The Carpenter essentials topic – Bench Plane vs Block Plane, which is which and for what are they really used?
Part of the reason these are essentials for any Carpenter out there, even with all the new technology with power tools and suck, learning the fundamentals of handiwork in Carpentry is beneficial. It helps you to be familiar with the craft, as well as have the feel, or if you might relate, the spirit of being a Carpenter.
Knowing the use of both Bench Planes and Block Planes will not only help you understand fundamentals of Carpentry, but they are also quite fun to learn. Understanding these two sets of hand tools will be your key tools for producing great works with ease and finesse.
With these two tools- although looking very much alike- In this guide, we will distinguish which is which, and if there really is a difference with their operating methods – and what is the best way to use them for.
Short Version / TL;DR
Don’t have time to read through the article? Don’t worry, we get you – here’s a brief rundown on our Bench Plane vs Block Plane guide:
Bench Planes and Block Planes, both under the Hand Plane family, are best used with Wood type DIY projects such as trimming doors and cabinets. Specifically made for taking out wood, taking out bows and twists, and smoothing out surfaces – with a proper Hand Plane you wouldn’t even need sand paper to smooth out the wood.
A Bench Plane is distinct from a Block Plane mainly where the direction the Bevel is facing – which is upwards with a shallow angle and is distinguished by its variants in size relative to its kinds.
A Block Plane has its Bevel facing downwards and has a steep angle. It is often small in size with only around 6-inches to 7-inches long, some are even smaller. Also, to note, Block planes are best used with only one hand. In the end, it is just a smaller hand plane and is often used for tighter spaces.
Here’s a comparison table for Bench Plane vs Block Plane to easily tell you which is which:
|Features||Bench Plane||Block Plane|
|Bevel Face||Faces Down||Faces Up|
|Size||Numbering System (ex: No. 4 = 4 ½ , No. 5 = 5 ¼ )||6-inches to 7-inches Long|
|Best For||Carpenter and Woodworker||Carpenter and Woodworker|
Don’t have time To read? No worries!
Below are our top picks for your convenience
Dweller Power’s Best Pick
Best Bench Plane in the Market
Stanley 62 Sweetheart Jack Plane
- One-piece Base and Frog
- Patented Lateral Adjustment Locking Feature
- Ductile Iron Castings For Weight And Durability
Dweller Power’s Best Pick
Best Block Plane in the Market
Woodstock D3831 Adjustable Block Plane
- Adjustable Throat Opening
- Bronze and Cast Iron Construction
- Low Blade Angle For Face Grain And End Grain
What Is A Bench Plane?
To start of the Bench Plane vs Block Plane topic, bench planes are essential to carpenters, and it’s the most commonly used plane in hand planing among building projects. Being used to flatten a workpiece or flat edges, plane any imperfections, and finish the wood through smooth cutting, will give the needed coefficients and perfect measurements for any carpentry project.
They come in various sizes and materials. The more common ones are made from cast iron. Also, there is some kind of metal plate fixed on the bottom of the plane to provide it with extra weight. The bench planes have three important parts and its purpose is different for each part.
Among its purposes, a Bench Plane can remove wood, straighten out the wood (warped or bowed pieces), and smooth out wood surfaces to minimize further work and fix any kind of small mistakes.
They are bench planes because they are most often used at a woodworking bench rather than on site. These planes are typically very large in size, equipped with a very strong blade, and have paddles that are as long as the plane itself.
The bench planes start with the No. 1. It is the smallest and used for fine tuning your work. Then you have the No. 2, which is slightly bigger than the No. 1, but with a longer sole for more support behind whatever you’re working on. The No. 3, 4 and 5 are generally known as jack planes, which are bigger and wider than the others for cutting large pieces of wood down to a smaller size.
Kinds of Bench Planes
A versatile and economical tool, the jack plane is used to further reduce and straighten a piece of wood. It’s also used in place of the jointer or as a secondary plane after a rough shaping with a scrub plane.
The scrub plane is one of the most commonly used types of hand planes. It is typically used in the beginning stages of woodworking and carpentry to remove large amounts of material, especially when put on a scrubbing motion.
