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.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Block Planes – Comparison Table
Best Block Planes – Reviews
Best Block Planes – Buyer’s Guide
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.