C. Non-Urgent Hand Planers (Nice & Helpful to Own)

This list of non-urgent hand planes reflects my experience getting started out. You may find that you need some of these tools earlier on, depending on the projects you decide to build.

Buy Smaller Bench Planes (Stanley No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3)

Stanley Planes: Three Stanley #3 hand planer handles on walnut board with wood shavings

I really like the size of the No. 3 Stanley planes. These stanley planes are smoothing planes (like the Stanley No. 4 hand planes) and this size allows me to get into some tight spots and may not skip over some difficult grain that a larger No. 4 smoother may miss. I’ve got several number 3 Stanley planes.  An adult man can grip the handle with ease (unlike the No. 1 and No. 2 Stanley smoothers). They’re pretty affordable, so give one a try, especially if you don’t have huge hands:

Stanley Hand Planes: 1902 patent date for stanley bailey #3 hand planer

The Stanley No. 1 and No. 2 planes are smaller & lighter planes, and are great for people with small hands, and can be great for working in tight spots. Vintage Stanley No. 1 and No. 2 bench planes are very expensive because they were not manufactured in the large quantities of the other bench planes. Collectors like to “complete” their set of planes, which has caused the prices to shoot up. But the price doesn’t reflect how much you’ll use these planes. Yes, I’d be thrilled to receive a No. 1 or No. 2 Stanley plane as a gift, but I probably wouldn’t use them often…or I’d let my kids use them. If you want to see the absurdly high prices on these planes, then here are some links:

 Buy a Fore Plane (No. 6)

Stanley Bailey No. 6 Fore Plane hand planer on a woodworking workbench with wood shavings

As previously mentioned a “fore plane” hand planer is just the right size for flattening the surface of a board. It’s a strange size between a Jack plane and a Jointer plane. In fact, a Jack Plane is sometimes considered a fore plane. It can also be used as a jointer hand planer. Uh, anyways. If you don’t want to use your jointer plane for flattening boards, then go ahead and find a fore plane (which is shorter than a jointer plane). If all you can find is a Stanley No. 6 plane, then I’m sure it’ll work just fine as a jointer plane, and perhaps a Jack plane. Confused?

Buy a Scrub Plane

Stanley Planes: Four Stanley scrub planes lined up with cambered blade iron showing in front

Scrub planes are very useful for removing a lot of wood very quickly with their highly cambered (arched) iron/blade. Christopher Schwarz has a good article on scrub planes (here). The reason why I am including a scrub hand planer under the Non-urgent section is because you can easily use a jack plane for the same purpose, and all you have to do is buy an additional inexpensive iron (blade) for cambering. But some people still really prefer to have a dedicated scrub plane.

Stanley Planes: Joshua Farnsworth holding a Stanley scrub plane by the handle on a woodworking workbench

Here are a couple scrub planes that are popular among woodworkers:

Buy Hollows & Rounds Planes

Lined up half set of antique wood hollows and rounds hand planes with chalk numbers

Wanna go traditional and create your own moldings from scratch? Hollows and rounds are used to create nearly any moulding profile that you can imagine. I consider this type of wood plane to be a hallmark of the most skilled furniture makers. Several years ago I purchased a half set (18 planes) of even sized Beech Hollows and Rounds moulding planes, with cabinet pitch. You certainly don’t need to purchase a half set to get started. I made a whole blog post dedicated to purchasing hollows and rounds (here) and Bill Anderson and I included a good sized portion to using hollows and rounds in our DVD “Choosing, Refurbishing & Using Moulding Planes with Bill Anderson”. It has become the authoritative source on moulding planes.

In this Woodwright’s Shop video Bill Anderson shows Roy Underhill how to cut beautiful moldings using hollows & rounds:

Video Player: Bill Anderson teaches how to use hollows & rounds molding planes on the Woodwright's Shop with Roy Underhill

Descent vintage half sets can be a little difficult to find out “in the wild” (full sets are even more difficult…but you don’t really need a full set), but you can find a half set if you know where to look. I’ve found that Jim Bode usually has the best selection of hollows & rounds sets, but make sure you read my in-depth guide for finding hollows & rounds before you purchase any.

Other Non-Urgent “Special Purpose” Hand Planers

Stanley Planes: Stanley # 113 Compass Plane or Circular Hand Planer

There are a vast amount of other special-purpose hand planers that I don’t have the time to mention in detail here. I will however compile a list of them below as they come to mind (let me know if you think of some). As you progress in your skill level you’ll encounter projects that require specialty hand planes (or may just make a project easier), and you can conduct further research at that time. Until then, my above fundamental list should give you a great head start!

Woodworker cutting dado joint with an Antique Wood Dado Plane or hand planer

Continue to the Handsaw Buying Guide (#4)…

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