5 Best Manual Planers for the Money

For centuries, carpenters have relied on the best manual planers to achieve a perfect wood finish. No other woodworking tool can remove precise layers of wood quite like it.

The best parts? It doesn’t take much effort to use, is way more durable than electric planer models, and does the same job, sometimes even better.

Because they don’t need a bulky battery pack or messy power cords, manual hand planers are often the more practical solution.

In a world where technology is king, it’s pretty refreshing to see old-school tools that still make the grade.

A manual planer is simple, with very little to go wrong. In fact, if you buy a quality hand planer today, you can expect it to last generations.

Table of Contents

    A Quick Look at Our Top 5 Manual Planers

    Whether you’re installing a door or kitchen cabinets, you need a good wood planer.

    It’s easy to use for removing small amounts of wood to obtain a perfect fit. Just adjust the blade in relation to the throat plate, and off you go.

    Not sure how to find the right one? The reviews below should guide you toward the perfect manual planer for your intended application.

    We’ve researched the brands that offer the best value.

    All the manual hand planers here have received top customer reviews, indicating they are of the highest quality standard and meet all user requirements.

    Best Manual Planers Reviews

    When looking to buy anything online, you must do your own research to ensure you get the best product for your needs.

    This is why we have taken the time to take a more in-depth look at each model so you can rest assured that you are getting good value for your money.

    1. Stanley 12-137, No. 62 Low-Angle Jack Plane

    Stanley “Sweetheart” Manual Planers have won the hearts of carpenters for a long time now, and it’s easy to see why.

    To understand why it’s a good buy, one good example to check out from this series is the Stanley 12-137, No.62.


    The Stanley 12-137, No. 62 is a low-angle jack planer, making it the perfect tool for shooting miters, initial smoothing, and working end grain.

    The cherry handle and knob not only look fantastic but offer a wonderfully comfortable grip. Plus, the Norris-type adjustment makes it really easy to use.

    It has a two-inch-wide blade with a thickness of 3/6 inches. The planer has a length of 14 inches.

    As you can see, this is a well-designed tool. It is solid and has an excellently machined base.

    More importantly, Stanley has been manufacturing hand tools for well over a century.

    Its reputation in this field is legendary, and it offers a lifetime guarantee on all hand (non-electric) tools.

    However, the company has experienced some quality control issues in recent years. Fortunately, its customer service is great.

    Out-of-box problems may be a bit inconvenient, but you should have the issue sorted promptly after contacting Stanley.


    • Quality materials
    • Mouth plate adjustment for different woods
    • Extra strength 3/6-inch blade


    • Possible out-of-box defects
    • Blades are not available at all retail stores

    2. WoodRiver Standard Block Plane

    A block planer is one of the most versatile designs of all planers because of its myriad of uses, making it a must-have item in any woodworking tool collection.

    The WoodRiver Standard Block Hand Plane is based on the tried and tested classic Stanley No. 18.

    You’ll notice that some improvements have been made, mostly strengthening the weak points of the old design.


    The WoodRiver Standard Block Plane boasts a one-inch blade with a 20-degree bed angle and a knuckle-style lever cap.

    Not everyone is that fond of the lever cap, though. It can be accidentally pushed while working, and some may find it tricky to use.

    The tool is two-inch wide and seven inches in length.

    Immediately, you will find that solid metal is used throughout, making this a quality tool that is surprisingly affordable.

    As for the blade, it is manufactured from high-quality one-inch carbon steel.

    Where quality and price are concerned, this is possibly WoodRiver’s best-value block plane. It Is a little heavy for its size, but that’s because of its solid construction.

    Besides, WoodCraft is an American company that has gained a reputation for quality tools since 1928, so you can rest assured you are buying from a quality manufacturer.


    • Affordable
    • Proven design
    • Solid metal components


    • Not everyone likes the knuckle lever cap
    • Heavier than some others

    3. Stanley 12-139, No. 60 Low-Angle Block Plane

    Not too different from the WoodRiver Standard Block Plane, the Stanley 12-139, No.60 is also a wonderfully versatile and well-crafted tool.

    This design has been perfected over the years, but is it the manual wood planer you’re looking for? Let’s find out.


    Like other Stanley planers, this low-angle block planer has a Norris-style adjuster and a one-inch extra-strong blade.

    The planer measures six inches long and is two inches wide, and you’ll find the 12 low-angle bed perfect for cutting into end grain.

    What makes this planer one of the best is that it’s made of high-quality materials. Its A2 steel construction and solid brass mechanisms make it really durable.

