What are the reasons for the different angles in hand planes? I only have experience with low angle planes. I'm especially interested the purpose of the planes with a steep angle.
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor J:
Low angles tend to be better for end grain, and high angles better at avoiding tearout. That said, be careful when comparing "low angle" planes to others. Planes we call "low angle," i.e. a Stanley 60 1/2, typically have the bevel ground on the top side of the blade, whereas planes with more upright postures such as a common Bailey model has the bevel on the back/bottom side of the blade. Say the blade is ground with a 30-degree bevel. If it's placed on a 45-degree incline (the Bailey) with the bevel down then the cutting angle is 45 degrees. Flip the same blade over so its bevel faces up and lay it down on a low-angle 15-degree bed, and the cutting angle is still 45 degrees. In other words, the differences between standard and low-angle planes are mostly ergonomic, having to do with the overall shape and size of the tool, hand placement, etc. Differences in cutting action are pretty subtle.
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.