What Is A Jack Plane?

jack plane
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The jack plane is one of the most commonly used of all of the bench planes. The jack plane is used for rough work, straightening surfaces, reducing the thickness, it can also be used for accurate shooting of moderately long edges. One very common job a user will use this tool for is to take shavings off of a door which is sticking.

The best description to answer the question 'what is a jack plane?' is: they are typically 14 - 15 inches in length and 2 - 2 3/8 inch wide. The '2 inch' planes are generally known as 'number 5' planes and the '2 3/8 inch' planes are known as 'number 5 1/2' planes. These types of plane are very convenient to handle; with the use of a rear handle and most commonly a front knob (infill jack planes had a front bun infill; a raised shaped piece of wood).

The term 'jack' is an old word used in reference to an item which is used for rough and familiar work. There are numerous old items which have references to the word 'jack' such as a 'jack' (a tool for raising heavy weights), 'boot-jack' (a tool to assist taking off boots), 'jack-boots' (pair of boots worn for rough work), and 'roasting-jack' (a tool for turning a spit).

Jack Plane Parts

A typical metal / iron jack plane consists of the following parts:

jack plane

  • A - Plane Body
  • B - Rear Handle
  • C - Front Knob
  • D - Frog
  • E - Lateral Blade Adjuster Lever
  • F - Frog Screws
  • G - Mouth
  • H - Locking Screw
  • I - Back Iron / Cap Iron / Chip Break
  • J - Blade Holding Screw
  • K - Blade / Cutter / Iron
  • L - Lever Cap
  • M - Lever
  • N - Lever Cap Locking Screw Hole
  • O - Blade Depth Adjuster Wheel

Different Types Of Jack Plane

The jack plane has evolved slowly over the last few centuries, during the evolution a variety of different planes have appeared on the marketplace. Whilst the core design and function has remained the same, the materials and construction of these planes has evolved. Each evolutionary phase coincided with new technological advances which enabled makers to make enhancements or make changes to suit mass production techniques. The below charts the evolutionary stages of the jack plane from its early form through to its recent form.

The Evolutionary Stages Of The Jack Plane

Click on each era of jack plane to see the full list of jack plane reviews..

wooden jack plane WOODEN

The commonly used jack planes of the 17th, 18th, 19th and the first part of the 20th century were made of wood.

infill jack plane INFILL

The second part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th also saw the 'Rolls Royce' of jack planes, the infill planes.

transitional jack plane TRANSITIONAL

The second part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th saw the transitional plane; a plane which was half way between a wooden plane and a metal plane.

metal jack plane IRON

The end of the 19th century through to the current day saw the iron plane.

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