Manual Wood Plane

Manual Wood Planes: Unlock Your Inner Craftsman with these Must-Have Planers of 2024

Manual wood planes and people share at least one thing in common. That is, for both people and the wood crafting tool, getting old does not mean becoming obsolete.

There was a time not too long ago when a good old-fashioned manual wood plane was an indispensable tool for smoothing, shaping, and straightening just about every piece of wood that needed it. Your average carpenter had an entire chest filled with hand wood planes, each with its own special function.

Today, power tools – routers, belt sanders, jointers, and power planers – do the same tasks much faster and with greater versatility. But that doesn’t mean the manual wood plane belongs solely to the collector’s shelf.

To this day, and with all the power tools available, no tool can work close quarters and with finer detail to pare off a thin slice of wood exactly the way you want as a manual wood plane can. The fine art of woodworking requires the intimacy of the human touch, after all.

Indeed, we cannot think of anything better for shaving the edge of a jamming door just a tad, chamfering the corner of a board, or smoothing out the details of more intricate woodwork. 

That’s why the best carpenters around will pack their favorite manual wood plane in their toolbox. That is also why you’ll still find hundreds of models in tool catalogs and well-stocked hardware stores.

To help you out, we have curated our picks for the best manual wood planes you need in your toolkit this year.
To help you out, we have curated our picks for the best manual wood planes you need in your toolkit this year.

The 5 Best of the Best Manual Wood Planes of the Year

The sheer variety of types, models, and functions of manual wood planes sometimes makes it difficult to choose which one would be useful for you. So, to help you out, we have curated our picks for the best manual wood planes you need in your toolkit this year.

The list below isn’t necessarily a list of the best manual wood planes for any particular category or type. They are simply the best in terms of quality, versatility, and durability as manual wood planes in their own respective rights. In fact, on any other list, we think each of these would be number one.  

The fine art of woodworking requires the intimacy of the human touch.
The fine art of woodworking requires the intimacy of the human touch.

1. The Stanley 12-220 Block Manual Wood Plane

Over the decades, Stanley has built a reputation for quality and craftsmanship. It’s been a trusted brand in the woodworking industry for many years. The Stanley 12-220 Block Wood Plane is among the many reasons why.

The 12-220 is a handy tool that woodworkers of all skill levels would appreciate. We think it is good enough for professionals and easy enough to use so that amateurs will value its versatility and usefulness around the workshop.

The Stanley 12-220 Block Plane features a classic and ergonomic design that permits comfortable handling and good control. This block plane’s durable construction promises longevity. The plane features a cast-iron body that provides stability and reduces vibrations during use, resulting in smoother and more accurate cuts.

Tempered Steel Blade, Easy Adjustment

The hardened, tempered steel blade on the 12-220 provides excellent sharpness and edge retention. But that is not to say it will not need sharpening from time to time. Out of the box, the blade arrives pre-sharpened, ready for immediate use.

But because we are sticklers for truly sharp blades when we work with wood, we sharpened it a little more for optimal performance. We found the blade adjustment mechanism easy to use for both depth and lateral adjustments, facilitating precise shaving control. This block plane excels in various woodworking applications.

We used it for chamfering, smoothing rough edges, and fitting joints – all to outstanding results. The compact size of the Stanley 12-220 wood plane makes it ideal for working on smaller projects or in tight spaces where maneuverability is important. Woodworkers can rely on its consistent performance for both end-grain and edge-grain tasks.

Compact and Excellent for Truing

The plane’s compact size and comfortable grip enable extended periods of use without causing excessive strain or discomfort. In fact, we liked using the 12-220. It delivered consistently exceptional results, was easy to use, and straightforward, precise shaving control allowed us to achieve smooth, accurate, and clean cuts.

Now, this tool will require some tuning. We expected that it would, given its easy price point. Tuning it took some time, but we didn’t mind the task too much. However, we do wish Stanley would at least attempt to make the necessary adjustments beforehand. That would have increased our overall satisfaction with the 12-220 even more.

Once tuned, we found that this manual wood plane excels in flattening and truing small surfaces, as well as creating chamfers and fine details. We saw minimal tear-outs during our tests, and it left a clean and polished finish on the various types of wood on which we tested it: pine, mahogany, and seasoned ash, among them.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, the Stanley 12-220 Block Plane is an excellent choice that offers great value for money. Considering its affordable price point and the reputation of the Stanley brand, this block plane should be a cost-effective addition to any woodworker’s toolbox.

