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Planes question from an absolute beginner

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Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby eskimoernie » 16 Feb 2016, 19:05

Hi all,

I have been thinking about two things lately to do with woodwork (it now occupies my day-dreams more than i thought it would - is this normal?! :lol: )...one of which is planes. I own none. Zero. Nada. Zilcho. Can the elders of the forum recommend a sensible starting brand / type / style for basic projects. I own an electric one but even I know that's cheating. The numbers are a bit bewildering at times...thanks in advance.

Ray.
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby DaveL » 16 Feb 2016, 19:37

I think if I had to just have one plane from my drawer, I would go for the bevel up Jack. I have the Veritas one but if you look on the Workshop Heaven web site they have a offer on the Quangsheng version of this plane.
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Dave
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby eskimoernie » 16 Feb 2016, 21:25

Ok thanks for that Dave, will take a look now. next project might just have to be a nice little cupboard for the garage to hold said tools / planes. I like where this is going :lol:
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby eskimoernie » 16 Feb 2016, 21:29

I like the look of that one Dave, very much so. Could be a birthday present to myself.
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Mike G » 16 Feb 2016, 22:08

I completely agree with Dave on that. You really only need 2 planes for 99% of woodworking: a Jack plane, and a small block plane.

Whilst many would suggest some of the big name new planes, my tendency is always to look at old kit first. I would suggest keeping an eye out for an old English plane from the mid 20th century, such as a Stanley. So long as it hasn't been badly abused it should clean up nicely (all you have to do is flatten the base and sharpen the blade, clean and lubricate, and you've got a great plane for very little money. My block plane was from a skip.
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Wizard9999 » 17 Feb 2016, 00:48

As a fellow beginner I'd give another vote for the bevel up jack, I invested in the Veritas as soon as the recent 30% price drop happened - though I have also seen a couple on ebay recently. But a very experienced woodworker who suggested that plane to me did make an important point, the blades are pretty chunky, so if you don't have access to something like a Sorby Pro-edge, keeping the blade in good order may well be a balls aching task.

As Mike says beyond that a block plane, mine is a recently refurbished hand-me-down from my father.

Terry.
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby DaveL » 17 Feb 2016, 01:15

I know Mike will say I have too many planes, if I had to pick one block plane it would be my Veritas apron plane. It is another bevel up plane and is great for trimming end grain or taking the sharp edge of a board.

The best way to sharpen the thick irons used in bevel up planes if you don't have a grinder is to use a course diamond stone to quickly remove metal for the primary bevel and then any finer stone, oil, water, scary sharp abrasive sheets for the secondary and micro levels. In many cases you only need to do 5 or 6 rubs on the micro bevel to get the edge back. The secondary bevel will then be re-ground when the micro bevel gets large and the primary when the secondary gets large. You should not need to spend a long time sharpening.
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Rod » 17 Feb 2016, 11:46

I'll echo with what Dave has said and there's certainly no need to invest in a Pro-edge to grind the blade.
I've never nicked any of my blades so never found the need for heavy grinding and most of my sharpening is carried out on diamond stones and scary sharp films.
If you have to remove a lot of metal then a cheap grinder and a Norton wheel with a homemade rest will do the donkey work. (Even though I also own a Tormek - used mainly for turning tools and planer blades).
Back in the late 60's, when I started woodworking which was mainly DIY stuff, I bought a green Bosch electric planer (which I still use for rough stuff and adjusting doors etc) and a new Stanley No 4 and a Record 50C Combination plane.
Over the years I bought LV BU Jack, Jointer, Smoother and Block planes. LN No9 for shooting, a Holtey Smoother, a Veritas Scraper plane, a Chinese and a Japanese woody. Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane.
For a time I became a bit of a collector though all planes got/get used and I have a Spiers Coffin, Norris A1, Norris A4, Mathieson Wooden Jack, Record 043, 044, 078, 405, Stanley 79, Stanley/Record Rebate Planes. And probably a few others I've forgotten about - and I agree far too many!!
I've stopped buying tools now

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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Wizard9999 » 17 Feb 2016, 12:59

Rod wrote:...there's certainly no need to invest in a Pro-edge to grind the blade.

Especially when you have a mate two minutes down the road who has one :eusa-whistle:

Rod wrote:Over the years I bought... a Holtey Smoother...

Think you have mentioned before that you got a good deal on it, but even so :eusa-clap:

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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Woodbloke » 17 Feb 2016, 13:28

Rod wrote:I'll echo with what Dave has said and there's certainly no need to invest in a Pro-edge to grind the blade.
Rod

I have a Pro-Edge and a Tormek T7. The Pro-Edge is rubbish for plane/chisel blades but great for turning tools and vice versa.

