|Review by David Craig||posted 09-29-2010 02:52 AM||8764 views||0 times favorited||9 comments|
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.
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.