The Stanley 12-220 Block Manual Wood Plane

2. KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 Manual Wood Plane

The KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 wood plane is a professional-grade woodworking tool designed to provide precision and efficiency in woodworking projects. This tool features a simple, well-crafted design that combines functionality with comfort.

The compact and lightweight body is made from high-quality materials, ensuring durability and ease of use. The plane’s wooden handle offers a comfortable grip, which means you can use this manual wood plane over extended periods without much strain.

We love the design and build of this manual wood plane. The overall construction of the 41931 exhibits the manufacturers’ careful attention to detail and KaKuri’s commitment to delivering reliable and well-built tools.

Unlike most planers, this Kakuri 41931 manual wood planer is designed to be used by pulling it down your wood surface, as opposed to pushing it like most others. This allows you to maintain maximum control during operation, making it a great choice for those who build on accuracy in their work.

Light, Precise, and Sharp

This plane’s wooden body, lightweight – just 8.9 ounces – and compact size also make it ideal for performing precise movements. The lightness of the Kakuri 41931 makes such movement almost intuitive. This is just not possible with heavier, bulkier planes.

Equipped with a high-quality steel blade, the KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 manual wood plane delivers exceptional sharpness and cutting performance. The blade arrives pre-sharpened, ready for immediate use.

The superior blade quality ensures clean and precise cuts, reducing the need for extensive sanding or additional finishing work. We found adjusting the blade depth easy, enabling fine-tuning for various woodworking tasks.

To adjust the blade, tap the top of the blade with a hammer to move the blade forward. Be sure to look at the sole of the plane body. Observe the blade as it approaches the mouth of the sole. Take care never to tap the center of the plane body’s head. Doing so can cause the plane body to split or crack.

We likewise recommend sharpening the blade as soon as you notice the slightest dulling. That way you get the most of what the Kakuri 41931 offers.

Versatile, Excellent Results

The KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 wood plane is a versatile tool suitable for a wide range of woodworking applications. Its compact size makes it ideal for both small-scale projects and intricate detailing work. Whether you’re working on planing end grain, smoothing rough surfaces, or fitting joints, this manual wood plane provides consistent results.

Using the KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 manual wood plane is easy, thanks to its user-friendly design. The plane’s adjustment mechanisms, such as the blade depth adjustment, are intuitive. The overall ergonomic design contributes to a smooth and controlled woodworking experience.

The performance of the KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 Manual wood plane is exemplary. Its sharp blade and precise adjustment mechanisms ensure consistent and accurate cuts across various wood types.

The plane effortlessly shaves off thin layers of wood, resulting in smooth surfaces and well-defined edges. Woodworkers will appreciate its ability to minimize tear-out, leaving behind a clean finish.

The performance and results we obtained with this manual wood plane during testing would more than meet the demands of both professionals and enthusiasts alike.

When it comes to value for money, the KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 Manual wood plane shines. Its affordable price, coupled with its impressive build quality and performance, make it an excellent investment for woodworkers of all levels. For those seeking an affordable yet high-quality woodworking tool, the KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 Manual wood plane is a great option.

KaKUrI KAKURI 41931 Manual Wood Plane

3. Stanley Contractor-Grade 12-960 Wood Plane

This Stanley contractor-grade 12-960  manual wood plane generally gets better grades than the equivalent offering in the “Sweetheart” line from the same manufacturer in overall users’ reviews.  The 12-960 is a 6-1/4-inch-long contractor-grade low-angle block plane that features a 1-5/8-inch cutter.

The fully adjustable cutter sits at 21 degrees and is adjustable to 13 1/2 degrees, which makes it an ideal tool for end-grain woodworking jobs. It can even be used on plastics, too. The casing is made from cast iron with precision-ground sides and soles.

 There’s a quick-release cam-lock for quick iron removal, which we liked. The design of this manual wood planer is such that you can use it with one hand, thanks to the convenient finger grips on the sides of the unit.

The solid and robust construction of the 12-960’s cast iron body provides good stability and durability. The metal components are well-machined, ensuring a secure fit. The handle offers a comfortable grip during extended use.

