So you want to choose a handplane do you? Well, don’t rush off to your local Home Depot store just yet! There are a few things you need to know about handplanes before you go out and buy the cheapest one available.
You see, when it comes to handplanes they have plenty of terms associated with them that might as well be Greek to the more novice woodworker. Here are two of the most common ones you’ll want to pay particular attention to:
Chatter: A common problem with lower quality handplanes, chatter is a term used to describe a plane that skips or stutters through a cut, leaving ugly marks behind.
Backlash: Backlash is a necessary evil in tooling; without it, moving parts would seize up. On handplanes, you’ll notice it the most when you adjust the blade forward or backward while dialing in the depth of cut: the knob will spin freely for a moment before engaging the threads. Too much slop in the backlash indicates subpar machining.
Anatomy of a Handplane
For a handplane to cut cleanly and without chatter, its parts must be machined to high tolerances and fit together perfectly. You are unlikely to find this precision on a mass-produced plane. However, refining the fit of the parts and replacing the iron will soon have your $100 plane cutting like a $300-plus model
The lever cap holds the plane iron and chipbreaker assembly into place. Smoothing the underside allows for easier depth adjustment.
Reshaping the top and the bottom allows shavings to slide up and over the chipbreaker instead of getting stuck.
Blade, or Iron
A replacement blade made from A2 cryo steel will keep an edge longer than other steel types.
The frog connects the blade to the body. Poor contact with either will result in vibration and chatter.