Are you just starting to get into the world of woodworking? Perhaps you’ve heard the terms “jack plane” and “smoothing plane” thrown around, but you’re not quite sure what the difference between the two is. Allow me to shed some light on the subject!
In woodworking, planes are used to shape and smooth wood. A jack plane and a smoothing plane are both types of hand planes, but they serve different purposes. A jack plane, also known as a fore plane, is typically used for rough work. It’s designed to remove a lot of material quickly, making it great for flattening large areas or removing rough saw marks. On the other hand, a smoothing plane is used for finishing work. It’s meant to smooth out any rough patches left by the jack plane and leave a beautifully polished surface.
So, in short, the main difference between a jack plane and a smoothing plane is their intended use. The jack plane is a workhorse, perfect for rough work, while the smoothing plane is a precision tool that is used for finishing touches. Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or just starting out, it’s important to have both types of planes in your arsenal to achieve the best results.
Basic Woodworking Hand Planes
Hand planes are an important tool for any woodworker, allowing them to smooth and shape wood surfaces with precision. There are various types of hand planes available, each with its own specific use. Two of the most commonly used hand planes are the jack plane and smoothing plane. Let’s take a closer look and understand the difference between them.
Jack Plane vs. Smoothing Plane
- Jack Plane: A jack plane is a versatile plane that can be used for a variety of tasks. It is longer and wider than a smoothing plane, typically measuring around 14 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. The blade is angled at around 45 degrees, and it is used to remove rough edges and flatten surfaces. Jack planes are ideal for tasks such as leveling and straightening boards, removing excess wood from rough-sawn lumber, and preparing surfaces for finishing.
- Smoothing Plane: A smoothing plane is a smaller and lighter plane than a jack plane, typically measuring around 9-10 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. The blade is angled at around 60 degrees, which creates a fine shaving effect instead of rough removal. As the name suggests, smoothing planes are used for smoothing and finishing surfaces. They are designed to create a fine and smooth finish by removing fine layers of wood without tearing the surface grains.
Common Features of Hand Planes
Although each hand plane has unique features, they all have some common components that are important for their functionality. These include:
- Blade: The blade is the most critical part of a hand plane; it is the heart of the tool. It is made up of high-carbon or high-speed steel with a sharp edge to perform a variety of tasks.
- Cap Iron: A cap iron or chip breaker is an added feature that sits on top of the blade and provides extra support, control, and stability to the blade.
- Frog: The frog is a part of the plane that holds the blade and supports it. It adjusts the blade angle relative to the mouth and allows the user to change the depth of the cut. The frog’s position can be adjusted forward or backward, depending on the task at hand.
- Mouth: The mouth is a small opening in front of the blade that allows the blade to cut the surface continuously. The size of the mouth can be adjusted to regulate the size of the shavings.
- Knob and Tote: The knob and tote are the parts of the plane you hold onto while using it. The knob is at the back of the plane, while the tote is in front. They provide stability and control, making it easier for the user to control the plane.
Hand planes are a crucial tool in any woodworker’s toolbox, and the type of plane you choose will depend on the task at hand. Jack planes are versatile and ideal for rougher work. In contrast, smoothing planes are suitable for finishing tasks, such as creating a fine and smooth surface. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, a good quality hand plane can make all the difference in your woodworking projects.
|Type of Plane||Length (Inches)||Width (Inches)||Blade Angle|
|Jack Plane||14||2-3||45 Degrees|
|Smoothing Plane||9-10||1-2||60 Degrees|
Types of Hand Planes
Hand planes have been used for centuries to smooth and shape wood by woodworkers around the world. There are various types of hand planes designed for different purposes. Some of the most common types of hand planes include block planes, jack planes, smoothing planes, jointer planes, and shoulder planes.
- Block Planes: These hand planes are small and portable, making them ideal for trimming and shaping small pieces of wood. They are commonly used for end-grain cutting, and have a low angle blade that makes cutting easier.
- Jack Planes: Jack planes are versatile hand planes that are used for rough trimming, flattening, and smoothing of wood. They are longer than block planes and have a slightly curved blade that helps remove large amounts of wood.
- Smoothing Planes: Smoothing planes are used to remove small amounts of wood and achieve a smooth surface. They are shorter than jack planes, have a flat blade, and are designed to take light cuts.
