Handplanes I Can’t Live Without
Do better work with these 8 vital tools
Synopsis: Every shop needs handplanes, even those that rely heavily on power tools. There are just some jobs–such as smoothing a surface or fitting a joint perfectly–that you can’t do as well or as quickly with a power tool. With that in mind, Garrett Hack reveals his list of the eight essential handplanes. Learn why no woodworker should be without a No. 4 bench plane, two adjustable block planes, jointer, shoulder plane, smoothing plane, spokeshave, and small router plane.
From Fine Woodworking #195
Every shop—even one that relies heavily on power tools—needs handplanes.
For some tasks, such as smoothing a surface or fitting a joint perfectly, handplanes fine-tune work that was begun on a machine. In other instances, they handle jobs that machines can’t do as quickly or nimbly. Handplanes are quiet, safe, and clean. They encourage working at a slower pace that is less prone to mistakes. And did I mention enjoyment? The swish of a plane across a surface and the smell of fresh shavings are reason enough to pick up a handplane.
To reap these rewards, though, you first have to spend some effort in learning to handle the tools and, most importantly, in learning to keep them sharp. A good guide for sharpening plane irons and other hand tools is David Charlesworth’s “A User’s Guide to Waterstones” (FWW #169, pp. 30-35).
The planes on this list are tools that I use day after day. Most do a variety of things very well; a few are the best tools for specialized tasks. I’ve listed them in rough order of importance.
Bench Plane If you have just one plane in your shop, make sure it’s a No. 4 bench plane. I use mine all the time to flatten and smooth surfaces or…