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Thread: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

  1. #1
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    Default If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    I don't presently own a hand plane and need one. I am thinking a block plane, but was at Home Depot today and saw a power plane from Makita and wondered if anyone had an opinion. If you wouldn't go this direction, what would you get? I know some of the big names, but would love to hear personal favorites. It would be used on plywood quite a bit, but solid stock too. Mostly for boat building, but other uses around the house. I know someone will say that I should just go to garage sales and find an old Stanley, but I don't think that's realistic for me (everyone hears this advice and is looking for the same plane, presupposes that the seller doesn't know what they have, presupposes that I know what they have and can differentiate between it and a less-accurate or more modern version, presupposes that I have lots of time to go to lots of garage sales). All these presuppositions are incorrect in my case.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    budget?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    My experience is that cheap is often expensive (in the long run). I have never bought expensive and wished I bought cheaper, but the opposite is not true. $100-$150 for a tool that will last and be useful for a long time. Is that too inexpensive?

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    1 plane? Stanley 60-1/2 on EBay for less than $50. If you are lucky, much less.


    The next one I would get would be a Stanley #5 from the same place, but it might cost you only just a few bucks more. After that, and having used them for a while, you would be able to decide what should come next.


    Like clamps,..........
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by potomac View Post
    My experience is that cheap is often expensive (in the long run). I have never bought expensive and wished I bought cheaper, but the opposite is not true. $100-$150 for a tool that will last and be useful for a long time. Is that too inexpensive?
    Lie Nielsen low angle block plane. Hands down no brainer.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    I just bought a nice block plane on ebay for 9 bucks and anoughter 5 to ship. Just had to clean it up and sharpen it works fine.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    The Lee Valley planes are really a good value. The apron plane is a good starter at $85. Their low angle block plane is a bit more at $139.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by SMARTINSEN View Post
    1 plane? Stanley 60-1/2 on EBay for less than $50. If you are lucky, much less.


    The next one I would get would be a Stanley #5 from the same place, but it might cost you only just a few bucks more. After that, and having used them for a while, you would be able to decide what should come next.



    Like clamps,..........
    i just picked up a 60 1/2 for about $28. it had a little surface rust, but a few minutes with some steel wool took care of that. sharpened the iron and it's good to go. don't limit your search to "Stanley 60 1/2". some people don't know what they have.

    perry

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Stanley No 4,a 9 1/2 and a 90 will do almost everything you are ever likely to want to do.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Another vote for the Stanley 60-1/2 low angle block plane. It's the only plane I owned when building my first 4 boats. If you can only afford one, get this one first.


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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    Lie Nielsen low angle block plane. Hands down no brainer.
    I have both. The steel for the cutter is better on the Lie Nielsen, but I like the fit and feel in my hand better with the Stanley. It is not such a big deal if it happens to get dropped on a cement floor, and it is lighter, too, if you are going to be carrying it around in your pocket. For me, I suppose that the best of both worlds would be to get a Hock iron for the Stanley. YMMV,but I digress just a bit.

    A power planer like the Makita is not the tool to do beveling or trimming to a line on soft marine plywood which is done just fine by hand.
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    search>ebay>"stanley plane"

    There is not really any one plane that will do every thing, but a little old Stanley is a good start. Beware it is habit forming

    Here's one
    $5 bucks will be gone in 58 minutes


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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    you convinced me. bidding now. thanks.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    $20 bucks with the box?
    This looks like a good buy


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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    canoeyawl- if there is a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other- which are you? Thanks.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    Another vote for the Stanley 60-1/2 low angle block plane. It's the only plane I owned when building my first 4 boats. If you can only afford one, get this one first.

    If you are buying new, these are not what they used to be. I own two of different vintages (say, about 10 years apart, but relatively new...) The first one is great. The second one is trash, frankly - it will not hold an adjustment and the cam on the lever cap pops out very easily. However, if you could find an older one at a tag sale, flea-market or online, I think it would be fine with a little tuning.
    "Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy."
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    If you are going to buy a new Stanley the WoodenBoat Store sells the Sweetheart line. The 60 1/2 Sweetheart is $105. That regular 60 1/2 in Terry's picture costs $36.50 at Lee Valley.


