single iron coffin smoother, bedded at something like 55 deg. You can certainly get exceptional results by fine tuning the breaker and mouth opening on an adjustable metal plane though.

    What do you use for shooting board work then? A low angle jack is needed for end grain shooting board work no? Again a little new to so bear with me.

    #778416
    Matt Mahan
    Participant

    Oh boy, you’ve opened the floodgates, John! I could wax philosophic for hours on this topic (many of us could) but to be brief: you’re headed in the right direction. You’re almost guaranteed to never regret having a no. 5 in your kit. Only advice I might offer is to try a LN before taking the plunge if you haven’t already. They’re beautifully made but quite heavy and for that reason I prefer vintage Bailey planes (or any of their numerous spin-offs). I don’t have much to offer on low angle planes – I personally have never found a use for them in my work, but people like them. Regarding tear out in exotics, the absolute best performance I’ve seen comes from my very-traditional single iron coffin smoother, bedded at something like 55 deg. You can certainly get exceptional results by fine tuning the breaker and mouth opening on an adjustable metal plane though.

    What do you use for shooting board work then? A low angle jack is needed for end grain shooting board work no? Again a little new to so bear with me.

    Nope, low angle isn’t needed for endgrain work – I think people just like them for that purpose as they’re easier/smoother in the cut. But a conventional plane can do it all just as well. Again, not endorsing one thing or the other, but I have always used my no 5 or no 3 on end grain with no trouble.

    #778417
    John Carey
    Participant

    Oh boy, you’ve opened the floodgates, John! I could wax philosophic for hours on this topic (many of us could) but to be brief: you’re headed in the right direction. You’re almost guaranteed to never regret having a no. 5 in your kit. Only advice I might offer is to try a LN before taking the plunge if you haven’t already. They’re beautifully made but quite heavy and for that reason I prefer vintage Bailey planes (or any of their numerous spin-offs). I don’t have much to offer on low angle planes – I personally have never found a use for them in my work, but people like them. Regarding tear out in exotics, the absolute best performance I’ve seen comes from my very-traditional single iron coffin smoother, bedded at something like 55 deg. You can certainly get exceptional results by fine tuning the breaker and mouth opening on an adjustable metal plane though.

    What do you use for shooting board work then? A low angle jack is needed for end grain shooting board work no? Again a little new to so bear with me.

    Nope, low angle isn’t needed for endgrain work – I think people just like them for that purpose as they’re easier/smoother in the cut. But a conventional plane can do it all just as well. Again, not endorsing one thing or the other, but I have always used my no 5 or no 3 on end grain with no trouble.

    Alright I appreciate your advise. Guess I can put the funds I was going to spend on a low angle towards a plow plane then.

    #778418
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    Some things to consider.

    I concur you should try a plane with a 55° frog before you invest in one.
    A 55° frog makes a smoother considerably harder to push, especially with some hardwoods. If you feel you must have a 55° frog I suggest you consider something like a #3 plane with the narrower iron. You will be taking such thin shavings in problem grain the size of the plane doesn’t matter much. A small plane is actually and advantage for fine smoothing. A smoother’s office is to follow the undulations of the board you have flattened with a longer plane , not to flatten. If you look at the size of a #80 scraper, for example, the bed is quite small compared to most any plane.
    99% of smoothing can be done with a sharp iron bedded at 45°. A card scraper or #80 scraper plane will handle the rest. And I’d consider a #3 or #4 before I got two Jack plane length tools. If you are a small person, choose the smaller plane.

    A low angle plane is NOT necessary for a shooting ( chute) plane. If you look at planes made for the purpose from Veritas, Lie Nielsen, and Stanley, they all have 45° frogs. What they do have is a skewed iron to reduce the effort.
    But lots of folks use traditional Bailey style planes. My preference is a Bailey 5 1/2 ( old style with the 2 1/4” iron). It has enough mass to power through any hardwood end grain without being too tiring to use, and has a long enough nose to register the work easily. Before I found the 5 1/2 I used a #6 for years. What is more important that the few degrees lower presentation is a really SHARP iron and thin shavings, which also reduce the effort involved.
    One of my dream planes has always been a proper shooting plane ever since I used one 50 years ago, but the price of these things has always risen faster than my willingness to pay for one. Over the years I learned to tune a less expensive plane and they work just fine. You notice Paul just uses a #4 Bailey when he uses a shooting board.

