If you don’t have an electrically-powered router, or prefer not to use one, and you want to make lots of joints or decorative mouldings, then you should consider buying one or more specialist planes to help with these tasks.
Going round the bend
If you regularly have woodworking projects that involve curves, such as some types of tables and chairs, you might usefully invest in a compass plane.
Fingers and palms
Anyone planning to make musical instruments or other pieces that have internal and external curves should consider finger and palm planes.
And if you regularly make box-like structures, a chisel plane will make life much easier when planing into corners.
A plane of many parts
A combination plane might be a good choice for rebating, grooving – including cutting dadoes – and moulding. Buying this one plane with a range of irons means you will be able to perform these tasks with a relatively small outlay.
But bear in mind that you will have to set up the plane from scratch for each of the different tasks it performs, rather than having the convenience of several dedicated planes already set up for their particular purposes.
A shooting plane is really a bench plane built with its sole on one side rather than underneath, to make planing on shooting boards and bench hooks more convenient. Buy one if you do lots of this type of work, otherwise you might find using a bench plane on its side adequate.
For a plane to last many years, possibly a lifetime, it’s best to choose one that has been manufactured to high standards using quality materials.
If you find these too expensive, there’s a big market in second-hand planes on auction websites. Some of the older planes were made from the finest materials, and you will get them at a fraction of the price of new, high quality ones.