Hand Plane Buying Guide

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An specialized tool for woodworking, a hand plane is intended to hold a sharpened blade in order to complete a particular woodworking job. It is often used to cut or smooth a piece of wood by being pushed or dragged along a surface. Hand planes were required to bridge the gap between raw timber and completed projects prior to the advent of motorized power equipment.

Hand planes have unquestionably earned a position in the toolbox of today’s carpenter. Using power tools, such as a jointer or a planer, to work on big tasks may be difficult because of the speed and precision they provide.

Hand planes as well may provide better results when it comes to smoothing and other delicate work when they are correctly adjusted. Most of your woodworking tasks will benefit from the use of hand tools in combination with power tools, which is a good approach to pursue.

Different kinds of hand planes are classified according to their particular purpose.

This guide will talk with some depth about the Buying Guides for the many kinds of Hand Planes and helps you with deciding which is the Best Hand Plane for your needs.

Bench Plane Buying Guide

Bench planes are hand planes that are used so often that they are frequently seen sitting on your workbench or in your toolbox. Bench planes are used for a variety of tasks including shaping, flattening, dimensioning, and smoothing boards. As I demonstrated in my video and article on squaring up boards with hand tools, a simple set of three or four bench planes would consist of the following items:

Longer bench planes are often used for straightening wood, whereas shorter bench planes are typically used for smoothing and blending wood.

Block Plane Buying Guide

The Block Plane is one of the most useful equipment to have in any woodworking workshop. It is often a smaller, more compact shape that fits comfortably in the palm of the hand. Generally, block plane widths are between 1-1/2″ and 2″, and the blade is inserted into the tool with the bevel side facing up.

Due to the frequency with which I use them, I also include block planes in the category of bench planes. However, despite the fact that block planes have been around for a shorter period of time than the other bench planes, they are very helpful for a variety of minor detail work, particularly for trimming the end grain of boards.

Block Panes are bedded at a 20-degree angle in the standard configuration. When used in conjunction with a blade that has a 25° sharpened bevel, the included angle is 45° (see illustration). This is the finest option for the majority of general-purpose jobs.

Block Planes with a low angle of 12° are bedded at an angle of 12°. When used in conjunction with a blade that has a 25° sharpened bevel, the included angle is 37 degrees. This lower angle is preferable for tough grain and planing end grain, among other things.

Uses – General use around the shop and in the field:

  • Milling markings that are smooth
  • Sharp edges should be chamfered or eased.
  • End grain that is smooth
  • Parts such as doors should be in proper working order.
  • Organize lesser quantities of stock

Smoothing Plane Buying Guide

#1, #3, #4, #4-1/2

Shorter beds provide you the ability to level out spots.

The smoothing plane, which is a shorter hand plane, is the final plane to make contact with the wood. Its primary function is to polish the wood’s surface to a smooth finish. A smoothing plane with a tight mouth that has been fine-tuned may provide a sheared surface that is superior to what can be achieved by sanding. 

Jack Plane Buying Guide

#5, #5-1/2 and low angle Jack, #7, #8

Short enough to smooth off the surface, but lengthy enough to allow for some jointing of projects

A jack plane (sometimes known as a “front plane”) is a tool that is used to flatten a board in its first rough flattening stage. In addition to having a severe camber, or “arc,” this hand plane has a wide-open moth, which makes rough removal of wood more simpler and quicker than with a traditional hand plane, particularly when working against the grain.

This is referred to as “scrubbing.” These hand planes are very effective in removing twist off the board and bringing it closer to being flat. Dedicated scrub planes are smaller in size than jack planes, yet they serve the same function as them.

Fore Plane Buying Guide


At 14″ to 18″, its length is between a Jack and a Jointer

A fore plane, sometimes known as a scrub plane, is the firsthand plane to come into contact with a rough-sawn board.

These hand planes are usually used across the grain for rough wood removal, or for “scrubbing” with a strongly cambered (i.e. “arched”) iron to remove stains and other contaminants.

I like a bigger Jack plane or even a larger Fore plane over a specialized scrub plane since they are more maneuverable. Because these planes are used for rough work, I don’t tune them up as much as I do with the other bench planes, which is understandable.

Jointer Plane Buying Guide

The jointer plane (sometimes known as a “Try plane”) is the secondhand plane to come into contact with the wood. This very long hand plane is excellent for precision flattening of a board (after the jack plane has rough-flattened it), and it produces a surface that is close to being completely completed.

It skips along the crests and eventually sends them all crashing down at the same time. Moreover, it is used in the process of “jointing” the edge of a board or in the creation of a perfect 90-degree edge to the flattened face.

When you need to glue boards together for a table top, this is an absolute must-have.

Specialty Planes

Examples: Rabbet Plane, Shoulder Planes, Chisel Plane

As you can see, there are many choices available when selecting a hand plane, but the following is the best place to begin:

Block Plane, #4 Smoother, and #5 Jack Plane are all best examples of starter hand planes.

Tools to Sharpen Hand Planes

Mastering the art of sharpening your hand plane is critical to achieving the consistent results required for fun and precise woodworking projects.

Sharpening Tools

  • Machinery Grinders/Wet Sharp
  • Stones and Abrasives
  • Jigs and Aids, Angle Trainers & Honing Guides


The Three Hand Planes You Need

Types of Hand Planes


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