Stanley still has problems milling the bed correctly

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Review by jakep_82 posted 02-04-2015 11:36 PM 5376 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Stanley still has problems milling the bed correctly No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I should have listened to the people on Amazon complaining about machining problems. I posted largely the same review on Amazon.

The sole on mine was cupped slightly front to back and side to side. The lowest point is right at the mouth. The adjustable toe is also machined so that it’s about .002” below the rest of the sole. They also left several burrs on the bed that prevented the blade from sitting perfectly flat. And on the topic of the bed, I found the same problem as many other reviews I’ve read. One side of the bed was machined noticeably lower than the other side. In order to get even blade projection I had to push the lateral adjuster all the way to one side and skew the blade. This makes it impossible to close down the mouth when trying to take fine shavings.

Ultimately I’ve decided to return this plane. I could have fixed the burrs and flattened the sole, but I can’t fix the bed. If I wanted to spend hours fettling a plane, I would have bought a vintage Stanley. At least with a vintage plane I would have confidence that it was machined correctly. In the end I’ll probably save up a little more money to buy a Veritas.

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16 comments so far

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#1 posted 02-05-2015 12:41 AM

You won’t regret the Veritas block plane. Solid user.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

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#2 posted 02-05-2015 04:12 AM

I can’t comment on Veritas but LN makes a nice plane too.

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#3 posted 02-05-2015 02:15 PM

Thanks for the review I kept going back and forth between this and dropping the money for a Veritas. Looks like I’ll save my pennies.

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305 posts in 4246 days

#4 posted 02-05-2015 02:19 PM

With tools, like most things, you get what you pay for, and it seems that no one offers consistent out of the box quality other than Veritas, LN and even higher priced manufacturers. The sad thing here is that Stanley is marketing these tools as high quality and then making big box quality.

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1605 posts in 3801 days

#5 posted 02-05-2015 04:31 PM

Doesn’t seem quite fair to criticize a $65-75 plane too sharply for not being the equal of a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen for $155-165. Your rating of one star seems unreasonable, though. For the extra “few dollars” ($100) one should well expect a lot of fine tuning to already be done. I’m not trying to hassle anyone here, just that the extra hundred bucks buys a lot.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

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105 posts in 3153 days

#6 posted 02-05-2015 05:15 PM


I’m not comparing it to planes that cost twice as much. What I’m saying is the plane I received was essentially unusable, even if I was willing to spend hours tuning it. I could have fixed the burrs and the sole, but they also milled the bed incorrectly. That isn’t something I could fix, and it’s a problem numerous people have reported. It wasn’t milled parallel to the sole from left to right. I didn’t take pictures, but the only way to get even blade projection was to skew the blade all the way to one side. The heavily skewed blade meant I was left with a mouth that was closed on one side, and wide open on the other side. If I wanted a crappy block plane I could walk into Lowes and buy a Kobalt for $15. Instead I paid $78 for something Stanley is marketing as a premium plane. Not only was it not premium, it wasn’t usable.

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Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 2512 days

#7 posted 02-05-2015 05:18 PM

I bought this block plane a couple years ago.

Sharpened the blade, used it for block-planey things with no noticeable usability issues.

No issues with leveling the blade. I guess the sole of mine was not so poorly machined.

I don’t use it for squaring stock and such. Got other planes for that so thousandths of an inch hither or thither is not an issue for me.

Clearly there are good days and bad days at the ole Stanley Block Plane manufacturing facility. One does not like having a purchase be a crap shoot.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

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1605 posts in 3801 days

#8 posted 02-05-2015 06:13 PM

Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not trying to be contrary. I spent 20+ years working with a manufacturer, and although I was in the marketing department, the cost/price formula was always at the forefront of our mind. One always had to allow for the fact that the retailer needed about 35% margin to handle your product, so you only got 65 cents on the dollar at best. On the Walmart price of $65, Stanley would get about $43. Stanley probably needs about the same 35% gross margin to make any profit at all, so the real “cost” of the plane, labor and materials is around $27. A little interpolation from this number, allowing that the factory fully loaded labor cost is probably at least $30/hour; add in the castings, and building, machines, etc. and one can very quickly see that it gets really, really tight pretty quickly… if they want to make even a small profit.

I’m not apologizing for poor quality or shoddy workmanship, but the companies that choose to manufacture items at the “lower” end of the spectrum have their work cut out for them. It’s not really the “hype” or the marketing. It’s the reality of how hard it is to make low price items. Off-shore manufacture really only helps on the labor component, which may not even be the major cost.

I continue to marvel that companies like Lie-Nielsen can make everything here in the US and sell the items profitably for even the premium prices they get.

A couple days ago a fellow rated a De Walt backsaw badly because it didn’t cut the way he thought it should. He paid $20 for it and thought that was a “moderate” price. Well, a top grade backsaw seems to go for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200-300 these days. These will cut great, and go through hardwood like butter. But to expect much from a $20 big box saw is stretching a point. (for another $20, that same cheap saw could probably be hand sharpened and set and cut like the pricier saws! Now THAT would be a good deal.)

