Hand plane recommendation?


I am curious what hand planes you would recommend I purchase. I am looking at lie-nielsen and have heard great things about them. I am trying to use mostly powered tools to straighten and dimension my lumber. I am looking at #40 1/2 scrub plane , cabtmakers scraper #85 , and beading tool. I am not sure what else to purchase. I am trying to make 1 large purchase, but don't want to buy anything that will never be used either. Most of the descriptions of the planes are pretty general, so there's kind of my confusion.             
Thank you 

-Ryan H. 
Horicon, WI 

Mcrae, AR

Our Expert

Although I own a number of hand planes the ones that I use most often are the smooth, block, and shoulder planes. In fact, these three planes should be considered an essential part of a tool kit.

As the name implies smooth planes are used for smoothing the stock after milling it to size. Once I've cut stock to size with my jointer, planer and table saw I use a smooth plane to remove the mill marks. A sharp plane will

create an incredibly smooth surface that can't be improved with sandpaper.But that's not all, I also use my smooth plane for leveling joints and trimming and fitting doors and drawers.

You have a couple of options when shopping for a smooth plane: a traditional bench plane with a 50 degree frog (the bed that supports the cutter) or one of the new bevel-up smooth planes. A bevel-up plane will allow you to
increase the cutting angle to 55 degrees simply by increasing the grind angle. The extra 5 degrees will enable the plane to cut cleanly through difficult grain such as tiger maple.

Next on the list is a block plane. I think of the block plane as a scaled down smooth plane and I use it for many of the same purposes. The shorter length and lighter weight of a block plane makes it perfect for light trimming, chamfering and shaping where a full size smooth plane may be awkward. Look for one with an adjustable mouth.

Shoulder planes are used for trimming and fitting joints such as the shoulders of tenons. Unlike the two previous planes the mouth of a shoulder plane is open on each side. This unique feature is what allows a shoulder plane to trim into corners.

When shopping for planes look for flat soles, thick irons(cutters), and parts that fit well. Don't skimp on quality; a cheap plane is no bargain. Once you gain experience with these three planes you'll have a better idea of the other planes that you may need.

For more on tuning and using hand planes take a look at my book The Complete Illustrated Guide To Using Woodworking Tools. Or consider enrolling in Woodworking Essentials at my school. In this six day class you'll learn to use planes, cut dovetails and construct and fit a drawer. It's a great wayto get started using hand tools.

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