Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I don't know jack...

I have managed to collect so many planes that I am running out of room in my tool chest.  I am chagrined to say that I have the following:
  • Stanley #s 3, 4, 5, 5 1/2, 6, 7, 9 1/4 (block), 10 1/2 (carriage maker's rabbet), 90 (bullnose)
  • Millers Falls #9 (smoother)
  • Veritas low angle smoother, medium and large shoulder, small and large router, skew rabbet, plow, block
By my count, that's 18 planes, which I regard as too many.  Lest I upset any of you, there is nothing wrong with having this many and more, if that is what you want.  I don't.  In my defense, the average cost of these planes, excluding the Veritas ones, is less than $30 and I enjoyed restoring them.  In fact, my count doesn't include half a dozen more that I have restored and then sold or given away.  Some people bring home stray dogs and I brought home stray planes.  Nevertheless, something has to give and it's time to do without some of these.  I have a rule for my closet and workshop that I try very hard to adhere to:  Absent a compelling rationale, if I haven't worn/used it in the last year, I get rid of it.  So, which of these planes fall into this category?  The Stanley #s 5, 6, and 10 1/2.  You may or may not think this strange, but I understand why that is.  Who needs a jack when you have all these planes?  I like the #5 1/2 better.  Who needs a #6 when you have a #7 and a # 5 1/2?  The #10 1/2 is a specialty plane and I haven't had a need for it. 

I have a compelling rationale for keeping the #10 1/2.  My wife found it for me at a garage sale, I only paid a couple of dollars for it, it is in excellent condition, it's a rare plane and I think I may use it sometime.  I can't part with it.  The #s 5 and 6 I can do without.

The next question is, are there any of the remaining planes that I can do without, even though I use them?  Yes.  I don't need three smoothers, I like having one Millers Falls plane, and the Veritas low angle smoother has unique capabilities with the three blades I have for it, so I can do without the Stanley.  I don't need two block planes either.

Before I go on, there is another reason I can do without the Stanley #4.  That's my #3 in the front and the #4 in the back:

My #3 is virtually the same length as my #4, just narrower.  It is a matter of considerable amusement to me to demonstrate this when woodworkers say it isn't so.

I had decided to get rid of my Stanley #s 4,5,6 and 9 1/2, but then I remembered several things.  I have often wished that I had planes to use when I am doing carpentry, but I haven't been willing to use my "good" planes.  I'm taking the #5 out of the tool chest and putting it with the carpentry tools, just as I am doing with a couple of handsaws.  Same for my Stanley block plane.  Second, I don't have a scrub plane.  I think I will set the Stanley #4 up with a heavily cambered blade to serve as a scrub plane, as Paul Sellers recommends.  I will part with the #6.

You may think I didn't accomplish much, as I am only giving up one plane, but I really did.  Two bench planes and a block plane came out of my tool chest, I gained a jack plane and a block plane for carpentry and I will have a scrub plane.  Sometime this winter, I'm going to make myself a nice little carpenter's hand toolbox for two handsaws, two planes . . .  Wait, I have an extra brace and set of bits, I've got an extra Millers Falls hand drill and I've got other extra tools too.  This is great.



  1. Andy you are obviously coming down with a cold or some other malady that is effecting you. I can see getting rid of the 5 1/2 but I would keep the 6 and camber it's blade rather than the #4. I would also keep all the other planes and start looking around for #8. Call me crazy but parting with any of my planes won't be happening with me as long as I am breathing on my own.

    1. Ralph,

      Your comment made me smile. I know very well how you feel, but for some reason, I have an equally strong inclination to have only the tools I actually use. I want my tools to fit in my tool chest.

  2. As a user and not a collector, I feel the same way. I have very tight space and extraneous stuff can't stay. Still, it's tough to give up something that you worked hard to restore. And then there's that feeling in the back of my head: I might be able to use that plane some day ...

  3. Hi Andy,
    Only one of each? You aren't out of control totally. I have no 6 or 5-1/2 but have a 2, some 3's, some 4's, a 604, 2 605's, 3 5's, a 4-1/2, 2 7's, a 607, a Sargent 422, 2 new type stanley blocks, an old stanley block, a M-F block, a 78, Sargent's version of 78, a 10-1/2 and some shoulder planes.

    My workhorse is a cracked 5 with a cambered blade. It takes a beating so I just bought a Veritas blade for it. I wouldn't do a 4 for scrubby work. I use the different sizes depending on the workpieces and task. 2 planes in a size allows tuning or camber differences at the ready without fiddling.

    I had thinned out the herd and couldn't resist building it back up. I will restore a bunch and sell off, then restart the process. In the meantime they compete for my attention with the best matches to my likes being retained and the less favored become available.

    The 10-1/2 is great for large tenons like on workbench legs. Hock and Iles both make replacement blades, but you will use up blade very slowly on this with limited use.

    One comment on cambering a 6: for heavy cuts a wider blade will be a lot of work to push. For softwoods you may be fine but hardwood like ash or maple will be a bear. Shavings off my cambered 5 are only 3/4 or so wide and .01-.015 thick. The camber is roughly 1/16 or 3/32 over a 2" blade.

    It's always fun to work with the planes and pore over the subtle differences in plane type. My preference is the older varieties but only for aesthetics, not performance. They are all good performers in my eye into the 50's


  4. Andy,

    I wish I were as strong as you. In my defense I have stopped buying planes but I can not sell any of them, give 'em away I can do but just can't sell for some reason.

    For a scrub plane get an ECE scrub plane, they are cheap and work better and lighter than any metal plane as a scrub plane. I've almost worn out mine after 40 odd years (you should see the sole) but it still works great.

    I know you are trying to shed tools but.....