Author Topic: Jointer Planes?  (Read 22563 times)

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Offline Matthew Schenker

  • Posts: 2619
Jointer Planes?
« on: July 25, 2008, 06:41 AM »
Good Morning,
Am I the only one who is constantly looking for a new (better) way to joint?  I hate jointers, but of course there are times when I just have to use one.  If I'm working with 1X material, I use my router table (which I much prefer to the jointer).  I've heard constantly from hand-tool experts that jointing with a hand plane is more doable than it looks, and I have been curious about it for a while.

My small shop is getting crowded for space, so I'd love to ditch the jointer for a hand plane.  I'm ready to give it a try.

So, who joints with a hand plane here?  Is it really easier than it looks?  Share your opinions, insights, and techniques.  Which plane(s) do you like for jointing?

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Offline ktcruickshank

  • Posts: 4
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2008, 10:03 AM »
Mathew - Well, I don't know about how readily I would ditch the jointer, but it really is possible with some practice to get very good results with a hand plane. And a hand plane can do things a stationary power jointer can't.  I put together a quick video that shows tips and tricks on hand plane use including how to use winding sticks, which might help you along the way. I hope you enjoy. Keith Cruickshank (

Offline Jesse Cloud

  • Posts: 1711
  • Festooling at the end of a dirt road in New Mexico
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008, 10:30 AM »
Hey Matthew,
As you can see if you squint at my avatar, I use a jointer plane on large assemblies.  In the pic, I am flattening a 40 x 96 tabletop.  Here's the Lee Valley bevel up jointer I use:,41182,48944

In my opinion, face jointing with a hand plane doesn't require a huge amount of skill, but it is a serious workout.  One of my big challenges is to try not to drip sweat on the workpiece, but I'm in the New Mexico desert.  Edge jointing on the other hand, requires a skilled touch to keep even pressure on the plane for the whole length of the board, and to keep the plane at 90 degrees to the face.  But once you master this skill, its probably easier to edge joint a long board with a hand plane that with a jointer.

The main requirement for a jointer plane is that it is long, typically in the 26-30 inch range.  If you are looking for a used jointer, be wary of the metal ones.  The sole has to be flattened and that means a lot of work to lap the long metal sole.

One thing I'm sure of - its way easier to sharpen and change the blades! :D

Offline Memphis Larry

  • Posts: 63
    • Photo Album of my Work
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2008, 11:48 AM »
We all know the names of the well-known plane manufacturers.  If you would like to try some very well made wooden hand planes, get in touch with Steve Knight at Knight Toolworks.  I have  several of his traditional purpleheart planes, including a Jointer.  Steve also makes some really fancy planes that are pretty to look at.

They work very well, but you have to take time to learn how to work with them.  Setting them to the proper depth of cut has its own learning curve.
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Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 3291
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2008, 01:30 PM »

Edge jointing on the other hand, requires a skilled touch to keep even pressure on the plane for the whole length of the board, and to keep the plane at 90 degrees to the face.  But once you master this skill, its probably easier to edge joint a long board with a hand plane that with a jointer.

The Festool circular saw can take care of the edges, then clean up with a block or smoothing plane.

But, if you only need to take out the wind so the board can be run through the planer there are a bunch of ways to do that, almost any plane, portable power plane, belt sander, etc.

"Am I the only one who is constantly looking for a new (better) way to joint?  I hate jointers,"

Well, the jointer IS the better way to joint. Hand planing/jointing is definitely not the new way but it is the quiet way and is is a nice work of physical labor. Sometimes even fun. Hand planing cedar is the whipped creme of woodworking.

An argument could be made that a "better" way of jointing would be to use a jointing sled for the planer.

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1832
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2008, 01:55 PM »
I love my jointer.  ;D

I do think you can accomplish jointing tasks in other ways, however. Handplanes should never be dismissed, and are still great for judicious removal of high spots and wind before you run some stock over a jointer. This can save a significant amount of thickness for anyone just learning the ways of a jointer. Per's thread on using the HL850 hand power planer is a great resource on how to get what you need out of your work without using a jointer.

I do think a jointer is still a very useful tool. There is a very valid purpose to getting stock flat square and parallel. Before I got my jointer I spent a lot more time getting that first face flat than I spent on the other three surfaces combined. Now it is a piece of cake.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Mike Chrest

  • Posts: 386
  • N.W. New York State
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2008, 11:08 AM »
Hi Matthew,
 I would second Jesse's vote for the Lee Valley bevel up joiner(Lie Nielsen makes a bevel up style too and is probably just as good). One advantage of this style is that you can sharpen the blade at a very steep angle for wavy grain and it will reduce tear out to a minimum. Another advantage is how quickly you can adjust the throat( or clear chips that get jammed >:(). The blade adjustment system is better than most as well (it's a Norris style).
  A good trick for joining two boards edge to edge (say when gluing up a table top) is to clamp the boards face to face in a vise and plane the mating edges at the same time. Any goof in the angle will be complimented in the mating boards.
  Of course the hand plane stuff is more for fun than production. On the job I use the plunge saw & guide rail as a joiner. If you need the edge to show I use the Lee Valley Low Angle Smooth Plane,41182,48944

to take out the saw marks. It is much lighter than the Bevel Up Joiner and set up well you get a better finish than a sander in less time.

