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.
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.
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 to joint and…