Quantcast

Entry-level hand plane?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
0
Location
Grantham
For a long time I've been of the opinion that hand planes are the tools of the devil, so to speak - horrible to use, hard to get a good result with, etc., and I've been using power tools for all the things people might use a plane for - mostly a random-orbit sander and a router, occasionally even an electric planer (which I hate).

Recently I've been more and more getting the opinion that it's partly because all the planes I've used over the years have been badly set up and/or not sharp enough, and there's still the odd task I'd like to be able to avoid power-tools and the associated noise and dust for. So I recently bit the bullet, did some research and waste... uh, spent an evening sharpening a cheap smoothing plane, then grinding and filing bits of it so that the bottom is vaguely flat and the frog holds the blade half-decently and the chip-breaker doesn't catch everything that comes through the mouth and jam full of shavings all the time, and so on. (And what did I get for my trouble? It bit me, which was new.)

The result is that I still think it's a tool of the devil, but I'm coming around to the idea that it may just be because I'm using a crappy cheap plane which was put together by brain-damaged rhesus monkeys using ancient, worn tooling and the worst steel they could lay their hands on. I'm interested in trying a better-quality plane, but I don't want to spend the silly money I see a lot of quality planes going for, because I'm still wary I may not use it that much, and I'd like to go for as generally-useful non-specialised a tool as possible, but since I've been avoiding hand-planing I don't really know what that might be.

To round off an unnecessarily-long story, can anyone suggest a good-enough-to-not-put-me-right-off-again-but-reasonably-priced-enough-to-not-put-me-off-before-I-even-start plane that a hand-planing novice like myself isn't going to kill themselves trying to set up properly? I'm deliberately not stating an outright budget 'cause I'd like to know what the price of a decent-enough tool is, not what the best thing I could get for £X is...
 

Jacob

Established Member
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
16,119
Reaction score
3
Location
Derbyshire
QS are good. So are most Stanleys/Records, if sharp and set up. If they don't work it's usually the man, not the tool!
You might have overdone it with your fettling. Best avoided IMHO unless you really know your way around. Most of them just need sharpening and setting, though it also helps to scrape rust off the sole and apply candle wax.
NB applying candle wax is the single most dramatic and effective way of improving a plane's performance - just a quick squiggle like writing a hasty signature, is all it takes.
 

dh7892

Established Member
Joined
19 May 2008
Messages
152
Reaction score
0
Location
Orpington
I used to be of the same opinion about planes before I knew how to set up/use them properly. Something that would have saved me a lot of trouble would have been if I could have had a go with a good one (by which I mean well set up rather then expensive) so that I could understand what the tool was really capable of. I think I had unrealistic expectations on how much you could take off in one cut didn't know how to get a sharp edge properly.

If you can find anyone near you that would be willing to let you use one of their planes (perhaps even under supervision) you might save yourself some time and expense.

I'm sure you are very capable of working it all out for yourself but I know that I would have befitted from knowing this kind of stuff before I started fiddling around.

Now that I'm happy using/setting up planes, I find planing to be one of the most pleasurable woodworking tasks. You can't beat the swish of plane on wood and the smell of rosewood shavings!

And no dust!
 

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
0
Location
Grantham
Jacob":1yl9hhd8 said:
You might have overdone it with your fettling. Best avoided IMHO unless you really know your way around. Most of them just need sharpening and setting, though it also helps to scrape rust off the sole and apply candle wax.
You say that 'cause you didn't see the thing before I started - without the grinding and filing, it was impossible to get the blade to sit flat in the mouth, one side would always be about 1-1.5mm higher. When I first got it out the box one end of the blade was touching the back side of the mouth and the other end the front side! After an evening's work it cuts fairly even shavings off of oak, walnut and palm flesh fairly happily. (One of my motivations to try and fix it up now was that I wanted some nice attractive oak shavings to pack a gift box with.)

It was a new plane, just a really cheap one - the hardware & tool shop across the road from where I work seems to have decided that the easiest way to compete on price with the Internet is to sell near-exclusively Silverline stuff, which in my experience is 50% decent-for-the-price and 50% absolutely-atrocious!

I'll definitely try candle-wax, though - thanks for the tip. Presumably it needs buffing in, to avoid too much of it coming off on the wood and potentially getting in the way of the finish?
 

