Harbor Freight Surprise

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Review by shipwright posted 02-06-2013 11:13 PM 9618 views 2 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Harbor Freight Surprise Harbor Freight Surprise Harbor Freight Surprise Click the pictures to enlarge them

Sometimes I just can’t resist. If this plane set had been real junk, I’d have been out $11.99… I decided to live dangerously …. after all, I’m not even that much of a hand tool guy. I took the big chance and used a coupon and brought it home. I’m only reviewing the #4 here because the little block plane really is just silly.

Out of the bubble pack, with the copious oil removed, it actually cut and was sort of sharp. To me the test of a hand plane is how sharp can you get it and how long will it hold the edge….. so I gave it a preliminary sharpening, meaning about fifteen minutes on diamond stones, fine paper and a buffer.. just to polish the edge.

I haven’t had it long enough to pass judgement on how long it can hold the edge, but the sharpness I was able to achieve was impressive (to me at least). I planed the edge of a piece of 2” cherry and got a polished shine in a few fairly effortless strokes. It is a surface that feels glassy and I would not want to use sandpaper coarser than 320 on it , if I were to sand it at all.

It has a nice weight and feels better in my largeish hands that their smaller #33 that I bought last year. The fit and finish, plastic tote and knob, cheap adjusters and the fact that I haven’t really had it long enough to do a serious review are the reasons it doesn’t get more stars. The price and the smooth piece of cherry are why it gets as many as it does.

I would not recommend it for a hand tool lover, because it’s not really very lovable but for the practical part time hand tool user who is interested in how it works more than how it looks, it’s a bargain at under fifteen dollars and it will get the job done surprisingly well.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View shipwright's profile


8578 posts in 3643 days

21 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35225 posts in 5246 days

#1 posted 02-06-2013 11:30 PM

Paul: A great review. Thanks.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10927 posts in 4897 days

#2 posted 02-06-2013 11:37 PM

Thank you, Paul for the review…

What did you think of the little #33 that you mentioned?

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3678 days

#3 posted 02-06-2013 11:38 PM

Well, I’ll stick to the chisel-in-a-chunka-wood style plane for now.

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View shipwright's profile


8578 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 02-07-2013 12:11 AM

Joe, for nine bucks, the #33 works OK. It’s too small for my hands though and that blade is very small. The #4 is more than $3 better.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View sras's profile


5564 posts in 3974 days

#5 posted 02-07-2013 01:42 AM

Hmmm, You’ve got me thinking…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 3310 days

#6 posted 02-07-2013 02:18 AM

did you lap the sole and sides? How flat were they? If you needed to flatten them, might it be even better?

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View shipwright's profile


8578 posts in 3643 days

#7 posted 02-07-2013 03:29 AM

crashn, No I’ll do that next. The first job was to find out if it was worth the effort.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View rance's profile


4274 posts in 4006 days

#8 posted 02-07-2013 06:04 AM

Oh the lures of HF. I’m still liking my electric chainsaw from Christmas. Looks like a good loaner plane too. One of my biggest complaints on handplanes is the mechanism. If they ain’t smooth & operational, then I have a difficult time with them, no matter how sharp the blade can be sharpened. Looks like you have a working tool. I may have to check them out. Although I rarely use the Jack plane I already have.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4280 days

#9 posted 02-07-2013 08:39 AM

Thanks for a good review.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4179 days

#10 posted 02-07-2013 09:24 AM

It sounds like you got lucky Paul. Sometimes it works out to take a chance. Your review will probably result in others getting the same benefit. I wasn’t so lucky. I bought a comparably priced cheap plane. I lapped the bottom, filed and smoothed the frog, got a good fit with the chip breaker, got it razor sharp, etc, etc. even after all that effort, it never performed well and I eventually threw it away.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 3310 days

#11 posted 02-07-2013 12:28 PM

Thanks shipwright, was just curious how flat the sole was for the 12 bucks. Looks like a good working plane, not something that will sit in the til because it was too expensive to risk using! I dont have any of those, all my planes are CL or ebay finds.

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View michelletwo's profile


2785 posts in 3861 days

#12 posted 02-07-2013 12:39 PM

I mean seriously, whodathunkit? :-)

View Julian's profile


1592 posts in 3535 days

#13 posted 02-07-2013 03:45 PM

_it will get the job done surprisingly well I have found that you can take a cheap hand plane and make it work well. I have not purchased the HF plane but have on old, cheap Craftsman hand plane and with some tuning I can get a shaving .001. It all depends how much work you want to put into it. The HF planes are also a good source for parts and jigs.

-- Julian

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3930 days

#14 posted 02-07-2013 03:59 PM

The jack plane was about the same size as the Stanley Handyman plane that I have had forever, so I chose
the #33. It is small for my big hands, but the blade mechanism is what I was interested in. The blade on
the #33 looked like it was sharpened with a rough hacksaw blade, but after putting it in my sharpening jig
and running it from #40 through 400 sandpaper it did look decent. I have arthritis, so my big hands make
the regular height adjustment knob on a plane user unfriendly, but the adjustment knobs on the 33 work
great. Back off the tension screw a little and the two adjustment knobs move the blade easily to just where
you want it, then you tighten the adjustment screw and the plane produces nice shavings. Stanley did make
a plane and a scraper handle with the same adjustment set up for a while, but they are not readily available,
so I will have to make different handles for the #33 to make it fit my hand or keep fighting the adjustment
system that Stanley and the others are not going to change.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View a1Jim's profile


118134 posts in 4422 days

#15 posted 02-07-2013 04:37 PM

Who would have guessed a HF plane worth having.thanks for the review Paul.


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