Best Hand Planes – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

While it’s tempting to use an electric planer for ease of use, a hand plane gives a far more personal effect to any project that a power tool ever could. They are a much cheaper alternative too.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of hand planes, offer some tips for using them and recommend the best hand planes available.

At a Glance: Our Choice of the Best Hand Planes for Woodworking Available

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Types of Wood Plane

Scrub

A scrub hand plane is a smaller tool with a thicker blade. It can complete deep, gouging cuts and is often considered the aggressive hand plane.

Bench

These are for the first and finishing cuts to pieces of wood. They are considered quite rhythmic and can be used to smooth out rough cuts. There are four different bench planes; jack, fore, jointer, and smoothing.

Block

These are the smallest hand planes and are designed to be used with one hand. These can be used without a workbench and for smaller projects. Block planes are designed to plane end grain and chamfering (planing a corner length) wood.

Specialized

There are various types of planes which are made especially to solve woodworking issues. These can be to make special designs, grooves, and moldings. Anything which is made for a specific purpose is called a specialized plane. Examples: rabbit and shoulder planes.

Buyer’s Tips: Key Considerations

Now you know some types of hand planes, here are some tips on how to buy one.

  • Know your job. You can buy the most expensive planer around, but it might not be the best one for a particular job.
  • ​Do you want metal or wood? Wood planes are a lot lighter and easier to maneuver. Metal planes give the extra oomph and get the job done quicker.
  • Buy one plane first. If you’re just getting into woodworking, only buy the plane which suits your first job. You can spend hundreds buying various hand planes; it’s an exciting hobby! 

Best Hand Planes For Woodworking – Product Round-up and Reviews

Stanley

Stanley 12-905 14-Inch No.5 Contractor Grade Smooth Bottom Bench Plane

The Stanley bottom bench plane is from Black and Decker. You know you’re getting a quality tool from these big boys of DIY. The plane is made from hardened, tempered steel; you’re getting something pretty durable here. It measures in at 14” long with a 2” cutter. This is used primarily for fast wood removal. It is a heavy-duty tool, professionals can use this tool with ease. It’s slightly more expensive than the others on this list; however, you know the brand is of good quality, therefore you pay more.


Caliastro

No. 60-1/2 Adjustable Mouth Low Angle Block Plane

This fully adjustable mouth block is a great all rounder. It allows for use with coarse cuts or finishing work. The tempered blade is ready for use, although you can tune to personal specifications. There are two blades with thicknesses of ⅛”. This is made of metal, so you know you will be getting a heavy duty item. A great hand plane for a great price.


ECE

ECE Scrub Plane

This scrub plane is THE tool to use when you need to prepare wood for further planing. Got course wood that would take hours to smooth out? The ECE will make a snack of it, it’s designed to get through even the toughest wood.

The ECE can be used for distressing wood, but its primary focus is pre-treatment of wood. It removes wood fast and efficiently. It isn’t the smoothest, so you will need to plane wood further if you require it. This is an expensive tool, its aimed at professionals and high budget hobbyists.


GreatNeck

GreatNeck C4 Bench-Jack Plane | 9 Inch Plane, 2 Inch Cutter | Flattens or Reduces Wood Thickness | Useful Woodworking Tool | Adjustable to Control the Depth of Cut | Cast Iron Body & Wood Handles

A lot of seasoned woodworkers will tell you, the first hand plane to buy should be a bench jack. They are versatile, cheap and extremely easy to use. The GreatNeck is a 9” bench plane, which comes with adjustable blades to allow you to work with fine or course material. The 2” cutter can be re-sharpened, making this a durable tool to use for years.

This bench plane is ideal for those professionals needing a tool for heavy duty applications. But, at its great price, this tool is perfect for those just entering the wonderful hobby of woodworking.


WEN

WEN 6528 3.8-Amp Electric Hand Planer, 2-3/8-Inch

We’ve had a lot of traditional hand planes here, I think we deserve at least one electric one. But I’ll make it a good one at a fantastic price. The WEN has a 3.8 amp motor and can provide up to 32000 cuts per minute. It has 9 stops which can adjust the cutting depth from 0 to 1/16 inches. It weighs practically nothing, only 4.3 pounds, making this the ideal portable hand plane. It’s small, it’s electric, it’s a pretty damn good hand plane.

So, Which Should I Buy?

If you need something small and easy to use, the WEN electric is a good option.

If you need something heavy-duty to clear loads of course wood, buy the ECE scrub plane.

Overall, the best hand plane is something versatile that every woodworker should buy. A jack bench. Therefore, my winner is the GreatNeck. It’s at a good price and can be used by beginners and professionals alike.