The Woodwork Plane

There are a large range of woodworking planes are available and they each have different uses and purposes. The body of a modern plane is made from high grade cast iron with the cutters being tungsten made from vanadium steel.

Planes have been used for centuries with the earliest known examples dating back to the Romans. They are still however used for smoothing rough surfaces or to plane down the thickness of a piece of wood to the required size.

Plane Examples


The jointer plane (also known as the try plane or trying plane) has a very long base and is used to smoothing down longer pieces of timber. It is a type of hand plane used primarily to straighten the edges of boards in the operation known as jointing. A jointer plane may also be used to flatten the face of a board. Its long length is designed to ‘ride over’ the undulations of an uneven surface, skimming off the peaks, gradually creating a flat surface. In thicknessing or preparing rough stock. Jointer planes are typically 510 to 610 mm long. There is also a shorter version of the jointer plane known as the fore plane which is around 460 mm long.


This is in between the jack plan and try plane, you can use as an in-between model. Sizes at Number 6 and has a blade width of 60mm.


This tool is called a Jack plane because it is the “jack of all woodworking trades.” Jack planes come in different sizes. The No 5 (50mm) blade and the No 5½ (60mm) blade are the most popular. They have a length between 350mm and 400mm, which is classed as medium length. Other planes, like the #7 or #8, can remove more wood at a time, but that is because their blades are wider. They are heavier tools, though, so they are more work to handle. This is the steel equivalent of the wooden block plane. It has a steel body and because it is heavier than the wood block plane it is easier to hold down on the surface of the wood being planed. A jack plane is a large, hand-held woodworking tool designed to allow its user to surface plane wood and remove large quantities of wood in a single swipe. It is used to plane longer pieces of wood.


A shorter version of the steel jack plane. It is used for general work such as smoothing short pieces of wood. It is lighter and smaller than the jack plane. The smoothing plane is typically the last plane used on a wood surface – when used properly, the finish it gives will be far superior to that made by sandpaper.


A block plane is a small hand plane which typically has the cutting iron set at a lower angle than other planes, with the bevel up. It is designed to cut end grain and is typically small enough to be used with one hand. This is a small version of a wood block plane and it is used for light work. It can be, and is typically held and used in one hand. A block plane has many other uses in woodworking such as Chamfering (angling square edges) and removing glue lines.


Although a wooden block plane is a very old tool and design, they are still used today to remove a large amount of timber. This is partly due to the fact that they are lighter than steel planes and therefore they can be used comfortably for longer periods of time.




A spokeshave is a cutting and shaping tool used in woodcarving. It has two handles in line with each other on either side of the blade. It works similarly to a bench plane, however, due to its shape, it can carve and plane rounded surfaces. Some of these surfaces include traditional wheel spokes, which gave the tool its name, as well as curved seat surfaces, spindles, canoe paddles, and some types of furniture leg, such as the cabriole leg.

Parts of a Woodworking Plane

  • The mouth – this is the opening on the bottom where the blade protrudes. The wood shavings also come up through the mouth.
  • The iron – this is actually tool steel, not iron, but it is the blade that actually does the work of cutting or shaping the wood.
  • The lever cap – secures the blade onto the body of the plane.
  • The depth adjustment knob – this controls the protrusion of the blade below the sole (bottom) of the plane through the mouth.
  • The knob – front handle to hold the plane securely.
  • The chipbreaker or cap iron adds rigidity to the blade and forces wood shavings to break apart as they come up through the mouth.
  • The lateral adjustment lever – this moves the iron laterally in order to make a uniform depth of cut across the mouth of the plane.
  • The tote – handle in the back of the plane.
  • The finger rest knob – block planes don’t require two hands like bench planes so this is where the tip of the user’s index finger rests in the indentation on top of the knob. This also allows adjustment to the size of the mouth on some planes.
  • The frog – this sliding iron wedge holds the iron at the correct angle. This is one of the advancements in modern plane design that Leonard Bailey is responsible for.