Best Hand Planes in 2020

Arbortech Woodworking TurboPlane Review:

This review is tailored to those looking to use this mostly for peeling logs, either for log cabins, fences or other purposes where all you intend to do is remove bark. I didn’t see any reviews speaking to this specific task and figured someone out there may find it useful as most reviews seem to be for wood carvers, which I make no claim to be.

Compared to the big name in chain saw log peeling attachments this is at least comparable in speed. I used the former to peel black spruce logs for a 12x10 saddle notched sauna I built a few years ago and it finally broke (due to my own stupidity and no fault of the tool) recently. So, with a new project underway and winter fast approaching in Alaska I decided to give this a try.

To note, most of the logs I’m peeling are from dead standing spruce. If they were green, I’d just use a draw knife as it’s honestly a joy to peel green spruce. If you have green logs don’t read too much into this, as I have no idea how this tool performs in that regard.

Black spruce, when dry, is like chiseling superglue. Enter power tools. This does a good job of CHEWING through anything you throw at it. The finish is definitely more rough than what the chainsaw attachment produced. But I would say it’s a bit easier on the back, less tiring and possibly faster. It’s also less expensive.

One major word of warning, wear a face shield. I used safety glasses and a chainsaw helmet/mesh face shield and was still getting pelted with errant chips on my face. I’ll be investing in a polycarbonate shield that offers more coverage before I fire this up again.

Also, more than any other angle grinder attachment, this tool wants to hurt you. It bites in unexpectedly on knots and if you don’t have a firm grip...well, just hold on tight. Note that I took care to setup my grinder as recommended in the instructions.

Please remember to keep a firm grip with both hands on the tool until the disc comes to a complete stop. Having used cutoff wheels, wire brushes and flap discs I’ve never been that overly concerned about kick back. With this tool you need to be. And, all that’s needed is a light touch.

No chainsaw
A bit quieter
No exhaust fumes
Less chance to cut off your leg
Significantly less heavy/less fatigue
Possibly faster

Non-replaceable cutting edge
Electricity required
More saw dust
Higher risk of of eye injury
Rougher finish

I have a bunch of logs I’ll be peeling for a 5 acre fence and will try to update this after I’m done. Hoping it holds up to some serious usage.

Cowryman Router Plane Handheld Woodworking Tool Review:

Originally I was a bit dismayed when I opened the package and saw the size I have big hands, make a fist and that's about it. But that's on my for not double checking the conversion. HOWEVER, this little thing works great. The blade was sharp right out of the box, didn't need to tune it (smooth out and level the bottom plate). Works excellent. I don't have dado blades on my table saw (nor do I own a band saw), so most times I make multiple pass on the table saw to remove waste wood when making lap joints and dovetails. Which works but it's not completely smooth, so that leaves chiseling and or sanding to smooth out the grooves. *note I do own a large router, but I keep it firmly attached to it's routing table and I hate taking it out to use it for a few minutes and then have to put it back in* This manual plane does the job quite nicely. Really happy with this purchase. Great work guys.

Stanley 21-399 6-Inch Surform Pocket Plane Review:

This thing is only five and seven eighths inches long but it made fast work beveling the edges of several calf blocks I made (used for exercise training). Each calf block is about two feet long. Rounding the edges took about ten minutes, working carefully. It did a nice job. Sharp and clean. The wood-paper-like residue just fills up inside. Not a problem at all as it can be very easily plucked out when full, or it will just push out on its own when full. You can also install the easily removable blade so that the teeth face in either direction, so you can push or pull. But you can do that just by turning the entire unit around too. the blade has simple, symmetrical turned up edges built on to either end that hook onto the front (lower end as per the picture) as well as onto the removable screw "other side of the hook" on the back end. Very easy and very stable design. I like simple and strong tools, since they last and are easy to replace parts such as blades on.

Delivered on time; I'm a prime member so two days. I also like that it has replaceable grater blades. I assume that since they are Stanley that the 21-398 replacement blades are easy to get. This efficient little surform was comfortable to use for me, having size extra large hands. I would recommend the Stanley 21-399 Pocket Plane (even though it is really a surform) to anyone for anything but truly big jobs. But I can't think of an instance when you would need a longer grater on a hand surform to shape wood. I have only used it on relatively new wood so far, not plastic or metal. And it cut, shaved and shaped like butter. I am not sure how the blade (or any surform blade of this type) would work on metal surfaces, or on the 300-year old wood of the house I grew up in in Lattingtown!

Japanese Wood Block Plane KANNA 40mm Carenter's Tool Double Edge Senkichi Review:

Totally worth it.

I've been a craftsman for over 30 years - I've had my own one man wood and metal fabrication shop since 2004. I make a lot of my own hand and power tools (wood lathe, table saw and belt sanders). I currently use the hell out of my little Stanley block plane and an imported Chinese jack plane similar to a Stanley number 4 in the construction of recurve, bamboo backed archery bows and knife handles for my hand forged knives.

I've been meditating on building some hand planes out of some really hard maple scraps I have that are around 2"x2"x10. I'm thinking that they'll end up either Japanese style or modified Krenov style.

When I saw this for under 10 bucks, I thought it would give me some ideas at the very least when I finally make my own.

It arrived 3 days after my online purchase.

It arrived SCARY sharp.

Now, among other things, I make hand forged knives with a semi traditional Japanese charcoal pit forge (which, of course, I made myself). I know how to make and sharpen a knife so it will push cut through paper. The iron in this plane arrived as sharp as I could get it with my dead flat granite sharpening slab and sharpening up to 1200 grit sandpaper.