Blade and Cutting Performance

Equipped with a high-quality blade, the Stanley 12-960 wood plane delivers precise and clean cuts. We did practically no tuning on this tool. The plane sole and sides were flat and square and worked fine.

The blade is made of hardened steel, which enhances its longevity and edge retention. The sharpness of the blade allows for good planing, achieving smooth and accurate results.

You can customize the depth of the cut according to your needs with a simple adjustment. The depth control is precise and easy to use, providing versatility for various woodworking projects.

The engineers over at Stanley obviously designed this manual wood plane with user comfort in mind. The handle is ergonomically shaped, providing a secure and comfortable grip. The tool is well-balanced, which further enhances control and reduces strain. We had no problems using it with one hand.

This wood planer from Stanley is suitable for a range of heavy woodworking applications. We used it for smoothing rough surfaces, planing doors and window frames on a construction site, chamfering edges, and more.

Good Value for Your Money, But …

Considering its solid construction, reliable performance, and affordable price point, the Stanley 12-960 wood planer offers excellent value for money. This plane also weighs just 1.3 pounds. That makes it a good fit for those who are planning on using it for all-day projects.

With its dependable performance and long-lasting quality, this manual wood plane can prove to be a wise investment for woodworking enthusiasts.

Our only gripe here is that it sometimes requires unexpected adjustments when in use. But then this tool is meant for doing less refined work. Hence, some users may be fine with the adjustment drawbacks after touching up the tool. Basically, this is not a high-end, premium tool. It doesn’t pretend to be one – and that is what we like about it.

Stanley Contractor-Grade 12-960 Wood Plane

4. WoodRiver Low Angle Block Wood Plane

What first struck us about the WoodRiver Low Angle Block Wood Plane is its solid construction and attention to detail. The body is made of durable cast iron, providing stability and a comfortable grip during use. The plane’s size is just right for its purpose, allowing for easy maneuverability without compromising on functionality.

The adjustable mouth and angle allow for a good variety of woodworking applications. We thought this manual wood plane’s solid, robust weight and balance perfect for its purpose at just over 2 lbs. We think its weight and feel contribute to better control and smooth operation as it did seem to reduce strain during our extended testing.

The blade was not as sharp as we had hoped right out of the box. We had to sharpen it a quite bit before we could test the unit. Once sharpened, though, the blade held its edge well, even after extended use.

Good Right Out of the Box

This low-angle block manual wood plane measures 7.85 x 3.15 x 2.75 inches. The low bed angle is 12 degrees with a bevel angle of 25 degrees and features the knuckle-style lever cap. You adjust the blade with a rear knob.

Our test unit was great. We could have just tested this low-angle block plane right out of the box if we had wanted. The blade was sharp, and the sole was as flat as we expected it to be from the WoodRiver company.

The front knob operates the adjustable mouth which gives you the option to fine-tune the tool. Just how thin do you want those shavings to be? If you want them paper-thin, you got it. We had no difficulty adjusting the blade – but more on that later.

We were quite pleased with the results of our tests with this WoodRiver tool, particularly for trimming end grain and chamfering edges. The all-important 1-5/8-inch blade is made from high carbon steel, hardened to RC60-64 standard to ensure you get excellent results. We got nice, thin shavings time after time.

Outstanding Performance and Value

We’ve read some negative reviews and complaints about this particular WoodRiver manual wood plane. We encountered none of those disappointments we had heard so much about. Whether that was just plain luck on our part, receiving a particularly good unit out of the box, we cannot really say. 

Sure, the blade adjustment mechanism, although functional, could be slightly more intuitive. If you happen to be new to traditional hand tools, it may take some time and practice to become familiar with the adjustment process and achieve the desired results consistently. But that is to be expected.

Of course, we all know that woodworkers like to add their own personal touch to their new tools. We are no different. With a little bit of our own tuning, like honing the blade and setting up just how we like it, we found we had a wood plane we enjoyed using.

Our bottom line? The WoodRiver Low Angle Block Wood Plane is a high-quality woodworking tool that delivers outstanding performance and precision. We liked its solid build, adjustable features, and blade sharpness.

