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Author Topic: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?  (Read 5879 times)

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Offline Piston

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Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« on: September 25, 2010, 04:58:39 am »
I need help  ;D

This may be more of a 'woodworking topic' question but since it is specific to my timberframing needs I thought it might go good here. 
My wife bought me an Ipad for my birthday, I thought it was pretty 'cool' but other than that I didn't use it for much.  She convinced me that she doesn't mind if we return it so we chose to, now she wants to buy me something that I would enjoy more. 
I've been on a hand plane kick lately and want one or two planes.  I want one for planing out the saw marks on timbers
and then either something like a No. 4 or 4 1/2 for cleaning up tenons, or a rabbet plane for cleaning up the shoulders/tenons. 
I was thinking of the Veritas 4 1/2 and then the large smoothing/jointer plane.  What are my best options for my needs?  I was leary of going with the Veritas jointer plane because it is a bevel up plane and I don't know if that is what I need or not.  The Lie Neilson No 8 looks nice but very pricey.  I don't know much about planes so hoping you guys can guide me in the right direction.  I also really like the rabbet plane idea. 

Maybe she could buy me two and I could buy the other one  ???

I'll be using them on mostly EWP and almost exclusively for TF joinery....until I get more into woodworking down the road. 
http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=50273&cat=1,41182,41192&ap=1  Shoulder plane, small, medium or large???

http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=48944&cat=1,41182  Which planes? Jointer plane?
Please help. 
Thanks Guys!
-Matt
“What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sink before him. His courage does not exceed his temper and generosity, and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race.”

Offline Raphael

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2010, 10:17:57 am »
I'd go for the Lie Nielsen 10-1/4 bench rabbit and a skew angled block plane if I were to choose just two planes to work with...
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Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2010, 06:31:23 pm »
We have some nice wooden rabbet planes for short money if you want one.

I updated the list earlier today. I have a regular plane for doing tenons and other touch up work and I use one of these rabbet planes for doing tenons close to the shoulder.
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Offline Piston

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2010, 01:48:21 am »
By regular plane do you mean a normal bench plane like a No 4 or something that size? 

Do you guys ever use a smoothing/jointer plane to plane the timbers?  I'm trying to decide two things really, what plane would be best for the timbers themselves (as far as removing saw marks and smoothing the surface) and then which planes would be best for the joinery. 

I'll probably go with some type of rabbet/shoulder plane like you both suggested and then a larger smoothing plane for my 'birthday gifts'   ;D and then maybe buy myself a third one, maybe a No 4 or 5 does that sound like a good starter kit? 
I do already have a smaller groz block plane, not sure how 'good' it is but I'm not experienced enough to really know any better anyways  :D
-Matt
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Offline Raphael

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2010, 10:45:35 am »
I've got pretty broad palms so I find the tote on a 5 fits me better than the 4...  I've got a 10-1/2 which is nice size sole (down sized to a #3 or #4) but the tote always makes me feel crowded.
I think the LN or Veritas 4-1/2 uses the #5 tote (CRS) and the extra width is nice.
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Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2010, 11:10:10 am »
I find that I use my 60 1/2 L-N for end grain work, and an older (WWII era) Stanley N0.3 for most of my work. I do have a very old Stanley No. 10 (1887-8), also. On tenon work, I sometimes use the 10 to plane across the shoulder down to my references on each side, then I might use the 3 or the 60 1/2 to finish. I have a couple of fours, but they are still in the restoration process. If I were to buy any new plane, it would probably be a L-N 4 or 4 1/2. When hand planing timbers, one typically goes across the timber, not down the length, or at least that is how I was taught. I don't know what type of finish you are looking for, the antique planed timbers I've seen you can just barely see the marks of an iron with a very shallow radius. I have found that taking the bandsaw marks off of a timber requires removing only about .010" to .020", or about three passes with a plane taking a "medium" cut of .005" to .008" I don't think I'd go for a jointer type plane for timbers, as they are really more for straightening the edges of boards so you can join (or joint) them. A 4 or 5 run lengthwise on a timber will provide you with a very smooth finish, I don't think you really want to make a timber perfectly straight and square like you would want in furniture making. It would take forever, and would be indistinguishable from one that was just planed smooth.

If you have a lot of stock to remove, I'd suggest a No. 40 scrub plane, as it will take an 1/8th inch at a pass, but it is somewhat specialized, and not for everyone. I use it on scarf joinery after I rough out with an axe. Probably not worthwhile on a tenon, but if you had a timber that was 1/4 inch or more over dimension that you wanted to take down to match a common dimension, this would be the hand tool for the job. I'll try to remember to get some pictures tomorrow at work of how a scrub is used.