    Steven

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    Lie Nielsen low angle block plane. Hands down no brainer.
    Lie Nielsen makes a low angle block rabbet plane which is an amazingly useful and versatile tool. It's the plane I go to most often

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by potomac View Post
    canoeyawl- if there is a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other- which are you? Thanks.
    Ahhh - That devil (or Angel) is all yours, I have my own.

    You were warned ... "Beware it is habit forming"


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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    So I rather overwhelmingly heard the "go manual hand tool, not power" consensus and picked up a Stanley No. 5 and a number 220 for a good price on ebay. I have a bid on a 60 1/2 and hope to get one in the next couple days. This is fun. Just what I need- another collection (at least I can use these considerably more than the myriad long guns I have). Anyone want to buy a Sako Finnbear? (sorry, wrong forum) Seriously, does anyone have a favorite process and or product for sharpening? Any advice would be much appreciated as is the advice already given.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by potomac View Post
    Seriously, does anyone have a favorite process and or product for sharpening?
    Its kinda rude to bring up politics and religion in this part of the forum.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    I find sharpening small tools with water stones is therapeutic. Others prefer oil or scary sharp approaches, but water stones are my preference.

    Posted from Port Townsend boat show, where Festool and Lie Nielson hold court daily.
    Last edited by Lew Barrett; 09-12-2011 at 12:56 PM.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    hard to beat the Tormek water wheel system to keep edge tools sharp day in and day out

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    That #5 looked like a very good buy for a worker plane.

    I'll just mention here that the Stanley #3 is probably my favorite.

    Waterstones, you need at least three.
    800, 1200, 5000
    Keep them in a tupperware container full of water.

    I have never looked at ebay for stones until now, but $2.00... wtf?
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/King-Deluxe-...item23140958d9

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Keep them in a tupperware container full of water.
    This worked for me in Alabama, not so much in Hell.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Did all the water boil away?

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    Did all the water boil away?
    Maybe it will this year, I've added about 150,000 BTU's of wood burning stove to a 25' x 30' shop. . .
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    First off, what planes you get should really be driven but how you plan to use them. Boatbuilding can mean a lot of things. If we are talking about shaping a big hunk of wood into a section of deadwood for a 30 foot sloop then a block plane is going to be useless and a power plane very useful. On the other hand, if we are talking about a small plywood boat then a block plane is a good place to start and a power plane would be all but useless. After a block plane I would get a smooth plane (#4) (also called a smoothing plane).

    As to sharpening, everyone needs to find their own system that works for them. If you are buying used planes you can expect to spend more on sharpening equipment than on the planes. Here is what I use for sharpening:

    1. Slow speed grinder (here is an example). While you could replace this with a course sharpening stone you will get the job done a lot faster if you can afford a slow speed grinder to do the rough sharpening and if you are planing much plywood you will be doing a lot of sharpening. I do not feel that the water cooled systems are really necessary as long as you can get a slow speed grinder (1725 rpm). Do not get the Delta water cooled grinder (23-700). It is all but useless. Most of my other big power tools are Delta and I am very happy with them but you will fall asleep waiting for the 23-700 to do anything useful.

    2. From the slow speed grinder I go to a 1200 grit water stone. To work well this stone needs to be stored in water. This can be a problem if your shop drops below freezing. Freezing a wet water stone (even a stone that is just wet and not stored in water) will ruin it. If you can't keep the stones above freezing then you may need to go to oil stones but my experience is that oil stones are slower than water stones.

    3. From there I go to a fine waterstone (something in the range of 6000 grit). This stone does not need to be stored in water, but does need to have water put on it before you use it. It will work much better if you rub the stone with a Nagura Stone.

    4. Finally, you need some way to keep the water stones flat. Water stones work quickly but also get dished out relatively quickly, which makes them useless for sharpening until you flatten them again. You can do this with silicon carbide sandpaper placed on a sheet of plate glass. This is the low cost route. A faster, easier, cleaner route is to get a relatively course diamond stone. Just make sure the diamond stone is dead flat (my first diamond stone was the style that is based on a steel plate and it had some curve to it and is useless for flattening). I like the Duo-Sharp system, with the plastic base which makes it really easy to apply the diamond stone to the water stone.

    You will get lots of controversy over this, but you can also consider using one of the honing guides that hold the plane iron at a steady angle while you sharpening it. Some will say you should learn to sharpen without a honing guide. I'm of the opinion that you should use whatever approach works best for you.

