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I'm pretty new to woodworking and becoming more and more interested in some of the hand tool techniques. I've been shopping and researching hand planes. From what I see, according to folks who know more than I, the first thing you have to do is tune your hand plane. Make sure the sole is flat, remove burrs, sharpen the cutter.

My question: For how much a good plane cost, why is this acceptable? Why should final quality control fall to the user? The factory, with precision machinery and expert workers can surly make the bottom flat, clean and the blade sharp. Is it to keep cost down? Or because expert users may want to tune it in a particular fashion? I would think for how much even a mid level quality plane cost, it would come out of the box perfect. Or nearly so.

Please, enlighten me Lumberjocks.
 

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Hi joshuam39!

I'm pretty new to handplanes too.

For starters, many people use handplanes that are 50 to 100 years old. The wear and tear and rust and etc. do have effects over time so that some tuning must be done. I've recently aquired 10 or 12 planes of this sort - which can be had fairly cheaply on ebay and other places. Mine are all Stanley Bailey planes made between 1910 and 1961.

Secondly, from what I understand, it is a normal part of hand-plane ownership to sharpen the iron. If you don't know how to sharpen, your plane will be dull in a day (if you use it) and then, well, it won't work so well. So, since you have to know how to sharpen, I suppose less than perfect sharpening of new planes at the factory saves you money. Final sharpening has to be done without generating a lot of heat - which means that it can't be done in a high-power factory kind of way.

On the other hand, disposable razors are very sharp and very cheap. The long strip of blade is sharpened before it is cut into segments. There is an interesting video on this on "Modern Marvels". You can find it online.

Finally, a lot of people just like to fiddle with things and enjoy imagining that they can make their new toy even better than new.

I personally believe that flattening the sole is rarely needed and it's effects overrated, but there are much more experienced folks (and it wouldn't take much to be much more experienced than me) who have a different opinion.

I recently stumbled over some articles by Paul Sellers online - which demystify plane sharpening. Look 'em up.

-Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can definitely understand sharpening the iron with wear and tear and all.
I was thinking about getting a new Bailey or splurging on the Sweetheart block plane to start. I watched video of a guy unboxing a new Bailey and tuning it up. (the reason for this post) I know the Bailey isn't high end, but it seems a lot nicer than the cheapies.
I have a Stanley Handyman smoothing plane (i think) I picked up at second hand shop. The iron was pretty rough and rusty. I got a nice edge on it with my triple stone. I could do some more cleaning and tuning, but it's serviceable. I've basically have been just using it on scrap wood to practice technique and setting.
 

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Iron does move over time and historically speaking
most plane users weren't after super precision.

In truth you can get good results from a bench plane
with a sole that isn't "flat". The fact that some
manufacturers are producing planes with higher
quality machining these days does not mean that
using such planes is the only means to producing
superior work.

I don't bother flattening plane soles. I did it once
with a block plane and that was enough.

All that precise machining and quality control makers
like Lie Nielson lavish on their planes adds considerable
time to the manfucturing process. Thus, they
are pricier than Stanley planes.
 

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I wouldn't even think of buying a new Bailey plane. The old ones are both better and cheaper.

Pick up a gallon of EvapoRust and a little wire brush.

I'm just a couple of months ahead of you.

Here's what I'm talking about. Although I didn't post explicit "after" photos, you can see some of them further down the thread.

http://lumberjocks.com/Ocelot/blog/42260

-Paul
 

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If you buy one of the "premium" planes (Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, etc), you shouldn't have to flatten the sole or spend very much time flattening/polishing the back of the iron. That's one of the reasons they cost as much as they do. If you buy lesser quality, you'll have to spend time getting the plane into shape. I agree that the new Baileys are not the same quality as the old ones. You can buy a pretty nice old Stanley/Bailey for less than a new one and you'll have a better tool. As far as quality is concerned, the Stanley Handyman isn't up near the top of the list. You can get a good #5 for around $30-$40 or a #4 for around $50 that has been rehabbed and sharpened and is ready to go to work when you get it from several folks around here. DonW is the first one that jumps into my mind, but there are others of us that sell planes. I should point out that the prices I mention above are what I charge, others may be more or less. If you want a new plane, you might want to find a Woodcraft and test drive the Woodriver planes.
 

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I agree with Dave. The premium planes will not require a lot of setup time. I own a couple of LN planes that worked perfectly out of the box (beside a quick hone of the blade). I have quite a few old Stanley/Bailey planes that required restoration that you would expect of a 30++ year old tool. I also own a couple of Wood River planes that I bought out of curiosity. They are well made planes that will not break the bank, and did not require much to get them tuned. I highly recommend them as a new starter plane.
 

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I am not personally familiar with the new Woodriver planes, but there are a lot of people that seem to like them. The new Stanleys…not so much. If you are near a Woodcraft store, I believe you can test drive the Woodrivers. Another option is to post a WTB (Wanted to Buy) here and see if anyone has an older Stanley 60 1/2 they would part with. In the interest of full disclosure, I do sell planes along with DonW and several other folks here. Most, if not all of us, would sell you a plane that is ready to work when you get it. A good 60 1/2 will run about $30-$40 (plus shipping). If you do decide to go with a Woodriver, please post a review and let us know what you think. Good Luck!!

I just looked at the Woodriver low angle block plane on the Woodcraft site. If I'm looking at the right plane, its $100. I have a like new Lie Nielsen low angle block plane (60 1/2) I will sell for $135 plus shipping.
 

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You are correct that as a general rule product cost is the prime driver of the "quality" of the end product with respect to new hand planes (there are some exceptions). You will find a lot of broadly varying opinions regarding which path is best: new or old, Bailey or Bedrock, cheap - middle - premium, is Veritas or Lie Nielson better, it goes on and on.

For one of those opinions, you can read through my blog http://lumberjocks.com/OSU55/blog. There are many, many other sources of information.

Welcome to the slippery slope of woodworking hand tools!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The closest Woodcraft store is about 2 hours drive. There's a Rockler store near me. The selection of planes on their website is weak, but I think they have much more selection in the store. I would be interested in some good used planes for sure. I'm still trying to get equipment together, and where ever I can save money is a bonus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There is so much to take in with learning about planes. I've been reading articles, blogs, watching vids for the last couple weeks now. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. I'm thinking a bench, smoothing, and a block plane is way to go for starting out. I'm mainly doing small projects like boxes and shelves for now. That, and practicing joints on scrap wood.
 

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The Woodriver v3 planes are the best of the chinese made planes these days. I'd definately recommend them over any new Stanley. My Woodriver No. 6 is one of my favorite planes, even next to other veritas and lie-nielsen planes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Aussie. I'm actually in the middle of reading Hand tool Essentials. An excellent book. I got it from the library, but I may buy it so it's always around. I saw the books you mentioned on Amazon. I buy them used from Amazon all the time. I've grabbed several good ones for $3-4 a book. I love me some Amazon.
 
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