What Are The Types Of Hand Planes That Every DIYer Needs to Know?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if there are no hand planes?

Used for a variation of purposes like smoothing and shaping any kind of piece of wood, a hand plane comes in handy for anyone who needs to work with wood.

If not for hand planes, it becomes difficult to work with wood.

Most carpenters look for hand planes in hardware stores, local flea markets, DIY (do-it-yourself) catalogs and even bargain shops.

Meanwhile, it can be confusing to go through a variety of hand planes especially if you are not a carpenter.

Also, there are different types of hand planes that you need to consider before buying any hand plane. Each type of hand plane is intended to assist on a specific task.

You would just have to determine what each kind is and match it accordingly to its intended purpose.


History of Hand Planes

different types of hand planes

Considered one of the most reliable and indispensable woodworking tools, a plane has provided a tremendous amount of support since ancient times.

Had been around since 1700, the Romans had been helped immensely by this woodworking tool.

Before the power tools came into the scene, hand planes were usually done manually.

Until 1800, craftsmen made their hand planes through sides plates fastened to a wooden stock along with the iron soles. At that time, it has been used mainly in carpentry and building.

Nowadays, there have been different variations of hand planes that are available in the market and can even be purchased online.

Types of Hand Planes

1. Based on Material

One way of categorizing the types of hand planes is based on its materials. It could be made from metal, wood or a combination of the two.

Typically manufactured with completely wood except for its iron, wooden planes are more proficient in using this type of hand plane.

However, it lacks the complexity of mechanisms that control the lateral position and the depth of the iron.

An equal mix of wood and advanced metal plane is what a transitional plane is made.

With a wooden body and a metal casting set attached into it, a transitional plane makes use of its metal parts to adjust the blade and hold the whole plane together.

Infill planes are a combination of metal bodies that are filled with very dense hardwood. With a special ability of smoothing difficult-grained woods, infill planes are usually used by Scottish and English manufacturers.

Lastly, metal planes are made up mostly of metal with handles made up of hardwood. This is the most common type of hand plane that is used by woodworkers.

types of woodworking planes

Via: wonkeedonkeetools.co.uk

2. Based on the Order of Use

Another way of understanding the types of hand planes is to classify it through its order of use. The usual order of use in flattening, truing and smoothing a rough sawn board would start with a scrub plane.

Named accordingly for its purpose, the scrub plane “scrubs” off large amount of wood rapidly. Also known as the scud plane, scurfing plane and hunter plane, the scrub plane is characteristically described as short, narrow and strong.

Considered as one of the bench planes, jack planes have more accuracy and flattening capability than the scrub. This is an efficient follow-through of the scrub plane as it continues to rough out the piece of wood being worked on.

Used for the final flattening of boards, the jointer plane is also utilized for jointing thus its name. Thereafter, the smoothing plane is used to “smooth” out of the rough edges. It is used to begin preparing the surface for finishing.

The last plane that is used in this order of use is the polishing plane. To create an extremely smooth and even surface, this traditional Japanese woodworking tool has an even smaller shave.

Meanwhile, you could be picking a particular hand plane based on its usage. There are several factors to consider based on what you would be using the hand plane for.

Known as the most versatile hand plane among the other hand planes in this category, the bench planes are used both for straightening the pieces of a woodworking project and giving it a smooth, final finish.

The reason why it is called a bench plane is that it is commonly used in a woodworking bench rather than on site. Bench planes can be used in cutting end grain and employed along the grain of the wood.

There are 4 types of bench planes namely the smoothing planesfore planesjointer planes and jack planes which are used in different stages of woodworking.

Another type of hand plane is the block plane. Characterized as a small tool that can be used with one hand, there are a lot of uses of the block plane.

It can be used to effectively make a bevel or chamfer. Also, it can trim and smooth end grain which is its main purpose.

Also, it can work wonders on the joint that is sticking out slightly wherein this tool can be used to run over it.

A popular use of block plane is for fitting doors and other parts. It can be employed as well to erase machine-milling marks on wood.

Meanwhile, there are distinct hand planes for specialized purposes.

These are called specialized plans which help make special decorative shapes, grooves and mouldings. Most of the specialized planes these days are made of metal.


Hand planes hold a vital role in a woodworking task. There are some techniques you need to remember prior to buying. You would have to ponder on what stage of woodworking job you are on.

Are you needing to cut off a big chunk of wood? Go for a scrub plane. If you are looking for a hand plane for a final finish, then have a polishing plane.

Also, the materials that it is made from could help you as well. You can do well with either wood or metal depending on how you are comfortable with either one.

Given the types of planes provided, you may be able to consider what to purchase the next you visit any hardware or look through online shops.

If you are seeking for more information, you may get some help from a manufacturer’s guide or from a woodworking expert in your local woodworking store.

Please let me know what you think about this article and comment below.

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