Jacob

Established Member
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
16,119
Reaction score
3
Location
Derbyshire
JakeS":1de5hpew said:
...
It was a new plane, just a really cheap one -
Sounds not worth the attempt. There is a limit on how far down market you can go! I'd go for 2nd hand older Stanley/Records from £10 upwards on ebay Then just sharpen and set, for starters at least.
I'll definitely try candle-wax, though - thanks for the tip. Presumably it needs buffing in, to avoid too much of it coming off on the wood and potentially getting in the way of the finish?
Nope just a quick squiggle. If you are worried about finish just don't do it when you are at the final smoothing stage.
 

Fromey

Established Member
Joined
22 Sep 2010
Messages
570
Reaction score
0
Location
Frome, Somerset, UK
It might also be useful to have more details on what is going wrong for you while planing. Can you describe what the issues are? Tear-out? Plane tracks? Plane juddering? Plane sticking? Unable to get a surface flat and square? etc. I ask because it's also possible the plane is fine, but your technique is what's at fault. Are you confident you're reading the grain direction correctly? That was my first lesson in hand planing. Are you putting a bit of wax on the sole of your plane? Are you trying to plane a piece of curly maple with a No. 5? Are you setting the blade too deep? Does your blade have a camber to it or is it straights across the whole length?
 

bosshogg

Established Member
Joined
9 Mar 2011
Messages
616
Reaction score
0
Location
N E Scotland
JakeS":3q6lm8ag said:
For a long time I've been of the opinion that hand planes are the tools of the devil, so to speak - horrible to use, hard to get a good result with, etc., and I've been using power tools for all the things people might use a plane for - mostly a random-orbit sander and a router, occasionally even an electric planer (which I hate).

Recently I've been more and more getting the opinion that it's partly because all the planes I've used over the years have been badly set up and/or not sharp enough, and there's still the odd task I'd like to be able to avoid power-tools and the associated noise and dust for. So I recently bit the bullet, did some research and waste... uh, spent an evening sharpening a cheap smoothing plane, then grinding and filing bits of it so that the bottom is vaguely flat and the frog holds the blade half-decently and the chip-breaker doesn't catch everything that comes through the mouth and jam full of shavings all the time, and so on. (And what did I get for my trouble? It bit me, which was new.)

The result is that I still think it's a tool of the devil, but I'm coming around to the idea that it may just be because I'm using a crappy cheap plane which was put together by brain-damaged rhesus monkeys using ancient, worn tooling and the worst steel they could lay their hands on. I'm interested in trying a better-quality plane, but I don't want to spend the silly money I see a lot of quality planes going for, because I'm still wary I may not use it that much, and I'd like to go for as generally-useful non-specialised a tool as possible, but since I've been avoiding hand-planing I don't really know what that might be.

To round off an unnecessarily-long story, can anyone suggest a good-enough-to-not-put-me-right-off-again-but-reasonably-priced-enough-to-not-put-me-off-before-I-even-start plane that a hand-planing novice like myself isn't going to kill themselves trying to set up properly? I'm deliberately not stating an outright budget 'cause I'd like to know what the price of a decent-enough tool is, not what the best thing I could get for £X is...
Jake...please tell us what plane invokes such a profound put down as "I'm using a crappy cheap plane which was put together by brain-damaged rhesus monkeys using ancient, worn tooling and the worst steel they could lay their hands on. "
to any plane. It just might help, because if it's not the plane that's at fault other areas could be explored...bosshogg :)



I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.
Albert Einstein (hammer)
P.S. just saw the other reply asking similar, +1
 

bugbear

Established Member
Joined
16 Jul 2004
Messages
13,074
Reaction score
0
Location
North Suffolk
JakeS":2vdpqwm0 said:
You say that 'cause you didn't see the thing before I started - without the grinding and filing, it was impossible to get the blade to sit flat in the mouth, one side would always be about 1-1.5mm higher. When I first got it out the box one end of the blade was touching the back side of the mouth and the other end the front side! After an evening's work it cuts fairly even shavings off of oak, walnut and palm flesh fairly happily. (One of my motivations to try and fix it up now was that I wanted some nice attractive oak shavings to pack a gift box with.)

It was a new plane, just a really cheap one - the hardware & tool shop across the road from where I work seems to have decided that the easiest way to compete on price with the Internet is to sell near-exclusively Silverline stuff, which in my experience is 50% decent-for-the-price and 50% absolutely-atrocious!
Ooh - if you'd asked earlier, those kind of planes come (literally) at the bottom of the list of recommendations. They're not only bad (as purchased), they don't even have potential (when fettled). Yech.

