What Is A Multi-Plane? What Is A Multi-Plane? Used For?

what is a multi plane?
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stanley multi combi plane

A Multi-Plane, also sometimes referred to as a Universal Plane or Combination Plane is a woodwork tool which is capable of performing a multitude of different planing tasks.

A multi-plane is a space saver, the idea is to have one plane instead of having 10, 20, 30+ planes.

At the time of the invention of the multi-plane in the late 1800's, woodworkers would have a massive wooden chest commonly with 30+ different wooden planes. The multi-plane offered a woodworker the ability to reduce this down to one plane in one place in a relatively small wooden box.

This idea still holds today.

The multi-plane design roots is an extension of a wooden plough plane with a core stock which can hold a number of different blades and a fence which is adjustable by sliding the fence along two arms.

multi plane blades

The "daddy" of all multi-planes was the Stanley 55 Plane which was capable of the following planing tasks in various widths:

  • Plough / Plow
  • Dado
  • Bead
  • Centre Bead
  • Rebate / Rabbet and Fillister
  • Slitting
  • Match Plane
  • Sash Plane
  • Hollow & Round
  • Fluting
  • Ogee's
  • Chamfer
  • and more

Multi-planes are the bigger brother of iron plough planes and iron combination planes.

multi plane

There have only been a few different old multi planes over the years but they have been very successful designs given the length of time they were manufactured for. The two most popular were the Stanley 45 Plane and the Record 405 Plane.

The most recent old multi-plane was the Clifton multi-plane which ceased being made I think around 2014. The Clifton multi-plane was based upon the long running and successful Record 405 multi-plane.

Today, I believe there is one mainstream maker of multi-planes (at the time of writing this), that is Veritas and their Veritas Combination Plane.

Where Did The Word Multi-Plane Come From? When Was The Word Multi-Plane First Used?

Originally the first multi-planes in the late 1800's were advertised as 'Adjustable Beading Plane' (Stanley 45 Plane) and 'Universal Plane' (Stanley 55 Plane). They then went on to be advertised in 1912 as 'Adjustable Beading, Rebate and Matching Plane' (Stanley 45 Plane) and 'Universal Combination Plane' (Stanley 55 Plane). They then went on to be advertised in 1939 as 'Stanley "45" Plane' (Stanley 45 Plane) and 'Stanley "55" Plane' (Stanley 55 Plane).

The term 'multi-plane' appears to have been first used with the invention of the Record 405 plane which was advertised as the 'Record 405 Multi-Plane' in 1933. The 405 was inspired by the Stanley 45.

The Record 405 Multi-Plane was manufactured for about 50 years.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Multi-Plane

As with most choices, there are advantages and disadvantages to buying a multi-plane tool, the pro's and con's as we see it are:


  • Saves space.
  • In theory saves money.
  • Buying a different blade equates to a new plane.


  • You need to learn how to setup and use each function.
  • Extra time and fiddling - you have to set the plane up for each function rather than just reaching for an already setup individual plane.


(i) This review/article may give warning(s) / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines given in good faith, any such information should not be solely relied upon and seen as the exhaustive list of warnings / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines. Refer to good safety practices for the safety of you and others. Refer to good practices for the good health of your tool and property.
(ii) The details here are given in good faith, the details are constantly growing and evolving, there is scope for error and shouldn't be fully relied upon, please confirm any details for yourself by performing additional research from reliable sources.

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