[GUIDE] What is a Bench Plane? | #1 Hand Plane Guide!

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A Bench Plane is another term for the Hand Plane and is mostly used to flatten, reduce the thickness, and impart a smooth surface to a rough piece of lumber or timber by operating in three ways: to take out the wood, to take out bows, and smoothing out surfaces.

Bench planes have the cutting bevel (down) connected to a chip breaker, and their cutting bevel faces the workpiece. Many bench planes and many bigger wooden ones include a tote, which is located at the back of the plane.

In the hand plane family, the workhorses are the bench planes. The former progressively reduces and straightens each component of a woodworking project until it is of the right proportions, while the latter does the same for each piece, after which it smooths the surfaces to provide a final finish.

When you say it like that, it seems so easy, but there are many woodworkers who have a hard time comprehending the many bench planes that are available, ranging from the small, 5 1/2″ long No. 1 smooth plane all the way up to the immense, 24″ long No. 8 jointer plane.

Adding the newer bevel-up bench planes to the mix will make you want to hug your belt sander like a teddy bear.

It’s possible to organize and identify all the various types and sizes of bench planes available on the market, and then to choose the ones you will need in your business.

How do Bench Planes Work?

​ Hand planes operate like a chisel; the motion is the same as you apply downward pressure on the chisel and you can imagine using a very sharp chisel to draw across a piece of wood with the grain (if you can visualize this, which some people cannot).

The method for utilizing a hand planer is the same, but with greater control over a hand plane, resulting in a smoother, cleaner cut edge.

In regards to setting the cutting blade on a hand plane, most bench planes are equipped with an adjustable knob that may be changed to modify the blade’s angle to take out more or less material.

Three Main Kinds of Bench Planes

There are 3 main kinds of Bench Planes while other specialty bench planes are also available, and even within the 3 kinds of bench planes they each have their own specialty variations.

These 3 kinds of Bench Planes are the:

  • Smoothing Plane
  • Fore Plane
  • Jointer Plane

Smoothing Plane

The sole of a smoothing plane varies from five inches to ten inches long. When using a smoothing plane, the main task is to prepare the wood for finishing. It usually sets the record for being the last plane to contact the wood.

Fore Plane

The fore planes’ soles vary in length from 14 inches to 20 inches. While not the sole duty of the fore plane, the primary function of the fore plane is to remove material rapidly. It helps to straighten the wood because of its longish sole. The fore plane is the first plane used to rough-out the wood, and it is almost always the first plane to be used.

Jointer Plane

The blade length of jointer planes varies from 22 inches to 30 inches (in wooden-bodied planes). The sole of the jointer plane’s main function is to straighten the wood, and the plane’s ability to do this is owed to its length (the longer the sole, the straighter the resulting work). After the fore plane, but before the smoothing plane, a jointer plane is employed.

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What are Bench Planes Used For?

While benches are used to flatten, decrease the thickness of, and provide a smooth surface on rough lumber, they are often reserved for construction uses alone. When big workpieces can’t be shaped, planning is used to create horizontal, vertical, or inclined flat surfaces on the workpiece for overall uniformity. A specific kind of plane is constructed to cut joints or moldings to precise specifications.

While previously in the lecture we spoke about how the three main purposes of hand planes are as follows: removing wood from a workpiece, eliminating warped workpieces, and smoothing the surfaces of finished workpieces.

The bench plane has three jobs in the woodshop: to take out the wood, to take out bows and twists, and smoothing out surfaces

Taking Out Wood

It would probably be your best bet if you want to remove wood from a workpiece to use a scrub plane, since they are especially made to remove a lot of wood in a single pass and what they are made to accomplish.

Scrub bench planes will perform the job better than any other kind of plane. Because of the abrasive scrubbing effect, many more shavings are removed from the material in one pass. This leaves a relatively chipped edge and is not recommended for use on completed grades unless you want a rustic look and will have to use a significant amount of force with all these, more so than with some of the other planes.

Taking Out Bows And Twists

Generally, as we spoke about above, taking away a lot of material in one fell swoop will need the use of a scrub plane as well because of the quantity of material removed.

A simple but creative way to say it is to say if you have a skewed or bowed piece of wood, like a particularly warped board, you can use a different plane, but if you have a warped piece of lumber, like a warped board, a scrub plane is most likely the right choice and may lead to another tool or power planer.

Smoothing Out Surfaces

As with other hand tools, bench planes (or bench planes) may be used to smooth the surfaces of a workpiece. Smoothing plane has a name that describes it. The surface that the smoothing plane leaves is noticeably smoother than sanding the same area, as long as the user is aware of the plane’s capabilities.

When you’re done smoothing your wood using a hand plane, this will be the final thing you do and it will be regarded a completed plane. When talking about general purpose bench plane, these are perhaps the most popular tools.


This ends our Bench Planes vs Jack Planes 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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