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.
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