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A jack plane (or fore plane) is a general-purpose woodworking bench plane, used for dressing timber down to the correct size in preparation for truing and/or edge jointing. It is usually the first plane used on rough stock, but in exceptional cases can be preceded by the scrub plane.
Jack planes are 12–18 inches (300–460 mm) long and 2.5–3 inches (64–76 mm) wide, with wooden-stocked planes sometimes being slightly wider. The blade is 1.75–2.25 inches (44–57 mm) wide that is often slightly convex (or ground with rounded corners) to prevent digging in to or marking the work. The cut is generally set deeper than on most other planes as the plane's purpose is to remove stock rather than to gain a good finish (smoothing planes are used for that). In preparing stock, the jack plane is used after the scrub plane and before the jointer plane and smoothing plane.
The carpenters' name for the plane is related to the saying "jack of all trades" as jack planes can be made to perform some of the work of both smoothing and jointer planes, especially on smaller pieces of work. Its other name of fore plane is more generally used by joiners and may come from the fact that it "is used before you come to work either with the Smooth Plane or with the Joynter".
Early planes were all wood, except for the cutter, or combined a wood base with a metal blade holder and adjustment system on top. Although there were earlier all-metal planes, Leonard Bailey patented a number of all-metal planes and improvements in the late 19th century. A jack plane came to be referred to as a "No. 5" plane or a "Bailey pattern No. 5" at the end of the 19th century. The "No." nomenclature originally used by Stanley Tools to label its Bailey pattern plane products continues to identify planes made by various manufacturers. Not all manufacturers of the era had the same number scheme for their planes. Millers Fall and Sargent used different numbers to refer to the same planes.
- Salaman, R. A. (1997). Dictionary of Woodworking Tools. Astragal Press. ISBN 1-879335-79-4.
- Tolpin, Jim (2010). The New Traditional Woodworker. Cincinnati, Ohio: Popular Woodworking Books. ISBN 978-1-4403-0428-6.
- Moxton (1677), Mechanick exercises
- "A Brief History Of The Woodworking Plane". Handplane Central. Retrieved Oct 15, 2015.
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