QS are good (or similar, the factory in China seems to be supplying several retailers, and the quality level set by the retailer varies with what the retailer thinks their customers will pay for).

The obvious alternative (if you fancy learning by tuning) is to buy a good/old Record or Stanley. The ball park to get quality is pre 1970. These will not (neccessarily) work well as purchased, but should be made of good materials, and repay your effort.

My own preference is Record, because they're normally slightly better than their date-equivalent Stanley, and they're more British.

BugBear
 

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
0
Location
Grantham
As previously hinted at, the atrociously-bad tool in question is a Silverline No. 5. And I meant every word I said - I just wonder how they managed to keep the monkeys from setting fire to the factory when casting the base and the frog.

Fromey":d6cec94s said:
It might also be useful to have more details on what is going wrong for you while planing. Can you describe what the issues are? Tear-out? Plane tracks? Plane juddering? Plane sticking? Unable to get a surface flat and square? etc.
At the moment, juddering and occasionally sticking, and giving an only-vaguely-flat surface. But as noted, the plane really is crappy, so while I'd gratefully accept technique advice, I expect the plane is probably at fault as well! ;-)

Fromey":d6cec94s said:
Are you confident you're reading the grain direction correctly? That was my first lesson in hand planing. Are you putting a bit of wax on the sole of your plane? Are you trying to plane a piece of curly maple with a No. 5? Are you setting the blade too deep? Does your blade have a camber to it or is it straights across the whole length?
I'm fairly confident in the grain-direction, presuming that you plane in the direction that the grain rises, to avoid the edge cutting into and splitting down the grain, which has always been OK for me with mechanical planing (I always presumed it was to avoid the blade biting into the grain and splitting down it). Since fixing it up a bit I've mostly been trying it out on oak and walnut, but I've previously tried on old fence posts, ash and pine as well. I definitely had the blade set too deep at first, and I've certainly now improved that, but one of the reasons I'd like a better-put-together plane is that I get the distinct impression that the blade-adjustment mechanism is one of the worse parts of this plane and it's beyond my ability to improve it much. No bit of wax, but I'll give it a go this evening and see how it helps.



bugbear":d6cec94s said:
Ooh - if you'd asked earlier, those kind of planes come (literally) at the bottom of the list of recommendations. They're not only bad (as purchased), they don't even have potential (when fettled). Yech.
Oh, I was under no illusion as to it being a quality tool - I expected it to be rubbish, but I figured that it would be good practice fixing it up a bit and if I could make it cut remotely well then I'd stand more of a chance with a decent tool. On the other hand, I still wasn't expecting it to be so bad as it was - had it not been for the desire to practice I would have taken it back as not-fit-for-purpose!

That said, it didn't occur to me in the least to look around eBay for second-hand decent-brand planes, and I have no idea why! I've now got a watch on a couple of Records, I'll look forward to giving one a go...
 

Corneel

Established Member
Joined
19 May 2010
Messages
1,520
Reaction score
0
Location
The Netherlands
Apart from the quality of the plane, you should also look at the quality of the wood. For learning an easy wood helps to get some initial succes. Spruce is very tearprone around the knots. I've always had lots of pleasure with good quality pine. Oak isn't too bad, as long as it isn't full of knots with the squirily grain around it. Alder is very nice wood to work with. Airdried stuff, around 10-12% or so is also a lot nicer to plane then killn dried and very dry wood. Avoid anything tropical for now.

You should also learn that a plane doesn't give flat wood automatically. It's not a machine. Check where the wood is high and remove that. Use winding sticks. wobble the plank on your (flat) bench to see where you need to remove more. Most people create convex planks first, taking of way too much at the end of their stroke.

Maybe you can convert your silverline into a roughing tool? Put a fat camber on the blade, 8-10" radius or so. Use it across the grain to get at the worst uneveness, before you use your smoother.

I think you will be looking for a jointer plane sooner then later. Here it pays to go for a decend brand, because I have seen too many Stanley #7's with very concave soles. I have a Stanley #7 now with a very flat sole, so they do exist.
 

Fromey

Established Member
Joined
22 Sep 2010
Messages
570
Reaction score
0
Location
Frome, Somerset, UK
+1 for buying an old second-hand plane. I cut my teeth on a 1950's No. 5 after my only experience being a Faithful No. 4 (probably as bad as a Silverline).

