Comparing Low Angle and High Angle Planes
From contributor D:
Contributor J is dead on with his response. I would add that low angle planes typically are easier to push and produce a more sheared surface, whereas a higher-angle plane is a little harder on the arms but will tear-out less. If you go with a high enough angle, eventually you end up with a scraping plane, which won't tear-out even on difficult woods (for the most part), but it will only remove small amounts at a time. Bottom line - if you use hand planes very much (like me), then you'll want both in your arsenal. They each have their place.
From the original questioner:
Thanks for the education. What about long planes? What are they for? I mean the really long (16 inches long or so)?
From contributor J:
They're jointers, from the time before jointers had cutterheads and motors and dust collection ducts. They're better at making surfaces flat and edges straight, just as a great big electric jointer does that job better than a dinky little one.
From contributor W:
One other aspect of low angle versus higher angle blades is that low angle blades have more metal behind the edge and thus chatter less on difficult grain. I have a Stanley 220 and a 601/2 (20 degrees vs. 12 degrees) both with the stock blade. I can set the mouth smaller on the 60 1/2 (variable toe plate) and less chatter as I go for translucent shavings on wild grain.
I also have a L-N Low Angle Jack plane and a Stanley #5. I can hog off thick shavings with the #5. With the breaker set about 32nd from the blade edge chatter even with a Hock blade on thin shavings. The Low Angle Jack with the heavy blade I can get no chatter and whisper thin shavings on any grain figure. If I didn't have my standard Stanley’s already I would probably have nearly all low angle planes. Things are improved with the thicker Hock and L-N blades.
Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?
Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?