If you have a wood shop for your DIY projects, you will most likely have hand planes such as a block plane and a bench plane among your tools.
You may need a hand plane for various projects, such as when your projects involve wooden parts that have to fit precisely.
Such projects can include working with trim, doors, and cabinets.
Hand planes work very well for these projects because they can make surfaces smooth, take out tiny amounts of material at a time, and clean up the areas that have been cut by other tools that aren’t as precise.
It’s even common to use hand planes and you find that you don’t even need to sand afterwards.
In addition, hand planes are certainly much quieter than power tools. There’s no need to worry about your eardrums, and you won’t get into fights with irate neighbors and housemates.
Block planes and bench planes are the 2 major types of hand planes. Here are the similarities and differences between the two:
Block Plane vs Bench Plane: Major Differences
You can quickly tell which is which by noting the direction the bevel faces. On a block plane, the bevel always faces up. On a bench plane, the bevel faces down.
A block plane is only 6 to 7 inches long. On a standard-angle block plane, the blade is set at 20 degrees. On a low-angle block plane is set at 12 degrees, as this is more suitable for adjusting miters and cutting end grain.
Bench planes come in different sizes, with more specific names depending on the size. These sizes are denoted by a traditional numbering system that has been in use since the 1800s.
A no. 4 or a no. 4½ bench plane is called a smoothing plane, while a no. 5 or a no. 5¼ bench plane is a jack plane. This jack plane is 14 inches long.
A no. 7 or a no. 8 plane is also known as a jointer. The no. 8 jointer is 24 inches long.
Using the Block Plane
The smaller block plane is designed for use with just one hand. It’s also small enough to fit inside your tool pouch. You can use these small planes for tasks such as smoothing straight and curved edges and cleaning up saw cuts. Other uses include trimming miters and leveling corner joints, along with cutting end grain and chamfering.
With the lower angle of the block plane, you get reduced chatter (stuttering or skipping movement) so you don’t need a chip breaker. The blade is set with the bevel facing up, so the blade angle is effectively greater and the blade itself directs the shavings away. The downside is that you have a greater risk of tearout.
The term “block plane” may also be used specifically for the small tools that you use for chamfering or trimming end grain such as for dovetails. Another type is called a shoulder plane, which works well for fine-tuning joints. The shoulder plane blade runs across the full width of the body, so you’re better able to get into the corners like rabbets and tendons.
There’s a new type of block plane now, and it has the iron of a block plane with the body of a bench plane. You use it with a shooting board to shoot end grain, to make it square to the long grain.
Using the Bench Plane
You need 2 hands to use the bigger bench plane, with one hand in front to hold a knob while the hand in the back grips the handle known as the tote. The blades have a 45-degree angle with the bevel facing down. There’s a chip breaker on top to direct the direct the wood shavings up and away and to reduce the chatter.
You can use the jointers to trim an entry door or a large cabinet door. With the long sole that lets them create a flat surface over a long area, your jointers can get the task done very quickly and evenly too.
However, you do need to deal with the large size, and these things aren’t all that cheap either.