Hopefully I haven't confused the situation. I reference Lie-Nielsen planes, as that is what is available locally, and what I have a hankering for. However, I don't think you would go wrong with any Veritas/Lee Valley product at all. Mr. Lee has done a great job of bringing back, or inventing tools for hand woodworking.
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Offline Piston

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2010, 11:47:50 am »
Dave you didn't confuse the situation at all, that helps a lot.  What you described with smoothing out the saw marks on the timbers is all I want to do as far as that goes.  I don't want to make the timber straight or flat or anything like that, just smooth it down to a nicer finish.
I'm glad I posted this question because I would have bought the jointer, now I think I'll go with a smaller one, I thought I would go down the length of the timber with the plane because I don't know how to use them, but since I'm supposed to go more across the timber then I can see why a smaller plane would be a lot easier. 

I think I might go with the 5 1/4 from LV as my first general purpose plane, skip the jointer plane for now until I learn more about them, and also go with a shoulder plane from LV, maybe the large model with the movable handles. 

Thanks a lot for your help guys, normally you all try to get me to spend all my money but this time you saved me some  :D :D :D :D

I am gonna buy a book on planing as well, I think Hock wrote one that got good reviews so I'll check that out.
-Matt
“What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sink before him. His courage does not exceed his temper and generosity, and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race.”

Offline bub4e

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2010, 01:22:00 pm »
If I were only allowed one plane for timber framing, it would be the LN 10 1/4.  LN over an old Stanley because the price isn't that far off, you get a better blade and chip breaker, and the body itself is much more durable (ductile iron) than the old Stanley's; which can be very important on such a fragile plane design.

You mention smoothing planes, which are actually your shorter planes (no.1 through no.4 1/2 maybe 5), the no.4 is a great smoother.  No. 7 or 8 are jointer or try planes, I own a Lie Nielsen and an old Stanley No. 8 and see little use for timber framing, but great for furniture.  No. 5 through 6 are referred to as jack planes I think these and there bevel-up counterparts would be useful in timber framing.

I think that looking at the typical order of plane use in furniture building can be helpful.  The first plane one reaches for is the roughly set and heavily cambered jack plane.  It's job is to remove all of the extreme high spots and twist.  Next one would move to a jointer plane, which is less rough than the jack and longer, allowing one to more accurately get the whole stock in the same plane.  On to the smoother, which is set very fine, to give the final finish to the piece no longer is one trying to flatten the surface.  Since all flattening has been taken care of with the previous planes, the short length is advantageous allowing the plane to hit all surfaces with its finely tuned blade; riding with the waves instead of just clipping the tops (and yes there will be waves).

So now apply this to timber framing.  Most timbers are to large or long to have the whole entire surface flat and in the same plane.  First of all even the large No. 8 is too short to accurately and efficiently do this.  Keeping the areas of joinery in the same plane and having the look of a fully planed and flat surface is more realistic, maybe this is where a moderately set jack plane would shine.  It should produce a nice enough surface allowing one to also skip a smoothing plane.

Bevel-up or bevel-down?  I prefer the feel of a bevel-down plane and how it adjusts, but I do think that the bevel-up plane's low angle can be helpful if one planes much end grain.  With almost all plane setups I prefer a cambered blade, this is for several reasons, but one of the important ones is that it keeps the blades edges from digging in and making tracks.  Unfortunately bevel-up planes don't react as well with a lot of camber, but a little bit of camber should be fine.

I think one could limit their timber frame planes to a no. 10 1/4 and the no. 5 1/2 or its bevel-up equivalent.  One could also argue for a block plane.

Offline bub4e

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2010, 01:25:27 pm »
It seems that from the time I started writing my reply and when I finished some of what I said is a repeat.  I guess it's hard to reply quickly when also trying to watch a wild 1.5 year old.

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2010, 01:37:40 pm »
It seems that from the time I started writing my reply and when I finished some of what I said is a repeat.  I guess it's hard to reply quickly when also trying to watch a wild 1.5 year old.

Bub4e don't worry about that at all, and thanks for posting this good information.

and welcome to the forum....

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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2010, 08:18:05 pm »
I also vote for the LN 10-1/4 as the most useful for timber framing.  A #5 jack while similar in size might be a good second.  Having similar size planes isn't really redundant as they may be set differently at the same time.
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Offline Piston

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2010, 01:58:22 am »
Raphael, Bub, and Terrifictiimbers,
That LN 10 1/4 looks like it would be very handy.  Now you have me thinking some more about that one.  I can see why it would be great for timberframing, especially when planing down the large tenons where you can get right up against the shoulder, sort of skipping using a dedicated shoulder plane I suppose. 

