Hand planes are the epitome of fine woodworking. Extreme woodworkers use them, and serious collectors collect them. Planes come in a wide variety of sizes, styles and designs for specific woodworking purposes. Planes are available made entirely of metal, or made of wood with metal blades and parts. In fact, you can buy the blades and make your own planes, as the old-timers often did. Planes can range in price from about $25 for new, economical models to planes that cost several hundred dollars. Planes have many uses; however, their primary purposes are surfacing or smoothing wood surfaces. Wood can be smoothed by other means as well, including power planing, hand sanding and using scrapers. But in the hands of an expert, hand planes produce an extremely smooth finish.
Although there are several styles, the four basic planes include: block plane, jack plane, fore plane and smoothing plane. Other names may be used for some of the styles. Fore planes may be called try planes and jointer planes. Many of the names are often used interchangeably. Planes may be "high or low" angle. High angle planes are the most common. Low angle planes are good for working end grain, across the grain or gnarly, highly figured wood. For more, watch this DIY video tutorial.
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