Before the advent of sophisticated power tools, carpenters and cabinetmakers stocked a variety of hand planes in their tool boxes and work rooms. Although power tools can make the job faster, they don’t necessarily make the finished product better. Woodworkers have a variety of hand planes from which to choose depending on what they are looking to accomplish. Casual woodworkers, hobbyists and professionals all still use hand planes. Some new to woodworking aren’t comfortable with power tools making a hand plane a necessary tool on the workbench and in the toolbox.

Hand planes are metal cutting blades supported by a holder with handles for you to plane wood surfaces. Hand planes have settings that allow the user to set the depth or amount of wood to be shaved from the wood. Hand planes come in a variety of styles and sizes each one with its own use. If your interest in woodworking is new or are just looking to expand your variety of tools, hand planes are invaluable.

Wood Jointer

Wood jointer planes are used to making the wood surface square so you can join two edges with wood glue and have a perfect fit. A second use for wood jointer planes is smoothing a wood surface by simply removing the fence from the holder. Wood jointer plane range in sizes to conform to the project on which you are working.


A smoothing plane shaves away very thin layers of wood. Typically, it is used after the wood has been rough planed. Smoothing planes have a knob or adjusting nuts that can be set to remove a variety of thicknesses from the wood. They are considered finishing tools and are usually smaller than other planes.

Stanley 12-137 No.62 Low Angle Jack Plane
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Jack planes are designed to remove greater thickness of wood and are used for roughing. They are adjustable and are set to a depth that matches the amount of wood you want removed. They are typically used before a smoothing plane. Jack planes measure at least 14 inches and have a wide iron that is often used on wide boards.

Steel Jointer

Steel jointer planes are usually at least 22 inches long and have a wide body. They are used on projects and jobs where you have to join wide boards and to level wide surfaces. They are great for removing high spots layer by layer until the face of the wide board is level.

Raised Panel

Raised panel planes allow woodworkers to duplicate panels that many may use a router for. Raised panel planes cut strips into the wood ranging in sizes with the most popular size being 2 inches. They are adjustable allowing the woodworker to choose the depth of the cut.


Scrub planes are used on very rough wood. It is able to remove a lot of layers of wood in a short amount of time.  Scrub planes ready rough wood for other planing and rough finishing.

Low Angle Bock

Low angle block planes are typically used for fine woodworking. Many contractors and builders use them for ends on moldings and framings. Some low angle block planers can be used on plastics. They are small tools that can be operated on one hand rather than having to use both hands like on a typical planer.


A Gent’s plane is a multi use tool. It can be used for standard finish work like the smoothing planer, but it is smaller and easier to use. A Gent’s plane is the perfect tool for adjusting that door that always seems to stick. These are typically made from wood and maybe difficult to find.


As the name suggests an edge planers is used to shave edges. These woodworking tools come with a metal lip that keep the planer on the edge of a door or other wood surface. Use a radius planer to cut a rounded edge on finish work or use a chamfer planer to create a beveled edge.


Block-planers are capable of making fine cuts. They are usually operated with one hand. Block planes can cut both sideways and end ways. They are depth adjustable to make a variety of cuts in wood.


Rabbet-planes come with or without a fence to guide the rabbet cut. Used for wood joinery on cabinets and furniture.


Palm-planes are used for very small areas where it would be impossible to fit a larger planer. Typically, these small planes are made from brass to stand up well to the rigors of close planning.


Violin or violin makers planes are very small planes used for very fine detail work. These tiny tools come in a variety of sizes with some of the smallest featuring a longer handle for precise control.

Bull Mortise 

Bull mortise planers are used to cut wood to fit door hinges and mortise cuts for locks.


Before the electrically powered routed was invented, woodworkers used the hand version of this tool. It can cut a variety of grooves and can be used on both curved and straight edges. Router planes can be set to a very precise depth.


Combinations planers usually come as a three in one tool that can cut bull nose edging, rabbet joinery and rabbets. Some woodworkers prefer a separate tool for each job rather than a multi purpose tool.

Compass or Circular

Circular planes can cut either convex or concave wood surfaces. These planers are the go to tool for contour work.


Don’t pass up a good deal on a older planer just because the blade is rusted, blades are available from several manufacturers. Many types of older planes for specialty work are very difficult to find, making yard sales, flea markets and online shopping a good place to collect your tools.

If your fathers or grandfathers have a boxful of old tools, salvage them.

Choose well made planers because you will be using them more often than you ever thought you would.