The wood looks like Japanese white oak (shiroi kashi) but not as hard or high quality as my Japanese white oak bokken. That being said, there are no knots or imperfections that I can see. I can't dig my fingernail into my white oak bokken but I can, a little, with this plane.

I've included some pics of the one I got. You can see in one of the pics where I dug my fingernail in.

Overall, this little plane seems much more delicate than my antique Stanley block plane and, I think, will require a more delicate touch when using it. However, it seems to have a very high quality of craftsmanship in its construction and I suspect it will be replacing my old trusty block plane for most jobs.

Bottom line: if you need a block plane, I recommend this one wholeheartedly. Get it, then increase your skill level if necessary and use a light touch when using it.

Swpeet 10'' Adjustable SpokeShave with Flat Base, Metal Blade Wood Working Hand Tool Perfect for Wood Craft, Wood Craver, Wood Working Review:

Like most blade tools, this will require sharpening/honing before use. I tried it straight out of the package to see how it performed and it was painful. It skipped and gouged the wood. It comes with a very rough grind on the blade. I made a simple honing jig like Paul Sellers' and took it to the stones. It took some time to get the surface even and sharp. I followed Paul's guide to tuning up a spokeshave and I was able to get good results. Since I don't use it too often I am happy with how much this cost and the time investment to get it functional. If one expected to use this spokeshave a lot I would recommend something higher quality that will last longer and not require as much initial setup.

Accessbuy 9'' Adjustable SpokeShave with Flat Base and Metal Blade for Wood Craft, Wood Craver, Wood Working and Hand Tool Review:

It's my first time buying a spoke so I don't really know how to judge it compared to other but I'll tell my experience.

I got this today, packaging was a little flimsy, no instructions. Even though it's a pretty straight forward tool I think it should at least say a few things.

As far as size it's a little wider than I expected so when using it in a scrap piece to test it out and learn one of the handles would collide with the vise. This is obviously the case for smaller pieces of wood and wood mounted on a vise or closer to other surfaces. It's a bit of a struggle and will not give you a decent cut.

Other than that the blade is sharp and smooth.

Took me a while to figure out that I had to actually loosen up the middle screw to put down the blade easier. Which brings me to my next point, the blade is lowered by something that's like a nut but with a lip, which is fine the problem is that there's two. So it's difficult to lower them together you have to do it one by one, this is concerning when you want a straight blade to make even cuts no matter what part of the blade you use.

It's difficult to know how much you're saving off so you kinda have to use the spoke in one go or not readjust it since the is no easy to measure depth.

The shavings get stuck on the spoke sometimes which makes it difficult to operate, you must stop and remove each time.

Stanley 21-115 Surform Shaver Review:

Maybe I'm the stupid one, but it looks like before you can even use this you have to remove the blade in order to free the shaver from the paperboard stuck between the blade and the plastic tool, then put the blade back on. First off, I don't want to cut myself and secondly, as flimsy as this all appears, I don't want to run the risk of breaking the tool or stretching the catch on the blade so that it is not snug upon reattachment. SMH.
Update: Went ahead and started using it and the blade and paperboard soon fell off. I reattached the blade and it held. Was actually pretty dang impressed with its shaving ability once I started putting some muscle into it. Got my shed door shaved down so it will close and blade is still on and everything intact. Definitely worth the add-on price paid!!

Anndason Adjustable SpokeShave with Flat Base and Metal Blade Wood Working Wood Craft Hand Tool with 4 PCS Planer Blade Review:

If you are looking for a Lie-Nielsen quality tool this is not for you. It however is a very good price for workable tools. The blades looked like they had been sharpened with gravel and had a large burr on the back of each. Since I got two spoke shaves I sharpened and polished one the other I knocked the burr off and left as it was. Both gave very nice cuts with little effort. The sharpened and polished one was noticeably easier and left a smoother finish, but I wouldn't say significantly better. The soles are rough and would benefit from sanding, but it's a spoke shave not a smoothing plane. When I get a little time I'll smooth the sharpened and polished one to see if it makes a significant difference. However for the price It's an outstanding deal. Both blades were blued higher up, I think they flame hardened the steel and didn;t bother polishing it out. It came off quickly on the polished one and the steel seems reasonably hard. took a little while to flatten, sharpen then polish. The steel was much harder than I was expecting for such an inexpensive tool. All in all I am very pleased with the purchase. I've never used the $30 Stanley spoke shave but visually they are almost identical. I'm sure the Stanley has a flatter sole, and probably has a much nicer blade and iron on it, but for 1/4 the price each I am extremely pleased with these tools.

GreatNeck C4 Bench-Jack Planes 9 Inch Plane 2 Inch Cutter Review:

This is a fantastic plane for this price. Anyone buying this plane should read G. Conner’s review and following his instructions for fettling this plane. I would also recommend watching Paul Sellers videos on restoring hand planes and sharpening plane irons. No plane, even high end ones, will work optimally without proper setup and sharpening. My plane came with a reasonably flat sole, that less five minutes on my flat granite surface with some 400 grit paper made perfect. The frog needed a little more work, but another five minutes with a file and sandpaper also fixed. I’ve noticed that some people think the tote is plastic, and I can understand thinking that. The finish is a heavy paint makes it look plastic, but I took the tote off and scraped some of the finish off the bottom, and found that it is indeed wood. What kind of wood? Heaven knows, but it seems adequate to the task. I have a number of older high quality planes, but I find I reach for this one quite often in my luthiery work.