Holtzapffel Bench #4: Plane Old Planes

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Blog entry by Olaf Gradin posted 11-27-2007 10:40 PM 1968 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: The Hard Choice of Hardware Part 4 of Holtzapffel Bench series Part 5: 8/4 < 2 (Lessons in Math) »

Last night I decided to commit to some face planing to get my boards ready for the glue-up. I’ve cut rough dimensions of the four stretchers and two boards each to make up two legs. To do this, I need to joint plane the faces so I get a good flat surface to merge. Afterwards, I will be finishing up the dimensions to exact measurements and smooth planing. Unfortunately, I don’t have a quality hand plane in my arsenal.

I worked the face of one piece last night for about an hour before giving up to try again another day. Granted, I’m going about this all wrong. I have a new Stanley No. 4 smoothing plane with poor casting, uneven mouth, and a blade that is better off used as a marking knife. It has some chips in it and I don’t have a coarse enough sharpening stone to work it out through a reasonable amount of effort. I have sharpened the blade as is to a “scary-sharp” status, but it still has nicks in it. It would appear that it doesn’t have a completely flat sole either (from the now existent repetitive scuff marks). I also have a small Stanley block plane that I picked up at a flea market and have since cleaned up and tuned. It’s one of the old ones, though the blade on this one is also slightly dinged on the edge. At any rate, I’m using these two planes in desperation to do the job of “cleaning” my rough lumber. It’s working, though I have a relatively high degree of dissatisfaction at the results. Today, I ran out to check at the nearby Woodcraft store for options. I know, of course, what the right choices are for this dilemma, but like many others, I simply don’t have the money to drop on Lie-Nielsen or similar tools. I thought that the new Stanley planes – the England made varieties – would be a good enough alternative to what I’m using until I can afford the nice stuff. Turns out, they’re pretty expensive too. Still considerably cheaper than LN, but if I’m going to spend even 1/3 the price of a LN, I want to know if I’m wasting money. The way I hear it, all new Stanley planes are a waste of money. There’s a similar story on Anant, Grizzly, Footprint, and Groz. What’s a hobbyist to do?!? It seems like vintage planes are the only viable alternative to dropping $1,000.00 on a set of new planes.

At Woodcraft, I picked up a better water stone (Japanese combo, 800/4000 grit) and a 2” Hock blade. That blade costs as much as some of the new Stanley No. 4’s (the really bad ones), so it has effectively doubled the cost of mine. I aim to see if it doubles the value, however. I was going to replace the vintage model’s blade as well, but I need to try this theory out first. I could quickly reach the price point of a better plane altogether if I’m not careful.

-- It takes a viking to raze a village. &mdash Blog'r:

5 comments so far

View rjack's profile


110 posts in 3275 days

#1 posted 11-27-2007 11:40 PM

You might also want to consider Clifton planes which you can find at Tools for Working Wood. These are new planes, but they are less expensive than LN. However, they usually require a little more initial tuning than LN.

-- Roger - Havertown, Pennsylvania

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3457 days

#2 posted 11-28-2007 12:30 AM

I’ve had good luck with a Groz #6. For the price, a Groz #5, #4 and block plane will get you through most things until you either decide you want better of feel they are fine. Some can use a new blade and chip breaker, but for the most part, they work fine. You can go the eBay route too, but as I was once asked, “What do you want to do, woodwork, or restore old planes?” There are alot of folks here that do just fine and others that do simply fantastic with old restored planes. Me? I like Veritas.

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

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

214 posts in 3392 days

#3 posted 11-28-2007 04:03 AM

Don’t try to swim up stream. Get a sharping system be it water stones or something like the scary sharp system with a honning guide. Get a good edge opn the blades. Its easy to keep them sharp after that You don’t have to go through the whole system again untill you get them knicked up again.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3383 days

#4 posted 11-28-2007 03:03 PM

I got all my planes on E-bay. good prices and good planes. Most have Stanley irons that I sharpened. If you are short of money, Stanley #6 planes in good shape are a dreg on the market. It seems everyone wants the #7 and 8’s. A #6 is 18 inches long and has a 2 3/8 blade and will work well to work down lumber to the right thickness. It can replace a #7 if used carefully. Your #4 is intended for final smoothing of the high spots and will not work well for the rough work. That’s the place for a #5 or 5 1/2 jack plane. The sequence I use is; #5, #7, and #4 1/2 to finish. Then if I just need to touch up I use the #4. Build your self a set of winding sticks and get a decent sharpening system.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Partridge's profile


296 posts in 3376 days

#5 posted 11-28-2007 09:38 PM

has for a hone try this. keep up the work

-- I get out in the shop when I can

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