Four Planes That Earn Their Keep
These quiet hand tools belong in any power workshop
Synopsis: Among all the machines, tools, and jigs in Sven Hanson’s shop, four planes — a smooth plane, jack plane, low-angle block plane, and bullnose plane — are his favorite tools. He talks about Stanley planes, how to set them up and maintain them, and how to integrate them into everyday shop work. He explains what each plane does best and demonstrates five steps to tune a plane. He mentions other types of planes too, but those four take center stage.
After 20 years of mechanizing and jigifying my woodshop, I have to admit that the four planes shown in the photo above are still my most costeffective tools. Not all by themselves, mind you. But they work as part of a complementary system that capitalizes on the efficiency of machinery and power tools to do the bulk work quickly and on the versatility of hand tools, especially planes, to do fine detail work. The four planes that I use regularly—smooth plane, jack plane, low-angle block plane and bullnose plane—also happen to be my favorite tools to use, period.
The Stanley Co. refined the designs of their cast-iron planes back in the late 1800s. Stanley-style planes, which are now made by a number of manufacturers, still deliver the goods in 1995. Sure, they take some time to master, but so do power tools. You have to set up planes properly and maintain them, but investing a little time here will raise your work to a higher level. Even better, planes are quiet and don’t make any dust. The joy of using finely Crafted handplanes, woodworkers’ mainstays since Roman times, just puts the frosting on the cake.
Integrating planes into everyday shop work
For serious stock preparation, I use a tablesaw, a bandsaw, a planer, a jointer and several routers. Then…