    Also, a 45° frog will very easily shoot 45° cuts. That isn’t much harder than normal planing.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Larry Geib.
    #778420
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    Two penneth from me, jack plane and a smoothing plane, the extra width of the 1/2 types is useful. Wooden versions are also available, and just as functional as the metal ones.
    Before you spend all your money on just the planes though, remember that
    1. a couple of extra blades are useful.
    2. a honing guide and a wider double sided diamond stone to keep those planes sharp is also a must. Leaving them dull will ruin your enjoyment, make the work harder and is generally a bad thing. Plus virtually every reasonably priced plane will need fettling before you get any serious work done.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    #778421
    John Carey
    Participant

    Some things to consider.

    I concur you should try a plane with a 55° frog before you invest in one.
    A 55° frog makes a smoother considerably harder to push, especially with some hardwoods. If you feel you must have a 55° frog I suggest you consider something like a #3 plane with the narrower iron. You will be taking such thin shavings in problem grain the size of the plane doesn’t matter much. A small plane is actually and advantage for fine smoothing. A smoother’s office is to follow the undulations of the board you have flattened with a longer plane , not to flatten. If you look at the size of a #80 scraper, for example, the bed is quite small compared to most any plane.
    99% of smoothing can be done with a sharp iron bedded at 45°. A card scraper or #80 scraper plane will handle the rest. And I’d consider a #3 or #4 before I got two Jack plane length tools. If you are a small person, choose the smaller plane.

    A low angle plane is NOT necessary for a shooting ( chute) plane. If you look at planes made for the purpose from Veritas, Lie Nielsen, and Stanley, they all have 45° frogs. What they do have is a skewed iron to reduce the effort.
    But lots of folks use traditional Bailey style planes. My preference is a Bailey 5 1/2 ( old style with the 2 1/4” iron). It has enough mass to power through any hardwood end grain without being too tiring to use, and has a long enough nose to register the work easily. Before I found the 5 1/2 I used a #6 for years. What is more important that the few degrees lower presentation is a really SHARP iron and thin shavings, which also reduce the effort involved.
    One of my dream planes has always been a proper shooting plane ever since I used one 50 years ago, but the price of these things has always risen faster than my willingness to pay for one. Over the years I learned to tune a less expensive plane and they work just fine. You notice Paul just uses a #4 Bailey when he uses a shooting board.

    Also, a 45° frog will very easily shoot 45° cuts. That isn’t much harder than normal planing.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Larry Geib.

    I appreciate your feedback. I didn’t realize it would be harder to push through with the cut with a 55° frog with a #5 jack. I know from my very limited experience that smaller cuts are key for tear out prone wood.

    As far as having a sharp iron that will not be a problem I have a full set of Shapton stones 120-30K. I can get a piece of steel to pop hair off not shave it.

    #778431
    Ed
    Participant

    > 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.
    #778470
    John Carey
    Participant

    I happened to look at my reply post to you and it was just a nightmare to read and figure out so hear it is again just my answers and reply back to you.
    To Ed,

    [>] That is why I am hear, to learn. I have an idea of what it is I am after, Is it the correct path not 100% sure so why not ask and see and learn. I am open to any and all suggestions and advise.]

    [>] I understand that now from what Matt and Larry told me. The 55° frog would be a nightmare in a #5jack so that is out the window was worth asking about though.]

    [>] Ill be using NA hardwoods as well, I just mentioned exotics as I like those as well that is why I thought the 55° frog would be great addition to the #5. Now I know its not.]

    [>] I could be wrong but from what I have read the L-N #5 the cheeks are perpendicular to the sole of the plane so I could use that on the shooting board. ]

    [>] was going to invest in the Veritas MK II Honing Guide to go along with my Shapton Kuromaku ceramic stones 120-30K have the full set plus the Shapton glass diamond lapping plate to keep my stones flat. I am far from a new to sharping bit of a knife addict. I have single bevel knives and double, and can make all my knives push cut through tissue paper.