  I also have the HL850 and like it a lot. The shavings get sucked right into the vac not flung all over the place like other power planes. The fence (angle unit) is the best part, most power plane fences are a joke. This one actually holds the angle with out deflecting or slipping and is wide enough to keep the plane cutting at the desired angle.

  Mostly I use dimensioned lumber, but if I have to use rough sawn for some special project I take off the high spots with the HL850 then feed it through a portable thickness planer (you can make a sled with shims to serve as a joiner) flip it over, plane the second side, use the plunge saw & rail to true an edge, rip the second edge on the table saw, and Bob's your Uncle ;D

« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 11:26 AM by Mike Chrest »

Offline Loren Woirhaye

  • Posts: 124
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2008, 02:29 PM »

Jointing crooked edges of rough boards entirely by hand is do-able,
but tedious.

First you need to get the edge relatively straight, then refine
it to straight AND square, which is the more skillful part of
the process.

I like to do things quickly, so I snap or draw a line on the board
and bandsaw to it.  Then I have a sort of straight edge.  I'll
clean it up on a powered jointer or use 2 planes to get it sort
of straight - a #4 set for a deep cut with a wide mouth, and
a #5 set for a finer cut.

I lay a 78" level (one of my most used tools) across the edge
to check it for straightness often, taking shavings where

I often finish making the jointed edge with a jack plane,
but I have used a jointer plane sometimes.  If you've done the
first stages well the jointer plane isn't necessary - and metal
jointers are quite heavy and will tire you.

I use a pocket square to check the edges every 6" or so... shaving
the edge back to square, and then checking with the level again
to see if I've carved any hollows while squaring.

You can clamp a board to the side of your plane to help keep
it square - but I prefer to work on refining my balance and
getting a keener and keener sense of what is FLAT, STRAIGHT,

Offline Steve Jones

  • Posts: 405
  • Austin, TX US
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2008, 07:37 PM »
This discussion keeps taking a left turn off towards jointing edges (getting a flat perpendicular edge to join to another board) for everyone who is having problems with the EDGE of a board, there is an excellent product from Festool that will render a board edge flat, straight, perpendicular to the face, and ready for joining quickly and easily. It's called the TS55. (Michael pointed this out earlier, but some of you seem to have missed it)
Steve Jones

AdapTableTool, Inc.

Offline Loren Woirhaye

  • Posts: 124
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2008, 01:58 PM »
I truly wish it did, but in my experience the TS55 doesn't reliably
produce glue-able edges - the deflection of the tool, especially
in thicker hardwoods, tends to make saw marks that have to be
removed.   Because of the tension hidden in many hardwood
boards I prefer to bandsaw and joint because it's not much
slower and I avoid the smell of burnt wood that sometimes comes
when ripping hardwoods with a circular saw.

Handplanes do this work as well as a jointer does, but with both tools
there is something of a "knack" to be acquired.

I owned a Bedrock jointer plane for awhile.  Nice plane, but overkill
really.  The plane weighed almost 10 lbs.  Years ago I made a jointer
plane of Walnut and cherry and it served me well.  I haven't used it
in awhile because the sole went out of true, but making your
own planes is a viable and enjoyable option.

Offline Neill

  • Posts: 889
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2008, 04:15 PM »

This is a bit off topic from what you asked but...

I have the basic 6" Delta Jointer.  Since most of what I do is 48" long I am able to well support the workpiece.  I am pleased with the performance.

The only issue I ever had was that I was running a narrow, long piece through and it popped out from between the fence and red cover / tension plate.  I could not use the push blocks because of the piece being so narrow. (Should have probably used a push stick).

Without thinking, I grabbed it and put it back in place.  The probelm was that my ring and middle fingers contacted the blade before the wood did.  The blades were pretty sharp and I did not feel much pain.  It did clip off the tips of my two fingers on my right hand.  I had to get to emergency to get it to stop bleeding.  This was about 8 years ago and my fingers still have a somewhat Gumbie look to them.  They are also somewhat calloused and numb.

Maybe we could start a new thread about idiotic things we have done with my power / hand tools to help others avoid the same situation.

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Offline BIP

  • Posts: 34
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2008, 11:47 PM » very careful with handplanes, they can become addictive.......

