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Thread: Hand Plane prices

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Richmond, MI near Port Huron

    Hand Plane prices

    This has been probably discussed before maybe many times. But, here goes.

    WoodCraft #4 Bench Plane $144.99

    Lee valley Veritas #4 Smoothing Plane $219

    Home Depot Stanley 9 3/4" bench Plane $46.35

    Home Depot Stanley #4 Sweetheart Plane $149.95

    Home Depot Buck Bro.s 9" Bench Plane $29.97

    They are all roughly the same size. From what my untrained brain can see they do about the same thing. I also understand you get what you pay for. BUT...

    Why such a large span of prices?

    What should I look for in plane of this size?

    What's the difference among a bench, a smoothing and a sweetheart plane?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Unfortunately our abysmal attendance record on the west coast has caused the Woodworking Shows and others to abandon the west coast this year. If there is a show in your area I would recommend you go and get a few of these tools in your hand. Even with little or no experience, the difference is immediately obvious with a swipe or two at a chunk of wood. There are folks on the Handtool Subforum that can talk to these subjects better than I. You will find those who prefer a cleaned up and tuned older (and inexpensive) used tool to a new tool. There are also folks like me who don't enjoy recovering older tools and just want a new one or one that someone else has already restored. I have both.

    I lean toward Lee Valley because I like the advancements that make a ham-handed gent like myself work these things like an old pro. I also do most of my sharpening via power and finish up by hand which makes some of the hand tool aficionados roll their eyes but, 'whatever works best for me' is the direction I usually go ;-) Others prefer Lie Nielsen for their new take on proven designs. In the used part of my collection I have some Millers Falls that were restored by someone else and purchased at the low end of the prices you mention. They have been great to use but, I love my Veritas (Lee Valley) tools. In the "cheap stuff I bought before I knew better and then got rid of" category is the usual array of Groz, the bad Stanleys and some other no-name plane that I fought for awhile. Some folks really like to fettle hand planes and I have seen folks make usable tools out of the most unlikely characters. If you are one of these, garage sales and flea markets are your friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Bratt View Post
    Why such a large span of prices?
    A Chevy Vega and a BMW M3 both have the same general function . . .
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 10-01-2015 at 12:45 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    I think the reason for the high price of the Veritas tools is that, with a $0.75 Canadian dollar, they are doing their best to help improve the balance of payments and reinforce our currency. I will buy some Veritas planes when I win the lottery. I would like to try some of the new Stanley offerings, but I can't find anyone who stocks them near me, and I am not buying a plane without handlilng it a little first. All of my planes were bought on Kijiji, or through Ebay, and tuned up by me. Some of those were BNIB, but not many. My planes work very well, for me, though, and most didn't cost me more than $25.

    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Guy this is a can of worms question. The big thing that i observe is in all our woodworking we using a cutting edge to shape wood. The quality and durabilty of that cutting edge is determined not only by how well one sharpens it but by the quality of the steel its made from. That speaks to two aspects what the blade is made from and and how it is sharpened. You can however buy good replacement blades for old stanleys and end up with making a big improvement in the cutting part.

    But the next aspect that is involved in a plane is the presentation of that blade to the wood you going to cut. This is where cast iron and the machining of that cast iron comes into play. The higher end planes have been properly cast and machined to a finish that is amazing. The net result is flatness and mating of blade and sole of plane in contact areas either with blade or wood is way superior and that all dramatically affects the cutting performance of any blade.

    So it becomes garbage in garbage out. As Glenn used the word fettle, if you take an old stanley ( some of the Borg versions are no difference perhaps even worse) and then mess with filing or smoothing through some process the areas that are needed to make proper contact with the blade and flatten the sole you get close.

