LumberJocks

Does. Not. Work.

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Review by japie posted 07-15-2014 06:51 PM 3975 views 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Does. Not. Work. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I bought this at Home Depot, and out of the box, it just didn’t plane boards.

Now I’m not expecting Veritas quality for $35. But I’m not complaining here that the tool might have worked a little better, or been a little easier to use.

Let’s set the bar low. Let’s assume that I have a Douglas Fir 2×4 and I get splinters in my hands from handling it, but I want to build a ladder out of it and not get splinters in my hands every time I climb the ladder, so I want to plane the 2×4. Note that we have said nothing about exotic hardwoods or fine furniture.

So you put the 2×4 up on some saw horses and start to plane it. After about half a minute, you notice that suddenly the plane no longer takes any shavings. You try to clear out the mouth and notice you cannot, so you disassemble it and find that chips are getting caught under the chip breaker, plugging up the mouth and making the plane entirely useless. Clean it out, go back to planing, and after only a few strokes, exact same problem again. Regardless of how well you tighten the chip breaker or how thin of a cut you’re making.

Contrast this to the Buck Brothers block plane. Sure, it works a lot better if you sharpen the blade and fix up a bunch of other minor details, but out of the box, it works. You can chamfer the edges a beam with it, or take a few shavings of the top of a squeaky door — the sort of carpentry grade stuff the tool is intended for.

Yes, I eventually managed to get this to work. By spending several hours filing and lapping and grinding and polishing. Basically, I beveled the chip breaker so that without tension the front of it contacts the blade only at the very edge. Then, when you tighten it down, you push the bevel against the blade for a perfect fit. I also sharpened the blade, I ground and polished the back of the chip breaker it so chips can glide off easily, I removed the paint (!) from the inside of the plane’s mouth, and a whole bunch of other such things.

But if I need to spend hours to get this to work at all anyway, I’m much better off buying a vintage Stanley at a yard sale. The point of buying tools new is that you can start using them without having to remanufacture them from scratch.

(BTW, I’m including the HD stock photo because the form wants me to include at least one picture, but in reality the plane doesn’t look as nice as in the picture. It isn’t even quite the same design. It has a screw instead of the Bailey-type cam tensioner on the cap iron, and the side-to-side adjustment lever is this really dinky chrome-plated folded sheet metal.)




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japie

11 posts in 163 days



22 comments so far

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

666 posts in 1390 days


#1 posted 07-15-2014 08:02 PM

My wife gave me several handplanes for Christmas one year. I have used some of them, but not all. I have this plane still in the box. I’ll take note of your post and come ask questions when I actually use the thing.

I do agree that new tools should generally be usable out of the box. I have bought things, HF things, which I am pleased with, however, which didn’t work at all out of the box but were so cheap that they were fine with me. But at $35, we are not quite there.

thanks for the heads up.

-Paul

View Richard Hillius's profile

Richard Hillius

157 posts in 432 days


#2 posted 07-15-2014 08:55 PM

I recently found a Buck Bros. block plane and smoother plane in a box of misc stuff that I bought a long time ago. I ended up throwing them in the box and forgetting about them because of the bad experiences I had with them at the time. I have since spent a lot more time with much better hand tools both old and new so when I found them I spent a little time cleaning them up to see if they had any redeeming qualities at all.

The Block Plane is worthless. The mouth is just way to large to work for anything except scraping paint off wood and even than I think a scraper would work better.

The Smoother is slightly better. You can close up the mouth by shifting the frog forward even though the adjustment is a pain and once you flatten the iron and the chip breaker (No small tasks in themselves) it works ok. Like you I had shaving’s catching between the chip breaker and iron until I flattened both parts where they meet (there was a hollow in the iron and the chip breaker was horribly out of flat) It’s not a fine enough tool to be what I would call a smoothing plane but it would work ok as a short jack plane on pieces of lumber with a lot of grit in it that you don’t want to take a good iron to. The steel really isn’t strong enough to make them decent planes even at that. I found myself tempted to put a old Stanley or Hock iron/chip breaker in the plane but it’s really not worth it.

Overall these kinds of items really give hand tools a bad name and I can understand why someone trying to use one of them would lean on power tools and only turn to these as a last resort. And honestly with a little hunting you can buy a much better vintage version of both these tools for the same price.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

1031 posts in 238 days


#3 posted 07-15-2014 09:15 PM

I got a buck bros smoothing plane for free. It is crap.

