Versatility or Specialization

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2 thoughts on “Versatility or Specialization

  1. Bob,

    I have to agree with your excellent analysis of specialization, there just isn’t one wonder tool to get all jobs done efficiently.

    When asked ‘which plane to buy?’, I say a joiner, jack or fore plane, smoother, rabbit and toothing plane. ‘But that is 5 planes?’, to which I say that is a good starting place. You can’t properly or easily plane boards flat without at least 3 planes. Of course you could but it wouldn’t be efficient.

    Thanks for the post.


    • Thanks Stephen! I understand the concept and desire for a more versatile tool, but most of the time it just doesn’t work out. What really surprises me though is how many folks who do their stock prep by machine opt for a jack/fore plane. I never understood this choice. Back when I used to do stock prep with machines, before selling them, I never used my jack plane. The jointer was used for final flattening or jointing after the machines and the smoother was used for smoothing. The jack plane was just not as good at performing these tasks as the task specific planes. Once I started using hand tools to do stock prep, the jack plane became invaluable. For machine users wanting a plane for final truing and smoothing, I say skip the jack plane and get yourself a jointer and smoother. They will be the workhorses in a modern hybrid hand tool/machine shop.

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