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Which is My Best Hand Router Plane? My Verdict.

Hinges, housings, and rebates

For me, woodworking is well described by the hand router plane.

It’s a job that needs to be done right, but only woodworkers care about the bottom and the inside of the join…

Nobody else will see it.

Best Hand Plane router - planes with housing
My 3 hand routers

I have three different makes of hand router planes in the shop. And like most tools, there is a big variation in the price of different makes.

We all know that you get what you pay for, but the question becomes ‘What do you need to pay for?’

Here I’ve tried to shine some light on the differences between each of the planes I tried and why some are more expensive.

I also took a video of me using all three planes, which is at the end of the article

1. Veritas Hand Router Plane

A Piece of Art

Let’s get it out of the way early, this is a beautiful tool. The contrast of wood, black cast iron, and the brass, along with the shape, and different textures.

It is the most expensive of the hand router planes that I have. So, apart from looking the part, where is the value?

When it comes to using it, the turned wooden handles are on an angle that changes how you interact with the tool (if you are used to using a different hand router plane).

It’s only a slight difference, but it made the tool feel a bit wider for me. I wanted to put my hands on the outside and use my thumb and forefinger on the handle rather than grabbing with my whole hand like a joystick (see video below.)

In the video, I use the hand router set to around 2mm. I had already done 2 hinges so I needed to keep the depth set at the same stop.

The adjustment is painless, there isn’t any slack and there’s also a safety stop to prevent the blade from accidentally moving (and affecting your work).

Sharpening the blade with a stone is relatively straight forward.

Overall

Overall a great, solid tool to work with. When I did my comparison I found the Veritas to be the most solid and robust feeling tool. This let me take more off in one pass. With a sharp blade this is a great hand router plane.

(My opinion on who would get the most value out of the different hand plane routers is in the summary section.)

Veritas Hand Router Plane
Made in:Canada
Price:$$$
Material:Cast Iron, Wood, Brass
Pros:Quality, Accurate depth set, Sturdy
Cons:Price

Made in Canada. Available in Australia, the USA, and other countries

2. Stanley No. 71

Tradition

There is something about the No. 71 that just feels like standard-issue. They are a little more than rudimentary, keeping some of the Victorian style about them.

Cast construction (cast iron) with plastic handles that sit straight up.

There have been a couple in the school’s workshop and I can testify that they are a workhorse.

The stops aren’t perfect when trying to set and keep a perfect measurement. Although there is a second screw stop, there is some slack in the setting which means you need to double-check your setting before you start, but this is some of the character and charm.

Overall

A workhorse that’s been around in variations for over 100 years. When I did my comparison I found I got about the same quality job as the Veritas, but it felt a little shakier and not as solid. This meant that I coudln’t remove as much wood in each pass.

(My opinion on who would get the most value out of the different hand plane routers is in the summary section.)

Stanley No. 71
Made in:England (earlier ones in USA)
Price:$$
Material:Cast Iron, Plastic (earlier wood handles)
Pros:Workhorse, history, ‘character’
Cons:Slack in-depth setting, harder to find parts

My No. 71’s were made in England, earlier ones in the USA. Available from places like eBay

3. Cowryman Router Plane Handheld

The Little Guy

The first point to note is that this plane is about half the size of the others in the comparison.

It’s also a different design. The shape, and cutter are different, as well as the material it is made out of.

It is made from machined pieces of stainless steel which is then bolted together. Sharpening is more straight-forward than the No 71. and the Veritas as the blade is simply a square piece of stainless steel cut on an angle.

But despite its size it is a solid little unit.

Overall

This is a completely new take on a hand router plane. But with all that newness, it performs just as well as the more traditional hand router planes.

It is smaller so you can’t take off as much as you would with a larger plane (see shavings in picture.)

But this little guy did hold his end up. There was no taking a step back or signs of it going to break.

A solid little option for smaller jobs or people with time.

Cowryman Router Plane Handheld
Made in:China
Price:$
Material:Stainless Steel, Wood (turned handles)
Pros:Price, Simple design
Cons:Size, Depth setting adjustment,

Made in China. Available from Amazon

Video Comparison

In Summary…

Haven’t made up your mind yet? This was the impression that I got when using them.

If you can afford it, buy the Veritas. It is the best hand router plane to use (in my opinion), and it looks great in your workshop. You can be on it for longer without fatigue and it’s a little more comfortable to use.

It’s more comfortable to use, and the stop that locks in the adjustment nut means no more (or at least less) accidental depth movements which is good peace of mind.

Old fashioned, hand tool only woodworkers are probably going to stick with the Stanley No.71. Why? Because it has a lot of history behind it.

It does the job but the Veritas has it covered for practicality.

I was surprised by the Cowryman. When it arrived and I saw it’s size and how it was bolted together I didn’t give it much of a chance. But what I threw at it, it took. And having it in the conversation brings down the price quite a bit.

The Cowryman is definitely a good one for the woodwork classroom. They are less expensive, straight forward to sharpen (and take apart and reassemble if required) and the smaller size may suit younger students.

Best Hand Plane router - planes with shavings 2
These are my shavings. You can see the larger planes have larger shavings because they can handle more force when I pushed through the housing.
Best Hand Plane router - planes with shavings 1

That’s a Wrap

Thanks for reading. Just a reminder that these are my opinions, and I do get a commission if you purchase one by using a link (at no extra cost to you.)

Thanks in advance.

If you have any questions, queries or just want to debate your pick for best hand router plane then you can contact me here.