Spend some time with a well-tuned jack plane and you'll have no trouble understanding how this age-old tool earned its title as a "jack-of-all-trades." The jack, or No. 5, bench plane is easier to handle than a large jointer plane (No. 8) and only slightly less maneuverable than the smaller smooth (No. 4) plane. At 14 in. long, the No. 5 is conveniently sized for cither jointing an edge or smoothing a surface. If forced to pare their plane collection down to a single tool, most woodworkers would hold onto their versatile jack.
For this buyer's guide, we tested and compared seven metal-bodied jack planes from six different manufacturers. Prices ranged from $29.95 for the Anant, manufactured in India, to $69.95 for the Stanley Bailey. Just for fun, we also tested a couple of old-timers—a 1935 Stanley Bailey, and a Stanley Bed
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