Tools & Equipment

The 10 Best Block Planes of 2021

Best Block Planes

Photo: Workpro

A block plane is a small, handheld woodworking tool that is used to remove thin wood shavings for fitting purposes. It consists of a blade held at a slanted angle with the bevel up, adjustment knobs, a smooth base, and a handle.

The tool’s body can be made using metal or wood. Japanese models are usually made using wood, but there is a wide variety of all kinds in the market. Here we look at the best block planes that are available in the market. Take a look!

10 Best Block Planes – Review

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Stanley 12-220

1. Stanley 12-220 (Best Overall)

  • Fully adjustable cutter
  • Sturdy cast iron base
  • Precision-ground machined sides & bottom
Senkichi Kanna

2. Senkichi Kanna (Most Affordable)

  • Affordable
  • Durable carbon tool steel blade
  • Lightweight
Caliastro No. 60-1/2

3. Caliastro No. 60-1/2 (Best Low Angle)

  • 13.5º low angle slanted blade
  • 2 hardened & tempered blades
  • Fully adjustable mouth
Kakuri 41931

4. Kakuri 41931 (Best Wooden)

  • Heavy-duty oak wood body
  • High-quality Japanese high carbon steel blade
  • Lightweight
Big Horn 19317

5. Big Horn 19317 (Best Contractor Grade)

  • Perfect size for shaving a wide surface
  • Adjustable mouth, blade angle, depth & alignment
  • Machined for high precision work
Workpro W052002

6. Workpro W052002 (Best Rust Resistant)

  • Rust-free machined polish finish
  • Durable cast iron body
  • Rust-free wooden handle
E.C. Emmerich 649P

7. E.C. Emmerich 649P (Most Precise)

  • Easy to handle
  • Self-lubricating rock-hard lignum-vitae sole
  • Meets ECE engineering standards
Woodstock D3831

8. Woodstock D3831 (Corrosion Resistant)

  • Corrosion-resistant bronze parts
  • Beautiful golden-brown color on bronze sections
  • Low angle blade for face & end grain
Stanley 12-247

9. Stanley 12-247 (Easy to Use)

  • Comfortable front finger rest
  • Precise machined bottom & sides
  • Covered by a limited lifetime warranty
Silverline 633569

10. Silverline 633569 (Light Duty)

  • Ideal for craft applications, model making, etc.
  • Highly adjustable
  • Corrosion-resistant brass fittings

PRODUCT

1. Stanley 12-220

(Best Overall)

Stanley 12-220
  • Fully adjustable cutter
  • Sturdy cast iron base
  • Precision-ground machined sides & bottom

2. Senkichi Kanna

(Most Affordable)

Senkichi Kanna
  • Affordable
  • Durable carbon tool steel blade
  • Lightweight

3. Caliastro No. 60-1/2

(Best Low Angle)

Caliastro No. 60-1/2
  • 13.5º low angle slanted blade
  • 2 hardened & tempered blades
  • Fully adjustable mouth

4. Kakuri 41931

(Best Wooden)

Kakuri 41931
  • Heavy-duty oak wood body
  • High-quality Japanese high carbon steel blade
  • Lightweight

5. Big Horn 19317

(Best Contractor Grade)

Big Horn 19317
  • Perfect size for shaving a wide surface
  • Adjustable mouth, blade angle, depth & alignment
  • Machined for high precision work

6. Workpro W052002

(Best Rust Resistant)

Workpro W052002
  • Rust-free machined polish finish
  • Durable cast iron body
  • Rust-free wooden handle

7. E.C. Emmerich 649P

(Most Precise)

E.C. Emmerich 649P
  • Easy to handle
  • Self-lubricating rock-hard lignum-vitae sole
  • Meets ECE engineering standards

8. Woodstock D3831

(Corrosion Resistant)

Woodstock D3831
  • Corrosion-resistant bronze parts
  • Beautiful golden-brown color on bronze sections
  • Low angle blade for face & end grain

9. Stanley 12-247

(Easy to Use)

Stanley 12-247
  • Comfortable front finger rest
  • Precise machined bottom & sides
  • Covered by a limited lifetime warranty

10. Silverline 633569

(Light Duty)

Silverline 633569
  • Ideal for craft applications, model making, etc.
  • Highly adjustable
  • Corrosion-resistant brass fittings

1. Best Overall: Stanley 12-220

Stanley 12-220

Photo: Stanley

  • Length: 7 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.63 in.
  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs.