The QS planes and Woodriver versions from Peter Sefton (essentially the same planes) are great but the Axminster Rider range will undercut these prices by a considerable margin.

http://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster-ri ... nch-planes

Before the flack starts to fly, agreed, I'm suggesting an Ax brand but they are good and ideal for a newcomer starting out. Read the unbiased and un-doctored reviews on the range - Rob
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby DaveL » 17 Feb 2016, 13:40

Rob,
Are Axminster going to add bevel up planes to the range of Rider planes?
Regards,
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Wizard9999 » 17 Feb 2016, 14:36

DaveL wrote:Rob,
Are Axminster going to add bevel up planes to the range of Rider planes?


Not sure about bevel up, but do remember the Rider range does include what you could reasonably describe as a "shavings down" plane, which I think is unique to their range. Can't find the video on their site any more, but the details are here...

http://knowledge.axminster.co.uk/introd ... r-reversa/

Terry ;)
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Woodbloke » 17 Feb 2016, 14:46

DaveL wrote:Rob,
Are Axminster going to add bevel up planes to the range of Rider planes?

Without giving too much away, I believe one of those bad boys is in the pipe line, as is a 51/2
Wizard9999 wrote:
DaveL wrote:Rob,
Are Axminster going to add bevel up planes to the range of Rider planes?


Not sure about bevel up, but do remember the Rider range does include what you could reasonably describe as a "shavings down" plane, which I think is unique to their range. Can't find the video on their site any more, but the details are here...

http://knowledge.axminster.co.uk/introd ... r-reversa/

Terry ;)

That one was a 'special' :eusa-whistle: Terry and believe it or not, we had customers ringing up asking if they could buy one - Rob
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby StevieB » 17 Feb 2016, 23:16

To add to the discussion and provide a bit more information as per the original question:

The numbers on planes refer to the size - the higher the number the bigger the plane. There are then an additional series of planes for a variety of specific tasks, or difficult timbers. Further, some planes are referred to by the orientation of the blade as well - bevel up or bevel down for example. The numbering system typically goes from 1 (small) to 7 (big - for flattening boards) and just to be confusing each of the numbers also has a name traditionally associated with it. Rather than list them all here, this is a pretty good link explaining things:

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/tools ... nch_planes

Whisper it quietly, but some people have been known to collect planes as well as use them. As you correctly surmise, it is not necessary to have one of each. Some will be better suited to particular tasks than others and some of the functions of the specialist planes might actually be impossible with a standard bench plane.

To get started however, as stated above, a block plane for small work and finishing work will be helpful. A more general purpose plane for larger timbers would typically be a number 4 or 5. Some people recommend a bevel up plane as a general purpose plane - it really depends on what you want to do in terms of work. If you want to use highly figured exotic timbers with gnarly grain then this would suggest a different plane to working in pine, or a plane suitable for shooting. If you can provide more detail on the type of work you propose doing then you you might get some more specific advice.

Also as mentioned above - a plane is only as good as the edge you can put on the blade - the sharper the better. There are a myriad ways to put an edge on a plane blade, some cheap some expensive. Each has their advocates and detractors and the arguments can be fierce! It is really a case of trying a method and seeing if it works for you - none are a magic bullet solution for everyone. Given this, it pays to start with a cheap method (eg scary sharp on wet and dry paper, or the system from Workshop Heaven) and work upwards.

A final word on 'old' versus 'new' planes. There is a belief that 'old' is better. There is also a belief that 'cheap' is a false economy. Cost is always relative. You can get old planes that have non-flat soles and they will work poorly. You can get new planes that are relatively cheap that work well. I do not have much experience of 'old' planes, but buying on e-bay or boot fairs can lead to bargains or can be a pain to fettle. Buying new, most planes will require some fettling. Good (but expensive) makes include Veritas, Lie Nielsen, and if you can still get them, Clifton. The QS range from Workshop Heaven and the Wood River makes are cheaper and almost as good quality and are now pretty much standard for new woodworkers who want a compromise between quality and cost. I cannot comment on the new Axminster planes as I have not tried them. I would not recommend just nipping into B&Q and picking up a Stanley no4 however.

You can put new blades in old planes, and different steels for plane blades also have their supporters and detractors. This is pretty much a 'suck it and see' preference for the individual depending on how long you feel an edge lasts on a specific tool and whether the quality of finish is acceptable.

