Types of Hand Planes

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There are Eleven (11) Main Types of Hand Planes, and they are: Block Planes. Smoothing Planes, Fore Planes, Jack Planes, Jointer Planes. Shoulder Planes, Bull Nose Planes, Rabbet Planes, Plough/Plow Planes. Router Planes, Japanese Planes

Hand planes are an indispensable tool for any woodworker, be it a DIYer or someone working in the trades.

All the best hand planes differ from each other in their form yet they are the woodworker’s favourite for smoothing or shaving wood, and not for cutting.

In this article we have put together the lowdown on all of the different types of planes that you might encounter, detailing how they work and when they are best suited for use, and features to look for.

Block Planes

Block planes, which measure about 150mm in length, are designed to be operated with one hand and are particularly effective at making delicate finishing cuts and cutting end grain.

It is customary to position the blade with the cutting bevel facing upwards rather than downwards, as opposed to a bench plane, since the blade is sitting at a lower angle than a bench plane.

Because of the shallow cutting angle, the blade is better able to slice through the wood fibers in the end grain, resulting in a fine, smooth finish.

Trimming planes and apron planes are two more types of block planes. Aprons planes are so named because they are tiny enough to fit into an apron pocket.

Smoothing Planes

In comparison to the other bench planes, the smoothing planes are the shortest and lightest in weight, making them ideal for taking final finishing cuts when flattening and smoothing boards to a high degree of smoothness.

The smoothing plane is normally the final plane to be utilized while smoothing a board from rough to smooth, and it is only employed when the board is flat that it is used.

A smoothing plane that has been properly sharpened and adjusted can leave a far finer surface on wood than can be obtained by sanding alone.

According to length, the No 3 smoothing plane is shorter, measuring about 175mm in length, and lighter than the No 4 smoothing plane, which typically measures approximately 200mm in length.

Jack Planes

Jack planes receive their name from the fact that they are the “Jack of all trades” planes in the workshop.

The general purpose Jack plane, or No 5 plane, as it is designated, is often the beginning point for any plane collection since it can be used for both flattening and smoothing boards, making it the most versatile bench plane in the workshop.

The Jack plane, which measures about 350mm in length, is significantly longer and heavier than the smoothing planes in comparison.

Fore Planes

The fore plane, also known as the No 6 plane, is the shortest of the bench planes available for flattening boards. It is used for flattening duties and is the shortest of the bench planes available for flattening boards.

The fore plane, which is about 460mm in length, features a sole that is lengthy enough to avoid following the peaks and troughs seen on an uneven board.

As an alternative, the fore plane flies over the troughs and only removes shavings from the peaks, leveling the board before smoothing it out completely. The fore plane may also be used to square material prior to edge-to-edge jointing, which can save time and money.

Jointer Planes

The No 7 and No 8 jointer, which are the longest planes ever made, are the longest planes ever made.

Their main purpose, as their name implies, is to straighten the sides of boards preparatory to jointing them together.

The No 7 plane is about 510mm in length, while the No 8 plane measures approximately 600mm in length. These planes have lengthy soles that enable them to glide over peaks and troughs in the surface of the board, cutting away from the peaks until the edge of the board is completely flat.

Jointer planes may also be used to smooth the surfaces of boards that have been glued together.

Shoulder Planes

Shoulder planes, in contrast to bench planes and block planes, have blades that span the whole width of the plane, rather than just the front or back.

This enables the plane to cut over its full width without squeezing.

Even while it is mainly used for cutting rebates like as those found on tenon shoulders, it is also excellent for trimming and cutting right up to a corner, and shoulder planes have flat sides to enable for this to be done easily.

Shoulder planes are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate a wide range of jobs.

Bull Nose Planes

The bullnose plane, a shorter variant of the shoulder plane, is used for finer work such as taking finishing cuts when installing tenons, as well as for small-scale projects.

Some bull nose planes feature detachable fronts that enable them to be converted into chisel planes, enabling the blade to be used to work around corners.

On these planes, the blades are often somewhat broader than the body in order to avoid the body from binding on the rebate wall. This guarantees that the cut is straight and square.

Rabbet Planes

The rabbet or rebate plane, although similar in function to the shoulder plane, differs in a number of ways in terms of physical appearance. rabbet planes, like shoulder planes, feature blades that extend the entire width of the plane’s body, enabling them to cut flat to the side of the workpiece, similar to how shoulder planes do.

