I’m ready to purchase my next hand tool and I’m wondering what it should be?
I own a #4 smoothing plane and a router plane. I’m having some issues using my smoothing plane on my shooting board. If I put the wood in the vise, it works better for me. Lot’s of people using a low angle jack plane for the shooting board.
The other option is buying a longer plane, maybe a #5 or #7, to level longer boards.
If the reason for a new plane is to get the shooting board working, I would practice more with #4 get it to shoot reasonably well and then, if needed, look for a better shooting plane. Saying this because in my experience, what needed fixing has always been myself (technique, sharpening etc.) and not a different tool. Not to say that a #5 and LAJ are not useful — they certainly are.
That said, IMO, an LAJ or a traditional bevel down #5 may be more suitable as a second plane rather than a #7.
You mention that you have one bench plane, the #4, and a router plane. Are you asking about your next plane of any kind? Or just your next bench plane? If the former, the plane that would most expand your options is a plough plane, say, the Record 044. A plough plane is crucial.
Paul uses a plough plane in a lot of his projects and that is because it is such a basic tool. I should add that although it is fun and sometimes useful to have a number of bench planes, I have several, I almost always reach for my #4.
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