Save some money if you want to do alot of work.

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Review by JBoss posted 06-21-2010 01:33 AM 9524 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Save some money if you want to do alot of work. Save some money if you want to do alot of work. Save some money if you want to do alot of work. Click the pictures to enlarge them

I had a tough time trying to figure out what rating to give this thing. Half way through truing the sole I was thinking 1 star was way too much, but when finished it makes great cuts.
1. Cheap. Twenty bucks won’t put a down payment on a Veritas or Lie-Nielson, but it let me walk out of the box store with this guy.
2. When tuned up it makes great shavings. Cuts like a dream through everything but end grain so far, the 25 degree bevel is not steep enough to handle end grain well or anything really tricky. Overall though I think any block plane, regardless of price, would have a hard time besting it on standard planning.
1. That sole, oh that horrible, horrible sole. When I held it up to the light, I could see the warp without a straight edge to reference. Not only that, but the sole was out of square with the side by about 2 degrees. After two hours of work, carefully draw filing and sanding, I could still slide a .009” feeler gauge under the right hand side. All said and done, it took about 4 hrs and 10 dollars worth of sand paper to square it to the sides and flatten this thing. I am really wishing at this point I would have just taken it to work and used the surface grinder. To be honest, I’m not even sure how they got the sole that warped.
2. Adjustments. Even once tuned up and sharpened the adjustments on this thing leave a lot to be desired. It will not push out or retract straight, and will need a little bit of hammer love to get it even across the mouth.
When all is said and done I think it barely deserves three stars, had it even been thirty dollars I think it would have been a two star tool. However, at twenty dollars I have a block plane that will shave great, thin, full length shavings. I think that deserves at least three, even if I had to spend the time to get it that way.

View JBoss's profile


37 posts in 3816 days

12 comments so far

View swirt's profile


5215 posts in 3740 days

#1 posted 06-21-2010 04:38 AM

Interesting review, thanks for posting it.

Unless you are planning on using it on a shooting board, why worry about whether the sides are square to the sole?

You mention that it needs a few hammer whacks to the blade even at the mouth? Does that mean the lateral adjuster in it is just sloppy, or not working?

-- Galootish log blog,

View wch's profile


45 posts in 3726 days

#2 posted 06-21-2010 04:52 AM

I have a similar Stanley block plane, model 920, but it has an adjustable mouth. My experience is the same: spend a ton of time tuning it up, burn through a lot of sandpaper, and then it works OK. But it’ll never work as well as a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen does right out of the box, and the blade won’t be as durable. The bed of my plane is slightly skewed, so that I have to push the lateral adjustment lever almost all the way to one side to get a consistent-depth cut. There’s a lot of backlash in the adjuster, and it’s way too easy to hit the lever cap release “switch” by accident, which means you have to re-tighten the lever cap and readjust the blade.

Personally, from now on I’ll only buy high quality planes, or make wooden ones—the ones I’ve made work much better than the cheap metal planes I’ve purchased. For me, a cheap plane isn’t worth the frustation and time.

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4345 days

#3 posted 06-21-2010 05:19 AM

They can be a lot of work.


View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3827 days

#4 posted 06-21-2010 05:37 AM

I have the Stanley 92 1/2 Low Angle version with the adjustable mouth. I did spend some time flattening the sole. It didn’t take me quite as long as it seems you did, but then I did the initial flattening on my 6×48 belt sander and then finish lapped and polished by hand. I did not bother with squaring to sides as I use it mainly for trimming joinery flush and other similar operations and it is not necessary for the side to be perfectly square. Mine cuts very well and leaves a very nice surface – even in end grain. Generally, it is one of my favorite planes I own.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4963 days

#5 posted 06-21-2010 05:45 AM

Thanks for the useful review. I didn’t know that they still made the 220. I have an old 220 that I paid $5 for at a garage sale. I did a bit of tuning & it turned into a great plane. I drilled out a 1/2” hole in each the cheeks at the same place the indentations are on a 9 1/2 & beveled the edges a bit. It gives you a much better grip. Maybe they’ve changed the adjustment on the newer ones, because my old one seems to work fine. I think if you want to buy a cheap plane you’re better off getting an old Stanley than any of the new stuff on the market. Of course, that’s only my opinion, it’s free & worth every penny. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View PurpLev's profile


8572 posts in 4416 days

#6 posted 06-21-2010 06:48 AM

I had the adjustable mouth version. I agree about the sole – it needs ALOT of work. a power grinder will be very useful in those scenarios, or as you pointed out, the alternative is a massive amount of hours and sand paper.

other than the sole though – the other model (low angle, adjustable mouth) performs fantastic on everything including end grain. the adjustments are smooth and work very well, and they are similar to the ones on yours – so I’m not sure why you are having so much trouble with it.

bottom line is – it’s a good performer for a great price if you can spare the time and effort truing the sole.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View JBoss's profile


37 posts in 3816 days

#7 posted 06-21-2010 11:20 AM

swirt: It isn’t going to be used in a shooting board, and I really thought about just making it flat and thats it. However, I think due to my job (building sniper rifles for the Marine Corps and working in a machine shop all the time) I just couldn’t bring my self to flatten it without squaring it up too. As far as the lateral adjustment goes it is not very fuctional on this one, but maybe I got a dud. It doesn’t move soomthly at all, a slight tap with a brass hammer will give you much tighter tolerance on mine than a finger. I’ve tried loosening the main screw to point that it wont even hold the blade during the cut and its still sticky.

