How to use hand planes is a bit of a dying art form, which is a pity as this skill in many aspects embodies the pure spirit of woodworking. Fortunately for us, there are woodworkers which have taken upon themselves to keep the skill alive and is willing to teach us how to use hand planes.
How to use hand planes – Homestead Heritage School
I am not going to pretend that I am the world’s authority on how to use hand planes. So I have to refer this topic to someone who knows a lot more about how to use hand planes than me. At the Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking, they do an awesome job of passing the skills on to a new generation. Frank Strazza is an authority on how to use hand planes and though his connection at the Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking he has made a video covering the different types of hand planes, how to set up a hand plane, and how to use a hand plane.
How to use hand planes – Homestead Heritage School of Woodworking
Types of Hand Planers
Hand Planes are grouped into 5 categories, each category has got a different function. The different sizes range from a number 1 to a number 8 of which the number 1 is the smallest and the number 8 is the biggest. The numbering system predominantly refers to the length of the hand plane
- A bevel-down smoothing plane.
- A bevel-up smoothing plane.
- A bevel down jack plane.
- A bevel-up jack plane.
- A jointer plane.
Difference between a bevel-down and a bevel-up hand plane
There is a lot of discussions about what is best a bevel-up or a bevel-down hand plane. In short, the wood is not going see much of a difference. What is more important is which one of the two options is going to the more comfortable for you.
Difference between a bevel-up and a bevel-down hand plane
Smoothing Hand Planes
Two types of smoothing hand planes are available.
- bevel-down smoothing planes (high angle plane)
- bevel-up smoothing plane (low angle plane)
Standard smoothing planes have their plane iron roughly at an angle of 45 degrees while a bevel-up smoothing planes plane iron angle is much lower at approximately 12 degrees.
Smoothing hand planes are the smallest of all the hand planes and range from 5″ to 10″ in length.
Smoothing planes are predominantly used for finishing work and is typically the last plane to touch the wood. Due to the small size of the planer, it tends to follow any unevenness of the wood and is thus not really suited to level out large surfaces.
Jack Hand Planes
Two types of Jack hand planes are available.
- bevel-down Jack planes (high angle plane)
- bevel-up Jack plane (low angle plane)
Similar to the smoothing planes jack planes have their plane iron roughly at an angle of 45 degrees while a bevel-up smoothing planes plane iron angle is much lower at approximately 12 degrees.
Jack planes have a sole that ranges from 14″ to 20″ long. The traditional job of the lack plane is to remove material quickly. By virtue of its longish sole it also tends to level the wood to some degree. The jack plane is typically the first hand plane to touch the wood to get it to rough size.
Jack hand planes are the allrounder of hand planes and can be used for both smoothing and leveling. In future updates of how to use hand planes we will have a special addition to jack hand planes.
Jointer Hand Plane
Jointer planes have a sole that ranges from 22″ up to 30″. The primary job of jointer planes is to level the wood, a task it does well at by virtue of its long sole. The jointer hand plane is used after the jack plane but before the smoothing plane.
This, how to use hand planes post is introductory on the how to use hand planes series which will follow-up more informative information post.