Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
For carpentry, the plane is the tool to have in the workshop. Whether it's called a jointer plane, rabbet plane, spokeshave, or a jack plane, its role is to remove material flattening a wooden surface to improve the quality of a wood joint. This tool can take your woodworking from amateur to professional.
- Bench plane
What is a hand plane?
A hand plane is a carpentry tool designed to flatten a piece of wood and reduce its thickness. It removes the wood like a razor, cutting thin strips or chips from the surface of the wood.
The most common plane is composed of a metal or wooden sole in which blades called irons are housed. The irons themselves come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The depth of the iron is adjustable by means of a knob, which makes it possible to remove more or less wood with each passage.
Other hand planes with different designs provide the same service: thinning and evening out a piece of wood.
What are the different types of planes?
A jointer plane is the most common type of plane. A knob adjusts the depth of the iron, which affects the amount of material the tool removes. This type of hand plane is designed for flat surfaces and has a wide iron. There are also half-jointer models that remove thinner width from the work surface.
The bench plane has a wooden sole and is designed to flatten long pieces of wood. It has a wide iron and a large sole.
A rabbet is a plane made of wood or metal with a very narrow iron. It's mainly used for the carving a groove. These planes are the precursors to the router or even a chisel which you might use if you have outstanding dexterity.
Drawknife or Two-Handed Knife
This plane works to remove the bark remaining on the raw wood and lumber. It allows you to work with irregular pieces and to quickly reduce the size or change their shape.
The spokeshave is also designed for irregular pieces of wood, but those of smaller sizes that require finer work. It is used in cabinet and furniture making and sculptures.
Carpenter’s Plane or Scrub Plane
A scrub plane looks like a spatula and is used for finishing to remove a little material that would hinder assembling wood.
Care and choice tips
Sharpening of Irons
In addition to maintenance, prevention is also important to keep in mind when buying or using a plane. The main thing is to think about protecting the iron.
Do not forget to brush your wood clean if it is dirty. The iron of the plane does not do a good job of withstanding small pebbles and dirt.
For the maintenance of plane irons there are two solutions:
The first is to sharpen it via an artificial stone made of silicon carbide and/or anatural sharpening stone.
The second is to acquire additional irons, backups that you can swap in when the one you’re using begins to wear.
To summarize, the plane you use is determined by the work you're doing.
Whether wood or metal, the plane makes it possible to smooth and even out surfaces, sharpen corners, or create grooves in the wood. It is advisable to use planes with metal soles because wear and time have less of an impact.
To level and shave, traditional planes, scrub planes or jointer planes are the best allies of a cabinetmaker.
To cut grooves one chooses a rabbet plane, while the two-handed knife is for the frame and the spokeshave for finishing.
Using a plane on wider surfaces is done with an electric planer.
Other woodworking tools such as pumice, routers etc. make it possible to improve the finish of a piece of wood or to dig a groove.
For DIY enthusiasts interested in knowing how to choose the accessories related to hand planes, follow the advice of our editors and discover their Guides:
- How to choose your circular saw
- How to choose your circular saw blade
- How to choose your hacksaw
- How to choose your sander
- How to choose your wood saw
- How to choose your chainsaw
- How to choose your woodchipper
- How to choose your interior wood paint
- How to choose your sanding sheet and abrasive paper
- How to choose your wooden router
- How to choose your finishing tools
- How to choose your workshop sander
- How to choose your miter saw
- How to choose your band saw
- How to choose your table saw
- How to choose your saw and cutter
- How to choose your hand tools for sawing and decorating wood
- How to choose your wooden combination
And to work safely:
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 187 guides
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!