The difference between a jack plane and a smoothing plane is the amount of material they are designed to remove. Jack planes are designed to remove large amounts of wood, while smoothing planes are designed to remove small amounts of wood. Jack planes are also longer than smoothing planes and have a curved blade that helps remove the wood quickly. Smoothing planes, on the other hand, have a flat blade that is angled to take light cuts and produce a smooth surface.
It’s important to choose the right type of hand plane for the job at hand to ensure that you achieve the desired results. Understanding the different types of hand planes available and the jobs they are designed to perform will help you choose the right hand plane for your next woodworking project.
|Types of Hand Planes||Blade Length||Common Uses|
|Block Planes||3-1/2 inches||Trimming and shaping small pieces of wood|
|Jack Planes||12-17 inches||Rough trimming, flattening, and smoothing of wood|
|Smoothing Planes||9-10 inches||Removing small amounts of wood and achieving a smooth surface|
No matter which type of hand plane you choose, it’s important to maintain your tools properly for optimal performance. Regular sharpening and honing of the blade will help you achieve the best results and keep your hand plane in peak condition for years to come.
Hand Plane Anatomy and Parts
A hand plane is a versatile woodworking tool used to surface wood by removing thin shavings off its surface. They come in different types and sizes, but all hand planes have the same basic anatomy. Understanding the different parts of a hand plane can help you choose the right type for your project and know how to use it properly.
Here are the main parts of a hand plane:
- Blade: Also known as the iron or cutter, the blade is the sharp metal part that protrudes from the bottom of the plane. It’s the part that comes in contact with the wood and is responsible for creating the shaving.
- Cap iron: This is a metal piece that fits on top of the blade and helps control the thickness of the shaving. It also helps prevent tear-out, which is when the wood grain tears away instead of being cut cleanly.
- Frog: The frog is a metal piece that holds the blade and cap iron in place. It can be adjusted forward or backward to change the size of the opening through which the shaving will pass.
- Lever cap: The lever cap is a metal piece that locks the blade and cap iron in place. It’s usually held in place by a screw and can be loosened to adjust the blade or removed to sharpen it.
- Handle: The handle is the part of the plane you grip while using it. It’s usually made of wood or plastic and can be adjusted to make it more comfortable to hold.
- Knob: The knob is the part of the plane that you use to adjust the blade. It’s usually located on the back of the plane and can be turned to raise or lower the blade.
- Sole: The sole is the flat bottom of the plane that comes in contact with the wood. It’s usually made of metal and is designed to be smooth and flat.
Difference between a Jack Plane and Smoothing Plane
While both jack planes and smoothing planes are hand planes used for surfacing wood, they have some key differences that make them better suited for different tasks. Here are the main differences:
- Size: Jack planes are typically larger than smoothing planes, with blades between 14-20 inches. Smoothing planes are smaller, with blades usually around 9-10 inches. This makes jack planes better suited for removing a lot of material quickly, while smoothing planes are better for finishing and refining surfaces.
- Blade Angle: Jack planes typically have a blade angle of around 45 degrees, while smoothing planes have a blade angle of around 60 degrees. This means that jack planes are better for rough work and can handle gnarlier wood grain while smoothing planes are better for fine work and leave a smoother finish on the wood.
- Usage: Jack planes are used for removing rough or uneven surfaces, straightening edges, and reducing the thickness of boards. Smoothing planes are used for finishing work, producing a smooth surface and removing any marks left by the jack plane.
Choosing the Right Hand Plane
Choosing the right hand plane for a particular job can be a bit tricky. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a hand plane:
- Size: Consider the size of the board you’re working with. For smaller boards, a smoothing plane will suffice, whereas larger boards will require a jack plane.
- Type of Wood: Hardwoods like oak, maple, and mahogany require a higher blade angle than softwoods like pine, spruce, and fir.
- Grain Orientation: Wood grains can change the way the plane will behave. For example, wood with interlocking grain will require a higher blade angle and shorter strokes than wood with straight grain.
- Project Requirements: Consider what type of surface finish is required for your project. For rough work, a jack plane will be more efficient, but for smoother finishes, a smoothing plane will be required.
|Type of Plane||Blade Angle||Blade Length||Typical Use|
|Jack Plane||45 degrees||14-20 inches||Removing rough or uneven surfaces, straightening edges, and reducing the thickness of boards.|
|Smoothing Plane||60 degrees||9-10 inches||Finishing work, producing a smooth surface and removing any marks left by the jack plane.|
Understanding the anatomy and parts of a hand plane and the differences between types can help you choose the right plane and use it effectively for your woodworking project.
