Indespensable Tools: The Woodworking Hand Planes

There was a time when hand planes were indispensable tools for any woodworker. Used for smoothing, straightening and shaping just about every single piece of wood in a home. The carpenter of a few years ago, would lug around a bunch of hand planes, each of which was responsible for performing a particular function. Nowadays, power tools like jointers, power planes and routers can get work done faster, which has led to obvious replacement of the typical hand planes.

hand planes
Great collection of all kinds of woodworking hand planes

Even though the various types of woodworking hand planes have been dwindling over the years, they have not yet undergone extinction. Most carpenters, no matter how advanced, still keep one or two hand planes with them just in case. There is no better hand held tool, when it comes to cutting a thin slice of wood or shaving an edge, or straightening the corner of a board which may be warped or twisted.

It is good to buy a new tool now and then, but not when it can be heavy on your pocket. A decent new hand plane will usually cost you about 40$ at any local hardware store. If you are not willing to pay that much for a woodworking hand plane, you can always look for used ones. Buying used tools is not as bad as it may seem initially, and you can usually get a really good deal out of it.

The different types of woodworking hand planes have been given below:

Bench Planes

Most bench planes have a length range between 9 to 22 inches but can be more than that as well. The benefit of having a longer plane is that the increased length helps in better straightening an edge. This is because the long body of the woodworking hand plane bridges the rises and dips in the surface of the board.


It is the biggest kind of bench plane and stands at 22 inches or longer. It is the ideal choice for trimming, straightening and squaring the edges of long boards or doors.


This wood working hand plane is used for smoothing and squaring roughened lumber. It is great for and removing twist or warp and truing long boards. It owes its versatility to its size; usuall jack planes are 12 to 17 inches big.


As the name indicates it is used for designing, flattening and smoothing out the surface of a board.  It is  9- to 10-inch-long and is perfect for high spots that need to be leveled off as well as for general planing. If you plan on having just one hand plane, this is definitely the one you should go for.

Block Planes

This a pocket-size woodworking hand plane and is best for trimming relatively smaller areas, but falls a bit short when it comes to straightening boards. Newer models have an adjustable mouth when it comes to shaving really thin slices of wood, in older versions the blade is usually bevel side up. They are of two types: low-angle, having a 12-degree pitch and standard with a 20 degree pitch

Low-Angle Block Plane

This kind of woodworking hand plane is used for severing end grains, particularly because it fits easily in one hand. It is ideal when it comes to fitting shingles and cutting down corners of doors that may have swollen up.

These different types of woodworking hand planes have been listed to help you choose one or two for your toolbox. Regardless, of your level of expertise when it comes to woodworking, it is best to go through the kinds of tools available and choose only the ones you really need.

This video helped me greatly to understand the different kinds of woodworking hand planes:

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