|Review by Benvolio||posted 07-27-2013 11:59 PM||6384 views||0 times favorited||6 comments|
This range of planes is currently being sold in the UK by Rutlands and Workshop Heaven.
It is the understated half brother of the acclaimed Wood River planes sold on the other side of the Atlantic. Made, as I understand it in the same factory, but tweaked to different specifications according to the badge that’s put on it, and the shop that sells it.
The heart of this plane is the pre-tensioned steel body. A happy evolution of the old cast iron plane bodies of yore, the steel one doesn’t flex or wear with use, and is more resistant to sole scratches. Out of the box, this plane came dead flat to well within 2 thou, and the sides were bang on square. The sides and sole came with a nice polish on the surfaces. The picture above shows the sheen (if the reflection looks distorted, that’s just parallax of the camera ) the working surface of the plane is simply flawless and ready to go right out of the box, and let’s be honest, that’s the big chore with setting up a jointer!
The iron came out a little out of flat at the back. Using the ruler trick made a quick job of getting the iron ready for work. The iron is very hard steel. It cuts well and keeps an edge, but I’d suggest if you’re buying this as a first plane, I’d want to be very confident with sharpening before attacking the A2 hardened steel with your stones.
The cap iron is very nice and solid, and the mating surface is very flat and ready for work. The yoke is very nicely manufactured. Chunky lump of strong steel that’s re-assuring to use. It engages with the chip breaker with around 3/4 turn of backlash.
The lateral adjuster is only a pressed steel bar, instead of the fabricated bearing adjuster found in some of the Wood Rivers, but I didn’t find this to be an issue in using the plane. There was no flex in the lever and the iron was responsive to it.
The lever cap is nice. `Quangsheng` is hardly a sexy brand compared to `Veritas` or `Wood River` so I don’t mind that they left the name off the lever cap. Vanity aside, this is a well manufactured piece of kit.
The bedrock adjustment is a little stiff. Some 3-in-1 oil in the threads loosened it up a little, but For the time being, I am a little worried about the screw heads. Even using my largest parallel screwdriver, the slot of the screw head is a little too oversized; so between the stiff screw action, the slack fitting screwhead and the awkward angle of reaching behind the tote – I’m not sure how confident I feel about adjusting the mouth.
The wood elements are very nice. My hands are an average size and it feels like the tote could happily accommodate smaller or larger hands. An afternoon of using this plane certainly didn’t give me any grief on my hands. I’m not sure what the finish used is. I suspect it’s a satin based oil/resin mix, but if anyone knows differently, let me know. It’s certainly a more tactile and inviting finish than the naff high gloss varnish found on the cheaper planes that give you blisters!
A couple of flaws out of the box are pictured above: The grinding of the lever cap doesn’t reach the corners, so I needed to go back and finish the job there (though in the real world, I’m sure this doesn’t affect performance). The front knob had some minor tear out from the factory turning. Some flash rust on the frog that buffed off in no time at all with a burlap rag.
The truth is, I’m loathed to even call these `flaws`. What they are is the corners that were cut in making this plane. And can you blame them? This plane performs how I’d expect a Lie Nielsen or Clifton to, but costs half the price. And For the same price as a Stanley, requires virtually no set up in comparison, and is finished to a much higher standard.
Reviews on this line of plane are few and far between, but one I read on-line (and you might too) says the tote is set too far back from the iron so there’s no where for your index finger to rest. I can say that this is simply not the case. My fingers aren’t terribly long and the tote and handle fit me like a glove.
I guess I’m writing this review for people who were in the same scenario as me. That is to say people asking ``is this plane worth the punt, or is it a knock off Chinese import?`` The simple fact is that this plane is worth every single penny. It’s clear this plane isn’t made by the same attention to detail as the premium planes, but for half the price, you’re getting 98% of the quality. To me that’s a no-brainer.
I wouldn’t say any area of the plane has been compromised in the pursuit of making an affordable plane. It ticks the boxes of what you want from a prestige tool – dead flat, dead square, hardened steel iron, and very nearly ready to go out of the box. So although I’ve identified a few drawbacks above, I cannot give this plane anything other than five stars.
This plane, in the space of an hour, cured me of my vintage Stanley obsession. Moreover it’s stopped me from lusting after the Lie Nielsen/Clifftons of the world. What’s it’s left me with is a lot of washing up and laundry to do so I can convince the wife to let me buy the whole range…
-- Ben, England.