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Groz Smoother #4 Plane

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Review by Gerry posted 06-26-2010 06:06 PM 3305 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Groz Smoother #4 Plane No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

The Good: 1. The plane has all the parts needed, and the sole was relatively flat to start. From there, the tool began to fall short.
The Bad: 1. The frog surface was not flat. 2. the blade-breaker combination was not easy to align, 3. The rear handle was loose, and 4 cleaning all the grease off the tool was time consuming, but expected.

Here is the detail of my experience, and what I did to correct the tool and make it quite usable:

I have a Stanley block plane and an older Stanley Bailey Jack plane, both of which I use on a regular basis. I was looking for a # 4 smoothing plane, and found the GROZ #4 on sale at my local Woodcrafters store. I got it home, but did not open it for a few weeks, as it was not needed immediately.

When I did open it, I found it needed quite a bit of attention. The sole was reasonably flat to the eye and a square, but when tested on granite block, was found to be a little off. I used the black marker / wet sandpaper trick on the granite, and after about 10 minutes, all the marks were gone, and the sole was flat. I disassembled the plane, cleaned it thoroughly, and flattened both the frog face and the breaker plate.

Then I took the blade to my Work Sharp. I found it was larger than the 2” as defined, and would not fit in the sharpening port. So, the choice was clear: either sharpen it by hand, or use the grinder to reduce the width to the proper size. I reduced the width just enough to be able to use the Work Sharp, and finally got the blade to what appeared as a good sharpness.

When I tried out the reassembled plane, all I could get it to do is shudder. I then found that the rear handle was loose on the body, and tightening the brass nut would not correct it. I took it off, and found that the main threaded bolt was loose in the sole socket. I tightened the bolt into the sole using 2 nuts locked together, then reassembled it and tried again. Still loose. Then I added 2 small washers under the brass nut, which gave me the control needed. Now the handle is solid on the plane.

More tuning, this time adjusting the frog position forward to close the mouth, and I got OK results, but then could not retract the blade completely.

I flattened the frog face a bit more. Since the breaker plate was difficult to lock square to the blade, I flattened the contact point of this as well. Again, just OK results. No gossamer thin shavings here no matter what I tried.

Since the plane is a mechanical item, and the adjustments I made appeared true, the only thing left was to replace the blade. Enter Hock! I purchased a new blade and braker plate yesterday, got it home, and installed it in the plane without honing. EUREKA! The result was smooth cuts, thin shavings, and MUCH easier to use.

So, with a bit of work and determination, I’ve now got a #4 smoother that is a joy to use, for the price of the plane, my time and effort, and a new blade.

In the process, I discovered the same flaws in another GROZ plane at the local store, which brings me to a conclusion. While one would expect to do some adjusting on any new tool that is not a Lie-Neilson, this plane is clearly not a great one. However, with a bit of perseverance and elbow grease, the end result is not bad, for less than 1/3 the price.

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”




View Gerry's profile

Gerry

253 posts in 1926 days



10 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1801 days


#1 posted 06-27-2010 12:43 AM

thank´s for the review Gerry

it seams to be those kind of things
you have to do with all new planes
that is cheaper than L-N and L-V tools
just a shame no planefactory
let them have a tune in /how to get started discription
in the box tooo

tooo many gets frustrated when they try to start with
some woodworking

either you have to have a big fad wallet or you have to
be a very skilled iron/tool worker/mecanic

Dennis

View velo_tom's profile

velo_tom

118 posts in 1702 days


#2 posted 06-27-2010 02:41 PM

I bought this same # 4 and a # 5 Groz several years ago while they were on sale. I had a pretty similar experience trying to get them in good enough shape to work with. It took me quite a bit longer to get the base flattened than it took you so you had a bit more luck with your purchase. The area around the mouth of mine were recessed more than the rest of the bottom so it took several hours to get the whole base flat enough to eliminate the problem. Took a long time to flatten the back of the blades too but they now sharpen and hold an edge okay. Had to work on the chip breaker too in order to get it to apply full contact across the blade.

