Block Plane vs Bench Plane [Everything you need to know]

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The block plane and the bench plane are two types of hand-held woodworking planes. They are among the most common woodworking tools used by carpenters, plane enthusiasts, and DIYers. However, there are many different varieties of these two types of planes that it can be difficult to know which one is best for your project.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the major differences between block and bench planes so you can make a more informed decision about which tool is right for your next project!

block plane vs bench plane

Where to Use

Block Plane Uses

Block planes are used for tight situations and may be better suited for a job that does not require you to move the hand planer around. The block plane is a small, compact hand plane that is typically used for smoothing something and removing stock. The tool is often used in making boards and blocks.

They are also used to cutting end grain and shape boards or other wooden surfaces without needing to use a larger bench plane. It is generally considered the most versatile of all planes since it can be used for jointing and cross-grain work as well as finishing on end grain or across the width of board and chamfering.

block plane
Block Plane

Some Block Plane Uses Include:

Flush Trimming – A good block plane should allow you to trim down wide edges where two boards meet. They are also great for quickly and easily trimming flush surfaces prior to joining pieces of wood together in order to fit them tightly together. This leaves your joint much more attractive since it will be almost invisible when completed!

Smoothing – The heavy iron design allows a skilled user to quickly remove material without gouging or tearing wood fibers like lighter weight smoothers might do. Block planes are often also great at smoothing hardwoods after they have been cut with a saw (instead of sanded) because their blades don’t clog up from resin and pitch buildup that’s common in softer woods such as pine.

Bench Plane Uses

bench planes
Bench Planes

Bench planes are an essential tool for do-it-yourselfers. They can be used in a variety of joinery work, timber framing, cabinet making, and building caskets/coffins. They are also good for achieving straight edges when cutting boards. Bench plane comes in many sizes and shapes, but they all have one thing in common – they are all heavier than block planes.

Bench planes are meant to take out material quickly, and they are also a lot more aggressive than block planes. They are easier to control than a block plane because they have knob and tote where you can place your hand to use them precisely.

Plane Types

Types of Block Plane:

Block planes come in three major types- standard block plane, low angle block plane, and shoulder plane.

Standard Block Plane

A standard block plane is designed to use with one hand that is used for the general shaping of smaller and larger surfaces. They used to cut bevels, rabbets, chamfer, and slight bevels. It has a blade that remains fixed at a 20-degree angle to the sole during use. A standard block plane is most commonly used for woodworking and fine carpentry.

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Low Angle Block Plane

The typical low-angle block plane can be distinguished by its configuration: it has an adjustable mouth, either an open or closed throat and a square cut iron. The blade configuration is what determines the angle at which the plane blade sits relative to the cut surface. This protractor-like angle is typically around 12 degrees. Plus, these hand planes don’t have a chip breaker.

The prime use for a low-angle block plane is in the removal of rough surfaces from board faces before they are glued together, but it can also be used to put chamfers on edges or make bevels as well. These hand planes are sometimes used in place of chiseling or other precision cutting methods.

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Shoulder Plane

A shoulder plane is a hand tool used in woodworking. The proper way to use this tool is to hold it vertically next to your body, and then, with the knife of the plane on the surface of the stock that you’re shaping.

You might also find it called a rabbet, dead-, or fill-plane.

The shoulder plane is highly used in fine-tuning joints. Plus, it can be used for joinery (depending on the size) such as dados, dovetails, rabbets, and tenons. The blade of this plane cuts off a thin slice of the wood.

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Types of Bench Plane:

Bench Planes have three popular models – Jack planes, Smoothing planes, and Jointer planes. These are all general-purpose hand planes that are designed to be used in the workshop for various tasks.

Jack Plane

A jack plane is a high-quality versatile tool that can be used to smooth wood and remove large amounts of material quickly. The short length of the iron makes it easier than a long bench plane or jointer plane to take lightweight shavings from a workpiece.

