When it comes to woodworking, it’s pretty much understood by any DIY enthusiast that a block plane is a necessity component of your woodshop tools.
It’s not uncommon for woodworkers to carry one constantly in their woodshop, since they tend to find a dozen different uses for it during the day.
The real question, though, is whether you need a standard block plane or a low angle block plane.
Low Angle Block Plane vs Standard Angle Differences
On both versions, you typically have a finely ground bevel of 25 degrees for the blade.
The main difference is in the bed angle.
In the standard block plane, you normally have a 20-degree bed angle giving you a 45-degree cutting angle.
With the low angle block plane, you have the blade bedded at a 12-degree angle. That gives you an effective cutting angle of 37 degrees. The blade is also installed bevel up.
The difference in the angles may seem small, but this makes the two planes significantly different from each other.
Both types of block planes can be used for a wide variety of general purpose woodworking tasks. You can work on fitting drawers, chamfers, trimming and fitting moldings, and small smoothing operations.
- You can use the block plane to remove any machine-milling marks so you’ll leave the wood smooth. All you need is a few passes of the block plane to remove the saw marks.
- Some pieces of are too small to true with a jointer, but you can use a block plane for these. Simply clamp the plane in your vise in upside down position and you can even work on pieces that are barely big enough to grasp.
- You can bevel or chamfer edges, and that’s especially true with short or narrow pieces.
- When you’re sawing a tapered part, you may want to cut a bit outside the layout line, and then sand down to it. But you can use a block plane to shave down to the line to give you a better surface and a truer edge.
- You may find cabinet drawers or doors somewhat too wide so that they don’t close smoothly. You won’t have to take down the door to work on it again, as you can just get your block plane and shave off the high spot you’ve marked.
However, some say that the standard block plane will be better choice when the task is to plane boards with changing or difficult grain.
Meanwhile, the low-angle block plane is great if you’re working end grain, like squaring or trimming. That’s because the Hardwood fibers are aligned longitudinally with the length of the board like a bundle of straws.
So if you try to use a plane bedded at a higher angle to remove the ends of the straws, you can expect the blade to dive between the straws towards the work.
But with the 37-degree attack angle from the low angle block plane, the results are better. It attacks the straw from the side. This reduces tearing and you get a cleaner cut.
Do You Need a Low Angle Block Plane for End Grain?
It’s true that the lower cutting angle of the bevel up planes can help. It can make it a bit easier to push through the end grain of some wood types.
However, it is also true that it is not absolutely necessary to get a long angle block plane for end grain.
You can still use the standard angle block plane for the end grain, as long as you make sure that you have a sharp blade for the job.
Ultimately, there’s no hard and fast answer as to which of these tools will work best for you.
Sometimes it’s about which job your planning to use your block plane for, and sometimes it may just about your personal preferences.
If you’re not yet sure which to get, then borrow a standard block plane and a low-angle block friend from your buddies and find out which one suits you best!