Can this plane be used for planing the timber as well or does the lack of "sides" cause the blade to dig in and make lines in the timber? 
I have never used a decent plane so I really don't know too much about them, hence the reason for my 'uneducated questions'  :D

Since the price is pretty high for the 10 1/4 I would only be able to get that one plane vs. the two mentioned earlier (Veritas 5 1/4 and shoulder plane) so do you think the '2 in 1' 10 1/4 would be better for what I want to do?  Of course I could always add to my collection down the road as well ;), or maybe keep my eye out for an older No. 5 at yard sales or something? 

It sure looks like a nicely crafted hand tool.

I really appreciate all your opinions.

Bub,
Thanks for that great and informative post.   ;D
-Matt
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Offline frwinks

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2010, 10:08:26 am »

Can this plane be used for planing the timber as well or does the lack of "sides" cause the blade to dig in and make lines in the timber? 
I have never used a decent plane so I really don't know too much about them, hence the reason for my 'uneducated questions'  :D



sure can.  I use my no.10 with two irons, one with cambered edge, the other without. Two planes in one  ;D  I only wish I had time to hand plane more of my timbers :(

Offline bub4e

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2010, 10:13:53 am »
I would recommend finding an old Stanley No. 5 or 5 1/2.  The old ones are still great and inexpensive, most will need some minor tuning though.  If you do find a good deal on one, you can always swap out the blade and cap iron for an improves after market one, http://www.hocktools.com

The 10 1/4 will most likely leave tracks or lines, this is not from a lack of sides, but more from a straight blade.  You will want to have a slightly cambered blade with your jack plane (there are many resources on the internet, including youtube, to find out how to do this).  It would not be smart to camber the 10 1/4 blade, because this would make it perform poorly as a shoulder plane.  Two irons are one option 10 1/4, but would probably get frustrating, especially since one can pick up a nice used jack plane for close to the same price as a second blade.

Offline witterbound

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2010, 11:53:37 am »
IMO, the key to planing is the sharpness of blade.  It's easy to buy a plane.  It's not easy to keep the blade as sharp as it needs to be.  So, if you're buying a plane, also buy the sharpening stones you'll need to keep it sharp.  I've worked with guys who sharpen their plane blade after less than 1 hours use.   

Offline routestep

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2010, 11:44:53 am »
I vote for you to get a rebate and a No 5 or 5 1/2 bench plane.

I have a Record 10 1/2 rebate which is good for smoothing the corners of tenons as mentioned. Its a lot cheaper then the Lie Nielsen plane, but doesn't have the quality either. I had to flatten the sole of my plane with some fine emory cloth and kerosene. The LN is dead flat I'm told.

The 5 or 5 1/2 I use to smooth out bumps just before lay out lines are drawn for mortises or tenons. I have Record and Stanley types. Getting rid of the bumps caused by knots help to keep the framing square on the aris of the post or beam.

Since the wife has given the green light, maybe a nice combo square (Starrett) can be acquired, maybe a lightly used framing chisel in a size you don't have yet? If nothing else then a diamond stone to sharpen things up and a jig to hold the iron while sharpening is a very good investment. As Witterbound stated a sharp edge is key.

Offline Piston

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2010, 11:55:48 am »
Well guys I'm still trying to decide.  I really like the idea of the 10 1/4 from LN but I also like the idea of the Jack plane and shoulder plane as well.  I was trying to hurry my decision because Veritas had free shipping until yesterday but I decided not to rush it in case I changed my mind.  Right now I'm leaning towards the 10 1/4 and finding a used stanley no 5. 

I bought a good book on sharpening I believe called Essential sharpening or something like that, I think it was put out by Fine Woodworking and I learned a lot.  I may buy the book from Hock but havent' decided yet, I think it's around 300 pages or so and I don't know if I'm ready to devote that much reading towards planes yet.  :D :D :D :D
-Matt
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Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2010, 05:45:15 pm »
I'll solve one of your problems. PM me your full name and address and I'll send you a Sargeant No.5. :D I like the idea of two irons in the 10 1/4. I bet an iron from a No.5 with a radius would work just as well in the N0.10, just without the rabbet feature. I bet a 5/10 with radius iron would be just fine for planing beams.
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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2010, 03:44:21 am »
If your serious about selling one Dave I might take you up it  ;D

I'm gonna step out on a limb here and commit to buy the 10 1/4 from LN with a spare iron. 8)  That's it, end of discussion.   ;D
-Matt
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Re: Advice on which hand planes to buy first?
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2010, 07:26:55 am »
Who said anything about paying for it?  ;) I think you will be happy with the 10 1/4 with the extra iron. :)
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