What plane do most serious woodworkers prefer?


When shaping contours with inside corners how do you deal with the rounded surface left behind by the router bit or shaper cutter?


Boise, ID

Our Expert

There are a number of important features that combine to make a quality hand plane; a flat sole and smooth operating adjustments come to mind. However, the most important question to ask is whether the plane will smooth the wood without creating tearout. Anyone who has used a hand plane has experienced tearout and knows how frustrating it can be. Once it's in the surface, tearout requires a lot of tedious scraping and sanding to remove. This is why many woodworkers don't use planes, they use sanders instead. That's unfortunate because there are a number of tasks, such as precisely fitting a drawer, that cannot be accomplished without a plane.


In my experience, the most effective method for eliminating the risk of tearout is to use a plane with a high cutting angle, such as fifty to sixty degrees. And the easiest and most effective way to increase the cutting angle is with a bevel-up style plane.

The most commonly available plane for the last one hundred years has been the bevel-down style plane with a forty-five degree cutting angle. The forty-five degree cutting angle is usually too low which is why it often tears the wood, especially when used on dense, figured stock such as curly cherry or tiger maple (in contrast a low cutting angle is highly effective on end-grain). And the bevel-down design does not easily lend itself to changing the cutting angle.

In contrast, the cutting angle of bevel-up planes can easily be changed simply by swapping out the blade with one that has a different bevel angle.That's because the cutting angle of bevel-up planes is the sum of the bevel angle and the bed angle.

I suggest that you take a close look at the Lee Valley/Veritas planes. Lee Valley offers a variety of different planes with innovative designs including block planes, shoulder planes and bevel-up smooth planes.

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