    If you are new to sharpening planes it really would be helpful to get someone who is good at sharpening planes to show you how to do it. To work well you will need to sharpen your planes after a couple of hours of use (or even more often) so it is important to get good at this task.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    search>ebay>"stanley plane"

    There is not really any one plane that will do every thing, but a little old Stanley is a good start. Beware it is habit forming

    Here's one
    $5 bucks will be gone in 58 minutes


    My grandfather had a plane that looked rather like that and had that same little adjustment wheel. I found it all but useless -- very hard to get the adjustment right and then after a few strokes it would go out of adjustment. Not all old planes are good...

  30. #30
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    I have one and I like it and the #102, which is the same type but smaller.
    It is light and fits in my apron pocket and I'm not too worried about dropping it. They have been making that model for well over 100 years, it can't be all bad.
    If it is sharp it should work very well. The biggest problem with any plane is not sharp enough and too big a cut.
    There are imitations of those (no name) and I haven't had good luck with them, the size of the throat is way too big and the quality of the iron is poor.


    Did I say not sharp enough?

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Maybe some part of my Grandfather's plane was broken because it seemed like the "wheel" part just did not work at all reliably, or at least that is my recollection from about 10 years ago. This was not a sharpness issue, this was an issue with it being hard to get it to adjust properly in terms of setting and holding the iron (blade) depth.

    Given the choice I would also try to buy a plane that has some sort of built in lateral adjustment for setting the side-to-side angle of the blade.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    I have had a few Elec. planes , But I seem to get in trouble with them [ cutting to much wood to fast ] I like the Lie-Nielsen planes . They can seem a bit pricey .But they sure do hold up . I think they built on Stanley's pre war models . Or what is called "Bed rock " models I have a few Lie-Nielsen And think that the #5 is best the all round plane . And also there low angle block plane # 102 CW

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    I'm somewhat of a handplane junkie, but I only own about 65/70, and only really use about 25 of them. Check out Garrett Hack's "The Handplane Book", Taunton Press, if you want to indulge your curiosity.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    I'd pass on the low angle block plane. Get a Stanley 9 1/2 Block plane, and keep it sharp.

    Why so many people want a low angle plane is beyond me, unless they spend a lot of time planing White Pine end grain.
    Low angle planes tear up grain much more easily than standard angle planes, and are hard on the hand.
    Next I'd get a Stanley #4 Bench plane.

    Both models, from the '50's-'60's, in good shape will be a joy to use, and can be found fairly inexpensively.
    Yes Lie Nelson makes very nice planes, but you don't need them any more than you need a Porsche to go to the grocery store.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    What Mrleft8 said. You can both eBay/Craigslist and not get close to $100. I bought an old Stanley #5 at a tool swap for $30. Block planes should be around for under $20.
    Gerard>
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrleft8 View Post
    I'd pass on the low angle block plane. Get a Stanley 9 1/2 Block plane, and keep it sharp.

    Why so many people want a low angle plane is beyond me, unless they spend a lot of time planing White Pine end grain.
    Low angle planes tear up grain much more easily than standard angle planes, and are hard on the hand.
    Next I'd get a Stanley #4 Bench plane.

    Both models, from the '50's-'60's, in good shape will be a joy to use, and can be found fairly inexpensively.
    Yes Lie Nelson makes very nice planes, but you don't need them any more than you need a Porsche to go to the grocery store.
    Nice to see that Lefty agrees with me-and the advice to keep it sharp applies to any plane you own.I would still advocate a Stanley 90 as well.

  37. #37
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    That's why I don't own a car
    Last edited by emma55; 09-11-2011 at 04:19 PM.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Aren't low angle planes Better on end grain ?

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    The only plane I use is a Record 60 1/2,essentially the same as a Stanley.
    It fits my hand better than the 9 1/2 and it doesn't tear if I sharpen it at a steep angle in keep the mouth tight.
    You can't steepen the angle and get any effect with a "regular" plane.
    R
    "Now Ron,don't you do anything stupid!" - Grandma B.

  40. #40
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by emma55 View Post
    Aren't low angle planes Better on end grain ?
    Correct, and in building plywood boats, you are dealing with a lot of that.
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Unless I am doing some fine woodwork I almost exclusively use a makita electric hand planer and a low angle block plane I found at a yard sale. the low angle plane is best for what I am doing because I do a lot of beveling on the end grain of white oak.