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3805 days

#8 posted 06-21-2010 05:05 PM

I have the adjustable mouth Bailey that is similar to this, and it didn’t need all that much work to get the sole flat and smooth. It was also pretty cheap ($30 at Lowes) and cuts great. The blade isn’t really even that bad considering the price, especially since the block plane isn’t used for hogging off huge amounts of wood. I can easily sharpen the stock blade to a razor edge, and with normal use, I can go an awfully long time on a sharpening. This is a far cry from my #4 or my #7 that need to get sharpened much more frequently! (Thus the reason both the #4 and #7 have Pinnacle A2-cryo blades, and the Bailey block plane has kept its stock blade.)

Like everyone else has said, this can definitely be a good tool, but it will take some knowledge and patience on the part of the user to tune it up before it will “be right.”

-- David from Indiana --

View FunnelStudio's profile


30 posts in 4086 days

#9 posted 06-21-2010 07:05 PM

This is strange! I’ve had one of these exact planes for a while now and just got around to doing the exact smae thing this weekend, and I was going to write it up.

My experience didn’t end so well, I think that the mouth is out pretty bad. Any tips for that?

-- -Shaun M. Baer,

View Hillsboro's profile


44 posts in 3665 days

#10 posted 07-26-2010 10:52 PM

Seems to me that if you calculated your time and materials to make this cheap plane functional and added those funds to your budget, you could have purchased at least a Veritas plane. Of course, I say this having done exactly the same thing, gotten frustrated, and gone back to buy what I should have the first time.

Phil Stevens

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3805 days

#11 posted 07-27-2010 07:03 PM


I understand the argument, but I really didn’t have much of an issue with my plane. Like I said before, it took a little bit of time, but I MIGHT have used $2 worth of sandpaper and half an hour sanding out the base of the plane (which really was overkill, I might add). I would have had to sharpen a new blade anyway and treat any new tool with paste wax, etc., so even if I consider my time and supplies as part of the equation, I am still relatively cheap with the Bailey.

I won’t argue that this makes the Bailey more desirable than a Veritas or LN, or even that my “tuned” Bailey will be as easy to use as either of these, but it does its job well, and I can put the money I saved on the plane toward a good bit of lumber for more projects. At least at my house, the shop budget is zero-sum: every dollar I spend on new tools is money I don’t have to buy other supplies to build projects. I guess I would rather spend the money on good wood rather than a high end tool that is slightly easier to use. If I were in a production environment, or if I had unlimited funds, I would probably agree that the Veritas would be worth it, but in my situation, a good, solid performer is just fine, even if it needs a slight extra bit of TLC from time to time.

As a general comment, I typically only upgrade or buy super premium tools when I can clearly demonstrate a NEED for a superior quality item. This is the reason I have a lot of cheap Craftsman tools! I know good and well that there are better tools out there, but I can get the Craftsman tools on sale or clearance for dirt cheap, the tools do what I need them to do, and the Sears service in my hometown is actually very good and hassle free for the few times I have had a problem with a purchase. If I ever get to a point where they won’t do what I need, I will replace them with an upgraded model. So far, I haven’t had to upgrade anything other than my circular saw, and a cordless drill (because of battery issues), so I feel REALLY good using this buying model in the future. The one obvious upgrade I’ll need is a new table saw if I decide to build my own kitchen cabinets for our upcoming remodel, but that will be more than justified by the project (and by the money I will save by doing the cabinets myself)!

I guess I just don’t get the mentality that you should always buy the best you can afford, even if you don’t need the capability it provides. My experience has been exactly the opposite—most of the time a hobbyist can get by just fine with mid-grade tools and only upgrade to the really high end stuff when a need is demonstrated.

Just my $0.02

PS I really like this model for buying routers, especially since I am convinced you can’t have too many routers in a shop! I have purchased three routers, each an upgrade over the previous one, but I still use the two older routers just as frequently as my new one. I have dedicated the others for use with my dovetail jig, and for a 1/8” roundover bit, since those are the two most common routing operations I do in my shop. The “old” routers work just fine for these operations, and I save a LOT of time setting up and switching bits.

-- David from Indiana --

View FunnelStudio's profile


30 posts in 4086 days

#12 posted 07-27-2010 07:34 PM

I agree with Phil here…

While Veritas and Lie make a Cadillac of a product that floats like a dream out of the box, there’s something fulfilling about taking a cheaper option and working it to a desirable outcome. It took me about 2 hours to get my plane (the same one as Phil has here) in tip-top condition, but I have a certain respect for it now that I didn’t have before.

On one hand, a really great product that will last forever is ideal. Everything will work right and be properly aligned, sharp, and shiny. On the other hand, I believe that if you want to put some labor into grinding and fine tuning a cheaper option, you can get a satisfying result and connect yourself to your tool a little bit more. Sounds romantic and cheesy, but there is a certain aura that floats off of the Wood River chisels I sharpened that makes me grin like an idiot when I grab one.

It’s a matter of high and low art, and I guess I’m just more of a Rauschenberg guy (except for power tools, then I’m a bit more of a Donald Judd…)


-- -Shaun M. Baer,

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