Despite the fact that this plane can be difficult to control at first, it leaves the smoothest finish out of all of the other planes.
The jointer plane is the longest bench plane, with a straight cutting blade. A jointer plane is used to true up (straighten) long edges of wide boards and to remove wood. It has multiple uses. The smaller size allows it to work in tight areas, such as moldings and hand-scraping.
Many woodworking operations require flattening or straightening the edges of boards prior to trimming and joining. Used for straightening and flattening the faces of boards before gluing. It is very useful for final preparation of panels prior to gluing
Jointer planes are critical tools for achieving sprues and grooves. They quickly remove high spots in a piece of lumber or material
The rabbet plane is designed for cutting levels or grooves on a piece of wood. There are no other planes that can do this job. It has a unique size and shape. Also, it’s extremely sturdy and it won’t break easily.
It is extremely narrow, which means it can reach into hard-to-reach spots. The small width of the rabbet plane makes it easier to maneuver in tight spaces, making it a key tool for detail work.
The smoother is different than all other planes. It’s designed to work only on the wood’s surface. A shaper will remove wood–and it will leave a rough surface as a result. The smoother, in contrast, levels the wood’s surface by removing fine amounts of wood, creating a smooth and shiny finish.
They’re superbly balanced, with extra-fine adjustments for the blade and bed and contoured grips.
Set up and pressed slowly, the polished finish it gives is far superior to that made by sandpapers, sanders, and even power sanders.
Bench Plane Pros & Cons
- All Around Planer
- Smooth Work Operation
- Easy To Learn
- Not for Tight Spaces
- Needs Strength To Be Used Well
Bench Plane Recommendation –
Stanley 62 Sweetheart Jack Plane
The classic Stanley 62 Sweetheart Jack Plane is made of a thick, 3/16 inch A2 steel for long-lasting edge retention. The hardwood handle is comfortable and durable, making it an excellent hand plane for intensive woodwork. The adjustable plate enables quick adjustments to be made based on the type of material used.
The Stanley 62 Sweetheart Jack Plane is a well-loved plane that works great for beginners. It has an attractive cherry wood handle and knob to make it comfortable to use. The iron is made from tough A2 steel, which makes for long lasting blades.
This tool has a durable brass compass, a rear handle for added leverage, and comfortable cherry wood for smooth handling.
For the Bench Plane vs Block Plane topic, this is by far one of the best Bench Planes found in the market today, and allows you to change your blade with ease. It also features a patented replaceable throat-plate that makes this plane extremely useful for smoothing both softwood and hardwood surfaces.
Bench Plane Tutorial For Beginners
What Is A Block Plane?
The next one for our comparison guide of the Bench Plane vs Block Plane, the block-plane is shallow-angled, small sized plane designed specifically for woodworking. The main function of the block plane is to remove shavings from end grain (the surface of board facing you) and work end grain by shaving off a small amount of the material until it is entirely smooth.
A block plane has a small section of iron positioned to achieve an upward bevel. It is easily used and considered as one of the easiest hand planes to use.
When it comes to sharpening, shaving, smoothing, and detailing woodwork pieces, woodworkers often turn to block planes. A block plane is a small hand plane used for fine-tuning anything from picture frames to table tops.
When you’re working with soft woods, especially end grain, it becomes very difficult to achieve a smooth finish. The versatility of the block plane and low angled blade makes it an ideal tool to quickly blend the wood grains leaving a smooth finish.
The humble block plane has been a carpenter’s primary side-cutting tool for generations. It gets its name from the fact that it can be used one-handed and provides a deeper cut than most other planes, making it useful for roughing out end grain.
Traditionally used by carpenters, the block plane is also commonly used in conjunction with woodworking projects. It can also be used in a variety of tasks that require paring or shaving of a material.
The block plane is a tool used in woodworking to shave away wood or remove dried glue. One can achieve a similar action by using the blade of a chisel in a scraping action, but the square blade of the block plane makes it easier to keep flat, and the plane can be set to wind up only on one side of the blade so that one may scrape down with little risk of gouging.