    Although there have been a few complaints in the quality control department, this one fares better than many other Stanley hand planers.

    It’s a great tool you can get your hands on for a reasonable price.


    • Quality materials
    • Precision-machined
    • Mouth adjustment for different types of wood


    • Minor quality control issues
    • Blades are not readily available from some retailers

    4. Taytools 469607 Hand Plane No. 5

    At just under $100, it’s hard to believe that the Taytools Hand Plane No. 5 is of such a high-quality standard.

    It’s one of the most widely used types of planers, so it’s easy to understand why this tool is so popular.


    In terms of quality and craftsmanship, this manual hand planer defies its affordable price.

    High-quality ductile cast iron is used for the frog and body, while high-precision engineering is evident in the machining of the sole down to 0.003 inches.

    Moreover, we really like the comfortable grip provided by the hand-rubbed Sapele knob and tote.

    The Taytools 469607 Manual Jack Planer measures 14 1/4 inches in length, with a width of two inches.

    It has a 45-degree bed angle and a hardened steel blade. Plus, high-quality brass makes for incredibly durable adjustment knobs.

    While some may say this is an excellent manual hand planer for its price, we’d say this is an excellent tool, period.

    We tried to find some legitimate customer complaints, but they are few and far between. Perhaps, the lever cap could be easier to use.


    • High-precision engineering
    • Comfortable to use
    • Durable cast iron


    • Lever cap can be complicated to use

    5. WoodRiver No. 1 Bench Hand Plane V3

    The WoodRiver No. 1 Bench Hand Planer is small enough to use with one hand. This makes it a handy manual hand planer for those tight spaces where others simply won’t get in.

    The classic design is timeless and has proven to last for many years.


    For a smaller manual hand plane measuring one inch wide and five inches long, some may feel this product is a bit pricey.

    However, for the level of quality you’re getting, we don’t find this to be a particularly expensive tool.

    Plus, the best quality hardwood is used for the tote and knob, giving it a classic look and making it comfortable to use.

    It can withstand rough handling and can tackle most jobs that regular-sized planers can.

    From the excellently crafted handles to the solid brass adjusters and ductile cast iron used for the frog and body, this is a truly superb small manual planer.

    The precision machining for all critical components is some of the best we’ve seen.

    The blade is also super tough and is made out of T10 carbon steel. Because of its smaller size, the tool weighs only 1.3 pounds.

    Unrivaled quality and superb engineering define the WoodRiver No. 1 Bench Planer as one of the very best small-sized manual hand planers.

    Some people may just want it because of the fantastic classic good looks.


    • High-quality materials
    • Lightweight and compact
    • Precision-engineered


    • Quite expensive
    • Small size with limited applications

    6. Caliastro Bench Plane No. 5

    The Caliastro Bench Plane in style No. 5 is an adjustable wood hand planer. Its stained natural wood knob and handle were smoothed and polished for a beautiful high-gloss finish.

    But it’s more than just its looks. You can expect it to get the job done and get you beautiful results.


    This smooth-bottomed iron jack plane measures two inches wide and 14 inches long. More than that, it comes with a spare blade and a pre-mounted one.

    The razor-sharp 7.5-inch blade is made from a tempered and fully hardened high-carbon steel material, ensuring precision and durability.

    Also, a solid brass nut secures the blade and attachment, providing a longer life than a standard clamp used by other brands.

    Lightly covering the bench plane is a packing oil to protect it from scratches during transportation. You can just wipe it off once delivered.

    To preserve the tool during storage, ensure you wrap it in rust-resistant paper and store it in a dry place.

    Although this bench plane is ready to use out of the box, take time to make the necessary adjustments according to your working preference.

    It’s an ideal tool for beginners to chamfer edges, smooth the wood, or trim the edges of thick and rough pieces of lumber.


    • Works well on softwood once fine-tuned
    • Has thick blade
    • The depth and lateral adjustments function well
    • Solid plane construction
    • Flat and smooth sole


    • Requires hours of fine-tuning
    • Can rust if not stored properly

    7. GreatNeck C4 Bench Plane

    GreatNeck is an independent American company that has been producing quality tools since 1919. 

    It’s a global supplier of various products, including automotive, hardware, home improvement, and sporting goods.

    One of its well-loved tools is this nine-inch bench jack plane with two ergonomic plastic grips that make working on fine-grained or coarse wood surfaces easier.


    This bench plane’s cast-iron body underwent meticulous machining and polishing, providing you with a durable and long-lasting tool.

    You can easily adjust the alloy steel blade to your specific needs and use it to smoothen the rough surfaces of any wood.