    That said I know a plane iron can’t have as much variance as a knife blade, that is why I am getting the Veritas Mk II Honing Guide to make sure they stay straight and not skewed when honing.]

    [>] I like what your saying but I do know I am dead set into doing this. I am a carpenter by trade just now realizing doing work by hand is much more enjoyable and satisfying to me as I get older.

    So you would get 2 blades for the #4 1 for scrub work and 1 for all the other work. I said 2 planes as that is what I realistically have the funds for at the moment if had to buy new and can’t find a reasonably used one for sale. That is why the whole #5 and Low Angle Jack was the original game plan.

    I do know I want a plow and router plane those are self explanatory and exactly needed for the kind of work I am going to be wanting to do. Yet have to get the horse before you can pull the wagon and I do have a router and dado stack for the table saw with a sled so can wait on those for the time being.]

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by John Carey.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by John Carey.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by John Carey.
    #778584
    sanford
    Participant

    I am not as advanced as some of the folks around here, but for what it is worth, most of what I do is done with a #4 or#5, a plow plane and a router plane. Paul never uses a #7 (jointer plane) for jointing, but some folk like it, and I am one of them.

    I quite like the veritas router plane and I use more than the basic blade for various things, but all the mechanical parts not so great. The depth adjusters are very sloppy and the depth stop is hard to tighten. Still I use it a lot.

    I do not like my veritas #5 (or whatever it is) and almost never use it. Too heavy and somehow, no matter how sharp I get the blade, I do not like its performance. I much prefer my old Stanleys and even an old Wards Master or Sargent.

    You mention the MK II honing guide. I do have a variety of honing guides including the MK II. I had it before I learned Paul’s method of sharpening. The Mk II worked fine and gave me a good edge. And as I began to sharpen using Paul’s free hand method, I did find my chisels in particular, and my narrow chisels in double particular, got out of square and I used the Mk II to straighten them. But at some point I realized I did not need the honing guide any more for anything. My chisels and planes were as sharp, using Paul’s method, as I could get them with the MK II and I never got them out of square. I guess that is one of those little successes that sneak up on you though practice.

    #778667
    John Carey
    Participant

    I am not as advanced as some of the folks around here, but for what it is worth, most of what I do is done with a #4 or#5, a plow plane and a router plane. Paul never uses a #7 (jointer plane) for jointing, but some folk like it, and I am one of them.

    I quite like the veritas router plane and I use more than the basic blade for various things, but all the mechanical parts not so great. The depth adjusters are very sloppy and the depth stop is hard to tighten. Still I use it a lot.

    I do not like my veritas #5 (or whatever it is) and almost never use it. Too heavy and somehow, no matter how sharp I get the blade, I do not like its performance. I much prefer my old Stanleys and even an old Wards Master or Sargent.

    You mention the MK II honing guide. I do have a variety of honing guides including the MK II. I had it before I learned Paul’s method of sharpening. The Mk II worked fine and gave me a good edge. And as I began to sharpen using Paul’s free hand method, I did find my chisels in particular, and my narrow chisels in double particular, got out of square and I used the Mk II to straighten them. But at some point I realized I did not need the honing guide any more for anything. My chisels and planes were as sharp, using Paul’s method, as I could get them with the MK II and I never got them out of square. I guess that is one of those little successes that sneak up on you though practice.

    You may not be as “advanced” as the others as you say, but you have more first hand knowledge than I do so so I appreciate your opinion as much as the others who have responded.

    and that is kind of the direction I am heading it looks like is a #4 or 5. I kind of like Ed’s comment of getting 2 blades for the #4 and setting one blade up to be a scrub plane and the other as all around till I get another one.

    I do want a plow and router plane in the future as I do want to build cabinets and furniture in the future by hand.

    I probably don’t need the honing guide as I can get 1/8 to 2″ chisels sharp as sin, not mention I can get all my knives all carbon steel (I am not a fan of stainless knives) to push cut through tissue paper after honing and stropping. Would it be a waste of money maybe maybe not. I can get it and if I don’t like it or see a need for it sell it but wont hurt to find out.

