Best Hand Planers Reviews

Woodworking is a very satisfying hobby. Some people do that for a living, just because it is a very pleasant activity. You finish a project, and then you can look at it with a sense of accomplishment, which I think it is a lovely feeling. However, do not think that working with wood is easy. It can be difficult at times, especially if you do not have the right tools. Lucky for all those who love this activity, today’s technology has released countless tools that can make your job easier.

Stanley 12-136 No. 4 Smoothing Bench Plane
base and the frog cast as one
made of cast iron
mouth is also adjustable
WoodRiver No. 4 Smoothing Plane
features fine-grained ductile iron castings and fully machined frogs
soles are perfectly flat
handle and the knob have an ergonomic design
Woodstock D3831 Adjustable Block Plane
6-inch block plane is fully adjustable
bronze and cast iron construction
sturdy and very durable

Aside from what modern technology provides, there are tools that have been invented a long time ago, and people still use them. I am talking about hand planes. They have been around for thousands of years. Of course, the first models were madeentirely out of wood, but today’s hand planers are a combination of wood and metal. If you take a look at the best hand planers online, you can notice that they are little pieces of art.

Types of hand planers

Hand planes are not just one tool. It is a group of tools that have the same purpose, and that is giving a smooth finish to any piece of wood. They do many things. You can remove milling marks on the lumber that has just been cut off or jointed, or you can simply create a nice, smooth surface on a large table top. Since there are so many jobs a hand plane can accomplish, there are several types that are suitable for different jobs.

  • Block planes – these are small in comparison with other types of hand planes, but they are designed to be used with only one hand. A block plane is ideal for small jobs like cleaning up end grain, trimming dovetails and pegs, or fitting miters. The bevel side of the blades is mounted upwards to create a cutting angle of 37 degrees (standard plane) or 25 degrees (low-angle plane.) The low-angle planes are ideal for cutting end grain, but it is not suitable for some kinds of wood, so make sure that you know how to use it. As far as the materials of manufacture are concerned, most block planes have cast iron or ductile cast iron bodies. You can find some made of bronze, but they are not so common as the previous two. The best hand planes come with adjustable settings that will allow you to use it on different types of wood. Some come with an adjustable shaving thickness.
  • Bench planes – they are either made of wood or metal, and most of them are inspired by old Stanley designs. If you do not know what that means, Stanley is the oldest manufacturer of hand planes. A bench plane is numbered according to size. The smallest is No. 1, and it has a blade of 1-3/16 inches and a length of 5-1/2 inches. The longest, No. 8, is 24 inches long and has a 2-5/8 inches blade. While the longer planes are ideal for straightening long edges, the shorter ones are used to make surfaces smoother. The difference between a block plane and a bench place is that the former has a blade assembly made with two pieces. The first is the blade, and the second is the chip breaker that is joined by a stout machine screw. The angle of the blades are usually is usually 45 degrees, but using higher angles (also knows as the pitch) is ideal when you worry about tearing out gnarly woods.
  • Specialty planes – the previous two types of planes are used for general purposes. However, there are situations when there is the need for a special hand plane. For example, there are butt mortise planes that are used to make shallow mortises for hinges. The shoulder planes are used for rabbeting and joinery, the chisel planes are very good for corners, and scraping planes are perfect for smoothing surfaces.

When you look at all these types, as a beginner, you may feel confused. The most important thing to remember is that the type of wood dictates the type of hand plane. Also, when you are a beginner, it is good to know that hand planes can cause injuries, so you must be very careful with handling them.

How to choose the best hand plane

If you are an expert in woodworking, then you can just skip and go right to the reviews. However if you are just flirting with it and you do not know how to choose the best hand plane, take a look at what is most important.

  • Quality – the only thing you need to keep in mind is that you will be pushing this tool with a pretty big amount of pressure on a piece of wood. You want it to hold and not fall apart. In order for that to happen, the tool needs to be made of materials of the highest quality and the accuracy of the device must be flawless. It is true that a high-quality hand plane is relatively expensive, but if you buy a cheap knockoff, you may end up with the blade stuck in the wood and the knob one foot further. You do not want that to happen.
  • The sole – most people use a hand plane to smooth surfaces. How could you possibly turn a not so smooth surface into a perfectly smooth one if the sole is not perfectly flat? The best work will be achieved with a hand plane that has a perfect sole.
  • The blade – this is one of the most important aspects. The blade needs to be made of a high-quality metal. Otherwise, it will not last. Blades often require sharpening, but less is better in this case. If the blade is made of premium steel, taking it out and sharpening it will not happen very often. That is what you have to aim for.
  • Adjustability – different types of wood require different settings. You must be able to adjust the angle so that you can achieve a perfect finish. The mouth should also be adjustable. That is if you work with several types of woods, which I guess is the case. Few people work with just one.
  • Size – As I explained above, there are several measurements available. Depending on what you are working on, you need to make a choice. A particular item will require a certain sole length and blade width.
  • Ergonomics – let’s not forget about comfort. Smoothing a surface may sometimes take hours. You do not want to lose feeling in your hands after all that time, do you? That is why it is important to purchase a hand plane with ergonomic design for the handles and knobs.