Rabbet planes, in contrast to shoulder planes, contain fences that reference the face of the board being rebated, ensuring that the cut is precisely straight throughout.

On these planes, a depth stop is built in to guarantee that the necessary cut depth is not exceeded during operation.

Some rabbet planes are additionally equipped with a sharp spur that cuts through the wood fibers ahead of the plane blade, resulting in a clean cut when rebating across the grain with the plane blade in place.

In order to fit drawer bottoms into drawers, the plough plane is used to cut lengthy grooves and dadoes in boards, such as those required for fitting drawer bottoms into drawers.

Plough/Plow Planes

Plough planes are equipped with adjustable fences that utilize the edge of the board as a reference to guarantee that the cut is parallel to the side of the board while cutting.

Typically, these planes are provided with a variety of blades, each of which is capable of cutting a groove of a particular width.

When it is critical that the groove be cut precisely, this method is often employed in place of a router.

Router Planes

The router plane, which resembles a cross between a hand plane and a spokeshave in appearance, is mainly used for cleaning out grooves, dadoes, and extremely shallow mortices in woodworking.

Despite the fact that the router plane is often provided with a fence for straight work, it may also be used free hand. When using the router plane, the blade may be sliced in two different locations.

The blade of the first plane in board position is completely encircled by the plane body. The blade is at the outboard position in the second position, with the blade visible at the front.

This second position enables the router plane to cut straight into the corners of the object being worked on.

Japanese Planes

The Japanese hand plane is a simple, but highly effective idea that utilizes an edged, sharp iron blade housed inside a wooden body.

Due to the fact that this component is pulled rather than pushed towards the operator, the aircraft is more accurate and less tiring to operate.

These planes have wooden bodies, which are less prone to mark or harm the surface of the work than metal-bodied planes, and are thus suitable for both delicate work and more demanding planing.

The bodies of these planes are all constructed of Japanese white oak, which is a strong, straight-grained wood that is particularly well suited for woodworking equipment.

By striking the blade with a hammer or mallet, you may make minor changes to it.

Features to Consider when Buying a Hand Plane

Type of Frog

The frog is an essential factor to consider when purchasing a bench plane since it is the only component of the plane that holds the blade. The frog’s design and how well it fits into the aircraft’s body will ultimately decide how well the plane operates.

Today, there are two major types of frogs: Bailey and Bedrock.

Most hand planes have a Bailey frog that rests on top of a machined surface on the plane body. This kind of frog is fully adjustable and is kept in place by two screws that can only be reached after the plane iron assembly has been removed.

Once the screws have been released, a tiny adjustment knob on the rear of the frog may be used to alter the position of the frog to open or shut the plane mouth.

In contrast, the Bedrock type frog, which similarly rests on a machined surface on the plane’s body, has a depression on each side that positively locates the frog on two ridges in the aircraft body. This maintains the frog perpendicular to the body.

Using two screws on the rear of the frog, the Bedrock frog can be adjusted to open and shut the plane’s mouth without removing the plane iron assembly.

Angle of the Blade

The angle of a plane’s blade has a significant impact on how and what it can cut. Block planes, which are presented at a lower angle to the wood, are ideal for cutting end grain because the blade cuts rather than scratches.

Blades having extremely high angles, such as scraper planes and certain Chinese planes, are excellent for handling exotic woods and burrs with complicated grain patterns because they reduce rip out. Unless otherwise stated, most bench planes will offer the cutting edge at a 45-degree angle to the wood, allowing the plane to operate effectively on most hardwoods and softwoods.

Before selecting a plane, think about the kinds of wood you’ll be working with and the type of planing you’ll be performing.

Thickness of the Blade

The amount of rigidity in the blade is determined by the thickness of the blade.

Because of the thinness of the blade, it may flex somewhat during the cutting process, resulting in chattering noises. The surface of the wood will be left with a poor, almost ridged finish as a result of this.

Greater resistance to bending is provided by thicker blades, which result in significantly smoother finishes.

Metal or Wooden Body

The benefits and drawbacks of both metal and wood bodied planes are. Metal cavities are significantly heavier than their wooden equivalents and are more harder to wear, in particular when dealing with more abrasive wood.

The lightweight of the hardwood body is helpful for extended hours while planting and the wood sole will not mark or harm the job as a metal body may do.

The workshop’s workshop is made of metal bodied planes, while wooden planes are excellent when leaving a very good finish on every wood.


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