Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bench Planes

In yesterday's post I published photos of the primary tool storage in the shop. Today I will post photos of some of the most used bench planes.

Because I have and use machines for stock prep, planes above #5 sized get little love in day to day work. The metal #6, #7, and #8 are mostly dust collectors. When there is a need for a plane longer than a #5 I will usually reach for one of the wood stock fore or joiner planes. The woodies are a pleasure to use because of the feel of wood on wood and their light weight. Light weight is a recurring theme in my chose of planes for use.

Here is a photo of a number of my #5 planes:

The three on the left are the most used ones. the right three get little to no use and mostly set in the plane till or on one of the shelfs away from the main workbench. The reason the left three are the users mostly comes down to the weight of the planes. The LN and the Wood River are very heavy, the third plane is a Stanley Bedrock. The Bailey design is a better plane than the Bedrock (YMMV).

The three users have different shaped cutters, one with a straight edge and only a slight relief of the corners. The other two have cambered irons, one with what I call a "jack plane" camber and the other about half way between the jack camber and straight. I find the mid camber very useful for squaring the edges of boards. If I were culling the herd the six planes could be replaced with just one with three cutters with little loss of utility.

The three #5 Bailey's are type 13 or older and are the most used planes in the shop. One is a type 9 with a low knob and is my personal favorite. I can not think of a project one or all of them has not touched.

The smoothers tomorrow.



  1. Interesting you prefer the older Stanley over the Bedrocks and the wooden stock joiners over the heavy metal ones. As i said often on my blogs hand tools are a very personal thing, they must feel good in your hands. Good choices.

    Bob, scratching Rudy ears while typing

    1. Bob,

      As I have said, finding what works takes a lot of frog kissing, no pun intended....maybe. I like simple, the type 9 is as simple as a metal plane can get and yet do everything needed.

      Sam has been a "pill" all day. Of course MsBubba tells me I encourage it. She could be correct :-).


  2. I agree with you about low knobs. I wonder why they went to the higher knob.

    1. Andy,

      Good question. A lot of the changes to the planes over the years were, like most things, driven by marketing. Then the question becomes why did marketing think the high knob would sell. On that I haven't a clue.


  3. Steve D7:02 PM

    Hi Ken,

    I'm knob agnostic but do see merits to the bedrock design. For one, the frog doesn't twist when it's loosened to reset. The frog is guided by machined surfaces on the side. Also, the design was discontinued before the product line was subject to stupid accountant tricks so they are all made to decent quality levels. Some people are irked by the slanted trajectory of the adjustment throwing the set off but once I get a plane dialed in for its use I don't muck with the mouth opening much. I tend to use the cap iron to solve problems. Or grab another plane set with a different personality.

    I would not recommend constant blade swaps to anyone. A used #5 is pretty inexpensive and squaring a board can use 2 or more blades and resetting of the cut and possibly the frog. Then swapping the blade for the next face and so on. I find it much easier to grab an assembled and set plane and get to work, well worth the 25 or 30 dollars that 5's go for. But that's just me.

    Did you have to do anything to get the LN to work with the Veritas blade? The adjuster on mine hangs up in the chip breaker with the thinner blade. I do love the PM-V11 though.

    How's the back recovery?


    1. Steve,

      I'm in the minority on the Bedrocks, that I know.

      Setting mouth opening is one of those marketing ploys that as you know doesn't matter. In fact with a later than type 9 Bailey, if the frog screws are set properly, the frog can be adjusted without removal of the cutter and is easier to do than a Bedrock. Does that make a difference? Not really because, like you, once set why change it.

      Yep you have to do some mods, I can't stand A2 irons nor do I like really thick irons. So as well made as a LN planes is I find them difficult to love because of the sharpening needs of the thick A2 cutters. The best way I've found to adapt a LN plane to the PM-v11 irons is to drimmel or file the cap iron adjustment hole. Crude but it works. Of course after all that fiddling around the plane is still too damn heavy to be enjoyable to use.

      As you can see I'm in no hurry to get down to one #5 :-).

      The back is doing great the Doc tells me I'm not to lift heavy things, I don't tell him I work wood and we are both happy.


  4. Steve D8:30 PM

    I wonder if you could put two Stanley blades in the LN, Gillette style. The first blade raises the shaving and the second blade cuts it off...

    I'm showing my old age - shaving with only 2 blades! Barbaric, I know.