I also had to use washers to snug up the totes. All in all it took quite a number of hours to render the planes useful. Then I found I couldn’t use them very long because the totes are so small they hurt my rather average to small sized hands (6 ft, 170 lbs=average). Eventually spokeshave, chisel, rasp, and sandpaper made the handles comfortable enough.

If you’ve got the time to put into it you can turn these into okay planes but it will likely take a lot of patience and perseverance. Since I’ve in general not got so much free time I’ve since mainly purchased Veritas and ECE planes. You pay the extra money and initial preparation takes a few minutes instead of a few days.

-- There's no such thing as mistakes, just design changes.

View bfd's profile

bfd

502 posts in 2493 days


#3 posted 06-28-2010 03:53 AM

I made the mistake of buying one of these. I am about 5’8” & 160lbs not a very big guy and the grip is way way way too small. The tote on this is the perfect size if you are petite women. For less money I would recommend searching online for a used stanley and put a hock blade in it. Either way you will have to spend time bringing it up to something that you can use. At least with an old stanley you have history and in my opinion a lot more fun bringing something old back to life then having to put a lot of time into something that is brand new out of the box. That to me is just frustrating. I would score the Groz 1 star.

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5386 posts in 1918 days


#4 posted 08-27-2010 08:01 PM

Your experience with the #4 isn’t too far off of mine. My blade etc were the sizes they are supposed to be, however, I did have to do the granite / marker / sandpaper trick to flatten the sole, clean up some burrs in the mouth, flatten the frog and chipbreaker, clean the grease off. I am planning on adding a hock blade and chipbreaker soon. But even with OE, and some tuning, it works pretty well, easily pulls hair thin shavings, and all. My tote was loose as well, but I simply had to tighten the screw and it is solid as a rock…

FWIW, My current plane collection consists of a Groz #4, Groz #5, Groz low angle block plane. They were certainly within my budget, and could be made to work very well easily. I am hoping to add a #6 and #7 soon…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View John's profile

John

341 posts in 2484 days


#5 posted 03-09-2012 06:34 PM

these are on fire sale at woodcraft now – mine just came in the mail – thanks for your post it will help me as i clean/tune this weekend… no lie nielsen, but a gazillion times better than my Buck Bros POS

-- John - Central PA - http://affyx.wordpress.com

View Gerry's profile

Gerry

253 posts in 1926 days


#6 posted 03-12-2012 06:24 AM

After all the work, Mine is no longer in use. Not worth all the work to have an inferior tool. I’ve had too many problems with it since i put all the effort into it. I got an old, used stanley #4, moved the hock blade to it, and it works great. The Groz will become a light boat anchor…....

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View Don W's profile

Don W

15217 posts in 1253 days


#7 posted 03-12-2012 10:48 AM

Thanks for the review. Can I ask why you decided on the groz instead of a vintage Stanley or something similar.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Gerry's profile

Gerry

253 posts in 1926 days


#8 posted 03-12-2012 05:56 PM

Don, you’re welcome! I originally could not easily find an old stanley, so I took on the Groz based on cost. (BTW, you DO get what you pay for….)

As I said in the post just above, after all the work, over a period of time using the Groz, I was underwhelmed with its’ performance. I did find an old stanley, and am happier for it.

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View DamnYankee's profile

DamnYankee

3235 posts in 1248 days


#9 posted 03-12-2012 06:43 PM

Thanks for the review. Glad I never bit.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Oldtrekguy's profile

Oldtrekguy

3 posts in 944 days


#10 posted 03-20-2012 04:34 AM

I agree that the Groz planes are not worth their admittedly low price. I bought a #3 and a #4 on sale from Woodcraft, but neither were workable. Loose totes, jammed adjusters, etc. Plan “B” was the purchase of two Stanley’s from E-Bay, along with a Hock blade and chip breaker. I achieved hand plane nirvana with my “new” Stanley, and the #3 with the new blade and chip breaker still set me back only $89. The best thing about the Groz is that you can use it to teach yourself about planes, with no worries that you are going to mess up something good. I plan to investigate converting them to scrub planes. I keep the number 3 where I can see it in my office, to remind me of the folly of purchasing cheap tools!

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