For convenience - Click any IMAGE or BLUE text for information or to purchase that item.
They've been around for centuries.
You don't need power, dust extraction or hearing protection.
You even get a free cardio workout when you use one.
"Why do we spend a fortune on jointers, planers, wide belt sanders, dust collectors and electricity?"
"Why do we fill our small wood shops with all that equipment rather than a decent workbench and a selection of bench planes?"
Some woodworkers don't even own a bench plane anymore.
The argument for:
A well tuned jointer plane can flatten a tabletop to less than a thousandth of an inch in minutes.
A razor sharp smoother plane will slice wood fibers so cleanly that you can skip sanding altogether.
Maybe it's time to take another look at the bench plane, what they can do and how they work.
Jack plane, The #5 is typically the plane you pick up first to size the surface, A great all rounder, It'll remove saw marks and scrub off high spots for other planes to perfect.
Fore Plane. The #6 is built to refine the surface left by the #5. Slightly longer than the #5, the #6 will bridge finer high spots to work towards an extremely flat surface.
Jointer plane. The #7 will give you a perfectly flat surface and allow you to joint (dimension) wood for precise 90° sides, (Especially valuable when used with a shooting board).
Smoothing plane. After other planes have flattened the surface, the #4 will take fine shavings with a super sharp blade to leave you with a glass smooth, finished surface you don't need to sand.
Components of a hand plane
BED - The bed is the inside of the body that everything attaches to. The top part of the body.
Blade - Otherwise referred to as the 'Iron' or 'Cutter'.
It's the cutting part of your plane, the part you sharpen. Flat on one face and beveled (usually 25°) on the other. Today, it's common to cut a secondary bevel 1° to 5° to the primary bevel. It ads strength to the sharp edge and will reduce sharpening time.
On most hand planes, the bevel is under the blade whilst on a low angle block plane it is above.
Body - The body is the main part of your plane, the piece that everything attaches to.
It gives the plane mass which makes it easy to run across the surface of your workpiece.
Cap Iron - The cap iron (AKA Chipbreaker) sits above and flat against the blade.
It ads rigidity to the blade and stops chatter as it cuts.
It also reduces the Mouth opening through which wood shavings pass.
It's called a Chip breaker because it forces wood shavings to 'break' as they move above the plane.
Cap iron screw - This is the screw that holds the cap iron (Chip Breaker) to the blade.
There's a slight gap between the blade and the cap iron so it applies force about 1/16" behind the cutting edge.
Its holds the Cap Iron to the blade without crushing the two components together.
Cheeks - The cheeks are the curved side wings of the plane body. They let you joint stock by providing a perfect 90° angle between the cheek and the blade as it cuts.
The Lateral Adjustment Lever can adjust the blades angle of attack if the Cheeks are not square to the sole.
Depth Adjustment Nut - This is the large knurled knob at the back of the plane under the blade and chip breaker.
Turning it clockwise will deepen the cut and vice versa. If the Lever Cap Screw is too tight though the Depth Adjustment will be aswell.
Frog - Nobody seems to know where the name came from but the frog is the part that the blade sits on.
It sets the angle of the blade and allows you to move the blade forward and back in the mouth. On some planes, you can buy a frog with a different angle. Standard is 45° (Common pitch). Manufacturers like Lie Nielsen offer higher angles.
50° (York pitch) and 55° (Middle pitch) frogs produce better results with complex grain woods.
Frog Adjuster Screw - Behind the frog, under the Depth Adjustment Nut.
It allows you to move the frog forward for thin shavings and backwards for larger shavings.
Frog Adjuster Tab - This little A shaped tab rests over the frog adjuster screw.
It applies pressure to move the frog as you adjust the screw.
Frog Adjuster Tab Screw - Locks the Frog Adjuster Tab in place on the back of the Frog.
Frog Hold Down Pins - On bedrock planes, they are a smooth (non-threaded) pins used to locate the frog to the bed of the plane.
Frog Locking screws - On Bailey style planes. They are screws with washers used to lock the frog to the bed of the plane
Heel - The back half of the plane's body, like the heal of your foot.
Knob - This is the name given to the rosewood knob at the front of the plane. On block planes this brass knob is little more than a comfortable place for your thumb.
Knob bolt - The bolt that attaches the knob to a typical bench plane.
Lateral Adjustment Lever - This is the lever behind the blade. It alters the angle of the blade to the wood. If the blade is cutting a little deep to the right, you'd push the lever to the right to correct it and vice versa.
Lever Cap - This is the metal plate that holds the Iron (blade) and Cap Iron (Chip Breaker) assembly to the frog. It is important and must be right. Too tight and lateral adjustment of the blade will be stiff to impossible.
If it's loose, the blade will move during a cut and you won't be able to alter depth of cut.
It should be tight enough to still be able to alter the depth of cut with the Depth Adjustment Nut.
Lever Cap Screw - The screw used to tighten or loosen the lever cap to the chipbreaker, blade and frog assembly.
Locking Screws - On bedrock style planes, these locking screws lock the frog in position. Hold Down Pins locate the Frog and Locking Screws lock its position.
Mouth - Otherwise referred to at a throat, the mouth is the hole through which the blade protrudes.
Sole - The sole is the flat underside of the plane. Varying in length and width depending on the model. It acts as the reference surface to dictate the flatness of the workpiece.
Threaded Adjuster Rod - This is the threaded hole that the Depth Adjustment Nut screws into.
Throat - The top side of the mouth. Some manufacturers call it a mouth below the plane and a throat above.
Toe - As opposed to the Heel, the Toe is the front section of the plane body.
Tote - This is the traditional name given to the rear handle that you use to push the plane forward. Made of rosewood and secured with a Tote Bolt that runs through the center from top to Bed. On larger planes there's a Tote Screw at the front for extra support.
Tote Bolt - The long bolt that passes through the Tote to secure it to the Bed.
Tote Nut - Made of brass, these are nut's that lock the Tote and Knob to the bolts that run through them. They also add a decorative accent to the plane.
Tote Screw - A screw used to secure the front of the Tote (handle) on larger planes to the Bed.
Yoke - A small component often described as a wishbone shape. It cantilevers on a pivot between the Depth Adjustment Nut and the Blade. It adjusts the blade via the Depth Adjustment Nut and sits right above it.
Disclosure - We provide shopping links to every product we write about so you can buy without needing to search for them yourself. The fringe benefit is that we get paid if you do. We only link to trusted vendors like Amazon and you DO NOT pay more for the privilege.
That's how we keep the lights on around here... Sometimes...