Lie-Nielsen Bronze No.4 Smoothing Plane
The most used plane in my tool kit is this, the Lie Nielsen No.4 Smoothing Plane. You get a choice to buy this plane cast in either ductile iron or manganese bronze, both of which have their merits although there is a small surcharge for bronze. I chose bronze because it adds a few more grams onto the weight of the plane which in turn reduces vibration during use, and also looks prettier in my opinion.
Lie-Nielsen No.62 Low Angle Jack Plane
When customers at Axminster ask me what I would recommend for their first plane, I always point them to a low angle jack plane. Usually people recoil at the cost of a premium plane. However, this style of plane often ends up being cheaper than the standard angle equivalent because you're having to pay for less material. The fact the blade is bed at a low angle makes it easier to push through the cut and makes it swim through endgrain when used on a shooting board. As oppose to standard planes, the blades in these are bedded with the bevel up. This means that you have the added versatility of being able to sharpen the bevel slightly steeper than usual, effectively meaning you can create a scraper plane if you wish!
Lie Nielsen No.7 Jointer Plane
I purchased this plane while I was making The Faultline Bass as I needed a plane long enough to create the fretboard radius. Seeing as I had two Lie-Nielsen bench planes by this point, I thought it was only sensible enough to complete the basic trio and spend the extra money. In all honesty I don't use this plane often, but when I do I absolutely love the weight, feel and bearing surface this thing has. It's like working with a collapsed star. Lie-Nielsen also offer a low angle version of this plane with all the same benefits as the jack plane above, and also offer an even bigger No.8 Jointer Plane for those of you who don't care for the well-being of your biceps.
My guilty pleasure. Veritas offer two premium planes in this style; the DX60 and the NX60. Both of which look extremely similar, although the NX60 has a Nickel rust resistance coating on it effectively making it super shiny and blingy - of course that was the one I went for. Veritas also offer two types of blade: a softer 01 steel that many people swear by. Or for a small surcharge, a new steel called PM-v11 which is said to be as easy to sharpen as 01, yet last as long as A2 steel, which is what Lie-Nielsen primarily use for their blades. The only issue I found with the blades in the DX60 and NX60 is their unusual shape. You will not be able to sharpen them using a standard eclipse honing guide and will need to use either the Veritas honing guide, Lie-Nielsen honing guide fitted with long jaws or *shudder* do it freehand.
Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane
See that little knob thing on the top of the plane there? Yep, that's what made me choose the Veritas shoulder plane over the Lie-Nielsen plane. I use a shoulder plane on it's side at least 80% of the time and the one thing that the Lie-Nielsen lacked was something that allowed you to comfortably grip the body while in use. The knob on the top of this plane can be angled 90 degrees either way which gives you something to hook into the webbing between your thumb and index finger while pushing the plane through the cut. It sounds fussy, but it makes a world of difference.
Veritas Detail Rabbet Plane
Simply for when the medium shoulder plane above it too large for the job. This can be a little bit fiddly to get set up for an even cut, although it is great for small projects like boxes and models. The good thing about these is that they come in a variety of metric and imperial widths which makes them great for flattening or adjusting the bottom of through grooves. A nice addition to the toolkit, yet not essential.
Veritas Router Plane
Again, I was torn between the Veritas router plane and the Lie-Nielsen router plane but this one outperformed on a few crucial details. Firstly, sharpening blades on router planes is notoriously difficult to do, look at the shape of it! Wrong. The bottom part of the blade on the Veritas can be removed from the shank, attached to an auxiliary arm that is included in the box, and used in a normal honing guide. Similarly, the vee blade that is also included in the box can be angled on the arm to match the ground angle on the blade. The second feature that sold the Veritas was the quick release of the blade from the body. Simply loosen the thumbscrew at the back, push it in and the blade falls out. Much easier than loosening the thumb wheel at the top until it comes completely off the thread.
HNT Gordon Spokeshave
Of all the fancy, flashy tools I own, the HNT Spokeshaves are usually the ones that get the most attention. I own two of them; one with a flat bottom and one with a convex bottom. These are made in Australia from a wood called Gidgee which is a very dark brown, dense and beautiful species. The blades are pitched at a high angle meaning they are sometimes difficult to get through the cut, but the resulting finish is totally worth it, especially when in conjunction with the stupidly tight mouth these come with.