I think this is a good thing. One has to remember that Lee Valley and Lie Nielsen stole the original plane designs off from Stanley and others and simply added refinements too them. There is nothing wrong with that, the patent rights were up and refinements are what makes this world get better. I mean what good is it to invent the wheel when whoever invented the wheel and axle was the real visionary!
Still we as woodworkers would all love to be the victims and point out corporate america as being greedy, but maybe if we just take a look at ourselves for a moment, we will see that what Stanley and other plane makers did was give us just what we wanted. Cheap tools. There is no doubt they found out how low in quality they can go, but plane sales were dropping off so they needed to do something to stay competitive...reduce the price and sacrifice a little quality was the logical way to go.
Did they go too far? Probably, and it did not help that the old die hard plane makers were willing to buy high quality hand tools that slowly made a climb these last 30 years. No large scale company could afford to grow a sideline that slow.
So now they realize there is a market for medium-priced hand planes and they jump back into the fray tool up. It is too bad these planes were not made in America/Canada but at the same time Lie Nielsen and Lee Valley also have some over-priced junk out there too floating around.
Is there a market hoovering in between the lower production, but higher cost Lie Nielsens and Lee Valley planes; and yet above the Buck Brother's paper weights? I think so. It won't take much to improve the quality of Stanley's yesterday offerings and yet it won't take much for me to buy a lower priced plane then Lie Nielsen and fuss with it a bit to get the same quality tool. In the meantime supply and demand, market price and woodworkers perception just might force Lie Nielsen and Lee Valley to align their prices a bit more towards working man wages.
We (as woodworkers) complained about prices of tools 40 years ago and Stanley gave us what we wanted with cheaper tools. Of late, we have complained about poor quality and now they giving us again what we want.
Nothing but good can come from this. Nothing but good!
I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"