The Purpose of a Jack Plane
Before understanding the difference between a jack plane and a smoothing plane, let’s first discuss the purpose of a jack plane. The jack plane is a versatile woodworking tool used for removing large amounts of wood quickly and efficiently. Its primary function is to flatten and smooth rough boards, thinning lumber, and leveling an uneven surface. The length of the blade on a jack plane ranges from 12 to 14 inches, which makes it a great all-around tool for any woodworking project.
- Flattening: A jack plane is perfect for flattening rough lumber or warped woods, such as twisted or cupped boards. When using a jack plane, it’s best to start with the blade set to take a significant amount of wood, then gradually adjust it as you plane down the board’s high points.
- Thinning: When you need to shave off some material from the board’s thickness, a jack plane is your go-to tool. This can be particularly useful when working with door panels or tabletops that need to be thinned to fit a specific opening.
- Leveling: An uneven surface can be levelled by using a jack plane. Whether it’s a rough sawn board or a tabletop that has uneven dips and valleys, a jack plane can effectively plane and level the surface.
When using a jack plane, it’s important to use the correct technique. Begin by setting the blade at an angle to the board’s surface, then slowly move it along the grain. Planing against the grain could cause tear-out and ruin the wood’s overall appearance. Apply moderate pressure and take your time; too much pressure may cause the blade to dig in too deep, while too little pressure won’t remove enough material.
Overall, the jack plane is an essential tool for any woodworking project that requires leveling, flattening, or smoothing rough or uneven surfaces. However, it’s important to understand that a jack plane may not be the best choice for fine smoothing and finishing.
|Blade Length||12-14 inches|
|Intended Use||Flattening, thinning, and leveling rough or uneven surfaces.|
|Cut Depth||Can remove significant amounts of wood in a single pass.|
|Final Finish||Leaves a smooth surface, but not appropriate for fine finishing.|
The Purpose of a Smoothing Plane
A smoothing plane is a woodworking tool that is used to smooth out the surface of wood by removing any irregularities, bumps, or scratches. It is an essential tool in the arsenal of any woodworker, especially those engaged in cabinetry, furniture making, and musical instrument making. Smoothing planes are used after the initial rough shaping of the wood surface with a jack plane, and before the final finish with a scraper or sandpaper.
- Smoothing the Surface: The primary purpose of a smoothing plane is to smooth out the surface of the wood. It can remove any bumps, scratches, or irregularities left behind by earlier tools, such as a jack plane. The blade of a smoothing plane is set to a shallow depth, allowing for a finer cut that creates a smoother surface.
- Eliminating Tearout: Tearout occurs when the blade of a plane cuts into the wood fibers and lifts them up, resulting in a rough, torn surface. A smoothing plane is designed to minimize tearout by making a shallow cut that slices through the fibers instead of lifting them. The user can adjust the blade angle and the depth of cut to achieve the best results.
- Creating a Polished Surface: Smoothing planes can create a polished surface on the wood that is ready for finishing. A well-tuned smoothing plane can create a glass-like surface that requires minimal sanding or scraping before applying a finish. This ensures that the final product looks professional and aesthetically pleasing.
Smoothing planes come in different sizes, with the most common being the No. 4 plane, which is about 9 inches long. They can be powered by hand or electricity, with hand planes being the more traditional and preferred tool among many woodworkers. A smoothing plane is an essential tool for anyone who is serious about woodworking and wants to create high-quality, finished products.
|Smoothing Plane vs. Jack Plane||Smoothing Plane vs. Scraper|
|A smoothing plane is used for smoothing the surface of the wood after rough shaping with a jack plane.||A scraper is used at the final stage of smoothing, once the surface is nearly perfect.|
|A smoothing plane has a short sole, a low blade angle, and a shallow depth of cut.||A scraper has no blade; it scrapes the surface using a burr – a tiny piece of metal – created by drawing a burnisher across the edge of a hardened steel rod.|
|A smoothing plane is used to eliminate tearout and create a polished surface.||A scraper is used to remove any remaining smoothed-out marks or small scratches left by earlier tools.|
Knowing the difference between a smoothing plane and other woodworking tools like jack planes and scrapers, is crucial in determining which tool is best suited for each woodworking task.
