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Bevel Up vs Bevel Down Hand Planes

a couple of weeks ago

So Many Types of Hand Planes

When talking bench planes (the ones that dimension boards) the most common question I still hear is something about the differences between bevel up (low angle) and bevel down hand planes.  That's my focus during this broadcast and the short version is, there really isn't that much difference.  

The ability to easily change the cutting action of the plane by swapping in a different blade is the most obvious advantage with a bevel up plane.  However I find that this doesn't really make a difference until you get into massive changes in bevel angle.  The example I show in the video is with a smoothing plane using a 50 degree bevel.  This changes the resultant cutting angle to 62 degrees and only then do I really see a performance change over the standard 45 degree cutting angle.  Certainly individual results will vary and the real variable here is the type of wood being planed and how difficult the grain is.  But in my experience a standard angle plane at 45 degrees can handle tear out on most species just by tweaking other elements like mouth opening, sharpness, and chip breaker position.  Still the flexibility offered by bevel up planes do make them a great option for new hand plane users as one plane with a few blades can be a true utility tool.  The types of hand planes needed at that point becomes one plane and this frees up the budget for more important things like saws and the occasional joinery plane.

In the end my choice is a bevel down plane because I like the fit and form factor.  Ergonomically they just feel better in the hand and once you start to acquire multiple planes that you can set up for specific purposes the utility element of a bevel up plane becomes irrelevant.  This again I'm sure is a personal opinion that is best formed through experience so I urge anyone to try both for an extensive period of time and draw your own conclusions.  I mean can you really have too many planes?  

Check Out These Videos Mentioned in Today's Session

Smooting, Jack, Block, Jointer Planes

The Bevel Up and Bevel Down Hand Plane Debate

Read More

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