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Scrub Plane, Fore Plane, or Both?

Both the Scrub plane and the Fore plane are heavy removal tools.  Often called the thickness planers of the hand tool world.  But they are different animals with specific strengths.  Instead of choosing one over the other, I find that using them as a team makes me more efficient at flattening boards.  They are my dynamic duo of hand planes.

Scrub Planes for Spot Planing

The shorter sole and more pronounced curve (camber) of the blade means that it can more effectively tackle small high spots or difficult grain.  Usually those two go hand in hand where knots are pretty much always a high spot on the board and difficult grain.  If the Fore plane is the plane we use "before" any other then the Scrub plane is the "Pre-Fore" plane because it is the first plane I pick up.  Small in stature, it can navigate all the hills and valleys of a board and allow me to spot plane very small areas to knock down high spots that will prevent a larger plane from producing a consistent cut.  

Moreover the smaller size of the Scrub plane is outstanding for edge work and reducing the width of a board very quickly.  If I have an inch or less of material to remove from and edge, my Scrub plane does it much faster than any saw I own.  

Fore Planes for Larger Areas

With a larger sole and greater mass, the Fore plane is a perfect solution for quickly bringing an entire board into a flat surface...once the Scrub plane has removed the high spots.  Those pesky knots and twists in the board can be difficult to reach with a longer soled plane that will ride over rough topography.  But trying to level the entire face of a board with a smaller massed Scrub plane is a lot like work.  So enter the larger Fore plane to quickly bring all the disparate surfaces into one geometric plane.  It still have the radically cambered iron for easy removal with a heavy cut but now the longer sole tightens the tolerance for flatness and makes your board ready for additional jointing steps or going right to joinery.

August 26, 2013

Learn More in The Hand Tool School

In The Hand Tool School I have hundreds of hours of video on planing and sawing technique, probably thousands of hours at this point.  If you want to improve your skills, this is the place to be.


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