Pimping out an imported plane #1: New blades/old planes - first impressions

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Blog entry by Bob #2 posted 01-30-2008 09:29 PM 7808 reads 2 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Pimping out an imported plane series no next part

I figured it was about time I tried to tweak a new plane. These planes were made in India, under the award brand, but they look very similar to those made by Groz Industries. , Ambika, and Anant tools etc.

I purchased these three planes at a local store here for from $15.00 to $40 each.
Having attempted to restore several old Bailey’s and Sargents and Stanley’s I found that
lately the prices on E-bay for vintage tools has been tarnished by extremely high shipping costs and the inevitible “padding” of the price by shady merchants. And to be quite honest, in my opinion, they were not made all that well in the first place. (Your milage may vary)

Right out of the box, these all performed much better than my expectations and required no adjustment of the plane bases and or blade fittings. The castings, seem of very high quality, and did not require any adjustment.

I sharpened the blade in the No.6 plane (18” long), and used it on several different species of wood and was impressed with how well it cut. I was curious to find out what improvement a high end blade would make with this plane so I ordered a new blade from Lee Valley made from A2 steel.
As you may know, A2 steel is much harder than 01 carbon steel and although more difficult to sharpen it keeps an edge longer. I have a Worksharp, sharpening system so I was not too concerned about the extra work in sharpening this type of blade. As shown in the picture the Lee Valley blade is considerably thicker than the original. Lee Valley claims this extra thickness helps prevent chatter from the blade.

Next I removed the blade and chip breaker and gently filed the frog so that it was continuous with the angle formed in the sole of the plane. It went fairly quickly, as there was negligible material that needed to be removed.

Next, I set out my sharpening station and set the blade angle to 25° using the wixey gauge to get an accurate angle.

The next shot shows the blade, as it comes off the Worksharp system.

I reassembled my plane and tested it out with a handy stick on the shooting board. The new blade got noticeably smoother than the original and the additional thickness narrowed the mouth of the plane leaving just enough room for those fine shavings to exit.

I’m very satisfied with this modification to the original plane and hope to modify the other two in the weeks to come. I will admit that the new blades actually cost more than the original plane. But all in all, it turns out to be very good value.

I am the first to admit that they are not the same quality as a Lee Valley or a Lie Neilson but they will certianly do until I win the next lotto.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

20 comments so far

View Zipsss's profile


204 posts in 4141 days

#1 posted 01-30-2008 11:12 PM

I love my Wixey, and I use it for a lot of settings. Today I learn one more way to use it. Thanks.

-- Zipsss

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3849 days

#2 posted 01-30-2008 11:37 PM

The more posts I see here the more inclined I am to work on my #5 and 8 planes. I inherited these from my father and they have sat in my shop for years hidden in the back of a cabinet. Your post certainly gave me some ideas on refurbishing the planes.

By the way I like the Wixey too but I still am uncomfortable about using it to set up my fences. I still rely on my engineering and combination squares. Too much old school in my I guess.

But thanks for the post. I really appreciate the effort you put into your planes.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4064 days

#3 posted 01-31-2008 12:03 AM

I have that #6 and like it quite a lot. I see it’s worthwhile throwing the LV blade in it, eh?

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#4 posted 01-31-2008 12:13 AM

Hey Mot, we talked about trying this a while back.
When I read more about plane irons on the hock site on remark kept diggin at me. In his ramblings on hand planes he mentioned that the “body of the plane” was only a holder for a decent blade.

Now that I’ve had a chance to test that theory I am in agreement with him.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#5 posted 01-31-2008 02:45 AM

Hi Bryan and welcome to the LJ.
I can appreciate your concern with switching from the tried and true to the wonderful world of digita lbut don’t be too apprehensive.
Best test you can use at you shop is to set with a Wixey or equivalent and measure with your traditional gauges.
i thin you will be pleased. My set up times have gone done ( thank goodness) ) with these little marvels.
I encourage you to take a closer look.



-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4117 days

#6 posted 01-31-2008 02:47 AM

Great use for the angle meter!

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4024 days

#7 posted 01-31-2008 09:55 AM

Nice swap Bob – and the series title, well…lots of “p” sounds – gotta love that! Fun.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4079 days

#8 posted 01-31-2008 02:37 PM

great idea, Hmmmm.

-- Hope Never fails

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4091 days

#9 posted 01-31-2008 07:08 PM

Great to hear that the Awards are doing you justice, Bob. They look like Avant/Kamal planes, big Indian plane manufacturers that purchased the tooling from Record when they stopped offering planes.
Had to admit that I got a rise from the title as well. The image of you in “urban wear” with huge pants hanging down and a boom box riding your shoulder while pimping your planes was fun. Too bad there’s no soundtrack.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View matter's profile


210 posts in 3797 days

#10 posted 01-31-2008 11:59 PM

I agree whole heartedly. The blade makes the plane. I use old, beat up antique planes exclusively, mostly because I’m another impoverished woodworker. The A2 is the cat’s A**

I buy raw A2, rough shape it, and harden it with the BBQ. It takes 9-12 hours to heat treat, but I can make a blade for $4

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#11 posted 02-01-2008 03:27 AM

Hey Doug !
I got m’plane upon the platter and I see its should be flatter, but it really dose’nt matter, cuz my lifie is in a tatter. It just plane!, Plane!, I need to try again!

Matter, I have done a few pieces using a furnace I commandered and got some decent lathe tools for my efforts. – Kind of fun too.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4024 days

#12 posted 02-01-2008 08:30 AM

Ah – the talk of heat treating reminds me…I was talking with a friend of mine who makes knives and thought I’d ask him a few questions about where to buy steel stock (for plane irons and what have you) and questions about heat treatment/hardening, etc. We got to talking…we’re gonna set up some time for him to teach me a bit about the knife making and metal working crafts…something I’ll probably try to blog…

Bob – keep up craftng them lyrics…you got mad skilz

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3814 days

#13 posted 02-02-2008 07:04 AM

You can also improve a plane by using a thicker cap iron. It will stiffen a thinner blade, which is easier to sharpen when you have to rework the bevel. I bought a Hock cap iron to stiffen up an old #5 that I converted to scrub plane use. Made a world of difference using a stock blade. Worth it if you have a few of the thinner blades around that are still usable. If making your own blades, Old 10 or 12” full kerf saw blades are also a source of raw material. Most have pretty good steel in them (altho it won’t hold up like A2!!) Good for making block plane or special profile blades tho. Save all those ashes from that Bar-b-q. Wood ash makes a good medium for cooling down a hard steel when annealing it to form it.


-- Go

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4049 days

#14 posted 02-02-2008 02:47 PM

HI Go:
I haven’t tried a cap iron although it certianly makes sense now that you have explaned it.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View dpt's profile


2 posts in 3785 days

#15 posted 02-11-2008 02:33 AM

I am looking at the Work Sharp system myself and am very interested in the tool rest shown in your picture with the Wixey. It doesn’t look like the one supplied with the WS system. Is it from another system or did you make it yourself?


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