Types of cuts a jack plane is used for
The jack plane is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of woodworking tasks. The most common use of a jack plane is to remove material quickly and efficiently. The jack plane is designed to level rough, uneven surfaces and remove large amounts of stock in a short amount of time. Here are some of the most common types of cuts that a jack plane is used for:
- Roughing – The jack plane is excellent for roughing out boards, removing rough saw marks, and preparing boards for smoothing.
- Leveling – The jack plane can be used to level out high spots on boards or to bring low spots to the same level as surrounding areas.
- Jointing – The jack plane can be used to create a flat, straight edge on a board to prepare it for joining.
The jack plane is also useful for chamfering the edges of a board or for creating bevels on large surfaces. By tilting the plane to an angle, you can create a gentle slope or dramatic bevel. The jack plane can also be used to create a concave or convex surface on a board.
The Difference Between a Jack Plane and a Smoothing Plane
Although a jack plane and a smoothing plane are both hand planes, they are designed for different tasks. The jack plane is a larger plane that is used for removing material quickly, while the smoothing plane is a smaller plane that is used for finer, more precise work.
The jack plane is typically used at the beginning of a woodworking project to remove large amounts of material quickly. The smoothing plane is used towards the end of a project to remove any imperfections and create a smooth, flat surface.
Here is a table that summarizes some of the key differences between a jack plane and a smoothing plane:
|Jack Plane||Smoothing Plane|
|Blade Angle||25 to 35 degrees||45 degrees|
|Blade Width||2 to 2 1/2 inches||1 3/4 to 2 inches|
|Uses||Removing material quickly||Smoothing and finishing surfaces|
Overall, a jack plane is the go-to choice for rough work and a smoothing plane is the best option for precise, finishing work. Understanding the difference between the two types of planes can help you choose the right tool for the job and achieve the results you want.
Types of cuts a smoothing plane is used for
A smoothing plane is primarily used for finishing cuts, which means it is designed to create a smooth surface rather than removing large amounts of material. Unlike a jack plane, a smoothing plane is intended to make the surface of the wood as smooth as possible, which often involves using a higher angle of attack and a finer blade. A smoothing plane is capable of producing a variety of cuts, including the following:
- Shaving cut: This is a very fine cut that removes a thin layer of wood. Smoothing planes are designed to take this type of cut to finish the surface of the wood and leave it smooth and even.
- Whisper cut: Also known as a “feather” cut, this is an even finer cut that is used to remove only the tiniest imperfections in the wood surface. This type of cut requires a very sharp blade and a highly refined technique to execute successfully.
- Draw cut: A draw cut is used to shape the wood with the grain. This cut produces a smoother surface than a crosscut, as it follows the natural flow of the wood. A smoothing plane is a great tool for making draw cuts because the blade is positioned at a shallow angle.
These are just a few examples of the many types of cuts that can be made with a smoothing plane. Each cut requires a different technique and a different angle of attack, but with practice and experience, it is possible to master them all.
What is the difference between a jack plane and a smoothing plane?
- What is a jack plane?
A jack plane is a woodworking tool used to remove roughness from the surface of wood and to make its thickness even. It is usually around 14 inches in length.
- What is a smoothing plane?
A smoothing plane is a woodworking tool used to make the surface of wood smooth, after it has been cut and planed with a jack plane. It is usually around 9 inches in length.
- What is the main difference between a jack plane and a smoothing plane?
The main difference between a jack plane and a smoothing plane is the length and blade angle. Jack planes are longer and have a blade angled at about 45 degrees, while smoothing planes are shorter and have a blade angled at about 60 degrees.
- When should I use a jack plane?
You should use a jack plane when you need to remove thick layers of wood and make the surface flat and even. It is also ideal for preparing a surface before using a smoothing plane.
- When should I use a smoothing plane?
You should use a smoothing plane when you need to make the surface of wood smooth and free of imperfections. It is perfect for finishing work and creating a polished look on woodworking projects.
Thanks for reading our article on the difference between a jack plane and a smoothing plane. We hope this information was helpful in understanding these two important woodworking tools. Be sure to visit us again for more tips and insights on woodworking and DIY projects. Happy crafting!