New planes out of the box, tuned up and tested-a look at the spectrum of smoothers, from $27 to $3,800
Synopsis: Garrett Hack tunes and tests 10 smoothing planes to see how they perform in this extensive review. He cites the best uses for each category of plane, and he lists the weight, length, blade thickness, and manufacture information, along with detailed comments for each plane. The ones he evaluated represent various constructions, functions, and cost, and fall into three categories: wooden, metal, and combination. He tested them on softwood and hardwood, and on calm grain and “ornery” grain The best planes, he says, have plenty of mass; wide, thick irons; short, thick bodies; and tight throat openings.
A Stanley No. 604 Bedrock smoothing plane—vintage 1910—is always on my bench. The plane is a handy size for smoothing a board, shooting the edge of a drawer, cutting a tapered leg and many of the other daily planing tasks. I have other old smoothers, Norrises and Spiers, heavy planes I keep tuned…