Groz - #4 Smoother Plane (Rating: 3)

The Good: 1. The plane has all the parts needed, and the sole was relatively flat to start. From there, the tool began to fall short.
The Bad: 1. The frog surface was not flat. 2. the blade-breaker combination was not easy to align, 3. The rear handle was loose, and 4 cleaning all the grease off the tool was time consuming, but expected.

Here is the detail of my experience, and what I did to correct the tool and make it quite usable:

I have a Stanley block plane and an older Stanley Bailey Jack plane, both of which I use on a regular basis. I was looking for a # 4 smoothing plane, and found the GROZ #4 on sale at my local Woodcrafters store. I got it home, but did not open it for a few weeks, as it was not needed immediately.

When I did open it, I found it needed quite a bit of attention. The sole was reasonably flat to the eye and a square, but when tested on granite block, was found to be a little off. I used the black marker / wet sandpaper trick on the granite, and after about 10 minutes, all the marks were gone, and the sole was flat. I disassembled the plane, cleaned it thoroughly, and flattened both the frog face and the breaker plate.

Then I took the blade to my Work Sharp. I found it was larger than the 2" as defined, and would not fit in the sharpening port. So, the choice was clear: either sharpen it by hand, or use the grinder to reduce the width to the proper size. I reduced the width just enough to be able to use the Work Sharp, and finally got the blade to what appeared as a good sharpness.

When I tried out the reassembled plane, all I could get it to do is shudder. I then found that the rear handle was loose on the body, and tightening the brass nut would not correct it. I took it off, and found that the main threaded bolt was loose in the sole socket. I tightened the bolt into the sole using 2 nuts locked together, then reassembled it and tried again. Still loose. Then I added 2 small washers under the brass nut, which gave me the control needed. Now the handle is solid on the plane.

More tuning, this time adjusting the frog position forward to close the mouth, and I got OK results, but then could not retract the blade completely.

I flattened the frog face a bit more. Since the breaker plate was difficult to lock square to the blade, I flattened the contact point of this as well. Again, just OK results. No gossamer thin shavings here no matter what I tried.

Since the plane is a mechanical item, and the adjustments I made appeared true, the only thing left was to replace the blade. Enter Hock! I purchased a new blade and braker plate yesterday, got it home, and installed it in the plane without honing. EUREKA! The result was smooth cuts, thin shavings, and MUCH easier to use.

So, with a bit of work and determination, I've now got a #4 smoother that is a joy to use, for the price of the plane, my time and effort, and a new blade.

In the process, I discovered the same flaws in another GROZ plane at the local store, which brings me to a conclusion. While one would expect to do some adjusting on any new tool that is not a Lie-Neilson, this plane is clearly not a great one. However, with a bit of perseverance and elbow grease, the end result is not bad, for less than 1/3 the price.