The Best Block Planes to Smooth and Shape Wood
Block planes are invaluable when it comes to smoothing and trimming wood surfaces, and unlike their larger cousins—bench planes—are small enough to be used one-handed. This makes them not only useful for smaller planing jobs like cleaning up end grain, or leveling out dovetails, but also convenient to carry around in your belt or toolbox. Even if you’re more comfortable working with power tools, traditional hand tools like these still have their place in a garage or tool shed, and once you get the hang of them, you might find yourself using them more than you think.
What to Consider
If you know that you’re going to be working with medium-sized lumber, any of the basic, single blade options below will be fine, but if you know you’re handling smaller pieces, we’d recommend going with an extra-small option. Their narrow blades allow you to focus your planing on a more precise area, and can offer more control than larger planes.
For shaping softer wood, or materials like drywall, PVC, or foam, you should probably consider a surform option. Unlike most planes that use one blade to remove single sheets of wood, these are designed like a food grater, with many small blades.
When your work calls for more larger-scale planing projects, you'll likely want to go with a bench planer, instead of a block plane. These are larger, two-handed tools meant for smoothing rough lumber, or other lengthy wood pieces.
How We Selected
Although I typically used automatic, corded planers in my woodshop, I still have experience using different types of block planes. I used this insight to put together this list of options, as well as additional research to get a better idea of the different types of planes that would be most useful to the average DIY-er. I kept pricing in mind as well, so whether you’re ready for a high-end tool that will last for years, or a beginner option to get you started, you should find a plane that fits your budget.
Quickly and precisely remove thin layers of wood with this compact, easy-to-use tool.