Jack Plane vs Bench Plane [Detail Explanation]

When it comes to woodworking tools, there are a variety of options. Out of the numerous types of hand planes, a “bench plane” is one type. And the jack plane is a particular type of bench plane.

Although they are similar in many ways, there are still some differences between them–even though these two planes have plenty in common as well. So, which one should you choose when starting out as a woodworker? To get your answer and understand what bench planes and jack planes are, keep reading!

jack plane vs bench plane

What is a Bench Plane?

A bench plane is a woodworking tool with a narrow blade and an adjustable mouth used for flattening the faces of workpieces, making them uniform in thickness and smoothing their surfaces.

What sets it apart from other planes is that it has a bigger body and iron depth. This allows for smoother cuts with less physical effort, which also means there is less chance of the blade jamming. These planes are called bench planes because they are typically used on your workbench instead of on-site.

What is a Jack Plane?

A jack plane is a tool that is used to smooth the surface of wood. The blade on the plane has a single bevel which allows for it to glide smoothly over the wood and remove any imperfections from the surface.

Actually, jack planes are a particular type of bench plane. But now it is known as a jack plane rather than an exclusive bench plane. However, there are other types available as well that include jointer planes, smoothing planes, and fore planes. These come in different lengths and are used for different tasks.

Jack planes are lighter than other types of bench planes and are often used by craftsmen who need to carry their tools in packs or shoulder bags. Because of its versatility, it is given the name “jack of all trades”.

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Difference Between Jack Plane and Bench Plane

Planes Size and their Uses:

Bench Plane: A bench plane has three major jobs and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types for each particular purpose.

If you want to remove material quickly then you can use a short joining plane (also known as a fore plane) for the tasks. A fore plane typically features a large cast-iron sole with a length ranging from 14 to 20 inches. That’s why it can be used as a jointer to straighten the wood in addition to leveling it.

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After using the fore plane, you should use a jointer plane for straightening wood precisely. A primary or fore plane can do the same job as for you, but it requires more labor and skill. So, straightening the wood can be achieved better when using a jointer plane that is 22 to 30 inches long.

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The last task is preparing your workpiece for finishing, which is done with the smoothing plane. The sole length of a smoothing plane is ranging from 9 to 10 inches.

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Jack Plane: The jack plane is an all-purpose version of the bench plane which can be used for numerous purposes. The jack plane is used to flatten wood pieces or make joints. Glue the boards together and then use a jack plane to shave off any small bumps from one board touching another.

Cambering the iron to one side facilitates using the jack plane as a fore plane. If the wood isn’t too hard, you can remove up to 1/16 of an inch per pass with your sharp iron.

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This is also a popular plane to use as a jointer, even if it’s not the standard length. You can set it up with a straight iron or slightly cambered one, and it will act as a jointer plane.

With a slightly curved iron, this plane can serve as an alternative to a smoothing plane. It will smooth wood and prepare it for finishing.

Jack planes’ size ranges from 11½ inches to 15 inches in length, though 14-inch is the best size. The irons of jack planes are typically between 1¾ and 2⅜ wide. In general, the iron should be ¼ inch narrower than its body.

Standard jack planes have the blade set at a 45-degree angle, with the bevel facing down. However, some jack planes have the iron pitched at 12° with its bevel facing up. This type of hand plane is known as a low angle jack plane.

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Advantages and Disadvantages:

Advantages of Bench Plane:

  • Thy are easy to work with and does not require much maintenance
  • No need for sharpening blades as often
  • They are easier to use for extended periods of time.
  • Bench planes are primarily used for jointing and flattening wood. They also have a “fore-edge” or “jointing” plane that helps adjust the grains of the adjacent surfaces on a board.
  • The bench planes themselves come in various sizes and shapes and can be honed to different grits so they can do more precise work.
  • The blade can be adjusted so that it cuts wood better

Disadvantages of Bench Planes:

Although the Bench Plane is an excellent tool, like any other tool, it has its own disadvantages.

  • The Bench Planes can be used for heavy work, but if you’re faced with smaller projects (such as in carpentry) then it’s not the best to use.
  • When using this type of plane to perform a dry cut then you have to pay special attention to your depth or risk making deep cuts that are too short or too long
  • Harder on your hands and knuckles
  • Bench planes are less versatile than jack planes
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Advantages of a Jack Plane:

  • Allows for necessary detail in edge jointing and smoothing of the workpiece
  • Lower starting price point allows individuals to use it when they are just getting started with workshops
  • Usually more affordable and versatile than bench planes
  • Good for carpentry and rough cuts
  • The rounded corners allow surfaces wider than the iron to be cut without any “tracks” or scoring left.
  • The grooves in the iron absorb some of the wood’s grain, which allows the workpiece to move straighter.

Disadvantages of a Jack Plane:

  • Jack plane is not a good option if you are new to woodworking or trying to do a specific job.
  • Need a bit more skill and expertise to use it for different purpose
  • Difficult and time-consuming to use this hand plane effectively

You May Want to Know:

The Differences Between Bench Plane and Block Plane


The Jack Plane and Bench Planes are two different types of planes. The bench planes are heavy-duty tools, while the jack plane is smaller and lighter for more detailed work.

Following your preferences for what you want to do will help in deciding on which one to pick up – from jointing wood surfaces to flattening pieces of material or even preparing some timber for finishing.

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