In praise of the humble block plane

In praise of the humble block plane

I seem to remember the boys on the course while I was at Rowden spent many an hour ruminating on the pros and cons of the no.6 and no.7 bench planes. The no.6 fore plane, being a little smaller at about 45cm, was more wieldy, but a no.7 jointer (56cm) plane was bigger, had a longer foot or base, and, well you had to be of a certain stature or strength to be able to control it.

Size, it seemed, mattered.

Personally, I went for a no. 5 ½ jack plane, and at a mere 38cm it was just fine.

It is fair to say that was little if any consensus amongst the students and staff about what was the ideal default bench plane.

Not so with the choice of block plane, pretty much to a man (and woman) we all chose the Lie Neilsen no 60 ½ low angle  (other brands are available!).

It has to be one of the most versatile tools in the armoury, and certainly one of the most used.

Surface planing a small component? Check

End grain finishing? Check

Creating a small edge chamfer? No problem

Getting rid of tear out? For sure

Flushing off a lipping? Why not.

At our workshop it is pretty much a permanent fixture on the bench, and gets used almost daily, which must make it the most used tool in the workshop… after the kettle.

Until next time,




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