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Plane Dilemma

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Petey83

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So I've really started to rediscover my love for woodworking beyond house DIY carpentry.

I have a QS LA Jack with the standard 25 degree iron in it. It's been fine on pine for the few tasks I've needed it for but it's not so great as I'm starting to use hard wood again.

Now my original thinking was to buy a No3, not for smoothing but for general planning as I'm working with a lot of smaller bits of timber for the projects in doing and the LA Jack is just to big and cumbersome.

Now I'm wondering if it's worth me also adding a standard no5 plane to the list as the LA Jack qoudo really just be used for dimensioning and the irons in LA planes are a pain to get a decent amount of camber on - especially as I don't own a grinding wheel at present
 

AndyT

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Buy a Bailey style no 5 or 5 1/2 as well. I just checked on eBay at sold listings and it's still possible to get one delivered for under £20, so it's no big risk.

I have a QS bu plane, bought on special offer while everyone else was praising them. It's a good plane and I do use it occasionally, but the standard Bailey style planes really do score in so many ways and I reach for them first. A real design classic.
 

marcros

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I dont see much love on here for a number 3, but I like mine. I dont do a lot of planing, and dont do it often, so take any of my words with a pinch of salt.

I would probably start with a 4. I wouldn't buy new, but get a £30 user Stanley/record etc. if it is still a bit big, get a number 3 at that point. if you find it is a bit short, go for the 5. my thoughts are that the 4 can probably stand in for the 3 or the 5, but the other 2 will struggle to be interchangeable.

I remember somebody on here saying that when you are making small boxes, your number 4 or 5 is your jointer, which goes against the conventional suggestions on plane numbers.
 

marcros

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actually, if a user number 5 is £20, I wouldn't worry too much. buy one and give it a go.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Even if you are using small pieces of wood, there isn't much length between the toe and the iron on planes smaller than a No.5 to help keep your material flat.
 

samhay

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I'm quite fond of a number 3 and use it regularly on small stuff. The reduced weight and width of the iron makes it better suited to small stuff IMO. If you have big hands it will be difficult to hold.
I also have a 4, which is probably a better option for a first smoother. Easier to find at reasonable prices too.
 

Nigel Burden

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I tend to use my Stanley Baily 4 most of all. I sometimes use my Record 51/2 for smoothing on longer pieces, but it can be heavy going if you have a lot to do. It's good on the shooting board though.

Nigel.
 

D_W

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Yes on the stanley 5 - if you're going with a metal plane, and you're not doing big work, it's ideal. If the work is so small that this isn't suitable, you'll be better off preparing a larger piece and then cutting that piece to usable side.

For other small work, don't discount putting the plane in a vise, marking the work, and then moving the work over the plane (no good for flat surfaces, but edges and ends - good).
 

Petey83

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I've just replaced (as in today) the cruddy 6inch Chinese Irwin vice I had on my bench with a proper 9inch Eclipse vice found at a good price so will if that helps but I can't help feel a number 5 will still feel to big - I'm working with off cuts mainly as doing craft type projects and I'm not making "proper furniture".

For example I had a heavily split block of oak that needed squaring before I could sand it and fill the cracks with coloured epoxy. At circa 6-7"x 4-5" it felt clumbsy going at it with the LA Jack. I suspect the blade angle didn't help as it was rough grain in places but a shorter sole would have felt nicer
 

richarddownunder

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Agree that an older #4 is the way to go (unless you want to spend a bit on a new high-quality one). For planing small, thin or fragile pieces (and end grain), I find a low angle block plane very handy as well.

Cheers
Richard
 

Vann

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There was a highly respected carpenter who used a No.7 for everything.

I use my No.4 for most smoothing, but have a No.3 for fine smoothing. I love the feel of the No.3.

Cheers, Vann.
 

D_W

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Petey - given the sizes you're mentioning (5x7 inches -ish - a 4 is probably better.).

Of all the things in the world, though - I'd say that if you get a 4 and a 5 and learn to use them well, you'll find that you use them an awful lot. Even when you chance into bigger work.
 

Bacms

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I have a Lie Nielson 5 1/2 and use it for pretty much everything as it can easily be set up for smoothing and as a jack. I do have a cheap 4 1/2 but I tend to use that for rough stock flattening on a pinch as it I have a bigger opening on the mouth on that one. If I were going to buy again I would only get the 5 1/2. Cheap Stanley and Record planes are fine but you do need to spend some time on them when you get them so if you don't know how to set up one properly I would go with the QS as it takes less effort to get right.
 

richarddownunder

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Petey83":3ofo6d7x said:
I've just replaced (as in today) the cruddy 6inch Chinese Irwin vice I had on my bench with a proper 9inch Eclipse vice found at a good price so will if that helps but I can't help feel a number 5 will still feel to big - I'm working with off cuts mainly as doing craft type projects and I'm not making "proper furniture".

For example I had a heavily split block of oak that needed squaring before I could sand it and fill the cracks with coloured epoxy. At circa 6-7"x 4-5" it felt clumbsy going at it with the LA Jack. I suspect the blade angle didn't help as it was rough grain in places but a shorter sole would have felt nicer
I still wonder if that scale of work is going to be your main focus, then a #4 or smaller would be the best approach. I'd suggest a #4 or #3 would be best for squaring small blocks but a decent block plane would also do the job and is handy for other delicate work. Personally, I'd find using my heavy 51/2 on a 6" block of wood quite challenging, not to mention tiring. Its perfect for flattening bigger boards though.

Cheers
Richard
 

Droogs

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Vann":10tgdrzk said:
There was a highly respected carpenter who used a No.7 for everything.

I use my No.4 for most smoothing, but have a No.3 for fine smoothing. I love the feel of the No.3.

Cheers, Vann.
Aa Custard (OTP) has mentioned in the past, during his apprenticeship at the Barnsley workshop the apprentices were made to use a #7 for everything and once they could then they were allowed to use other planes
 

Woody2Shoes

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Vann":1nbblck8 said:
There was a highly respected carpenter who used a No.7 for everything.

I use my No.4 for most smoothing, but have a No.3 for fine smoothing. I love the feel of the No.3.

Cheers, Vann.
I remember Custard of this forum telling us that at the Edward Barnsley school they're told to use nothing but a no 7 for everything during the early part of their training. I personally find a no3 too small. I use a 5 1/2 for almost everything.
 

profchris

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I make mainly ukuleles, so small work too.

I began with a No 3, but since acquiring a decent No 4 I hardly ever use the No 3. As someone else posted, the toe is a little short to register cleanly on the workpiece.

A No 5 would definitely be a little big for what I do.

I also make a lot of use of a Veritas apron block plane - that and the No 4 are my main planes.
 

AndyT

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Are we collectively inching closer the reason why planes come in different sizes?
And why (although it's possible to make do with just one) a choice is nice to have? :)
 
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