Hand Planer


King of Splices
Mar 30, 2005
Snowless California
So I bought me a small hand plane (aka block plane) a couple weeks ago...


Once you are sliding it along the wood, it is fine to use. But it is a pain in the arse to set up. There is a tightening lever, then a set screw, there is an adjustment on the back so you can angle the cutting edge to one side, then another adjuster to set the depth of the cutting edge.

I just want to use the thing with a straight, flat cutting edge, but it is a pain to get set because I have to have all things set right before you can cut. When you adjust one, it messes with the other adjustments.

Is there a simpler model that I don't know of? The only 2 adjustments that seem needed by me are the cutting depth and ...oh....that's it. Maybe one to tighten and loosen the blade.

What else have you all used?

There's no replacing some basic tools. The planer seems to be one of them. I start "low-and-slow" ... rather make 10 passes, than to have it biting in all the time & frustrating me ! Adjusting the blade is a beeyotch.
Whatcha using it for ? The most I've used it for was planing paint / wood off of a door's edge to get the damn thing to close right.
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  • #3
That's what I was just using it for this morning actually. Getting the cubboard doors to open and close properly.

I occasionally do some woodwork, too. I only have really basic tools and work really slow as a result.

I refuse to believe that this is the best type of plane out there. The design really sucks. Why would you want the cutting blade at an angle, anyways?

I think if you keep playing with it a bit Nick you'll get it set up right. I would venture that that design has stood the test of time, I have a few handplanes.

Of course that could be the reason for powered planers now though :D
I have the powered model, used it a bunch for a few years now and never changed or sharpened the blade, and it still works great. If you do a fair amount of wood working, that's the way to go.
Block planes have there uses, but are a little more of a pain to set up than a bench plane. You basically have two adjustments, depth of cut, and the angle thing. The depth is self expanatory, just set it so it takes a very thin shaving, and doesn't want to dig, as TC3 said. The just eye-ball the angle, if it digs in too much on one side, you can shift it over a bit. Depending on what you are up to, a curved cutting edge is handy, but can be almost negligable on such a low angle plane. Is it a 9 1/2, or a 60 1/2 model? My 9 1/2 has an adjustable mouth as well. I have played around with my bench planes, and have gotten cuts around .001". A well tuned bench plane will rival a power plane in quality of finish.

Ok, I tell you the secret. Turn the plane upside down and site along the base plate with one eye. Lower the blade until it's completely up and you can't see it, then slowly raise it up until it just pokes out. Looking at it from this angle you'll be able to tell if its level too.:P
If one edge is cutting deeper than the other, tap the side of the plane that is shallower with a mallet. Along the same lines, tapping the back of the plane will raise the blade slightly, while tapping the front will lower it slighty.

This used to work very well with older wooden planes, but still works a little with the newer planes with screw and lever adjustments like yours because of the small amount of slop in the adjusting screws.

Also, one big problem with the newer cast planes (especially ones made in the East) is the manufactures do not season the cast iron bodies. After machining, the panes warp. Chances are the sole of the plane is not flat. Remove the blade and cap, and run the sole over some wet/dry SiC paper on a piece of glass to hone it flat.

Finally, apply a good coat of paste wax to the sole and do a good sharpening on the blade (including flattening and polishing the back).

There's nothing like the feel of a finely tuned plane taking a nice tight curl from a piece of wood.

Have fun!