Best Value Hand Planes?

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I think I want a Jack plane so i can use it to flatten the surface and to joint the edges. Doing those thing with my block plane is very frustrating.

Holy cow! I would say so. Trying to flatten a board with a block plane would be darn near impossible (unless you're Shannon...).

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I bought a Wood River block plane (not low angle), and the ramp where the bade sits was not level. No matter how i adjusted the blade, the left side of the blade cut lower than the right. I spent some time with a file and some sandpaper and go it level. Now the only problem I have with it is that the lever cap that holds the blade will pop open if I don't hold it just right. This requires resetting the blade, trying to adjust it back to where it is. This may be unique to this particular model, but I wouldn't recommend this plane.

Not just the Wood River. I've got a new Stanley Sweetheart block plane that has this same issue.

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franklinpug and eric1978 seem to be talking kind of "over the top" of this topic, and I think it could be misleading.

The pre-war Stanley planes being talked about here are not "low quality"; In fact, as someone else noted, with a little work and possibly a new blade they are nearly as good as the best non-collector planes out there (yeah, I know $5,000 in-fill planes exist, but for non-fetishists, ya gotta say Lie Nielsen is highest quality).

I'd argue against the Groz and Harbor Freight models - they aren't as good quality as pre-war Stanleys and they won't teach you how to sharpen any better.

Realistically, the most important thing to learn for handwork is sharpening. Read the blog at, read shannon's stuff, Spagnolo has some info as well.

An unsharp LN plane is worse than a perfectly tuned old Stanley - heck, it may even be worse than a Harbor Freight boat anchor!

Learn to tune and sharpen your hand tools; you'll be happier and more productive.

One add-on - the Wood River planes are not too shabby if you "must buy new" - but the set of three is nearly $370 bucks. Still need to be sharpened though.


Edited by morganew
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Thanks Morganew. I actually decided to invest in a good sharpening system before I spent a bunch of money on a plane. I ordered a couple DMT plates, one large extra course Dia-Sharp for flattening, and one fine/extra fine combo stone. I also picked up a King 1000/6000 grit combo waterstone.

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I have this plane and I do not care for it at all. I find the blade incredible difficult to adjust. My $9 thirft store Stanley blows this one out of the water.

You'll never really beat the bang for your buck with an old Stanley even if you need to recondition it. My daily users are all reconditioned Stanleys, newest is the black lacquered ones that date from about 1946. Even replacing the iron and cap with hock ones, I still don't think I could get the same results with a new plane at that cost.

You can get cheap planes to work, but they take a lot of truing and setup. I've gotten gossamer shavings with a POS Buck Brothers from one of the big box stores, even though the lateral adjuster snapped off the first time I tried it. That said it still wasn't worth using repeatedly :).

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Well I went to the antique mall today and I actually found some planes that were in surprisingly good condition. I thought that the planes I would find would be in a lot worse shape.

I got a Sargent No. 414 Jack Plane for $19 and a Stanley No. 4 for $32.50.

The adjustment mechanisms are free and smooth on both planes. They have little rust on the bodies but some surface rust on the blades and chip breakers. The blades look to be in good shape (I might upgrade them eventually) and the frogs seem nice and flat. The handle is a little loose on the Stanley but that should be an easy fix.

The first 2 pictures are of both of the planes (The Sargent is on the left, if you can't tell :))

This is the sole of the Sargent No. 414

This is the sole of the Stanley No. 4

I think I did pretty good. Let me know what you guys think

Thanks - RJ

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They also had a Stanley 45 there that looked to be in good shape for $30 but I don't "need" it and don't know if I would really use it but I can't stop thinking about it!!! I'm not sure what they normally go or if it would worth my time to refurbish it and sell it.

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I'm addicted to tools in general. Hand tools are just the only thing I can afford. I could spend that money at Harbor Freight on power tools but that would just frustrate me. Even if I could afford all the power tools I wanted, there would still be a need for hand planes.

But yes, I am a hand tool addiction and no I will not get help.

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