Block Planes, a Woodshop Necessity

My well use Lie-Nielsen #60 1/2 and #9 1/2

In the latest issue of Fine Woodworking magazine, (Oct. 2012 #228) there is a very good article about block planes. Actually it is a tool test. As might be expected the higher priced tools proved to be the best in this test. This is a very good article on a tool that I consider a necessity and I highly recommend you read it.

As an old tool dealer you might expect me to recommend a vintage Stanley or some other vintage tool but you would be wrong. I started with a Stanley #9 1/2 and after working with this plane for over a year I went out and bought a new Lie-Nielsen #9 1/2 and it far out performed my vintage Stanley right out of the box. And after honing the edge to 8000 grit the tool’s performance, compared to my vintage Stanley #9 1/2, was absolutely amazing.

Here you can see the difference in the bedding angles of the 60 1/2 and the 9 1/2.

If you are new to hand tools, or contemplating the purchase of your first hand plane my recommendation is to buy a top quality block plane. My experience has taught me that you really need two block planes, a standard angle and a low angle. However, if your woodworking budget won’t allow for the purchase of two planes you should start with the low angle plane. The low angle block plane will do most anything that the standard angle will do, plus it handles endgrain situations better than the standard angle plane. There are some situations that are handled best by a standard angle plane so you should make a budget allowance for one as soon a possible.

If you buy either the Veritas low angle block plane or the Lie-Nielsn 60 1/2 low angle block plane you will not be disappointed. These planes are on the expensive side, but they are an excellent value. Once you have a good block plane you will soon wonder how you ever got by without one. You will be surprised at the uses you find for it.

As always thank you for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment. Now go build something


Professional furniture maker and restorer. Dealer and collector of vintage and antique woodworking tools.
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2 Responses to Block Planes, a Woodshop Necessity

  1. Marilyn says:

    Heh! I was using mine last night. Can’t imagine not having one either.

    • Actually I like having the pair. I often use both on the same operation, like chamfering the edges of a table top, the low angle on the endgrain and the standard angle on the long grain.

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