They one thing people forget to mention when discussing handplanes is the need for a quality/substantial bench; especially when working on rough sawn lumber.  Life is definitely easier if you have a bench that tips the scale around the 300 lb or more.....just my $.02.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 11:51 PM by BIP »

Offline Dan Clermont

  • Festool Dealer
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    • Ultimate Tools
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 05:44 AM »
Hi Mathew

I spent years edge and face jointing boards with a hand plane. I now have a Hammer combo machine which I am very happy with but still joint by hand at times so I can achieve spring joints (slightly concave boards)

Handplanes can be a joy to use and require a bit of practice. You'll also need to keep the blade sharp.

I use a Lie Nielsen #8 which is great for large flat surfaces but the weight makes it difficult on narrow edges when edge jointing. You should look at a #7 size plane if at all possible.

Good Luck
Dan Clermont
Canadian Festool Dealer and User!!!

Offline Barry

  • Posts: 55
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2008, 11:11 AM »
This goes without say but sometimes you have to pick the right tools for the job.  If I've got 50 bdft of lumber to process the handplane stays in the drawer, for smaller projects I love my planes.

First thing we really need to know is what size boards you are typical working with.  If you are working on mostly smaller projects a #5 maybe a better choice for you (boards about 24" and under or so) and a whole lot less tiring to use.  As a matter of fact on large flattening projects (face flattening, no edge jointing) I pick up my 5 first and knock down all the high spots before the 8 ever sees daylight.

Just remember you can edge joint a board with a block plane, but you are better off sizing the plane to the work, and the materials being used.  Another benefit of #5s is that many are available on the used market in great shape for very reasonable prices, well below that of a 7 or 8.

My 2d
Central NJ

Offline Steveo48

  • Posts: 305
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2008, 09:04 AM »
For me, hand tools are the most fun and challenging aspect of woodworking.  When I have the time, which is not all that often, I'll often pull them out first, with the possible exception of my hand saws.  I keep them sharp and they are great to use if I'm not making a lot of cuts, especially outdoors.

Planes are another animal for me though.  My dad used them a lot, I use them now to clean up the edge of a door every now and then.  Very satisfying when things go right, frustrating when they don't.  Kind of like working on the lathe.


Offline thudchkr

  • Posts: 107
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2008, 07:31 AM »
I love my hand planes and would not be without them.  They can leave a surface like glass on most woods.  As stated earlier, they must be sharp, however, in order to work well. Another tip that might help you in edge-jointing the edge of a board, is to wrap your finger around the edge of your jointer plane and rest them on the face of the board as you make your cut.  It helps you to keep your plane square to the work.  I found myself much more likely to create a slight angle on the edge before I started planing this way

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Offline Tom in SoCal

  • Posts: 88
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2008, 11:14 PM » very careful with handplanes, they can become addictive.......

Wow Bip -- not only is that one of the nicest stables of hand planes I've ever seen, it is also the nicest storage system I've ever seen.

How did you cut out the foam inserts so cleanly? 


Offline alanz

  • Posts: 128
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2008, 08:54 AM »
To me, it does not appear that the planes are inset into foam.  It looks like they are just resting on a rubber mat surface in a drawer.  If they are inset into the surface, that's one great cutting job.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2008, 08:58 AM by alanz »
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Offline Tom in SoCal

  • Posts: 88
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2008, 02:27 PM »
To me, it does not appear that the planes are inset into foam.  It looks like they are just resting on a rubber mat surface in a drawer.  If they are inset into the surface, that's one great cutting job.

Taking another look, I think you are correct.  Wonder how he keeps them from sliding around...   but in any event, nice stuff.


Offline BIP

  • Posts: 34
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2008, 08:40 AM »

They are not inset in foam.  The mat came with the toolbox and has a slightly "rubberized" surface that keeps things from sliding around.

They are not going to be in there much longer (hopefully).  I am getting settled into our new house and plan on making a proper cabinet for them.   With a little extra space for growth. ;)


Offline BIP

  • Posts: 34
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2009, 11:24 PM »
Deke   I use camilla oil in a shop made applicator on the sole and cheeks every so often.  If it is a warm day and I have been sweating a little (not an uncommon side effect of hand plane usage), I wipe them down and apply a light coat before putting them back.

Also, I have an 8 oz. dessicant bag in each drawer of my tool box were there are tools that can rust.  They are available on the internet and can be found for under two bucks a bag (cheap insurance if you ask me).

If you do have some surface rust crop up, use some 400 or 600 grit aluminum oxide paper with a little WD-40 to clean it off.  You can follow that up with some good paste wax, as well.

Offline Greg_R

  • Posts: 153
Re: Jointer Planes?
« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2009, 07:19 PM »
  Here in Portland the winters will kill cast iron.  I use LV plane socks + dessicant bag and very lightly rub the planes down with camilla oil.  LN sells a plane care kit with all the goodies (oil, wax, block for rust removal, & rag for oil and polishing).