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No 5 plane - what is it for?

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IWW

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I think you'll find that was a No.7. ......

Could be, Phil - I was thinking of an article in Fine Woodworking where he made a low table using "twisted" dovetails to join top & legs. It was in the early 80s so I wouldn't trust my memory, but I thought that somewhere in that article, or maybe some other, he was extolling the virtues of the #6 & said it was the only bench plane he really needed. What has stuck firmly in my mind is the picture of him tidying up the ends of the table with a whopper of a plane - one-handed! I remembered it as a #6, but if it was actually a #7 he was using, I'm even more impressed....
:)
Ian
 

hlvd

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4 is cheaper!
The point about 5 and below is that they light enough to use against a vertical edge like a door, or around a table edge, or smaller ones one handed.
5 1/2 or above are getting too hefty and only for horizontal use, unless you are into weight lifting
I like every apprentice started out with the obligatory No4, then a No4 1/2 as a lot of the joiners had them due to their increased weight. I then purchased a No5 1/2 but it was too heavy to carry with all the other tools.
After a few years and knew what I was doing I progressed to a block plane and No5 which I found more useful when hanging doors.
I’m now workshop based so have my four favourites, 60 1/2, No5, No7 and No8 to hand, having not used my No4 for many years, although I’m toying with the idea of giving it another go just to see what all the fuss is all about.
 

JobandKnock

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I like every apprentice started out with the obligatory No4, then a No4 1/2 as a lot of the joiners had them due to their increased weight. I then purchased a No5 1/2 but it was too heavy to carry with all the other tools.
After a few years and knew what I was doing I progressed to a block plane and No5 which I found more useful when hanging doors.
A man after my own heart. I agree that for installation work a block plane and a #5 was the way to go until we got affordable power planers. It was all about weight, bulk and utility - still is, really
 

Droogs

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I seem to remember @custard mentioning that for the first couple of years apprentices at the Barnsley Workshop were only allowed to use a #7 regardless of the job they were doing.
 

paulrbarnard

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The first plane I was given was by my grandfather and a No 5. It's the one I still use the most today.

He was a life time Carpenter and Joiner and I trusted his choice in what was the right first plane. It was my only plane for probably 15 years then I went through a patch of making planes so have a few now.

Despite trusting his woodworking skills explicitly I do remember one time he got me with an apprentice trick, which stuck with me for years. He showed me a rabbit plane and then a badger plane and I asked him what the difference was and he said a badger has a bigger mouth than a rabbit. I remember serving that up during a discussion on badger planes years later to final realise he was pulling my leg.
 
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thikone

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You cannot really flatten or straighten anything with a smoother (for instance number4) without wasting lots and lots of time on it. For all flattening and straightening operations you needd longer planes to achive a tolerable level of work efficiency.
Depending on the sort of work and the lenght of the workpiece different lenghts of planes are suitable for flattening/straightening. In part it is also down to personal preferences.
The basic set of longer planes for such work would for most of us be a number 5 and a number 7.
I would definitely second that!

The right way to look at it is through efficiency or productivity. How many planes, their sizes and settings or tuning thereof - all should allow you to do the job faster, better and less tiring. And not any job, but the one you do or do the most. The rest stems from that.

If by adding #5 it allows you to be more productive - then go for it.
Maybe you like the shape and weight of it and it is comfortable to use and therefore makes you more productive - go for it.
If its look on the shelf makes you come to workshop and do something more often - go for it too.

There are some basic principals on how to be productive.
One of them is "coarse, medium, fine". Useful when hand planes are used to prepare wood to be flat, square and parallel.
To make flat surface it seems to be more efficient for most humans to use eyes, hands, winding sticks and such and then a short (scrub) plane, following by a longer one (try plane), and then by a longest (jointer plane). There can be more stages if it is more productive, or less.
Then the final surface preparation, usually done after all the joins are cut, is easier to do with small plane as flatness is not important so much anymore. The sizes are relative to the size of the work.

If you don't know what projects you are going to do and what sizes of parts will it be and just wonder what for you might need one - then any answer from this thread is a valid answer. We can say that you need one to try it out and see how it feels. Also good for a collection.

I use 5-1/2 as a middle step between scrub plane and jointer plane with big camber on the blade and a bit coarse shavings. That makes my work faster for me, as my medium set #7 that goes after it doesn't have to do as much work. But since I'm going to try to use machines for that this year, I might change it to smoother (or "super smoother" as David Charlesworth calls it). Or I can buy a second #5-1/2 so that I don't have to spend time adjusting it back and forth if I will still prepare some wood without machines. I can also use my beloved Veritas Custom #7 for that as I like it so much and tend to use it for many thing (Alan Peters used #7 very often). A also have 3 sizes of bevel up planes, but they are mostly for looks so far, to "balance out" the tool cabinet as they mirror my Veritas Customs.

Besides, almost everybody here seems to have at least one! (And don't forget about current fashion and get all sizes of bevel ups too.)
 

Dynamite

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I have a 4, 41/2 and a 5. I converted my 4 1/2 into a scrub plane and found so far that the extra weight helps get through the rough really quickly. After scrubbing, i then go to my number 5 and find its great because of the extra length to get things flat. I then go in with my 4 as a final finish smoother. In essence, I actually reckon if i had to choose one that was most versatile, it would be my number 5.

Kind Regards... Rob
 
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