Stanley’s 12-220 is the best product in this block plane review due to its full adjustability, durable construction, versatile use, and reputability.

The plane features a fully adjustable cutter that can be aligned or raised/lowered to set the depth of the cut. All these adjustments are done manually using a knob to the blade, which rests at a 21º angle. This slanting is ideal for cross-grain shaving.

A sturdy cast iron base holds all the pieces together, and it has machined sides and bottom to ensure you get high precision work. An epoxy coating is applied over the other parts to prevent rusting.

That said, the unit is from a reputable brand that has been making professional tools since 1843. Therefore, you can be assured of quality and performance. What’s more, it is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, which assures you of reliability.

You can use the plane for general purpose use and all light-duty jobs. However, it needs a lot of tuning before use, which is something a lot of customers complained about.

Pros:

  • Fully adjustable cutter
  • Sturdy cast iron base
  • Precision-ground machined sides and bottom
  • Epoxy coated
  • Reputable brand, and with a limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of tuning

2. Most Affordable: Senkichi Kanna

Senkichi Kanna

Photo: Senkichi

  • Length: 5.91 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.6 in.
  • Material: Wood, Carbon Steel
  • Weight: 0.31 lbs.

This block plane is very affordable and despite this, it bears the high quality of Japanese-made tools, which are specifically known for sharpness & precision. It has a durable carbon tool steel blade held in place by a wooden frame.

The wood frame makes the tool very lightweight, coming in at only 0.31 lbs. As such, it is very easy to carry around, but you have to press it down when shaving wood surfaces.

Another benefit of this wooden frame construction is that it has a good-looking pattern, with grain lines all over. On the downside, there’s no handle to comfortably rest your hand and no knob for tightening/loosening the blade. This makes it a bit difficult to adjust.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Durable carbon tool steel blade
  • Lightweight
  • Beautiful grain patterns

Cons:

  • Lacks a handle
  • Difficult to adjust

3. Best Low Angle: Caliastro No. 60-1/2

Caliastro No. 60-1/2

Photo: Caliastro

  • Length: 6.1 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.3 in.
  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Weight: 1.85 lbs.

With its blade slanted 13.5º from the surface, Caliastro’s piece is the best low-angle block plane as it is very effective at shaving face and end grain.

What’s more, the blade is hardened, tempered, and comes ready to use. You can still tune it to personal specifications if you like. That said, you get 2 blades in the set, each measuring 1.3 inches wide.

Aside from that, the tool features a fully adjustable mouth, which allows you to make coarse cuts or finishing work. This comes in handy when you want to chip off a lot of material for fitting purposes, or doing some smooth, final touches.

A single-piece cast iron base and frog make the product very durable, while also holding the blade firmly in place for maximum accuracy. However, some customers complain of bad machining, especially around the mouth.

Pros:

  • 13.5º low angle slanted blade
  • 2 hardened and tempered blades
  • Fully adjustable mouth
  • Durable single-piece cast iron base and frog

Cons:

  • Not properly machined

4. Best Wooden: Kakuri 41931

Kakuri 41931

Photo: Kakuri

  • Length: 5.9 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.7 – 2.4 in.
  • Material: Oak Wood, High Carbon Steel
  • Weight: 0.59 lbs.

Kakuri’s 41931 is a high-quality Japanese Kanna block plane that has a sturdy, heavy-duty oak wood body. This block measures 5.9 x 2.2 x 1.6 inches, and it creates a solid frame to hold the Japanese high carbon steel blade.

One similarity among such tools is a lightweight construction and this one is no different. It weighs only 0.59 lbs., which is easy to handle using one hand. Thus, you can use it for precision work, including corner chamfering and angled shaving.

What’s more, the unit is used by pulling, not pushing. This makes it easy to apply force evenly for maximum accuracy. An English instruction manual is included to help you set up quickly and easily.

However, the blade requires to be hit with a hammer for adjustment. This is not as easy as using knobs to loosen/tighten.

Pros:

  • Heavy-duty oak wood body
  • High-quality Japanese high carbon steel blade
  • Lightweight
  • Accurate pulling shaving action

Cons:

  • Not easy to adjust

5. Best Contractor Grade: Big Horn 19317

Big Horn 19317

Photo: Big Horn

  • Length: 6.25 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.38 in.
  • Material: Cast Iron, High Carbon Steel
  • Weight: 1.77 lbs.