Jack plane is called “jack of all trades” because skilled woodworkers can also use it as a smoothing plane and jointer plane. Jack Plane comes in two types of model – Standard and Low-angle version.

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Smoothing Plane

A smoothing plane is a type of woodworking plane used for finishing wood surfaces. They are designed to produce a very fine finish, before finalizing the wood. They have a long body and two handles that are perpendicular to the main structure. The blade will be set at an angle to make it easier to flatten out surfaces.

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Jointer Plane

A jointer plane is a tool that helps the user to create flat boards and trim a door or cabinet. This is done by removing small amounts of wood at a time called shaving. Jointers are also used to straighten out rough lumbers before other work can be done on them.

The jointer plane is also known as a fore plane and jointing plane.

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Difference in their Sizes

Generally, block plane sole lengths are 6″ to 7″ long that makes them ideal for one-hand use. Plus, these planes are easy to store in a tool pouch.

On the other hand, bench planes come in different sizes, each with a specific name. These sizes are denoted by a traditional numbering system ranging from 1 to 8 depending on the size.

The no. 1 bench plane is only 5½ inches long that can be used as an alternative to a block plane. The no. 4 and no. 4½ bench planes are termed smoothing planes and their sole length is ranging from 9″ to 10″.

Jack planes are numbered by no. 5 or no. 5¼ bench plane and they have 11½ inches to 15 inches sole length but the most popular one is 14-inches. The no. 7 & no. 8 bench planes are called jointer planes that have 22 to 30 inches long sole length.

Blade

A block plane is a woodworking tool with a relatively small blade (usually 1 to 2 inches long). The blade is mounted on the end of the body, and it can be set at any height from the top of the body to the bottom. The blade can also be adjustable vertically. If you’re not sure what angle or height you want, it’s often best to start with the blade about 3/8 inch above the sole.

Most general-purpose bench plane has a blade between 1½ to 5 inches wide, with blades from 2½ inches up to 8 inches being available for specialized uses.

Bench plane has an adjustable mouth opening and blade depth. The blade can be adjusted and changed into many different positions with a screwdriver or wrench to make it work more easily on different kinds of wood materials.

Other differences:

Materials

Bench planes are more commonly made out of steel and wood while block planes are hand tools that are made of softer metals like copper and brass.

Blade Angle

One of the major differences between bench and block planes is the blade angle. Bench planes have a blade angle of 45 degrees, while block planes have a much shallower blade angle, at 20 degrees or less.

Many people believe this design makes these tools (block planes) ideal for trimming and shaving wooden pieces because their blades can gently remove material without gouging wood fibers.

Bevel Face

A block plane is generally seen with the bevel facing up, while a bench plane’s bevel typically faces down.

Whether you’re using a block or bench plane, keep in mind the following:

  • When you use the plane, always planing with the grain of the wood instead of against it. This will prevent tear-out and splintering.
  • If you are using your block plane, make sure not to have too much downward pressure on it because this will cause tear out in hardwoods or other dense materials.
  • When you’re using your bench plane, be sure not to cut too deeply into the wood so that you don’t remove any more material than necessary.
  • The blade depth of a bench plane should not exceed two-thirds of the width of the bed, and it should be adjusted by changing the blade’s angle to ensure that you get a cutting edge on both sides of the plane.
  • When you’re done planing, always use a scraper to remove any small pieces that may have been left behind by the plane blade.
  • Clean your blades with mineral spirits and then oil them when they start showing signs of wear. This will keep them from rusting or further wearing down.

Wrapping up!

Bench planes are used to flatten surfaces like a tabletop or the face of a board.  Typically they have a longer blade than a block plane, which makes them ideal for heavy cuts.

Block planes, on the other hand, are used for finer work like trimming end grain and fitting joints. They are more suited to smaller pieces of lumber or work where precision is needed.

We hope this information helps you enrich your knowledge over “bench plane vs block plane”. That’s all for today, have a nice day!

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