What Is A Jointer Plane? What Is A Trying Plane?

what is a jointer plane
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A 'Jointer Plane', also known as a 'Jointing Plane', 'Try Plane', 'Trying Plane' or 'Trueing Plane', is a long woodworking plane traditionally used by joiners / woodworkers / carpenters, used for flattening out long lengths of board and straightening board edges.

Jointer planes are the longest plane design, typically in the region of 22" - 24" long (there were longer wooden jointer planes made).

The jointer plane's long length allows the plane to perfectly carry out its function of flattening out long lengths of board, also referred to as making it true.

Jointer planes are only really suited and used for working on big pieces such as a table-top. They are long and heavy making them suited to their function however the design makes them too cumbersome for smaller work.

Jointer planes are usually used after a fore plane (or jack plane) has worked a piece.

After the jointer plane has flattened the workpiece, a smoothing plane is used to finish the work.

A jointer plane is also referred to as one of the bench plane range.

Why Is It Called A Trying Plane?

wooden trying plane

It is called a 'Trying Plane' because you are 'Trying' the surface of the board, you are 'Trying' to make the board flat, to ensure it is flat you are 'Trying' to find any uneven surfaces.

Flattening A Board

If the long plane with its long flat underside (sole) sails over a high point (an area which isn't flat) you will hear and feel a big shaving, the area is then worked until the area is as flat as the plane sole.

You know it is flat when you hear and feel one long continuous cut.

Different Types Of Jointer Plane

The jointer 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 jointer plane from its early form through to its recent form.

The Evolutionary Stages Of The Jointer Plane

Click on each era of jointer plane to see the full list of jointer plane reviews...
Or scroll down for more information about each type of plane...

wooden jointer plane WOODEN

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

infill jointer plane INFILL

The second part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th also saw the 'Rolls Royce' of jointer planes, the infill planes. Some still made today.

transitional jointer plane TRANSITIONAL

The end of the 19th century through to the 1950's saw the transitional jointer / trying plane; a plane which was half way between a wooden plane and a metal plane.

metal jointer plane IRON

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

Wooden Jointer Planes / Wooden Trying Planes

wooden jointer / trying / trueing plane

Jointer planes were originally made from wood and were usually 22" - 28" long with some being longer.

These planes were around for centuries with the peak of sales happening throughout the 1800's (19th century). Sales began rapidly dwindling from the beginning of the 1900's as the popularity of the iron jointer planes increased.

By the mid-1900's there were very few manufacturers making wooden jointer / trying planes....the iron jointer plane had won....or had they... wooden jointer planes are making a niche resurgence.

For more info about the wooden jointer planes, see the 'Wooden Jointer Plane' page.

Wooden Plane Advantages:

- Sole glides easier
- Warm comfortable feel of wood
- Quick and easy to flatten the sole
- Durable if dropped

Infill Jointer Planes

infill jointer / trying / trueing plane

The infill plane was a design of grandure while remaining functional.

The infill jointer plane saw its popularity from the latter half of the 19th century through to the 1950's.

The most famous maker of infill planes was Norris with the Norris jointer infill planes, there were a few of other infill plane makers however the only other infill jointer plane maker I recall is Spiers Of Ayr.

Infill Plane Advantages:

- Grandure
- Collectable
- Long lasting sole flatness
- Blade fine adjustment mechanisms

Transitional Jointer Planes

transitional jointer / trying / trueing plane

The transitional plane was a plane design which was a cross between the wooden jointer plane and the metal jointer plane.

The transitional plane saw its limited popularity from about 1900 - 1950 with transitional plane makers Sargent, Stanley, Union and Marples being the big players.

The transitional plane combines some of the advantages of the wooden and iron jointer plane designs.

Transitional Plane Advantages:

- Sole glides easier
- Warm comfortable feel of wood
- Quick and easy to flatten the sole
- Blade fine adjustment mechanisms

Iron Jointer Planes

iron jointer / trying / trueing plane

In the latter half of the 19th century, iron jointer planes began being sold. In 1870 Stanley began selling their Stanley No. 7 and Stanley No. 8 jointer planes.

The iron jointer plane became more and more popular and new manufacturers stepped into the market in the 20th century, these included Edward Preston jointer planes, Record jointer planes, Marples jointer planes, Union jointer planes and a few others.

Today sees Stanley still making iron jointer planes plus a few new makers of high-end jointer planes such as the Clifton No. 7 jointer plane and the Veritas jointer plane.

Iron Plane Advantages:

- Long lasting sole flatness
- Blade fine adjustment mechanisms
- Standardised parts

Old Iron Jointer Plane Makers:

New Iron Jointer Plane Makers:

Iron Jointer Plane Parts

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

jointer 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


(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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