Which smoothing plane do I buy?

Hello Paul

My name is Satjapon, I live in Thailand. I begin to do woodcraft for 3 years. I need your comment about planes. I am looking for premium plane and I have seen your review about JUUMA planes. What do you recommend between buy Lie-Nielsen (more expensive) or buy JUUMA as I am a beginner. Exactly my budget is limited however I love to do woodcraft, is it worth to invest hi-end planes such as Veritas /Lie-Nielsen ?

Best Regards

Having used both extensively, I could find no difference in quality between the two planes I tested, but I only tested one plane from each maker so it could be that one was the best they ever made and the other the worst. The important thing for me is to try where possible to buy domestic products. All countries need employment and employers have a remendous burden to provide not just a well made product at competitive prices but also employment local to their production facility. In the western world we tend to pursue cheaper prices and so we buy cheaper products and before too long the local providers are out of business. Most manufacturers failed to see local loyalty as a moral position. They sold out to the cheapest provider and jobs have been lost on every continent.The monstrous companies like Irwin (really Rubbermaid, Nicholson files and dozens more have sold out the birthright of young people to work in their own country on products people once had high regard for. So, whereas I see and will give an honest review on products regardless of where they are made, I don’t necessarily want to endorse products that lead to unemployment and so on. I highly respect domestic companies on any continent that sets a standard, doesn’t compromise and at the same time takes on the responsibility for providing apprenticeship training (an expensive risk), supports a local workforce by employment and keeps a local industry moving, especially in hard times such as we face in the western world today. Lie Nielsen makes excellent products as do Veritas and Clico of their UK. I just wish that one of them wood lighten up and give me a lightweight alternative to heavy planes with their engineering standards. When someone does that I will be right behind them. Companies like Woodcraft USA copied Lie Nielsen for some reason. Perhaps it was price, perhaps it was supplies and delivery scheduling I dont know, but there are two planemakers competing for the same dollar and their planes are the same product. At least, not having tested the Woodriver planes too much, I think they are. Abandoning the Bailey-pattern plane was a big mistake in my practical opinion. There was nothing wrong with it, which brings me to my answer to you, Satjapon. Probably in Thailand the standard Stanley is not readily available. That said, if you will pay the eBay cost and shipping, I will buy a # 4 for you, sharpen and tune it and ship it to you with no charge for my work.


  1. Wow! That’s very generous of you Sir! I am sure the OP will be very happy to get such valuable assistance from you.

  2. I agree with your comment: “The important thing for me is to try where possible to buy domestic products” so would not it make more sense for someone in Thailand to first find out if traditional Thai planes of any quality are still being made. And if the answer is yes – then that is what he should buy. It’s actually an extremely interesting question for me. What do traditional Thai woodworking tools look like? and is there any of that tradition left?

    1. Perhaps you are right, but if he is following a western tradition, his preference, then he is likely to want a western plane like a Stanley or a Lie Nielsen and such like that. I likely gave him a fuller answer than he wanted I suppose. I certainly don’t think he should stick with a Thai plane if for instance it doesn’t work as well as one of Tom Nielsen’s planes.

  3. No, not all diamond plates are created equal. I use EZE Lap and they have proven well worth the money for me because they last and they stay dead flat. DMT too are good plates. They cost a little more.

  4. Traditional Thai planes are still being made, as far as I have found.. I know only one expert plane maker here (http://www.facebook.com/wenhandplanes). I understand that these planes are Chinese”s style, as the plane maker’s teacher is Chinese. Other than these quality wooden hand planes, we do not have any good quality iron plane around here. Sourcing from abroad is much more comfortable 🙂 I started to learn woodworking since 3 years ago too (following the hand tools path.. uh, how comes I didn’t see Paul’s teaching at that time!). During the tools accumulating period, I have acquired some Veritas and ECE hand planes. k.Satjapon, if you want to try your hand on some of these planes before making your investment, you can contact me (0867755100, ah, yes I’m in Bangkok). .. last.. thank you Paul, I really like the way you teach, especially on how to utilize the path of wood grain. So now, I’m back to practice my wood splitting skill :))))

  5. Paul,

    If you’re still in the US, I have a spare UK no4 that I could send to you to tweak and then the OP just needs to pay to ship it to him.

    Let me know if you’re interested?

  6. I like the Veritas small bevel up plane very much, but these bevel-up planes cannot replace the bevel down planes for many reasons. I think that they are good secondary planes, but they cannot replace say the #4 Stanley plane for regular bench work. One of these days I will do a film on the #4 smoothing plane to prove many of my point but time escapes me right now.
    If it is a question of simply liking a new plane and this fits your fancy then go ahead. As I said, I like the plane, but it will not and cannot do what a bevel-down plane can do in the everyday long run of woodworking life and though many people are giving these planes great ratings, in the core of hand planing, they are in my view quite limited.

  7. Were I to choose two bevel-up planes for my toolbox I would most likely go for the Veritas small bevel-up plane and the bevel-up jack plane. One has the compactness I like and the other the added length for jointing edges for highly refined work and especially so for end grain. I relied on this plane heavily when I made two cabinets back in 2009 from mesquite veneers with ebony and oak inlays. In addition I would add two more block planes from their collection, the Veritas apron plane http://www.veritastools.com/Products/Page.aspx?p=107; again compactness wins my vote and then their block plane, the DX60 block plane is a really fine tool. http://www.veritastools.com/Products/Page.aspx?p=483
    I hope that this helps. All too often we want an either or when in actuality it is a question of both, but circumstances are different for people and so they must set their own priorities.

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