I chose the plane pictured below for this article because it is common and inexpensive. It is a modern Stanley #5 jack plane made in England. I bought it at a flea market for $7. My purpose is to show you that just about any plane can be made to work well with some knowledge and work. The object of this article will be to make this plane work well not to make it look pretty.
Flea market Stanley #5 jack plane.
Iron bench planes have been in production since the Civil War era. There are so many on the used market that it should not be hard to find what you are looking for. I recommend that a beginner choose a #5 jack plane for the first plane.
The #5 is called a jack plane because it is “the jack of all trades” as the saying goes. This plane can be used to chute (commonly referred to today as shoot) the edges of boards for panel glueups, roughing boards to thickness, even smoothing surfaces. It is my go to plane and the one I most often use.
One note of caution here. As I stated above these old iron planes were made by the millions and are very plentiful. Inspect a potential purchase carefully before you buy. If it has missing or damaged parts DON’T BUY IT! There are so many of these old planes that there is no need to buy anything that is damaged or incomplete. Replacement parts are expensive.
The jack plane with some of its parts identified.
Let’s begin by identifying the parts of this plane. In the photo above you can see the knob, the lever cap and the tote.
The #5 from the rear.