It is hard to imagine building even the simplest woodworking project without using a hand plane. Most woodsmiths, even those with a large collection of electric power tools, rely on the wood plane for precise smoothness. There are several different types of wood planes, depending on the type of wood project. Master wood craftsmen use wood planes to prepare edges and join faces before the woodworker glues the edged or applies the final finish to the surface of the wooden masterpiece.
The Anatomy of a Wood Bench Plane
For the most part, all wood bench planes have the same parts. First is the sole, which is the base or body of the plane. A blade, also called a plane iron, used for smoothing the wood project. A cap iron exerts pressure on the blade, making the assembly more rigid. A frog supports the blade; by positioning the frog, the woodworker determines the width of the mouth opening.
Older Wood Bench Planes
In the case of older wood bench planes, the anatomy may be somewhat different. They have fewer parts, which include: lateral adjustment locking screw, which holds the lateral adjustment level in place; a cutting depth adjustment screw, which sits on top of the crossbar; the crossbar interlocks with the cap iron to hold the blade, cap iron and lateral adjustment lever in place against the body; and finally a locking screw, which holds the blade assembly in place and applies tension to the whole assembly.
Small Wood Planes
The bullnose rabbet plane is a four-inch version of the shoulder plane; it works well for smoothing tight spots on elegant wood projects and is excellent for trimming stopped rabbets. The six-inch block plane smooths end grain or faces with figured grain. The shoulder plane trims tenon shoulders square, and can cut with equal precision on either shoulder or upright.
Medium Wood Planes
The circle plane works best on curved surfaces. The flexible steel sole adjusts to conform to either concave or convex circular woodworking projects. The jack plane is an all-purpose wood plane for smoothing any type of rough boards or flattening uneven surfaces. The bench rabbet plane is sometimes confused for a jack plane. The bench rabbet plane is best for cutting large rabbets.
Large Wood Planes
The panel-raising plane has an angled sole, allowing it bevel panel edges. This type of woodworking plane has the features of a traditional wooden plane, but is available with the iron skewed to the left or right so the plane always cuts with the grain. The jointing plane is one of the longest of all wood planes at 22 inches long. The jointing plane works best with oversized woodworking projects.