Jointer Plane Envy

It’s getting to that point: I think I need a jointer plane. I’ve survived quite well for a while now jointing (and doing almost everything else) with my No. 5 1/2 jack plane.  A jack plane really is more than enough for all normal woodworking tasks (as I’ve said before), but it would be pretty awesome though to have a real try plane. The extra seven inches of length would make all the difference in the world.

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That’s what she said?

I will first attempt to clean up an old corrugated Craftsman that was gifted to me last year. But I know myself, and this exercise ends in me splurging for a premium plane. Unlike other size planes where I’m happy to flatten and tune a mid-priced brand, I would rather spend the money for an already true, flat and square sole. I’m leaning toward the Veritas bevel-up model, about which I’ve heard good things.

No matter what, I bet agonizing about it will earn me another few more months to figure out where to keep the thing in my tool chest.  Hollar at me if you have any other suggestions.

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6 comments

  1. I could suggest grabbing an oldie and rehabbing it. Really they normally don’t often need much but a few quick passes on something flat and sandpapery and a good clean / sharpen, but a long metal jointer don’t need to be as flat as I know you’ve read here on the intarwebz.

    Or, spend the money on that low angle Veritas you mention, or splurge on a Lie-Nielsen 7 or 8. The 6 is only about 3 inches longer than your 5 1/2 and only a little bit wider so even in your apartment you won’t be gaining much except another shoe to fit an iron in that’s similar to another one you already have, so I’d personally lean toward the 7, but the bevel up Veritas you’re thinking about runs about half the cost. You’ll need to think a little more about your sharpening setup as your presentation angle will change with your bevel, but you might find you like the thing a lot. I’d suggest that if you went that route, grab a couple of extra irons for it so that you can change the angle easily when you change wood types, but still have only one plane to put away.

    All of my tools I got the “buy the old thing and fix it up” way, but I’m not opposed to buying new tools at all, one bit. One day I’m going to drop the money on a Lie-Nielsen #1 so I can drive it around like a little race car to true up the tops of little boxes, but that day isn’t here yet because my tax refund needs to be about double what it is this year for me to do it. Perhaps when I’m making actual money working wood…

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    1. Flat and sandpapery. Hehe. I have an 18 inch machinist’s granite slab and a whole array of sticky sandpaper rolls, so flattening my old craftsman jointer shouldn’t be difficult. It needs a little bit of rust removal work too, but I agree, it should be manageable. You make a good point about the blade angle; I haven’t really thought about it, as I don’t usually work in exotic woods (cherry is about as exotic as I get). I will take that into account when I pull the trigger on whatever I buy.

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      1. There are two types of the old Craftsman jointer planes that I’m aware of. The ones made by Sargent (I have one, they have A FULL INCH of unsupported blade at the bottom of the frog… what were they thinking?!? avoid!) and the 7CBB made by Millers Falls, which is a Millers Falls #22 without the frog adjustment screw (I have one, winner!). Same castings. Fully supported iron, full-face frog straight down to the sole. Both are Stanley #7 size.

        If your lateral adjuster has an inverted U-shaped end, it’s the Sargent, if it’s got one side bent over (and 7CBB stamped on the bottom of the left cheek), it’s the Millers Falls. The Millers Falls one doesn’t come up very often on ebay and it doesn’t stay up there long as it’s pretty often underpriced by sellers thinking that all the Craftsman planes were alike.

        Conversely, the old Fulton jointer planes – also made by Sargent – are made from Sargent’s *good* castings. They’re the old #422 jointer planes, also #7-sized. Full-face frog down to the sole, comfortable tote, non-corrugated sole. Often you can snag one for less than $50 on ebay, shipped. Great bargain, I think, and a great plane. If you’re budget-conscious about it this is one of the best deals going, imo. There’s one available right now with a $25 price on it, 11 hours left at the time of this post. I’ll send you the link for an example if I can find a way to do it privately.

        All three of these planes take the same Stanley #7-sized iron, so if you get a deal on one with a crappy or used-up iron, it’s not a problem.

        I have (had, crash!) a piece of plate glass 12″x18″, worked good until the aformentioned gravity-charged event. Will get another one, this time with *tempered glass*.

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  2. I purchased a 1920’s vintage Bailey almost 30 years ago, and have used it as my primary work plane. I got lucky and found a very nice, nothing but a little cleaning needed example. Lately though, I’ve found that getting replacement blades in the original thickness is getting problematic. Most of the new planes use much thicker blades, and include equally thick chip breakers. So, I took the plunge and upgraded to new steel. I had to open the planes throat about 1/16th inch to account for the thicker blade combination, but I’ve found that the new blades cut so much better than even my best old Stanley, there’s really no comparison.

    That being said, you may want to consider biting the bullet and getting a new plane. Not only for blade availability, but they are just so darn nicely made these days. As an aside to the Veritas or Lie-Nielsen, you might also consider the Woodriver planes. I know the original versions were total crap, but with input from people like Rob Cosman, they have improved 1000%. They are very nicely finished, totally square, and built very very well. And the blades are now extremely good quality O2 grade blades that take an edge wonderfully and hold it every bit as well as one costing 2-3 times as much. The WR #7 runs about $300, but it’s definitely worth it. And as we all have found in our woodworking careers, you get what you pay for.

    I own a WR #4, but have used every plane in their line. I have always been an old tool snob, most of my almost two dozen planes are considered antiques. But these planes have impressed me enough that I have no problem putting them in my tool chest alongside my old timers.

    As for using the #7 as a primary, I’ve found that even with short pieces (10-12″) it handles quite well. My #5 has been equipped with a heavily cambered blade, and now handles all my scrub plane duties, followed by the big boy for truing and flattening. That 2 3/8 inch blade makes quick work of anything I throw at it.

    BTW, just found your blog and like it a lot. I am always preaching to aspiring woodworkers that live in apartments that it can be done. I plan to use your blog as an example for them to look at.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Rusty. Welcome to the site! We are happy to have you as a subscriber.

      All of my main planes are WR v3’s: No. 4, No. 4 1/2 and No 5 1/2 (I also own a WR small chisel plane, a home center stanley block and a Veritas router plane). I do almost everything with my WR No. 5 1/2 (I replaced the stock WR blade with the slightly thicker IBC version, but kept the stock chipbreaker).

      However, for each of those WR v3 planes, I had to do some serious sole flattening. It’s important that the sole of a jointer be flat, so I figured I might as well spend $30 dollars more and get a Veritas bevel up jointer (which I am much more confident will be ground flat) with the jointing fence. I’ve been meaning to try a bevel up configuration and I’ve heard good things.

      The reason I haven’t pulled the trigger yet on anything is because I don’t have room in my toolbox right now for it. I’m yet to figure something out for storage.

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