|Review by dfdye||posted 02-19-2010 12:36 AM||5698 views||0 times favorited||35 comments|
Quick recommendation: Only buy this if it is between this and a cheap Stanley.
I saw this plane on sale for $25 at Sears, and had to pick it up. When I first got it out of the box, the handle was a little lose, but a quick turn of a screwdriver fixed that issue pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, that was the only “quick” fix. The sole of the plane is nowhere near flat, and the deep scratches on the body are a royal pain to work out. I spent a bunch of time trying to “grind” the base flat with basic sandpaper, and couldn’t get much better than shown in the picture of the sole. (yes, I know this isn’t how you should flatten a plane, but I didn’t have time to run down to the machine shop and didn’t want to damage a mill bit that costs more than the plane!) There is still a pretty deep spot that I will have to go back to when I get some better abrasives, but if you are thinking of buying this plane, just be aware that you will more than likely have to spend some time to get it “right.”
Fortunately, the blade sharpened right up. The back polished up pretty easily, and I was able to get a nice edge on it using 3M abrasives down to 0.5 micron. Adjusting the blade to get a uniform cut was pretty easy, and comparable to any similarly designed Stanley that I have used. I am not a heavy hand plane user, and I haven’t gotten the blade sufficiently dull to say how the edge will hold up, but the feel of the steel while sharpening gave me the impression that it is a little harder than the cheap Stanley blades, but not nearly as nice as premium plane blades. I wouldn’t expect it to hold an edge for too long, but since set up is pretty easy, you should be back to shaving before too long if you have to stop and re-hone.
I personally was able to get uniform 0.004” shavings from a scrap 2×4 with just a quick adjustment. I was getting sawdust later on an old bookshelf carcass that I am refinishing (the wood just didn’t want to make good curls—not sure the species) This is more than fine for my use, so I have been pretty happy with the performance.
Rating this plane is a bit tricky—now that I have things pretty close to where I want them, I have no desire to get a different plane, so I would give it 4 stars as I own it now. If, however, I were buying a new plane, I would have tried to go with something that would be less time-consuming to set up, and that would have a better blade. Out of the box, it isn’t very good, and is comparable to a cheap Stanley plane from a big box store—I would have given it a 2. It would have gotten the job done, but not very well.
From looking around at Woodcraft the last time I was there, the Groz seems to be a partial step up from the Footprint, and is actually cheaper than the normal price of the Footprint! The Groz will definitley need some work still. The WoodRiver plane is in a different class with a much thicker blade made from better steel and more finely finished body. At at almost $100 more than the Groz, it is in another price bracket too! Either of these planes would be a better choice than the footprint based on my experience, and if I were buying again today, I would probably save my pennies and get the Woodriver out of the gate to minimize headaches getting the cheap planes up to my liking. If you have more time than money and want to be cheap, I would still steer you towards the Groz rather than the Footprint.
That being said, if you have to buy a plane from Sears, this seems to be the best one they carry. I am happy using it, but only since I put a bunch of time and energy into getting it tuned up.
-- David from Indiana --