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No 5 plane - what is it for?

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Jameshow

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They do double up nicely as extra weight for glued up things ;)
IMG-20211211-WA0010.jpeg

Like this!!!
 

IWW

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About the only topic that engenders more differences of opinion than sharpening is what plane should be used for which purpose! :D

As others have pointed out, with enough patience & pig-headedness you can do just about anything with a #4, but given options, it's not the plane I'd choose for edging a long board or for smoothing a small blemish in the middle of a large table-top. If I was limited to a single plane to take to the proverbial desert island I'd probably opt for a #5 - the "jack of all trades" as I was told as a nipper.

For a very long time the only planes I had was a #5 & a 110 & managed to build some furniture that would still pass my critical standards (& much that wouldn't!). The #5 served for everything from stock preparation through to final smoothing. This was the plane on which I learnt about fettling & sharpening. The block plane didn't get a lot of use, but was handy for one-handed jobs like easing corners etc. (It has been superseded by a couple of my home-builts, but I bought it new with my Christmas money when I was 12 & it's been with me for over 60 years so one of the very few tools I keep out of sentimentality...)

The 5 has been superseded by a 5 1/2 I inherited from my father about 20 years ago. At first I found it a bit cumbersome compared to the 5, but it soon worked its way into my heart & the 5 almost never sees the light of day any more. I've kept it "just in case", but I really must get around to finding new homes for it & a couple of other spare planes that just take up space atm.

Woodworkers come in a wide ranges of sizes & the jobs we do vary over a very wide range, so different people find different sizes of plane the most useful or most comfortable. The 5 falls in the middle of the range of bench planes & many folks find it a good size for a general-purpose plane. Others like myself find the extra heft & width of a #51/2 a bit more to their liking & there are some who find a #6 to be their ideal all-rounder (Alan Peters did).

My advice to all those new or relatively new to woodwork would be to try the sizes of planes that you think would best suit the type of work you wish to do (& your physical fitness!). Give 'em a good run, don't make a decision too quickly because some grow on you over time while others you may like at first but find yourself picking them up less & less often as time goes by &/or your style of work changes. Don't just acquire planes because someone else tells you you must have it, or because you think you have to fill in all the numbers from 1 to 8!

I've been mucking about with wood for over 60 years & my tastes & abilities have changed much during that time, along with the types of projects I tackle. I've settled on 5 or 6 bench planes that I use almost every day I'm in the shed, but even now I'd say only a couple of those are immutable, and the others could easily become more or less redundant. The last couple of years has seen my interests switch strongly to "small stuff", partly just because that's where my fancy has led & partly because I'm getting older & more arthritic & heaving great baulks of wood around isn't as much fun as it used to be. If this trend continues I can easily see a time in the not-so-distant future where my treasured #7, which still gets a fair amount of use, no longer sees the light of day.....
Cheers,
Ian
 

D_W

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I forgot to add a picture of what I was talking about dragging things over planes.

It's useful for planemaking to fit wedges, etc, but also to make pencils.



They're freehand planed into 6 sides (8 is easier, but it's easy to see why 8 sided pencils went away if you make some - one of the corners is always in the middle of a finger wheras with 6, your fingers are all on flats.

Another project to be revisited later as I want to make the leads beyond just making the pencils - there's something about blackwing and other really good pencils in the mix of clay, graphite and wax that I'd love to figure out. Doing so will require firing pencil leads as they're a ceramic more or less, and I don't have a kiln or heat treat oven yet.
 

Cabinetman

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I would like to see that David, always wondered how they were made. And as to planing the flats on a pencil, well you’ve gone up in my estimation ha ha
 

D_W

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(I think this may be one of the reasons to sharpen above a combination stone and then to use the cap iron, as the wood is soft (incense) cedar and there's not much room for forgiveness in surface - they can't be sanded or they won't be crisp, and tearout shows up terribly.

...but "real" pencils are lacquered or painted, mine are just shellacked.

The trick to this process is a little shop made tool that centers the barrel and scrapes the groove, and then the halves are joined together (glued), hand sawed after dry to make a square pencil blank, and then you plane them.

The drafting leads come up short compared to blackwing pencils, though, even though they're good leads.

And I learned since that after you glue them, you have to mix paraffin wax with mineral spirits and then soak the pencils in it so that the mineral spirits distributes the wax throughout the pencil, or they warp a LOT. With the paraffin wax (it doesn't take that much) in them, moisture travel is inhibited and the pencils don't warp too much.

It's fun, but it does take about an hour to make two pencils, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense when they're overall about 20 cents cheaper than a good tombow pencil (the good tombow, mitsubishi uni and blackwing pencils all have lovely leads - the uni and the blackwings are still made in japan - many of the tombows and maybe some of the lower mitsubishi pencils are made in vietnam. There's a great book about this that starts in borrowdale (I think, been a couple of years since this) at the graphite mines and then goes into the making of pencils, but I was making pencils first and then read the book.

