LJ friends and gifts. #20: French hand plane review Darex 303 (the long waited review).

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Blog entry by mafe posted 07-20-2014 07:26 PM 4482 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 19: Visiting my friend Jamie in Scotland - the show must go on. Part 20 of LJ friends and gifts. series Part 21: Jamies two face knife ;-) »

French hand plane review Darex 303
the long waited review…
Mads has left his laptop sitting, Silly boy,
J S I wonder if he will re read it LOL

By the authors of unpopular wood wrecking magazine:
Jamie the Scotsman & MaFe the Dane.
Brothers with different mothers (and fathers).

You know what they say about the French?
We don’t…
JS yes but Mads you Danes have not forgiven Napoleon
This blog is in no way a nationalist attempt of promoting France, the authors have no intention of making it into a international matter and no French were hurt during the review, so no reason to feel hurt after.
In fact we both like chese, frogs, beautiful woman and tools of any nationality.

So we decided to test a product from the French hand plane producer Darex.
Darex has been around for a long time, they are excellent at copying tools and making them at their own standards.
JS Are you sure it,s not Durex the French are always writing letters about?

Darex 303 is the name of the model. We give it 5 stars.
JS Yes Mads but did you tell them that was out of 100.
They were short of one millimeter, so it became a 44mm iron.
But no more ramblings, lets get serious and look into the hand plane.
The one we had the chance to test is a good as new, slightly used model, purchased by a Scotsman.
JS You say Scotsman but with all the Vikings in Ayrshire he could be a Dane. You know that in Scotland
we get the best Danish Bacon & Butter

First let’s take a look at the cap iron, feels heavy and the chrome in play with the gold sticker, gives it a sexy look, we are especially impressed with the 44mm detail, no iron’y here.
Also the plastic knob for tightening the blade has gone through a serious design phase, we are tempted to believe they have look at pre www2 Russian planes for inspiration, quite naughty that is.
JS Planes I think you mean tanks.

Can you handle this!
Again a naughty detail, the wood has been replaced with a look alike Bakelite plastic.
It actually feels good in the hand and gives you a grip of the situation at this point.
JS Yes Mads but you just paddled twa lengths o Loch Doon and said your hands were numb.

Same song, different melody and shape…

Reinforced plastic knob, gives it the strength to be tightened a reasonable amount of times before it will break.
JS Reasonable amount of times. Twice?

The frog is a masterpiece, all plastic.
(The French actually eat frogs).

Must admit the chrome cap iron do add some bling effect, it will stand out in any shop and they managed to use absolute minimum of material to make it.
JS Yes that is the sad part. Not even any scrap value

We did admit our copy was a wee bit used, but frankly you can still see the chrome that once covered the entire sole.
Imagine the face of your fellow woodworkers when you tilt your plane a show of a wee bit chrome, they will be green! But since it is not brand new, we will not go deeper into this.
JS Yes I can Green like a Frog.

We will go straight to the flatness test.
As you can see it is not too bad, no more light passes the straight edge than the tolerance they promise on the spec’s.
(You should not be able to get more light through, that to light up a small workshop).
So it will get a star for that.
JS I think it was a bad idea to hide Mads glasses

Ok perhaps it could have been worked a wee bit more, but that would have destroyed the beautiful chrome, so lets just call it relatively flat.

The iron seems to be made from iron, so we looked at the back.
As you see again relatively flat.
JS Holland is also flat

I think this is what the French call: ‘prête hors de la boîte’, ready out of the box.
Not sure if it’s for planning or moldings, but we will make more testing.
It gets a star for being ready.
JS Now he has me flummoxed , Have I mentioned that I blame my truant officer
for my poor French

Time for some hands on testing!
We will try and push it through some pine.
It looks like shaves.

For compare, here shaves from a Japanese hand plane.

And here chips from a electric thicknesser.

We are not all sure, but tend to call it shaves and not chips, so it gets a star here.


Vive la France.

JS I think there is some photo trickery here or black magik Conclusion:
The Darex is one of these products, where we got to ask our self; ‘why did no one come up with a hand plane like this before’ also we ask our self; ‘why did no one come up with a hand plane like this after’...
The chrome ideas are so bright that it really outshines the few dislikes that we could have on this plane.
The execution of the frog and the fact it was not eaten, show signs of brilliance in the chain of the production.
The gold label are the touch that removes all doubts.
So we had no doubt when we gave it five stars.
JS I think this is again out of 100

The author MaFe, has a short history, but tend to make it long, he is widely known for his expertise on curly shaves and his strong believe in the power of hand tools when the electricity are off, MaFe is also known to be a greasy guy, thinking into the box.

Next review will be on bench dogs.
Every wood wrecker should try one of these, they have a excellent grip on wood and a love for chips.
(Try to avoid black dogs).

The author Jamie, has a long history, he is a shave specialist, no one can use a scraper like him, meditation master in the workshop. Jamie is also known for his last oils for the wood and for his strictly dust free workshop.

Hope this review will bring you absolutely no where, but perhaps a smile,
JS ;)
Best thoughts,
Jamie & Mads
Brothers with different mothers.
(and fathers).

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

12 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3363 days

#1 posted 07-20-2014 09:29 PM

At least the frog won’t rust.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20603 posts in 3135 days

#2 posted 07-20-2014 09:30 PM

That plane would not sell well at a flea market here!. Chrome on a plane?? Sad product! But it’s cheap to manufacture!!..............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2810 days

#3 posted 07-20-2014 10:07 PM

Ahem, you two been meditating TOO long ? or is it the single malt or the record setting hi test Scotish beer you’ve been sampling ?
Nice piece you twa, so glad you are able to get together this way bye n’ bye.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3333 days

#4 posted 07-20-2014 11:12 PM

wow, ill take a dozen, shipping address is p.o. box bottom of the lake……but on the good side, something is better then nothing,,,great review, buy the editor a hot chocolate…oh and a twinky.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Don W's profile

Don W

18756 posts in 2597 days

#5 posted 07-20-2014 11:50 PM

you got me at “plastic frog”

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View lew's profile


12103 posts in 3785 days

#6 posted 07-20-2014 11:56 PM

Nice curls! Can’t wait for the bench dog reviews.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View TheFridge's profile


9610 posts in 1515 days

#7 posted 07-21-2014 12:20 AM

The Darex product line has just soared to the top of my list of must have tools.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2919 days

#8 posted 07-21-2014 01:08 AM

Excellent review! I can’t wait for the review on the bench dogs.
A few sips of the high test Scotch makes everything much clearer.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View CFrye's profile


10247 posts in 1869 days

#9 posted 07-21-2014 02:44 AM

It might be a scratch stock plane! Bench dog review? Yes, please.

-- God bless, Candy

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2568 days

#10 posted 07-22-2014 03:38 PM

That is truly amazing, a real hobby-killer for sure. Loved the review

-- I never finish anyth

View mafe's profile


11732 posts in 3118 days

#11 posted 07-22-2014 06:35 PM

Only one comment to this blog: ‘No comments’.
Thank you, J&M.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View mafe's profile


11732 posts in 3118 days

#12 posted 07-23-2014 11:59 AM

Ohhhhh yes of course thank you for stopping by and the kind comments.
From the heart,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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