The vast collection of planes that HNT Gordon & Co. has to offer can make the selection process difficult. Thankfully, Terry Gordon has put together the following guide to help with your selection.
An important note on the bench planes is the 2 different styles, the traditional eastern style planes which can be pushed and pulled. And the A55 models are traditional western style planes with a front knob, rear tote and mechanical adjuster.
This guide is designed to help new woodworkers purchase planes in an order which will suit their skill level based on projects they will most likely start out with. This is only a guide based on how I progressed through the learning stages of using planes to make furniture. If you click on the images it will take you to the relevant plane.
This list is for a basic kit of planes I would use for furniture making in order of priority is as follows:
Smoothing Plane - This plane will allow you to learn the basics of planing a machined dressed piece of flat wood smooth or to joint short lengths of wood up to 3 feet long. Projects would include coffee tables, bedside tables and small cabinets where the length of wood won't be longer than 3 feet.
Shoulder Plane - 1" or 3/4" shoulder plane if you have small hands. This plane is necessary if you want to make mortise and tenon joints accurately. It can also be used for making long the grain rebates.
Trying Plane - This plane becomes necessary once you start to do projects where the length of wood you are using gets over 3 feet. This plane makes it a lot easier to joint and flatten long pieces of wood.
Block Plane - A small plane is very desirable to do the small trimming jobs you encounter when making furniture.
This is only a basic kit and you can make a whole lot of nice furniture with these 4 planes. As your skill and confidence grow you will want to branch out into more complex designs which require more specialised planes.
The following list is based on what you want to achieve which will vary from person to person. Here are the options in no particular order.
Tail Vice or Front Vice - For holding your work flat on a bench top our holding your workpiece for joinery.
Aussie Jack Plane - If you want to buy rough sawn wood and dress it without a machine this will be your first plane choice.
Large Flat Spoke Shave - For profiling straight pieces of wood into round or oval shapes.
Large Curved Spoke Shave - If you want to introduce inside curves into your work e.g. curved legs in chairs or the back supports in chairs.
Small Curved Spoke Shave - This becomes necessary if you want to do very tight inside curves such as those found on a cabriole leg or in lutherie on the neck of a guitar for instance.
Jointer Plane - This is desirable if you are planing lengths of wood over 6 feet long.
Skewed Rebate Planes - If you are doing a lot of long rebates and for making mouldings in conjunction with Hollows and Rounds. Size depends on your task at hand.
Side Rebate Planes - These are necessary if you want to do advanced joints like sliding dovetails and are very good for trimming dados and groves if you want the perfect fit. They are also desirable if you are making mouldings. Best to have both the left and right-handed planes, but you can get away with one plane but you will most likely encounter grain direction problems. If doing sliding dovetail joints having the dovetail fence makes this task a lot easier.
Snipe Bill Planes - Highly desirable if you are using Hollows and Rounds to make mouldings. They simplify starting the profiles for Hollows and Rounds ensuring the profiles are parallel and they are in the correct position. Best to have both the left and right-handed planes but you can get away with one plane but you will most likely encounter grain direction problems at some stage.
Hollow and Round Planes - Essential if you want to make mouldings for your furniture. The size depends on the moulding that you want to make.
1/2" Shoulder Plane - Desirable in box making for small decorative rebates or small joints.
1 1/4" Shoulder Plane - Desirable when making large mortise and tenon joints. Works well as a rebate plane also if you prefer a square blade setup as opposed to a skewed rebate.
Dado Planes - These planes are very efficient at making accurate dado's (groves) across the grain or with the grain at a specific size. They are used to make joints in forming up bookshelf and cupboard carcasses. They are very intuitive and as long as you can hold the wood flat on your workbench they are very easy to use. The size depends on the size of joint you wish to make. As a guide, the 1/8" and 1/4" Dado would be most useful in draw making. The 3/4" dado is useful when making joints in larger carcase work like bookcases, and the 1/2" dado for the in-between size work or where you want to convert the 1/2" dado to a tapered sliding dovetail joint using 3/4" thick wood for shelving etc.
Radius Plane - This plane is specifically designed for shaping the seat of a windsor chair, or other tasks that the radius of the sole will suit.