A well tuned and set-up plane is a joy to use. A poorly sharpened or fettled plane is a pain in the backside and can cause you to give up woodworking altogether!

Steve
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Woodbloke » 18 Feb 2016, 00:03

StevieB wrote: The QS range from Workshop Heaven and the Wood River makes are cheaper and almost as good quality and are now pretty much standard for new woodworkers who want a compromise between quality and cost. I cannot comment on the new Axminster planes as I have not tried them. I would not recommend just nipping into B&Q and picking up a Stanley no4 however.

Steve

An excellent resumé of the situation with ref to a newbie to the game seeking a first plane or planes. I've had a play with all three brands, including the Ax Rider range. All are good and would be a suitable choice, but you'll get more 'bang for your buck' from planes in the Rider range (including blocks). Each and every one is checked and set up individually at AxHQ (I know, because I've watched the guys at work) and any that don't come up to snuff are rejected. The blades are given a cursory sharpen during the QC process, but the eventual owner will certainly have to do some more work (as indicated in the reviews) to get them really sharp. This is:

Image

...the first No4 bronze prototype which was given to me for which I subsequently made a rear handle and front tote in some teak. The article below also gives a little more info about the development of the range.

http://knowledge.axminster.co.uk/rider- ... d-product/

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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby RogerS » 18 Feb 2016, 07:50

I think that one important aspect of choosing a plane is 'How does it feel in the hand'? I know that some planes simply do not feel 'right' and so never get used. With experience, one can make ones own handles shaped for ones own particular preference but that takes time.

So try and get some hands on experience first and see which one suits you best. I'm lucky in that I can toddle down the road to Peter Sefton's and try them out and get expert advice to boot!

And, as others have said, you don't need to break the bank.

I have four 'go-to' planes. A QS, one of a couple of block planes depending on which one happens to be sharp :oops: and my two Lie-Nielsen Skew block planes which are little gems.

Image

I have been known to sharpen them occasionally... :oops:
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Mike G » 18 Feb 2016, 08:57

There is something so very attractive about machined bronze. I think the manufacturers must know that.
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Rod » 18 Feb 2016, 14:33

Just to be clear - are any of the production ones made from bronze and why did you make some new handles - are the originals poor quality and doesn't that just confuse the review?
Nice liking plane though.

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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Mike G » 18 Feb 2016, 14:52

RogerS wrote:...... my two Lie-Nielsen Skew block planes which are little gems.....


I've always been curious about skew planes, Roger. Perhaps you can help. I use my jack plane on the skew almost all the time. Other than on a shooting board, when is it an advantage to have a plane body going straight forward but the blade on the skew, rather than just skewing the whole plane?
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby RogerS » 18 Feb 2016, 15:26

Mike G wrote:
RogerS wrote:...... my two Lie-Nielsen Skew block planes which are little gems.....


I've always been curious about skew planes, Roger. Perhaps you can help. I use my jack plane on the skew almost all the time. Other than on a shooting board, when is it an advantage to have a plane body going straight forward but the blade on the skew, rather than just skewing the whole plane?


Cleaning up a rebate is where I use them most. If you look closely the blade extends right to the side cheek and so you can get right into the rebate. I have two...with complementary angles.
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Woodbloke » 18 Feb 2016, 15:50

Rod wrote:Just to be clear - are any of the production ones made from bronze and why did you make some new handles - are the originals poor quality and doesn't that just confuse the review?
Nice liking plane though.

Rod


Nope, a swift view of the website shows that the bodies on all the Rider bench plane range are made from cast iron. The original handles on the bronze, one off prototype went missing which is why I made some new ones. Handles fitted to the range are made from oiled Indian Rosewood, as stated on the website - Rob
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Dan0741 » 17 Sep 2016, 20:45

I am considering a plane purchase and this is has been a very informative thread. Can anyone help me with one very straightforward(?) question. Some of the planes I have seen on ebay etc have corrugated soles. Is this another element to consider or does it have little/no impact overall?

Dan :D
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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Andyp » 17 Sep 2016, 21:10

There are better folks than I who are more able to answer your question but I would recomend you read what Paul Sellers has to say.

https://paulsellers.com/2012/10/questio ... ted-soles/

Enough there to make your mind up I think.
cheers

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Re: Planes question from an absolute beginner

Postby Rod » 17 Sep 2016, 23:03

I've only got 1 corrugated plane - a 5 ½ that I bought in a rusty condition at a charity event. I've never actually used it as I have much better ones so cannot really comment apart from the fact they were supposed to reduce friction.
A light rub with candle wax or running the plane over an oiled wick will help in this respect.

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