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Stanley Sweetheart Low Angle Block Plane

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Review by David Craig posted 09-29-2010 02:52 AM 6935 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Stanley Sweetheart Low Angle Block Plane Stanley Sweetheart Low Angle Block Plane Stanley Sweetheart Low Angle Block Plane Click the pictures to enlarge them

I am a newbie when it comes to hand planes. I recently purchased a low cost Stanley 9 1/2, tuned it, and outfitted it with an A2 steel iron from Lee Valley. Total cost of time and effort was in the neighborhood of 60 dollars and a couple hours of my time. I have been checking on the costs of other plane offerings, and have been reading the reviews of the Sweetheart offerings with some interest. I have been mostly disappointed to find that the re-release of the Sweethearts were mostly negative with much time having to be invested by the reviewers to get the planes operational. The 60 1/2, however, was a different story so I decided to add it to my tool collection.

I cannot express how impressed I was with this plane, right out of the box (a rather handsome box I might add, not that it matters). The sole was flat and the plane had a nice finish on it. I pulled out the blade and, out of the box, the blade was sharp enough to cut some of the hairs on my arm. The blade had no machine marks as it was pre-honed for use. This was a rather new experience for me. I decided to try it on the edges of some rough sawn White Oak boards and, within a very short time, I had some very nice shavings.

The pictures above illustrate the point. First picture is the plane assembled. It weights about 2 pounds. Knobs are brass and provide easy lateral, mouth, and depth adjustments. Once the plane is assembled, it does not require dis-assembly in order to adjust the blade. The palm rest is well designed and comfortable. The plane felt good in the hand and working it across the boards felt very natural.

Second Picture is a comparison of the Lee Valley blade I purchased for my other plane and the blade that came with the Sweetheart. As you can see, the Stanley blade has a quality that is equal to the more expensive blade. The iron is constructed from A2 steel and is honed at the factory. The blade is 1/8th inch thick and can handle all tasks suitable for a block plane.

The last picture is the plane after running it a couple of times on the edge of rough sawn White Oak. As you can see, the plane made some nice shavings and this was with the blade untouched by me, other than cleaning the blade of the grease residue from shipping.

Now for another attractive part, the price. The plane normally retails for $99.00. I was able to find it on Amazon for $75.00 with free shipping. The last plane I purchased was $60.00 total to bring it up to snuff, and I was happy with the price. However, for only another $15.00 more, I had more solid parts and everything tuned at the factory. Whether by accident or design, Stanley has a winner with this plane. I hope, in the future, they can go back and put the same thought and effort in their other Sweetheart releases.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.




View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1795 days



9 comments so far

View swirt's profile

swirt

1946 posts in 1658 days


#1 posted 09-29-2010 03:54 AM

Nice review David. And thanks for the comparison photo. That is most helpful.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View lanwater's profile

lanwater

3088 posts in 1620 days


#2 posted 09-29-2010 07:13 AM

I got one last year and have been using it from time to time.
I also did not have to sharpen the blade. It still shaves well.

Out of curiousity, why did you decide to change the blade for an LV?

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1795 days


#3 posted 09-29-2010 12:37 PM

I didn’t change the blade on this plane but on the cheaper 9 1/2 plane I bought earlier. I just wanted to demonstrate that the stock blade that comes with the Stanley is as good a quality as the 3rd party Lee Valley blade.

Thanks for the comments.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15959 posts in 1553 days


#4 posted 09-29-2010 12:42 PM

Thanks for the info. I still like the older ones but hopefully Stanley is trying to do what it can to make them like they use to.

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1801 days


#5 posted 09-29-2010 01:49 PM

thankĀ“s for the rewiew David

Dennis

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13342 posts in 2359 days


#6 posted 09-29-2010 03:24 PM

Thanks for the review, David.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View Rick Boyett's profile

Rick Boyett

167 posts in 1899 days


#7 posted 09-29-2010 03:30 PM

I gave a fairly harsh review of the 9 1/2 due to the quality control issues that Stanley had with machining the iron. It left a fairly severe skew on the blade…

But at $75, I’m willing to give them another shot…

BTW, here’s that deal on Amazon-

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1851 days


#8 posted 09-29-2010 05:48 PM

Thanks for the review David, perhaps this is a sign they will enhance the whole lineup.

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View rwyoung's profile

rwyoung

369 posts in 2158 days


#9 posted 10-06-2010 05:05 PM

I also picked up one of hte 60-1/2 SW block planes. Stanley seems to have dealt with most if not all of the quality complaints. My casting is very clean, the bed well machined and checking the sole it is flat toe to heal and side to side.

The 60-1/2 is quite large for a block plane and if you have small hands you might have issues with the width.

The A2 blade was sharp as it came from the box but a bit too much oil on things for my liking. So since I had it out to clean off the oil I stropped the blade.

Cuts like a champ. I was able to take 0.001” shavings (according to the Folwler calipers) and occasionally it was below 0.001”. Caliper’s have not been calibrated since I bought them so take the sub-thousand reading with a (small) grain of salt. FYI, I was using white oak and cherry as my test boards. Both cut equally well, I was able to get glassy smooth surfaces.

The lateral adjuster is a little hinky, even with the set-screw on the side snugged up it seemed like it still wanted to slip on a heavier cut. Granted, you don’t often take heavy cuts with a block plane. Could be that there is too much oil down inside the mechanism or I was being too prissy with the set-screw. The reason for switching to a heavier cut was to see how well it performed for jobs like chamfering. Other than noticing that I could shift the blade a smidge it slid right through the grain both with and across for chamfering jobs. Given the size and heft of the 60-1/2 it would make a nice plane for a small shooting board.

The depth adjustment has quite a lot of backlash. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it can be a bit annoying when trying to get down to that last whisper of thickness. My particular adjuster has about 1 and 3/4 turns of lash. This seems high, but not so high as an old #7 I have that has over 2 full turns of backlash. :)

So, well worth the $75 (Amazon deal was still running when I purchased).

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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