How To Know the Types of Wood Planes

There are many different types of wood planes, each with a distinctive purpose.  If you wish to become a serious woodworker, it is important to know the differences in these various types.  Planes can be categorized into three types:  block planes, bench planes, and power hand planes.  Power planes are easily identified as those that are electric, so this article will focus on how to know the types of manual wood planes.

  • One useful type of wood plane is the bench plane.  These planes come in a variety of sizes; smaller bench planes are used for initial rough work and for the final smoothing of the wood, while the longer types of planes are best for flattening the surface.  Bench planes can be categorized into four basic types:  smooth planes, jack planes, fore planes, and jointer planes.  It is crucial know the differences among these types of wood planes to ensure that you are using the correct type of plane for your task.
  • Jointer planes are the largest of these types of wood planes; they range in size from 18 inches up to 30 inches or longer.  This type of plane is designed to flatten the surface of the wood in order to accurately straighten the edge or face of a board.
  • Fore planes are a multi-purpose type of wood plane; this type of plane is designed to smooth the board once it has straightened the board.  Fore planes generally range in length from 14 to 18 inches, although they are sometimes longer as well.  These types of wood planes are designed with a curved cutting edge and are used directly across the grain of the wood or diagonal to the grain.
  • Jack planes are the type of wood plane designed for rough shaping.  They range in length from around 12 to 15 inches and are designed to shave off large quantities of wood quite quickly.  This type of wood plane can also be recognized by its wide mouth and the fact that its blade is usually radiused.  Scrub planes are a type of wood plane much like a jack plane, although they are shorter and have no chip breaker.
  • Smooth, or smoothing, planes are the smallest kind of wood planes, ranging in length from around 8 to 10 inches.  This type of plane is used last in the planning process; it is designed to make the surface of a board smooth, once it has already been straightened.

In addition to these types of bench planes, block planes are also commonly used.  This type of wood plane is quite small and is designed to be used with only one hand.  It can be readily identified not only by its size, but by the fact that its iron is at a much lower angle than on other types of planes.


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