As one of the best woodworking block planes, Big Horn’s 19317 is ideal for contractors due to its size and adjustability. It measures 6.25 inches long with a 1.38-inch cutter, which is perfect for shaving a wide surface on every pass.

Aside from that, the unit is fully adjustable. The blade is positioned at a low 13.5º angle and there’s a knob for adjusting this up to 45º. You can also adjust the mouth to shave different types of wood, as well as the cutter blade to set the cutting depth and alignment.

The internal mechanisms are held in place by a heavy-duty cast iron frame that is machined to deliver high-precision work.

However, before getting down to work, the plane needs some fine-tuning and adjusting, which can take some time.

Pros:

  • Perfect size for shaving a wide surface
  • Adjustable mouth, blade angle, cutting depth, and alignment
  • Heavy-duty cast iron frame
  • Machined for high precision work

Cons:

  • Requires fine-tuning before use

6. Best Rust Resistant: Workpro W052002

Workpro W052002

Photo: Workpro

  • Length: 8.19 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.63 in.
  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Weight: 1.39 lbs.

Apart from having a durable cast iron body, the W052002 features a machined polish finish to prevent rusting. This is topped off by a rust-free wooden front knob handle. Overall, this design will last for a long time.

The handle gives you a comfortable resting place for your hand and a place to push down for even shaving. On the inside is a hardened and tempered blade that is built to slice through any type of wood. Additionally, it is 1.63 inches wide, which slices a lot of material on each pass.

That said, the cutting depth is adjustable to control how much material is scraped. However, the cutting angle is not adjustable to switch between shaving face/end grain and changing grain.

Pros:

  • Machined polish finish
  • Durable cast iron body
  • Rust-free wooden handle
  • Hardened and tempered blade
  • Adjustable cutting depth

Cons:

  • Non-adjustable cutting angle

7. Most Precise: E.C. Emmerich 649P

E.C. Emmerich 649P

Photo: E.C. Emmerich

  • Length: 5.91 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.5 in.
  • Material: Wood, Iron
  • Weight: 1 lb.

Precise wood planers must be easy to handle. This wood plane has a lightweight construction and compact size that is easy to handle.

On top of that, it has a rock-hard lignum-vitae sole that self-lubricates when in use to ensure smooth movement. As such, you need to apply very little effort. Most of your energy will be dedicated to checking the shaving precision.

Furthermore, the tool features precision depth adjustment, which is not common in wooden-frame block planes. The adjustment knob doubles up as a palm rest to maximize comfort and help increase accuracy.

Another important feature that should assure you of its precise performance is that it adheres to ECE engineering standards. Though expensive, it is the best block plane for the money.

Pros:

  • Easy to handle
  • Self-lubricating rock-hard lignum-vitae sole
  • Precision depth adjustment
  • Meets ECE engineering standards

Cons:

  • Expensive

8. Corrosion Resistant: Woodstock D3831

Woodstock D3831

Photo: Woodstock

  • Length: 6 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.38 in.
  • Material: Bronze, Cast Iron
  • Weight: 1.85 lbs.

Woodstock’s D3831 is largely built sturdy cast iron on its body, but it has bronze knobs and handles. This material is corrosion-resistant, and it makes the tool more durable. Additionally, it adds on a beautiful look due to its golden-brown color.

The upper handle is part of this bronze hardware, and it gives you a comfortable resting place for your palm, which results in better control.

Other than that, the plane has its blade positioned at a low angle to easily slice through the face & end grains. This angle is adjustable to suit different applications via a screw. In fact, the unit is fully adjustable as you can also set the throat opening and cutting depth.

All the knobs have ridges around the circumference to give you a good grip when making adjustments. The only issue is that the unit is a bit costly. However, it has the features to show for it.

Pros:

  • Corrosion-resistant bronze parts
  • Beautiful golden-brown color on bronze sections
  • Low angle blade for face and end grain
  • Fully adjustable
  • Grippy adjustment knobs

Cons:

  • Quite costly

9. Easy to Use: Stanley 12-247

Stanley 12-247

Photo: Stanley

  • Length: 6.63 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.63 in.
  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs.

With a finger rest at the front of the plane, Stanley’s 12-247 is very easy to use because this section gives you better comfort and control.