    Adjustments will become more manageable by using the lever for lateral changes and the screw for fine-tuning the blade’s depth.

    What makes this bench jack plane from GreatNeck ideal for reducing and flattening the uneven thickness of lumber is its two-inch wide high-speed steel cutter.

    It’s a perfect tool for heavy-duty applications for newbies and professional woodworkers alike.


    • Easy to use
    • Versatile and durable
    • Can hold an edge
    • Solid and hefty sole


    • Plastic grips amplify vibrations
    • Sole is not flat

    Buyer’s Guide

    A hand plane is one of the oldest woodworking tools dating back to Roman times thousands of years ago.

    Simply move this tool back and forth on the wood surface to add the finishing touches and smoothen your work.

    It has a basic design of an iron blade supported by a wooden body. It was only in the 19th century that manufacturers produced iron-bodied planers.

    Both designs still exist today, but their popularity depends on where you are.

    The iron-bodied models are more prevalent in the UK and North America, while the wooden ones are favored in Asia and continental Europe.

    Whichever design you choose, there are specific factors you need to consider when looking for a hand plane, including:

    1. Blade Angle

    A plane’s blade angle is an important consideration when buying this woodworking tool because it can affect what and how it can cut.

    Blades at a lower angle, like in block planes, slices through the wood, making it ideal for cutting end grain.

    On the other hand, high-angled blades found in Chinese and scraper planes are great for working burrs with intricate grain patterns and for exotic wood.

    Most bench planes have a 45-degree blade angle to the wood, allowing them to work efficiently on both softwoods and hardwoods.

    That said, it’s important to consider the type of wood you will be working with and your intended purpose before deciding on a plane and its blade angle.

    2. Blade Thickness

    The blade’s thickness determines its solidity and flexibility during operation. You see, if you mount a thin edge on your tool, it may cause chatter or vibrations while cutting.

    When this happens, the wood surface will have a rigged or jagged finish.

    Thicker blades are more rigid and will not bend, providing a more stable movement on a wood’s surface.

    3. Body Material

    As mentioned, hand planes have two body designs, and your choice depends on your preferred woodworking style.

    Hand planes with metal bodies are more durable and wear-resistant, perfect for working on hardwood and abrasive timbers without too much effort.

    Also, metal hand planes provide a more consistent result and effortless blade depth adjustment; thus, more woodworkers prefer them over wood planes.

    The low-angled metal plane is lighter, has a shallower depth, and comes with an easy-to-adjust thicker blade that is more manageable to control.

    The oldest and more affordable style is a wooden hand plane with a simple metal blade secured by a wooden wedge.

    The smooth sole of the wooden-bodied hand plane will not damage or scratch your work, leaving you with a more leveled and finer finish.

    However, fine-tuning the blade depth is challenging and requires time and effort, regardless if you’re a professional carpenter or not.

    4. Comfortable Grip

    Another factor to consider when looking for a hand plane is its comfort during operation. Most heavy planes have a curved handle and a large knob.

    The user grips the handle with his dominant hand while the other holds the knob to guide the plane as it slides over the wood surface.

    Although some manufacturers use round metal handles, polished wood can absorb more impact and vibration, providing a more comfortable grip.

    Some smaller models come with one knob for better control, while most all-wood planes have no handles, and the user only holds the body.

    5. Frog Type

    The frog part supports the blade, so it’s an important factor to consider when looking for a hand plane.

    The hand plane’s performance depends on its design and how it fits inside the tool’s body. Currently, the frog has two popular styles, namely Bailey and Bedrock.

    Most hand planes use the adjustable Bailey frog or the standard pitch, placed on the upper part of the tool’s machined surface.

    It has two screws to keep it in place and is only accessible by removing the plane blade assembly.

    After loosening the screws, you will find a fine-tuning knob behind the frog for changing its position to close or open the plane’s mouth.

    Comparatively, a Bedrock frog continues to a more prominent slot formed into the plane’s sole, extending its blade support almost to the cutting edge.

    It features a niche on each side, placing the frog onto two elevations on the plane’s body and keeping it straight and square.

    With the Bedrock frog design, you can close and open the plane’s mouth using two screws behind the frog without removing the plane blade assembly.

    Although Bedrock planes cost more than Bailey’s, most folks consider them more stable, eliminating chatter and movement.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. When to use a hand planer?

    A hand planer is an indispensable tool for carpenters and has many uses, but when should you use one?

    Hand planers are perfect for any wood project. Though new and powerful tools abound, nothing can beat the efficiency of hand planes.

