What Hand Planes Do You Need?

As you may have realised by now, there are many different sizes and types of planes available. These all excel at different tasks and it can be hard to know which ones you need and more importantly... Where do I start?

This lessons objectives:

  • The difference between bench planes
  • Which joinery planes are essential
  • What specialist planes are essential
  • What planes are best suited to you

Its a minefield of different and conflicting information out there. So in this video I cut through all that mess and give you a simple guide to finding what works for you.

 

My Tool Recommendations:

Below is a selection of tools that I have personally used and have comprehensive experience with, therefore feel comfortable recommending. The majority of the links below are affiliate links meaning I get a small commsion if you purchase the item after clicking the link. This is at no extra cost to you and helps me continue to provide these videos for free!

Budget Tools - Rider

While these are budget tools by my standard, I recognise they may still be expensive to many. These are the cheapest tools I would purchase that will still work as intended. If they cost anything less than this, there is a high chance you will have to do some work to it in order to get it working.

What makes these tools cheaper than those in the mid-range? In my experience, its the quality control and overall finish of the tools. You are more likely to find a defect in one of these tools that has been missed in manufacturing than you are a mid-range or premium tool. But you will be able to exchange this defected tool for a brand new one providing it's within the return period from the supplier. So don't worry too much about this.

As for the overall finish of the tool, you will find that they lack the refinement and attention to detail compared to mid-range tools. What does this mean in practice? It means that the knurling on the knobs wont be as nicely finished. There may be more backlash in the adjustments compared to higher quality tools. And the handles may not be finished as nicely.

Does any of this affect the function of the tool? Absolutely not. They are purely cosmetic. After sharpening the blade and setting up the plane correctly, these should work straight out the box. If not, return to the supplier immediately for a replacement.

Rider No.5 Jack Plane

A great all rounder plane that works exactly as intended

Rider Shoulder Plane

A lovely little tool that is great for trimming all kinds of joinery

Rider 60 1/2 Block Plane

A handy size for small jobs such as flushing joinery

Mid-Range Tools - Quangsheng / Wood Rider

These are a great stepping stone for someone who wants quality, but cannot justify premium tools. Functionally, they work exactly the same as premium tools. However the trade off will be the mechanisms and adjustments may not be as well finished as the next tier up. But this is purely a cosmetic sacrifice. You will still get great results from these tools.

In addition, these tools are often made in the Far East where manufacturing is cheaper, whereas premium tools are usually made domestically. For me, I like to support local manufacturers as opposed to a factory the other side of the world. But that's just my view.

In this case, Wood River and Quangsheng planes are both great mid-range tools. While I cannot guarantee it, they almost look and feel as if they are made in the same factory.

Quangsheng No.5 Jack Plane

A nicely finished, solid tool for a variety of woodworking tasks.

Quangsheng Shoulder Plane

The grippy surface on the side of this plane is very ergonomic.

Quangsheng 60 1/2 Block Plane

This is the first plane we give to our students at Rycotewood

Premium Tools - Lie-Nielsen / Veritas

Part of the reason I often choose premium tools is because I like knowing that I'm putting money into the pockets of someone who deeply cares about what they do, and not a guy in a suit mass producing poor quality products. I find it hypocritical that some woodworkers get so frustrated that people will not by handmade items from them, yet they will not to do the same for tool manufacturers. Of course this comes down to the income of the craftsman, how often you use the tools, and many other variables. It might be controversial but that's my opinion!

These tools will be well finished, the adjustments will be smooth, and the materials will be of high quality. You will rarely find a fault with this tier of tools as they are often hand finished in the factory. Lie-Nielsen even quality check every single one of their planes before packing it. Check the bottom of the box and you will see a sticker with the initials of the quality controller. That's pretty reliable!

Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane

A rock solid tool with tons of versatility. Exquisitely finished too!

Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane

Extremely versatile and handy. I use mine all the time!

Lie-Nielsen No.60 1/2 Block Plane

A beautifully manufactured tool that I highly recommend.

What Do YOU Recommend?

If you have experience with a brand other than the ones listed above, please don't hesitate to share your experience in the comment section below!

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