While it might have a slightly less intuitive blade adjustment mechanism, this small issue did not reduce its overall functionality and versatility – at least, not by our reckoning. We think it rightly belongs on our list of the best manual wood planes of 2024.

WoodRiver Low Angle Block Wood Plane

5. Grizzly H7566 14” Wood Plane

Woodworking enthusiasts and professionals understand the significance of a reliable hand plane that delivers precision and performance. Right out of the box, we liked the Grizzly H7566 14” wood plane for its solid build quality and impressive design.

This manual wood plane boasts an aesthetically pleasing outline and sturdy construction. In designing this tool, Grizzly prioritized user experience, ensuring intuitive adjustment mechanisms and features that aid in reducing fatigue during extended use.

This tool offers full plane iron adjustments, cast iron bases, frog and lever caps, chip breakers, and knurled brass adjusting nuts.  The ground-serrated sole is designed to smoothen the tool’s sliding action by reducing resistance. The robust cast iron body promises longevity and stability during use.

Now, there are those who have noted that the lateral adjustment mechanism on the H7566 can be slightly stiff, requiring additional effort to fine-tune the blade alignment. While we did not encounter the same problem with our test kit, we suggest that you take note of this reported issue.

Even and Accurate

The 14-inch length provides ample surface area for smoothing and flattening workpieces of various sizes. The handle offers a comfortable, firm grip. The H7566 weighs 5.5 lbs. We found its relatively lightweight construction perfect for driving the tool on wood surfaces.

Granted, it’s not the lightest manual wood plane around. But, given its function, this manual wood plane is light enough so that you can move around with it without even noticing its weight in your toolkit all that much. We certainly didn’t.

The H7566 functioned well during our tests, too, delivering even and accurate results. It comes with a razor-sharp blade that will straighten and smoothen any piece of wood. The hardened steel blade on this manual wood plane leaves behind a refined finish, which makes it excellent for final smoothing and polishing.

The blade’s precise angle ensures consistent cuts, while the adjustable mouth opening allows for customized shaving thickness.

 The blade will require some sharpening, though. We found its quality somewhat lacking in that department. But we did not think the minor inconvenience impacted the overall functionality or performance of this manual wood plane.

Some Drawbacks, But Excellent Bang for Your Buck

Grizzly Industrial is a recognized brand, celebrated by its fans for woodworking tools, metalworking tools, and machinery.  They sell jointer planes, dust collectors, wood band saws, metal lathes, shapers, and many more.

In fact, we say the Grizzly H7566 14” Wood Plane is a good tool that excels in many aspects. Its robust build quality, elegant design, and precise performance make it an asset for woodworking projects.

For truing the longest edges and surfaces, we say the H7566 is a good choice.  The long sole on this manual wood plane is good for flattening benchtops or jointing longboards.

We think woodworkers seeking a dependable and versatile manual wood plane will find the Grizzly H7566 to be a valuable addition to their tool collection.  There are better wood planes on the market now, of course. The best ones will cost you. This is not the case with this Grizzly manual wood planer.

This is a good wood plane for the price. Despite its minor drawbacks, we think this affordable hand plane delivers on its promise of quality craftsmanship, precision, and durability, ensuring a satisfying woodworking experience for both professionals and hobbyists alike.

Grizzly H7566 14” Wood Plane

Choosing the Right Wood Plane

Manual wood planes come in various types, each designed for specific purposes. Familiarizing yourself with the different planes will enable you to make informed decisions when selecting the right tool for a particular woodworking project.

Of course, each wood plane is designed for a specific purpose. Familiarizing yourself with the different planes will enable you to make informed decisions when selecting the right tool for a particular woodworking project.

Using the right manual wood plane is only half the battle. Employing proper techniques is equally important to achieve optimal results. Remember, maintaining a sharp blade is crucial for effective wood planing. Regularly sharpen and hone the blade to ensure clean cuts and prevent tear-outs.

Set up your manual wood plane correctly before use, too. This is important, especially as this tool will require some physical effort on your part. The set-up process involves adjusting the blade depth, throat opening, and lateral alignment to achieve the desired cut.

Finally, always consider the wood grain direction when planing. Planing against the grain may result in tear-outs while planing with the grain allows for smoother, cleaner cuts.

Do you have a manual wood plane in your toolkit?



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