The block plane is an all-around tool for woodworking and masonry. You can use it for smoothing the surface of a small section of concrete or for taking off small amounts of material. The tool is small enough that you can carry it with you wherever you go.
The block plane, although very versatile, is most often used for the precision shaping of wood. This tool is frequently used when creating cabinetry or furniture. Please exercise caution with this tool. Do not use it for purposes other than woodworking.
Kinds of Block Planes
Standard Block Plane
With a 20° bed angle and a 45° cutting angle, it’s the perfect tool for just about any task. It’s especially useful for cleaning up edges, shaping miter joints, and cutting stopped dados.
Low Angle Block Plane
The blade is set at a 12°—its low angle allows for fast, smooth, and accurate cuts, making it ideal for cutting end grain. This plane is also great for adjusting miters.
It leaves more space to help with the slope. This increases the angle on the blade, causing it to direct coarse shavings away from the wood face and off the workpiece.
The shoulder plane is a small, portable tool that’s great for fine-tuning joints or getting into small, hard-to-reach corners – like the insides of joints. Definitely perfect for leveling off the shoulders of tenons or rabbets for your furniture.
Block Plane Pros & Cons
- Pocket Size
- One-hand Use
- Fits in Tight Spaces
- Too Short for Straightening
- Blade Is Easy to Break
Block Plane Recommendation –
Woodstock D3831 Adjustable Block Plane
With the Bench Plane vs Block Plane topic, we only present you the best Block Planes around.
One of the company’s best-selling tools, the Woodstock D3831 Adjustable Block Plane includes six main features. First, there is a low blade angle design for face grain and end grain. Second, it has a plane blade measuring 1 to 3-1/8 inches wide. Thirdly, the throat opening is fully adjustable. Fourthly, this tool is constructed of both cast iron and bronze. Fifth, it comes with a factory guarantee of 14 months.
The Woodstock D3831 Adjustable Block Plane gives you professional block plane performance without breaking the bank. It has a fully adjustable throat, making it easy to use either on the face grain or end grain, as well as for cutting dovetails.
The low blade angle design allows for smooth and effortless planing of face grain and end grain, and the plane iron geometry provides quick chip clearance for superior cutting performance. You’ll love this block plane for professionals and serious hobbyists alike.
he 6 inch Woodstock Adjustable Block Plane The Woodstock D3831 6-inch block plane is an excellent choice for any woodworker. Made of beautiful bronze and cast iron, this plane will fit comfortably in any professional woodworker’s toolbox.
It cuts quickly and cleanly, and features a low blade angle for fast, smooth cuts. With wooden knobs and a solid hardwood handle, you’ll enjoy using this no matter what project you’re working on. This is a tool that will be used throughout your woodworking career.
Block Plane Tutorial For Beginners
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between a Bench Plane and a Jack Plane?
What is a No. 4 Plane?
Can You Plane Wet Wood?
Bench Plane vs Block Plane
With this end of the article about Bench Plane vs Block Plane, I hope you got the information you needed for the right planer with your Woodworking or Carpentry needs.
The Bench Plane vs Block Plane are both used for making the surfaces smooth prior to other woodworking operations. The presence of preset cutting heads and adjustable tables assures a perfect finish. They are also used to obtain a given thickness or level plane.
When it comes to manual shaving, trimming, smoothing, to get the desired smooth finish. Both the Bench Plane and Block Plane will do well for the job.
In fact, having both is also a good option – more so having different kinds of Hand Planers as well because these are staple tools for finishing up your workpiece with finesse.
This ends our Bench Plane vs Block Plane Discussion.
With that, please always remember that you need a good set. And by ‘good’, a properly organized set of hand tools, including hand planes, will see you through the best projects. Nothing is impossible with dedication, practice, and patience, and better yet – choosing the right hand plane.
We want you to be sure of what you plan to get, please don’t hesitate to ask for advice.
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Henry is a long time Trade Instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology. Henry has been teaching the trade of carpentry for over 15 years and is excited to share his knowledge with the next generation of builders. With his posts you will explore some general terms, tools, and techniques that are helpful for the beginning DIY Enthusiast!. He’ll also provide a list of all the best tips needed to start your building journey right away!