Types of Woodworking Planes

Written by timothy sexton
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Types of Woodworking Planes
Different planes are needed for different end results. (wood planes from another era image by monamakela.com from Fotolia.com)

The wood plane may look like a simple device, but it can be used for creating complex and sophisticated results. The earliest known planes date back at least to the time of the Roman Empire. Becoming adept with a plane will allow your future woodworking projects to include solid-wood furniture. Different planes are utilised for different types of wood, so make sure you own the right tool for the right job.

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Jack Plane

The jack plane is the simplest and most utilitarian of wood planes. This plane is used for smoothing rough planks as well as for flattening surfaces that are not even. A high-quality jack plane will be equipped with long grooves in the sole to make the sliding action go much more smoothly.

Jointer Plane

The jointer plane is used for squaring the long edges of lumber that are used to make various types of joints. The jointer plane looks very much like a jack plane with the exception of having a closed handle where the jack plane has an open handle.

Smooth Plane

The smooth plane is a general-purpose plane that can be used for smoothing any type of lumber.This plane is used most effectively in conjunction with the jack plane. The smooth plane can accomplish the finishing touches after using a jack plane.

Block Plane

The block plane is designed primarily for use in trimming the end grain of wood. It can also be useful for smoothing over smaller wooden pieces. This is also the kind of plane you would most likely use on the edge of plywood and particle board. It can also be used for smoothing over plastic laminate boarding.

Tongue and Groove Planes

Tongue and groove planes are a matching pair designed for milling joints. One pair cuts the tongue on the edge of a board, and the other cuts the groove. This allows the tongue and groove to slot together for a perfect fit. The tongue plane comes with a shaped cutter that can plane lumber on both sides of the tongue that is left protruding from the board's edge. This means that the groove needs to be planed slightly deeper than the height of the tongue portion.


The multiplane deserves its name, as it can provide a wealth of different uses for the woodworker. This plane is equipped with a cutter adjusting nut, depth gauge adjusting, adjustment screw and a sliding section. The result of all those adjustments means you can use it for cutting grooves and both rebate and dado joints. This one plane can even cut the tongue and groove all by itself.

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