What are the best hand planers?

There are hundreds of models on the market, from various manufacturers. It is difficult to make a choice, especially if you have not bought a hand plane before. If you do feel confused, here are three models that should satisfy your needs.

Stanley 12-136 No. 4 Smoothing Bench Plane

Click here to buy on Amazon

I decided to start with Stanley because this manufacturer has the longest experience in the field. It has been the first one to thrown iron in the mix, and that brought him a lot of buyers. And all those years of experience are highly valuable. To this day, Stanley is the most popular manufacturer when it comes to hand planers, and other manufacturers produce models after Stanley’s designs.

This hand plane, which is a bench plane No. 4, hasthe base and the frog cast as one, which ensures a higher accuracy of the work you are doing. The iron casting also ensures durability and sturdiness. Also, the fact that the tool is made of cast iron will help you with the weight. It has a nice weight to it that will make your movements fluid. The hand plane also comes with a patented lateral adjustment locking.

Whatever is not made of metal is made of high-quality wood. The cherry wood handle and the knob provide comfort for your hands. You can plane for hours, and still not feel fatigue or muscle strain. The wood, together with the brass adjustment will ensure a smooth operation of the tool. The mouth is also adjustable so that you can work with this hand plane on several kinds of wood. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.

WoodRiver No. 4 Smoothing Plane

Click here to buy on Amazon

The WoodRiver modelis an excellent hand plane on its own, but it has been designed after the Bedrocks, which is Stanley’s best line. I told you that Stanley is an inspiration for all the other manufacturers. Even so, WoodRiver has done a pretty good job with this tool, which is why it has been rated so high.

This hand plane is 2-7/8 inches wide, 10-3/8 inches long, and it has a high-carbon steel blade with a width of 2-3/8 inches. It is a No. 4 hand plane that you can use on general projects. It features fine-grained ductile iron castings and fully machined frogs. The soles are perfectly flat, and the adjustments easy to achieve. You do not have to spend too much time tuning it up before you use it.

The Woodriver hand plane is very easy to use, and the results are excellent. The handle and the knob have an ergonomic design that will keep you going for hours at end. People who have already bought this product are more than satisfied with their purchase, which is why I recommend it to you as well. It is a ‘must have’tool in every woodworker’s shed or workshop. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.

Woodstock D3831 Adjustable Block Plane

Click here to buy on Amazon

This model is a bit different from what you have seen so far, but it is more of a design difference rather than something else. It will work just as fine as the other two products, and chances are you are going to love it. The 6-inch block plane is fully adjustable, which means you can work on whatever you want. With this product in your workshop, you do not need to purchase another hand plane, unless it is for your collection.

You can adjust both the 1-3/8-inch blade and the mouth, which will allow you to pick whatever wood you want. You can even lower the angle of the blade for face grain and end grain. Not all hand planes can do that. This tool has bronze and cast iron construction that makes the tool unbreakable. It is sturdy, durable, and not as heavy as the previous two. A lot of people prefer a heavy hand plane, but some do not, which is why I even brought this tool up.

Using the Woodstock is very simple. Your movementsare fluid, and thanks to the design, your hands will not get tired. You can go at it for a while. Also, the smoothness that is left behind will amaze you. All you have to do is try. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.

My recommendation

All three products are durable and reliable, which is why it is difficult for me to make a choice. But there has to be one that is the best hand plane. Honestly, I cannot get over the fact that Stanley has stayed in this business for so long, which means they must be doing something right. That is why my number one recommendation is the Stanley 12-136 No. 4 Smoothing Bench Plane. It is sturdy, the blade is of the highest quality, and the many years of experience weigh a lot.


Even though we take full advantage of modern technology, some things never get old. Sure, the hand plane has been improved a lot in the past century, but it has survived thousands of years before. If you have some experience with wood, then you know that there are things a hand plan can provide and a sanding machine cannot. That is the reason you chose a hand planer in the first place. One of the tools above will surely be an excellent addition to your toolbox. Click here to buy on Amazon

External Links

Related posts