Fore Planes and Jack planes

Fore Planes and Jack planes

Fore Planes and Jack planes

The fore plane is a traditional English tool used to get rough boards fairly flat so that you can then make them really flat with a jointer plane and ready to finish with a smoothing plane, scrapers and (sometimes) sandpaper.

To quote an article from Lee Valley:

Armed with only three planes, you can convert a rough-as-a-cob board to something ready to finish. The techniques to do this are so well prescribed that they were written down in the first English-language woodworking book, Joseph Moxon's Mechanick Exercises.

The most notable thing about Moxon's book is that the tools and techniques are the same now as they were in 17th-century England. The only difference is that these techniques and skills were once common—now they are quite rare.

To convert rough stock into something suitable for furniture, you need three hand planes: a fore, a jointer and a smoother. The fore plane removes material quickly, the jointer plane makes the work flat and the smoothing plane prepares it for finish.

The fore plane is about 14" to 18" long (a jack plane will do) and has a cutting edge with a thumbnail shape. This shape allows it to remove lots of wood. The jointer plane is 22" or longer and has a cutter that is either straight or slightly curved. The smoothing plane is 10" or shorter and has a cutter that is either slightly curved or has its corners relieved to keep them from digging into the work.

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