Henry David Thorough and someone in germany (faber?) were making pencils at the same time in the graphite shortage era and ultimately ended up coming up with ways to make a full length led out of lower quality graphite.

These days, we can get extremely fine micronized graphite from china, make and fire leads (but I can't do that yet) and then wax them so they write really smoothly (as in, put them in hot wax so the pores are filled with wax in the lead and they're really smooth).

I thought at the time people may be interested in making some pencils as it costs zero to make the little tool and then you just need to have sheets of cedar the thickness of pencils plus a little and you can make one after another. I made a video at the time, but did it before freehanding these as I was excited to be making them, and was using an angle guide on the bottom of a plane which is hard.

I believe Thoreau and others came up with little machines to groove the sheet at once, glue it together and cut them apart later.

(setting the cap iron to plane these without tearout also prevents the plane blade from cutting the tips off of your fingers when you pull the pencils across the planes).

Here's a picture of the little tool made out of junk - there's a hole in front of the scraper nib to let the junk go up and collect - it works well. :
20220112_192614.jpg


20220112_192555.jpg
 

cowtown_eric

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today I was jointing 10' lengths of maple. rather heavy beasts and I had to fine tune the joints, so like Jacob, used the bedrock 606 with a jointer fence to tune them . First time in years for that combination, but it was there!

Block plane is an essential, I prefer the low angle record for he aforementioned tasks. quite essential in my mind. Not just for wwing, but an old catalogue of drywall tools (goldblatt) shows a basic block plane was used to also trim drywall!

I am partial to the 4 1/2, mostly for its weight, but flattening ths 40"x120" top is gonna get me trying everything to do it quicker.

Eric
 

pe2dave

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I felt I was getting top heavy with number 4's, so converted one for 'hogging out' (Paul Sellers term!). 7" radius on blade, works wonders for roughing out, or really rough surface, just to get down to near the mark. IMHO a good use of a spare 4.
 

Jacob

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I felt I was getting top heavy with number 4's, so converted one for 'hogging out' (Paul Sellers term!). 7" radius on blade, works wonders for roughing out, or really rough surface, just to get down to near the mark. IMHO a good use of a spare 4.
7" that's nothing!
The radius on my ECE scrub is about 1" and it works brilliantly with the narrow blade. That'd give you a full semi circular grind on a 2" blade in a #4, which looks impossible to use. But you only need the middle bit of the curve and the cap iron can be set right down to say 5mm from the edge, overlapping the redundant rest of 2" dia curve on your blade, if you see what I mean. :unsure:
Then take a scallop out of the mouth to allow for you 4mm fat shavings and it's as good as the ECE but heavier.
 

Adam W.

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The ECE scrub planes are really nice to use and I prefer them over a larger metal plane with a radiused iron. They give a nice finish too.
 

John on the Wirral

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I'm guessing a no4 is the plane that can do 90% of all woodworking.....

Not too big but not too small, and in days gone by it was the only plane many woodworkers had. Now we have so many more options, planers, p/t, etc.....

But are we any better woodworkers? I doubt it!
I seem to remember that the Stanley Bailey planes were numbered "04" for the smoothing plane,"05" for the jack plane and "06"(I think) for the trying plane.
 

HamsterJam

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Lovely wood work for the plane housing. The No 7 looks massive. Where are the block planes?
Thanks and the block planes which aren’t in the picture, are sat in the bottom of the plane cupboard (it now has doors on it) along with a boxed No4 and rebate plane.
I have a collection of wooden planes too, mostly moulding but my shoulder plane is wooden…..
1642073282364.jpeg
 
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D_W

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I seem to remember that the Stanley Bailey planes were numbered "04" for the smoothing plane,"05" for the jack plane and "06"(I think) for the trying plane.

In the 1895 montgomery ward catalog, stanley's planes are described as:
- 3 - smoother
- 4 - smoother
- 5 - jack
- 6 - fore
- 7 - jointer
- 8 - jointer

Not sure if trying plane was used much with metal planes as they exploded in number here about the same time that work went to factories. Why is debatable, but one would have to guess that they were still used for small cabinet shops, lots on site (a metal plane will rust, but if you store it locked on site, it won't change size or shape seasonally) and maybe they were more popular due to the wage increases brought on by industrializing.
 

D_W

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(a half set of 9 pairs of hollows and rounds with irons was $3.50 in 1895 -about 25% more than the cost of a single metal jointer. )
 

Droogs

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I was taught that a #7 or #8 were try planes the #6 was a fore plane the #5 a jack and the lower numbers smoothers
 
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