As for the construction, this piece has a cast iron base with a machined bottom and sides that glide smoothly over wood surfaces. It also has an epoxy coating to enhance durability.

Its blade is placed at a 21º angle from the ground and measures 1.63 inches wide. This is ideal for cross-grain shaving. This component is adjustable depth-wise, which helps you to control the thickness and evenness of the shavings.

The product is covered by a limited lifetime warranty, which is an assurance of quality. On the downside, you don’t get full adjustability, particularly when it comes to the blade angle.

Pros:

  • Comfortable front finger rest
  • Precise machined bottom and sides
  • Durable epoxy coating
  • Depth adjustment
  • Covered by a limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Non-adjustable blade angle

10. Light Duty: Silverline 633569

Silverline 633569

Photo: Silverline

  • Length: 7 in.
  • Blade Size: 1.6 in.
  • Material: Cast Iron, Brass
  • Weight: 1.63 lbs.

This high-quality grey iron casting block plane is specifically built of craft applications, model making, and other light-duty jobs when doing fine finishing & end grain polishing.

As one of the most adjustable block planes, the unit is ideal for such jobs because you can tune the mouth for fine or coarse work. There’s also screw depth control, cam action locking, and lateral control.

All fittings, including the adjustment screws, are made using brass, which is corrosion resistant. What’s more, the material gives a beautiful golden-brown color to contrast the black/grey cast iron body.

However, the tool requires a lot of fine-tuning, including blade sharpening, before use.

Pros:

  • Ideal for craft applications, model making, etc.
  • Highly adjustable
  • Corrosion-resistant brass fittings

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of fine-tuning

How to Buy the Best Block Planes

How to Buy the Best Block Planes

Photo: Stanley

1. Low Angle or Standard Angle

Blades are usually beveled at a 25º angle. When we talk about the low or standard angle, we mean the slanting of the bed because this is where the blade is placed.

Standard block planes usually have this bed tilted at around 20º – 21º, which gives you an overall cutting angle of 45º – 46º when you factor in the blade’s bevel.

On the other hand, low angle block planes usually have their beds tilted at a 12º – 13.5º angle, which means an overall cutting angle of 37º – 38.5º.

Although this is a small difference, it makes the tools ideal for different uses. The standard type is more suitable for working on boards with difficult or changing grain. Meanwhile, the low-angle type is ideal for shaving face or end grains where the fibers align longitudinally.

What happens is that the low angle attacks the fibers from the side, which reduces tearing, resulting in a clean cut. If you use a standard plane on such grains, it will create a rough finish.

2. Wood or Metal

There are 3 main differences between wood and metal block planes. First is the weight. Wooden pieces are very lightweight. As such, they are easier to handle using one hand and can be perfect for precision work. Metal planes are heavier and this has its advantages too. You won’t have to push down as much to shave the wood.

The second difference is adjustability, whereby metal units usually have knobs for easy adjustment. This is not the case with wood planes. Most of them require a mallet or hammer to push in the blade.

Thirdly, metal block planes have an advantage when it comes to durability due to their heavy-duty cast iron bodies. Wooden frames can easily split or crack if under a lot of pressure.

3. Cutting Angle

As explained above, the lower the cutting angle, the better the tool is for shaving face and end grains. The perfect one for this task is Caliastro No. 60-1/2. On the other hand, high cutting angles are better suited for dealing with changing grain.

4. Size & Weight

Long block planes with a wide blade and body width shave more material on every pass. This makes the process faster, which comes in handy for professional use where you have to plane a lot of boards.

As stated earlier, heavy tools don’t need a lot of force to press down. They are easier to use when working on horizontal surfaces. However, they can tire you out when shaving a vertical board. In such a case, a lightweight tool would be ideal. Each one has its upsides and downsides.

Conclusion

To wrap it up, Stanley’s 12-220 takes the top spot as the best block plane due to its fully adjustable design and durable epoxy-coated construction. On top of that, it comes from a reputable brand that has been making professional tools for over 170 years, so you can trust its quality.

For face and end grain shaving, Caliastro No. 60-1/2 is the best option because of its low-angle bed that is slanted 13.5º from the ground. What’s more, you get 2 blades in the set, one for replacement due to wear and tear.

E.C. Emmerich’s 649P is also worth buying if you want a highly precise tool. Though expensive, the unit is very easy to handle and has a self-lubricating rock-hard lignum-vitae sole. This lets you focus all your energy to scrape the right depth.

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