    #778710
    Fritz Walker
    Participant

    I also recently stopped using honing guides, and now sharpen plane blades and chisels free hand. Paul’s videos are great for learning how to do that as are Wood by Wright’s. The principal advantage is that you can be done sharpening a tool in less time than it took me to set up the tool in the honing guide. Also, diamond stones followed by stropping on leather with buffing compound is a lot faster than going through a series of water stones. I found the key to adjusting to free hand is to make sure you look at the scratch pattern you’re forming after just a few strokes to see if you have the right angle, and adjust as necessary. I always try to start out a little to flat and increase the angle as dictated by what I see. By looking at the scratch pattern you can also see if your rubbing in a manner that is not parallel to the edge and avoid skewing the blade. Then you just go long enough to raise a burr, then onto the next fine diamond stone. I also remove the burr before going to the next finer stone so I can tell if I’m creating a new butt. I also use buffing compound applied to a flat piece of maple for polishing the back of the blade, switching back and forth a couple times between the wooden and leather strops. This assumes you’ve taken the time to carefully flatten the back of the blade, after which you don’t want to work it on the stones except for a light swipe on a fine stone to remove the burr. I think it now takes me well under five minutes to sharpen a chisel or plane blade. FWIW, I still prefer water stones for sharpening knives however.

    Fritz Walker

    #778761
    John Carey
    Participant

    I also recently stopped using honing guides, and now sharpen plane blades and chisels free hand. Paul’s videos are great for learning how to do that as are Wood by Wright’s. The principal advantage is that you can be done sharpening a tool in less time than it took me to set up the tool in the honing guide. Also, diamond stones followed by stropping on leather with buffing compound is a lot faster than going through a series of water stones. I found the key to adjusting to free hand is to make sure you look at the scratch pattern you’re forming after just a few strokes to see if you have the right angle, and adjust as necessary. I always try to start out a little to flat and increase the angle as dictated by what I see. By looking at the scratch pattern you can also see if your rubbing in a manner that is not parallel to the edge and avoid skewing the blade. Then you just go long enough to raise a burr, then onto the next fine diamond stone. I also remove the burr before going to the next finer stone so I can tell if I’m creating a new butt. I also use buffing compound applied to a flat piece of maple for polishing the back of the blade, switching back and forth a couple times between the wooden and leather strops. This assumes you’ve taken the time to carefully flatten the back of the blade, after which you don’t want to work it on the stones except for a light swipe on a fine stone to remove the burr. I think it now takes me well under five minutes to sharpen a chisel or plane blade. FWIW, I still prefer water stones for sharpening knives however.

    I have watched Paul’s video’s on sharping if I remember correctly his diamond plates are 300,600,1200 followed by green honing compound so a polished edge of 60k grit. Now for some reason stopping at 1200 doesn’t seem like that would make a very keen edge to do fine work even with polishing with compound. Yet when you watch his work it says very much other wise.

    From the way you are talking it sounds like you and I sharpen in a very similar manner. I too remove the burr before going to the next stone. I am not exactly new to keeping and having a flat back as 3 of my kitchen knifes are single beveled Japanese knives, they are useless if the back is not flattened. Same goes with my chisels I flatten the whole back not just a inch or so as I use Japanese chisels as they are hollow ground so much less material to remove any ways to keep a totally flat back. Also helps god forbid you get a chip much easier to put a new edge on and have it parallel and not have a step so can use the whole blade to register and pare with.

    I have three strops two smooth one rough that are stretched out and glued and tied to a piece of white oak that I had planed totally flat. one smooth bare and the other two treated with green rouge till they become to caked and loaded then toss. I only use the leather strops for chisels my knives I strop right on the stones while sharpening

    #779607
    John Carey
    Participant

    Id like to thank you guys for the help, Especially Ed, He went way over the top in helping me out. If I was a touch more confident in buying a plane for the first time I would be sitting here with two #4’s and a #5 but I didn’t have the cohone’s so to speak to pull the trigger and went with my gut and got the L-N with a scrub blade as well.

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