What are the Uses of Jack Plane?

July 6, 2024

Jack plane in woodworking

Are you searching for a general-purpose bench plane? If you are, you should check out the jack plane. A jack plane is a large plane used primarily for dressing down timber to prepare it for truing or edge jointing. It is usually the first plane you would use on your material, although if you have a rougher work, you might precede its use with a scrub plane. 

The jack plane is versatile, so it is often the “go-to” bench plane of many woodworkers. As a large bench plane, it can remove a large amount of wood with a single swipe. Besides, jack planes range in length from twelve inches to fifteen inches, and it is intended for the rough shaping of your timber. However, the board or timber’s final shape gets done using smaller hand planes.

What is a Jack Plane?

You might think that jack plane has an unusual name. Maybe a man in the past named Jack had invented this plane and called it Jack Plane. Yet, one succinct reason why jack plane is called jack is that it is the jack of all woodworking jobs or trades. First, it is sufficiently long to flatten stock. Yet, it is not long enough to glide through the wood with ease. 

You will find various models of jack planes, and one well-known model is the #5. Other models include #7 and #8. These different models come with wider blades and can remove more materials. Yet, they are heavier and require more effort to use. Besides, it will be best to operate the jack plane with both hands. It is a two-handed plane. 

Before using it, you should secure your stock using a bench vice to prevent it from moving. Besides, it will help if you keep the blade in topnotch sharpness to function well. Moreover, you should ensure that the jack plane’s mouth is clear of debris or buildup to work well. Likewise, it will be best to adjust the blade well before using it. 

The jack plane comes with an adjusting nut. This nut gets used to adjust the depth of the cutting blade. You can turn the nut clockwise to make the blade protrude farther beyond the mouth. 

When using a jack planer, you should avoid removing too much wood at a time. Besides, you should maintain the angle of the blade at an even level all the time. The lateral adjusting lever will let you adjust the blade to keep it even or level.

Main Usage of Jack Plane

If you are planning to buy a jack plane or try your hand at its use, it will be best to know the following primary applications of this simple tool to use it right and safely:

You should only use the jack plane to remove wood layers while following the board’s grain. Besides, it will be best to refrain from cross-cutting a board using a jack plane, considering the material it can remove at a single swipe. If you do, you might end up with a board with large divots, deeper than the desired finished size of your board. So, you need to keep the jack plane gliding smoothly with the wood’s grain to prevent tearing and chipping. 

You can use the jack plane for rough works, reduction of thickness, and straightening of surfaces. You can also utilize it to shoot moderately long edges accurately. Besides, you can use it to remove shavings off a door that sticks. 

You can ground the iron blades of jack planes with a slight camber. This will allow the jack plane to remove more material, sans damaging or marring the wood. You can also ground the iron blade similar to a smoothing plane for a smoother finish. 

You can use the jack planer to remove quickly stock instead of achieving a good finish. You can do this by setting the cut deeper. The scrub plane is usually used before the jack plane to prepare the stock. 

It will help to begin planing across or diagonally to the grain for rough leveling of the stock before you start planing in the grain’s direction.

Uses of Different Jack Plane Types

Over the centuries, the jack plane evolved, leading to several varieties of jack planes. Nevertheless, the core functions and design of the jack plane are still there. The designs and materials of the jack plane have diversified, and below is a shortlist of the different types of jack planes:

Wooden Jack Plane

The wooden jack plane was used in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Of course, it is the oldest type of jack plane, though, in the early years of the 20th century, the wooden jack plane was still widely in use. Besides, the design of the wooden jack plane is simplistic.

Infill Jack Plane

The infill jack plane became available in the second half of the 19th century, considered the Rolls Royce of the jack planes at that time.

Transitional Jack Plane

The second half of the 19th century also heralded the onset of the use of the transitional jack plane. This transitional jack plane features a jack plane half wooden and half metal.

Metal Jack Plane

The metal jack plane saw its light in the latter years of the 19th century. It is a jack plane wholly made of metal, referred to as the metal jack plane.


The jack plane is a real jack-of-all-trades tool. It can handle smoothing and shorter tasks. Besides, it can be handy for straightening and flattening jobs. Jack planes are considered the workhorses of workshops. Moreover, it is the go-to device for different woodworking applications. Besides, it has a straightforward design.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking, you might find the jack plane handy in preparing your wood for your projects. Its cutting depth is adjustable. However, while using it, you should ensure its blade is always even. If you’re a real woodworker, you should consider this tool as one of the indispensable tools in your woodworking tool arsenal.

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