I’m bot trying to be a turd here, but I do think it’s fair to everyone to consider what we expect, for what we’re willing to spend. Now, it’s possible you just got a manufacturing defect here. Then, you should be fairly expected to receive a replacement without that defect. But, it still won’t be a LN plane out of the box.


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

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105 posts in 3153 days

#9 posted 02-05-2015 06:46 PM

Walmart is selling this plane for $78, not $65. You’re looking at the standard block plane, not the low angle. All of that is irrelevant though.

If the bed had been milled correctly I would have noted the other flaws in my review, but I would have given it 4 stars and tuned the plane to my liking. If I decided to exchange it and the second plane I received was made properly I would would have given it 3 stars. Unfortunately I read 4 or 5 other reviews spanning a couple years complaining about the exact same problem. This leads me to believe they have an issue at the plant, and no QC or CAPA procedures. I work for a metal fabrication company, so I know that defects can happen. The problem is they’re still shipping products with the same defects years after people started complaining. That doesn’t happen at a well managed company no matter what price point they’re trying to hit.

I’m not willing to spend a couple weeks shipping planes back and forth with Amazon hoping I get a good one, and that’s why I gave it 1 star. In my opinion that’s what it deserves.

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#10 posted 02-06-2015 03:08 AM

I understand your point Roger, but it is about the hype and the marketing when Stanley’s product description for the plane says: “Precision-ground ductile cast iron base for accuracy” and is described by them as a “Premium plane”. They chose to present their product as a premium one when the reality is more like the one that you describe that it is targeted to the lower, or at least middle end. It’s probably worse than that, when even lower end tools have better QC. There’s no excuse to call a tool premium and send it out the door with serious flaws.

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488 posts in 2422 days

#11 posted 02-06-2015 11:13 AM

I have had a Stanley 91/2 block plane for 16 yrs. which has been a little gem, and is a go-to tool for many tasks.
Recently I decided to buy one as a Xmas gift for a family member who is a newbie woodworker.
I went to “Bills Tool Store” in Glasgow, where I have bought many tools with the help of staff who actually know what they are talking about.
I was dismayed at the machine marks on the sole and plane iron, I have no prob with tuning but this was excessive IMO. And the fittings did not seem the same quality as my own (old) Stanley.
The assistant opined that there had been murmurs of complaint and offered me an alternative manufacturer, for roughly the same price. My budget did not extend to Veritas or Lie-Nielsen.
The plane he offered was made by Von Bergen/Luban, a manufacturer I had no knowledge of.
I was immediately impressed by this alternative, it was manufactured to a high standard.
A really robust, well-made little block plane.
I took the time to tune the plane before handing it over, and it produced shavings as good as if not better than my own Stanley.
I have no idea re. availability in the USA, but if anyone is looking for a reasonably-priced and well-made little tool this particular plane could be a good alternative.
Cheers, Jinky (James).

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17 posts in 2599 days

#12 posted 02-08-2015 06:37 AM

I bought one of the planes also from Amazon, it actually came broken (brass tightening thing was napped), Amazon sent a replacement, it also had a broken part but I managed to cobble together a working plane between them. If stanley has such low margins on these planes, then the profit will be eroded very quickly with all the returns they must be receiving.

I also two other stanley sweetheart planes and they have been excellent.

Cheers, john

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30 posts in 2050 days

#13 posted 02-10-2015 06:14 PM

I own this plane and while I am no expert in planes by any means, the only slight issue I had with the plain out of the package was that the sole needed to be flattened for the same reason you mention in your post.

-- If you are going to make it, make it last.

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105 posts in 3153 days

#14 posted 02-11-2015 04:23 PM

As a follow up, I was in Woodcraft last weekend and decided to buy a Woodriver low angle block plane. I’ll eventually post a review, but so far I’m very happy with it. The quality of the machining is much better, and the sole was flat.

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2657 posts in 2837 days

#15 posted 02-13-2015 09:36 PM

Too bad you received one of the bad Sweetheart block planes, jakep. I got one 3-4 years ago that was machined level, and has been a very good plane. I sometimes wonder if Amazon doesn’t just resell the returned products such as yours. It’s hard to get a grasp on just what the ppm rates are for stuff like this. I suspect a much higher % of people who get bad stuff write a review vs the people who get good stuff (on Amazon).

Manufacturing defects do get through to the customer, regardless of the product. Many give high marks to LV and LN for the quality of their products, and for their customer service when something defective gets through. You’ve slammed Stanley w/o any opportunity to make it right. While blame goes to Stanley for letting go of a defective product, how times has that defective plane been sold by Amazon I wonder? I have 2 other newer Stanley contractor grade block planes and 2 bench planes, and all perform well after tuning (no off-kilter machining issues like yours, though).

Hope the Woodriver plane works out. Read many complaints about the lever cap popping up when adjusted such that the blade can still be adjusted.

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