    I bought a cheaper knock off version of the makita electric hand planer and it worked just as good, seemed to be the same thing. I think it might of been a grizzly. I did throw away the original blades though and replaced them with the makita blades.

    I think If I was just beginning my life's work I would start with these two.
    Fish and ships or is that chips

  42. #42
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrleft8 View Post
    I'd pass on the low angle block plane. Get a Stanley 9 1/2 Block plane, and keep it sharp.

    Why so many people want a low angle plane is beyond me, unless they spend a lot of time planing White Pine end grain.
    Low angle planes tear up grain much more easily than standard angle planes, and are hard on the hand.
    Next I'd get a Stanley #4 Bench plane.

    Both models, from the '50's-'60's, in good shape will be a joy to use, and can be found fairly inexpensively.
    Yes Lie Nelson makes very nice planes, but you don't need them any more than you need a Porsche to go to the grocery store.
    A pair, as you recommend Mrleft8, on EBay with just a few minutes left on the auction and presently at $36:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pair-Old-Sta...item1e66b6abb3
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    The only plane I use is a Record 60 1/2,essentially the same as a Stanley.
    It fits my hand better than the 9 1/2 and it doesn't tear if I sharpen it at a steep angle in keep the mouth tight.
    You can't steepen the angle and get any effect with a "regular" plane.
    R
    Because the iron (Blade) on a block plane is set bevel up, you can indeed change the angle to pretty much whatever you want. For squirrely grain, like Curly Maple, or Rowed (Ribbon stripe) Mahogany the steeper the better.
    A properly sharpened #4 plane is actually easier to plane end grain with (IMHOP) because of the greater mass in the plane body, and the fact that you are using both hands, putting your entire body weight and mass behind the tool. A block plane, being lighter, smaller, and one handed is great for those places where a bench plane can't go, but nothing beats a good sharp #4 for results on end grain where there's plenty of room.
    Last edited by Mrleft8; 09-12-2011 at 10:29 AM.

  44. #44
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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    My favorite little Stanley (from the fifties) block plane dove off the boat last week and broke the adjusting shaft. So, I started using a lowangle that has been kicking around for years. It has an adjustable throat but the depth adjustment is by means of a horizontal wheel. I can never remember which way to turn the adjuster. In dispair I went to a flea market and got two planes for $5. Between them I made a nice servicable plane suitable for getting epoxy on but able to do a good job fitting veneer on the boat. I have a Lie Nielsen block but the throat is so tight it is impossible to take a heavy cut. Additionally, in order to adjust the depth of cut one has to back off the holder, diddle the adjuster and retighten the holder. IMHO, Stanley had it right with the adjuster just like on a bench plane.
    Dave

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    You can adjust the "mouth" of your Lie-Neilson block plane very carefully with a small flat double cut mill file.... Well.... To be more specific, you can make the mouth larger with a file. If you go too far, you'll need to braze a gob of bronze or brass back on to the leading edge, and then go at it with a file again. Take a pass with the file, check with the blade in place. Take a pass with the file, check with the blade in place. Make sure that you retain the angle of the throat, and keep the mouth square.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    A useful site for Stanley scroungers:

    Hock

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Lew Barrett View Post
    A useful site for Stanley scroungers:

    Hock
    I use Ron Hock's irons. Not exclusively, but they're very good.

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    If you haven't found a low angle block plane... consider the Lee Valley adjustable mouth LABP.... its a bit heavier than the Lie Nielson and is a superb tool.... built several boats with it and consider it a "must have" tool.


    I have an extra iron and keep it sharp so I can switch blades when I need to.


    RodB

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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Here's 6 pages on the selection, care and feeding of block planes...not exactly hi-tec tools You don't have to be as meticulous....simply sharpen and flatten what you have and it'll probably work as well as any of them.

    http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/b...lockPlane1.asp


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    Default Re: If you were going to own just one (or a few) planes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrleft8 View Post
    I use Ron Hock's irons. Not exclusively, but they're very good.
    One of the percs that attend Lee and Leigh tools is the Hock-like quality of the iron they come with. A Stanley with such a blade would be close enough to equal to satisfy most of us.

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