Here is a good compilation of UK second-hand tool sellers. You might find one local so you can visit and look at the planes first hand.

http://www.cornishworkshop.co.uk/tooldealers.html

By the way, pine (or what passes as pine in B&Q and such places) is a complete pain to plane unless you are well fettled and sharp. Not a good wood to practice on.
 

Fat ferret

Established Member
Joined
14 Jun 2011
Messages
320
Reaction score
0
Location
Dumfries and Galloway.
I used a silverline no 4 at college and it wasn't actually that bad :shock: . Ok it was but with a sharp blade it would cut fairly well. Are you sure your blade is sharp? Maybe your blade is set too deep.
 

JakeS

Established Member
Joined
25 Oct 2011
Messages
947
Reaction score
0
Location
Grantham
Yes, I'm sure it's as sharp as it's going to be (I managed to cut myself with it with an accidental gentle pass over the palm while set too deep) and the blade is set at a reasonable depth (if I wind it in much more, it doesn't cut at all). The oak I'm mostly testing out on is an offcut from some nice straight-grained knot-free boards.

Corneel":2l5813q4 said:
Aha, so your pine is just like our spruce. But finding good wood in such places is a pain anyway.
I don't even know if the stuff they sell in big DIY shops is even pine at all, to be honest. I'm sure it used to say 'pine', but our local B&Q and Wickes have both got sections labelled "Softwood" or "Redwood" or something now. It's certainly rubbish, that much is for sure. I find it useful for sticking between clamp faces and workpieces, for standing things on while they're being painted or stained, and if I'm careful about which bit I use, providing temporary fences to rout along... and that's about it.

(The only pine I've tried planing was some decent-quality stuff from a local independent supplier, and the difference between that and the stuff from B&Q is like night and day. But mostly I've been sticking to the oak.)

Anyway - thanks for all the advice - I'm looking out for a decent-looking second-hand Record at the moment, hopefully I'll appreciate the difference. ;-)
 

jimi43

Established Member
Joined
12 Mar 2009
Messages
6,921
Reaction score
0
Location
Kent - the Garden of England
One of the nicest Bailey style planes I own is an old No.4c (corrugated sole) bought at a local bootfair in the summer for £2



These old babies are really beautifully made...generally flatter in sole and square in sides...because that's how they made them way back then.

It needed no sole fettling and just an iron regrind and hone.



They have this old frog style....



...which is acres of support compared with newer models...

...and it whizzes though wood with that "whoosh" sound...



...creating lovely smooth surfaces...



...clean even and thin...(when needed!)



I am not allowed to talk about the shavings being gossamer thin...floating through the air like snowflakes on Mount Fuji with delicate, silk-like texture of the finest denier stockings....................................................................

So I won't.....but the surface of the wood is like the skin of an 18 year old Bridget Bardot.....

OK OK...enough! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

It shaves wood well....so you can get a bargain both at bootfairs...or on FleaBay where they appear quite often...just keep your eyes open and your bidding finger on hair-trigger mode!

UPDATE

This is a fairly old one but I can't quite see the iron which looks like a replacement...

CLICKITY CLICK

But for a tenner it's worth a punt!

Cheers!

Jim
 

Corneel

Established Member
Joined
19 May 2010
Messages
1,520
Reaction score
0
Location
The Netherlands
Yeah, my #7 is also very old. Low knob, 3 patent dates and all that. It came very flat indeed. And it is somewhat lighter then the post war ones. I like lighter planes. And somehow it looks a lot nicer, simpler, better made then my other Stanleys, made in the UK.
 

Crooked Tree

Established Member
Joined
29 Nov 2009
Messages
114
Reaction score
0
Location
Wiltshire
I have said this somewhere before, but my 2p worth of advice:

Get a No 5 plane (short enough to be weildy, long enough for straightening reasonably sized edges), Stanley or Record. A No 4 will do if you prefer a smaller and lighter plane.
Make sure that the "Y" lever that advances the blade is cast iron, not pressed steel (you have already found this, by the sound of it).
2nd hand from a 2nd hand tool shop or the interweb or similar is probably the way unless you want to pay out for a nice new plane.
Many (most?) planing difficulties can be fixed by sharpening the blade.
Hone the front edge of the chip breaker if shavings jam between it and the blade.
 

Latest posts

Top