    But then comes other elements. To remove wood a plane basically cuts off and breaks in one foul swoop wood fibres. These need to be kept clear of the blade and curl up, that means a chip breaker that , if its not going to jam up every time it sees a chip and clog the throat it needs to make absolute smooth contact with the blade around 1/16 of an inch behind the cutting edge or even closer. This implies that it is parallel in its making. It also implies its underside edge is machined to be flat and close up to form a single piece of metal in unison with the blade when its attached to the blade. Take a look at the light protruding through it on those borg units.

    Then there is the matter of adjustment and easy of adjustment. Taking thin shavings implies you dont have the blade protruding much. That the blade is protruding uniformly across the full width of the throat. Getting this dialed in is a bit of a art and fiddle and once done you want it to remain so. Try this out on the borg specials and you see why they priced accordingly. The engineering effort that goes into the premium plane is huge and costly and ends up in the price. BTW the Lee Valley units are made in Ottawa Canada and not China which is where the Woodriver plane is made. For me there is even more. Its a bigger question. The issue of the difference between being a tool maker and supplier versus a box mover of no name brand manufactured anywhere tools thats the difference between companies like LV or LN and their counterpart box mover Woodcraft.

    That all said i fit into Glenns category of fettler. Like Roger i have nothing but old planes. Some given to me by dear friends from this forum and others i have purchased. I have been blessed and lucky with my buys. My dad handed down to me a stanley smoother and i put a new LV blade in and fettled it for hours and managed to get it to make thin shavings. However I have on my list to buy a few LV planes because i have tried them at the store and again like Glenn made the point they just superior. LN are just as good and i know some here that say Woodriver is a contender too.

    But do yourself a favor....stay away from the borg offerings. Any of them are in my view a waste of good money.

    To answer your last question .......there are many plane numbers out there. It took me years to get to grips with why. I am still learning. But Seetheart is merely a brandname for Stanley at a point in time that represents to many the time when they made the better quality of tool. I have a sweetheart stanley jointer and its blade is for example made out of two metals laminated together. Not something you see in Stanleys today or even many of the same period.

    When we consider that a plane is intended to make wood flat and smooth then depending on what you doing you really dont need a no 4.

    I think a average woodworker can get away with a number 5 jackplane and a good jointer plane like a no 7.

    Sharpen these two and you can do amazing things. The Jackplane was/is the general carpenters plane. Set correctly it can do a fine job of hacking off lots of wood or removing a little. Too much is made of smoothing in my view. We end up sanding anyhow. But some of the premium planes will allow you to end up leaving a sanding free finish.

    Oh one point not touched on among many others is the issue of skill. As wise man Glenn said his premium LV planes and tools allowed for a ordinary person to do extra ordinary things. Which normally require a degree of skill.

    You still need to learn how to plane a board. There is technique involved and knowing when to stop helps too. Ask me how i know. LOL

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    The third generation WoodRiver planes sold by Woodcraft are pretty good, I'm told, the first two iterations not so much. I wouldn't have a new Stanley and certainly wouldn't pay for one for any reason. Stanley is cashing in on its venerable name without the same quality it once had, and the same goes for Buck Bros.

    The Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen offerings are worth what you pay and in certain kinds of planes are much better than vintage. OTOH, I have about 30 or so planes and most of them are between 70 and 145 years old -- I wouldn't trade them for any reason.

    If you are interested in learning, get a #4 and a #5 Stanley made in the first 40 years of the 1900's and go from there. They may require some cleaning and sharpening, but they're worth the effort.

    BTW, planes made by the custommakers are breathtakingly expensive but are in an entirely different class. I suspect they would be a little out of your range ($1500 - $18,000)
    Last edited by Bruce Haugen; 10-01-2015 at 07:23 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Richmond, MI near Port Huron
    Thanks I've got number of planes out in the barn. Probably my grandfathers as I don't recall my dad using them. My interest got piqued so I started a little research, which lead me here. I was wondering if I should clean them up. Sounds like a definite maybe.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Guy it would be well worth your time to visit Patricks site
    where its become a kind of reference for old Stanley hand planes.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    If you will post pics here or in the handtool forum, we will tell you what each is used for.

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