    You can use a reliable hand planer if you need to trim off the edge of a door that won’t close correctly.

    It’s also ideal for making a sloping edge on a board’s corner or straightening a warped or twisted wood for your project.

    2. Can you use a hand planer to remove paint?

    Although you can use a hand planer to remove paint on wood, most professionals don’t recommend it.

    The blade will cut into the wood or scrape the paint off, causing the edge to break or dull as it eats into the acrylic.

    Some paints tend to be more rigid than wood when dried, which can cause more problems and add to the total cost of your project.

    You can use a hand plane to reach the clean part of the wood after scraping or sanding the first few layers of paint.

    3. What are the different types of manual hand planes?

    Most woodworkers know what a hand planer is, but only a few know its many variations. Let’s look into its different types and their specific functions below:

    • Bench Plane

    A bench plane comes in different versions, making it more of a category than a hand planer type.

    Because of its versatility and ease of use, it is the most commonly used hand plane. The additional chip breaker is what makes it more appealing.

    Some versions of the bench plane category include a fore, a jointer, or a smoother plane.

    The only thing that separates one style from the other is its size, giving each one a specific functionality.

    • Smoothing Plane

    Woodworkers use a smoothing plane during the last steps of a project to smoothen the surface and achieve a finished look before adding any wood treatment.

    It has a shorter body measuring seven to 10 inches, allowing it to smooth out small areas and achieve a sandpaper-like finish.

    • Block Plane

    A block plane is affordable, small, and versatile with a 12- or 20-degree blade.

    Its primary function is to shape and smooth the wood surface or remove the end grain of a sawed board.

    This functionality is possible because of its bevel-up blade design, allowing you to smooth edges even at a deeper angle.

    It’s closely similar to a smoothing plane but at a shorter length of three to seven inches, taking off less wood than other versions.

    • Fore Plane

    A fore plane is a 14- to 20-inch tool used for removing excess wood on a rough board in preparation for its smoothing process.

    It’s sometimes mistakenly called a jack plane, but a fore plane is lengthier and can level more massive workpieces effectively.

    Typically, it is the first tool most woodworkers use to work on a roughly sawn wood or the second option after the jack plane.

    It can level the workpiece and remove the excess material quickly before transitioning to a smoothing or a jointer plane.

    Fore planers can remove larger shavings when used diagonally or perpendicular to the grain.

    • Jointer Plane

    A jointer plane is the longest among the options, measuring 22 to 30 inches. This makes it the perfect tool for straightening curved boards.

    Generally, woodworkers will start working on a project using the jointer plane and prepare dimensional lumber.

    Because of its size, its action can cover a larger area, so it is easier to flatten and smooth out rough lumber.

    However, due to the same reason, it can also remove more wood than necessary if you don’t know how to use it correctly.

    Because of a jointer plane’s added length, you need to set it up and exert more constant pressure when making long strokes.

    • Jack Plane

    A jack plane, generally used for aligning longboards and removing warps, belongs to the mid-range size of planers, measuring 12 to 17 inches.

    Some woodworkers think they don’t need a jack plane for their projects without realizing that this tool offers better results on specific tasks.

    It has a slightly curved blade, so you can use it to remove more wood quicker.

    • Japanese Plane

    A Japanese plane, also called kanna, is a popular tool in Japan. It’s different from western hand planes because it uses a pulling stroke to work.

    Japanese woodworkers believe it’s easier to achieve precision using raw power, ensuring they don’t remove more materials even with more strokes.

    Also, Japanese planes have a more straightforward design, featuring a blade and a solid wood body. In turn, this makes them easier to use and adjust.

    Regarding the blade, a Japanese plane uses a softer steel material on top of its edges for easier sharpening.

    Although these specialized planes are less versatile than their western counterparts, they provide incredibly polished work.

    • Leveling Plane

    A leveling plane is another standard planer that looks almost identical to a joint planer. It has a slightly wider body, giving it more coverage with every stroke.

    Compared to others, you can use this type of manual planer to create straighter cuts easily.

    Which Manual Planer Offers the Best Value for Your Money?

    Of the seven best manual planers we tried and tested, the Stanley 12-137, No. 62 stood out the most.

    This low-angle jack plane, and its slightly curved blade, is an excellent woodworking tool you can use to tackle many projects.

    It won’t set you back hundreds of dollars, and you can rest assured it can last for many years.

    If you need a smaller yet equally reliable wood planer, check out the WoodRiver Standard Block Plane.

    While more compact, it’s designed to be durable and long-lasting.

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