A block plane serves many purposes primarily regarding woodwork. Typically a block plane is used for finishing up work or cutting end grain. They remove the shavings of wood to allow your project to fit within finer capacities.
As a one-handed tool, it is compact and convenient and there are different types available. You will find some standard and some low angle block planes.
Despite the introduction of power tools in recent years, a block plane cannot be overlooked for its use and practicality hence why they remain to be a popular choice amongst many.
We have selected our top five picks of the best block planes on the market and reviewed each of them below. We have also included a handy buyer’s guide with our top tips for finding the best block plane.
If you’re in a hurry, we have chosen our top pick for you below.
For our top pick we have selected this block plane from the brand Stanley. It is compact for convenience and has been constructed using fine grey iron which gives it a professional look, but it is also very durable and wear resistant too.
As a fully adjustable tool, the depth of cut, cutter alignment and mouth opening can all be easily adjusted to suit the job in hand.
Both the sides and bottom of this tool have been precision engineered for a nice flat finish and better performance against high tolerances.
This is a useful tool for fine finishing work and end grain and the position of the bevel allows for much more accurate results.
With a 40mm blade that is made from Carbon alloy steel, this is compact and has been designed for longevity too.
Usefully, this block plane comes with a carry pouch which helps to maintain its quality by protecting it from any possible damage when it isn’t being used. It also makes it much easier to carry around too.
Constructed with an iron body this is a strong and durable tool that is of good quality too.
The finger grips on the side make it much more comfortable and easier to hold whilst you work.
The pouch helps to keep it in good quality, making it easier to carry around too.
As an adjustable block plane you can work with greater accuracy and precision.
This is a good value block plane that retails at an affordable price, great for those on a budget.
The blade can easily be removed and replaced when needed.
Some customers who have purchased this tool have had to flatten the blade further which can be time consuming.
The Senkichi Japanese Wood Block Plane is our next pick for you. With a different appearance to the other products that we have mentioned it is much more compact; very beneficial for those who enjoy working with smaller tools.
As a standard block plane, it has a blade width of 40mm which is great for working with difficult grains of wood, however, it is great for grinding down wood surfaces too.
Before use, the surface will require sanding down to expose the blade, however, you will need to ensure that you do not sand it down too far, as this is only going to result in harsh damage to the actual tool itself.
This is a very user-friendly tool as it is not only compact but it is lightweight too. This makes it an ideal pick for those who require the use of this tool for an extensive amount of time as it is not going to be weighty to hold.
It has a compact design which makes it easy to hold and carry around.
It is a very affordable option, great for those who do not wish to spend much on this tool.
It is a great pick for working with smaller and more detailed areas.
It is constructed with a sharp blade so it is going to cut down the wood effectively..
It is durable enough to withstand and bumps or scratches without becoming damaged easily.
It requires some adjustments before initial use, therefore those that are inexperienced with this tool may find the set up a little difficult.
As a smaller sized tool, it may be inconvenient for those who prefer working with bigger tools.
Our next choice is this WoodRiver Low Angle Block Plane, with an adjustable knob you can easily alter the blades and the adjustable mouth also allows you to alter the capacity depending on the volume of wood that you are working with. It is smooth and easy to tune too.
It is based upon the classic design of typical block planes and it incorporates a knuckle style lever cap which makes this tool easy to hold too.
It has a 12 degree bed angle and the blade is constructed from high carbon tool steel which grounds to a 25 degree bevel. Construction out of this material makes this a strong and durable tool choice.
Despite coming out of the box sharp this tool will require some sharpening before use to ensure that it works to the best of its ability.
It is constructed using strong and durable materials and the metal design ensures that it is going to last for a considerable amount of time.
As a low angle block plane, it works well with tougher wood.
The high carbon material makes this item very good quality and it is strong and durable too.
It is easy to hold and the lever style handle makes it comfortable to hold for a long time too.
It retails with quite an expensive price tag which may be unsuitable for those who are working within a budget.
If you feel that a block plane is the best tool for your craft then you will want to ensure that you choose one of the best quality so that it is going to work to its best potential, whilst also being durable enough to see you through many uses.
Below, we have listed some of the top features to look out for before purchasing your block plane. Looking out for these features will ensure that you choose the product that is most worthy of your investment.
The first thing to consider is the construction of the block plane as they are available in either wood or metal. You may prefer to invest in a wooden block plane as they have a retro aesthetic and those made from stronger wood types such as ironwood can be just as durable as a metal option.
In regards to durability, a metal block plane is a very strong contender as this material is very strong and long lasting so this is going to see you through many uses before deteriorating in quality.
You may have different preferences in regards to the material that your block plane is constructed out of.
Low angle or standard
The main difference between a low angle or standard block plane is the angle in which they bend. Typically, with a standard block plane, there will be a 20 degree bed angle which gives you a 45 degree cutting angle. However, a low angle block plane differs slightly but not hugely between the angles that they are capable of reaching. With this block plane, the blade is commonly bedded at a 12 degree angle with a cutting angle of 37 degrees.
You may now be questioning what you should be using each of these block planes for. A standard block plane is a good option for tackling difficult or changing grain. A low angle block plane is great if you’re squaring or trimming the grain of the wood. A low angle block plane is also good for working with end grain.
With almost all block planes they tend to be small in size and very compact. This makes them very easy to use as you will find that they can easily be used with one hand. They also make the toughest woodwork tasks much easier to tackle. If this is a tool that is going to be carried around with you then it is also handy because it does not consume a lot of space.
Ideally, you will want a block plane that is going to be comfortable for you to hold as this will be important when it comes to working with this tool for extensive periods of time. You may find a tool of a particular size and material construction to be more comfortable than others.
The cost of a block plane
Just like many other items, block planes can vary considerably in price but do not let this put you off as you can get some really good options for very affordable prices. Above, we have included some products from different price ranges, some retailing for around $20 and others for more than $100. If you are working within a budget then you can get a really good item to suit this too, similarly, if you wish to spend more there are plenty of options available to cater to this budget as well.
When it comes to an adjustable block plane you will want one where the depth of cut is easy to adjust. This makes it a much more user-friendly tool which is a lot easier for more people to use, especially those who are unfamiliar with these tools. An adjustable mouth enables you to alter the space between the mouth of the tool itself and the cutting edge of the iron. For example, this would be necessary when dealing with thicker cuts or shavings as you can work with a greater angled tool.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can a block plane be used for?
There are several tasks that a block plane can be used for and this is generally regarding woodworking tasks. This may include removing any mill machine marks and leaving the wood with a smooth appearance. You can bevel or chamfer edges, particularly short or narrow pieces of wood. Other uses include shaving the wood down to the surface or just shaving off pieces of wood that are too large for particular spaces. They can also be used to square up wooden parts that you may find too difficult to hold in your hands.
How do I choose a block plane?
When it comes to looking for a block plane the most important features that we would recommend you looking out for are a flat sole and also a depth of cut adjustment which is easy to use as well as an adjustable throat.
As this is a handheld tool, you will want to choose one that feels comfortable to hold, especially if you intend on tackling tasks that are going to require you to hold this tool in your hand for some time. One that feels difficult to hold is soon going to become uncomfortable.
Another factor to consider too is that the blade of a block plane is installed with the bevel up which means the angle of the cut in the metal is orientated upwards. This is going to impact how you are going to hold the block plane.
What is the difference between a block plane and a bench plane?
A block plane tends to be smaller than a bench plane. Block planes tend to be around 6-7 inches long and you can get two different types that work at different angles, a standard or low angle block plane. However, with bench planes, they are available in different sizes and as they differ in size they are given different names depending on their size.