I bought a buck bros block plane before I know anything about planes. What a waste.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View DaleM's profile

DaleM

924 posts in 2135 days


#4 posted 07-15-2014 11:33 PM

I have this plane. Not the one in the picture, but the one you described. I like it now. I bought it to be used for rough work when I didn’t want to abuse my vintage planes. It works fine for that now. Mine didn’t work well right out of the box either. The only problem I had was the chip breaker, but I didn’t spend hours tuning it. I spent a few minutes flattening it on the belt sander. Like I said, I bought it for rough work. My chipbreaker was warped and ground off center so it didn’t lay flat on one side. It’s cheap and fairly ductile, so I was able to bend it a little by hand to roughly the correct shape, then just hold it flat against the sander until it was the shape I wanted. Now that I did that, and sharpened it, it works okay. It has good weight, the sole was flat and the iron holds an edge for a while anyway. I think it was worth the money for me.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View japie's profile

japie

11 posts in 163 days


#5 posted 07-15-2014 11:42 PM

DaleM, I’m glad to hear that it really is just the chip breaker. Since I wasn’t sure exactly what was going wrong, I just tweaked and ground and flattened everything that seemed like it could use some help, and at some point it started to work. In the end, when I got it to work, my suspicion was that the crucial improvement was the chip breaker, but how am I to know for sure without buying yet another one of these that it wasn’t e.g. the paint on the inside of the mouth that was the culprit? That’s why I’m glad to hear you got it to work just fixing the chip breaker and not other things. If I ever cross paths with one of these again, I’ll know what to try first.

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japie

11 posts in 163 days


#6 posted 07-15-2014 11:48 PM

Ocelot: I completely agree with you about HF. They’re not all bad. You just have to approach HF with the same mindset you approach buying used tools with: just because a tool has the same name as something that will do the job does not mean you can assume somebody else has gotten paid to double-check that it will indeed do the job. Instead, you have to keep your eyes open. But if you do, you can get awesome stuff for cheap, both used and at HF.

View Airframer's profile

Airframer

2754 posts in 705 days


#7 posted 07-16-2014 01:25 AM

Any handtool with a blade (Chisel, Plane etc.) should never be expected to perform without an initial sharpening. Even some LN’s require some final honing out of the box.

If you are expecting a $35 HD special to perform out of the box you haven’t really set the bar that low. I am not defending these abominations but simply saying for the price… you are getting what you paid for.

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View Joshua Oehler's profile

Joshua Oehler

111 posts in 443 days


#8 posted 07-16-2014 03:23 AM

Airframer – I agree that you get what you pay for, but that being said I still expect for a tool to do what it is designed to do and what they are advertising that it does…. and if I spent $250+ for a LN plane and I still had to hone it in I would be furious. I would never expect a Ford to match the quality and performance of a Ferrari…but I still expect my new Ford to run like a new car and get me from point A to point B. If I bought a Ferrari and I had to go get an alignment straight off the lot I would be livid.

-- - "But old news can change, as memories float downstream. So don't judge me by my failures, only by my dreams"

View PepperTree's profile

PepperTree

3 posts in 515 days


#9 posted 07-16-2014 05:52 AM

I also purchased the plane from Home D. since the price was right and I’m just starting to learn about woodworking. It was really a learning experience! I found some helpful videos on you tube that helped since out of the box I wasn’t able to do anything close to planing. While the blade looks sharp to a novice like me, it wasn’t. I drove down to Rockler and picked up their Japanese water-stone kit. with a tool to hold the blade at the proper angle. The grinding process really took some time to get the blade in reasonable shape. After resetting the frog and chip-breaker as I had seen in the videos the first three strokes still seemed terrible, but then a miracle seemed to happen and I suddenly had these really nice long curls of wood appearing. So while I can’t recommend the plane, it can be made to function ok, but you have to trade off how much time you want to spend to get the tool in passable shape. Next up will be some flea market shopping, followed up by a quick donation of this plane to Good Will.

-- Jeff

View michelletwo's profile

michelletwo

2292 posts in 1767 days


#10 posted 07-16-2014 01:45 PM

I think for 35.00 you get a fixer -upper. Handtools rarely work right out of the box..they need sharpening..& fetteling. At 35.00 you are getting a parts kit, not a tool. Even chisels need sharpening & japanese ones need handles installed. If you want a tool that works out of the box, you must pay for the labor to get it to that state

-- We call the destruction of replaceable human made items vandalism, while the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources is called development.

View palaswood's profile

palaswood

818 posts in 503 days


#11 posted 07-17-2014 07:07 PM

You have to ask yourself how much your time is worth?

If it takes you 5 hours of work to get an inferior quality tool into “decent” working shape, you likely have to admit its still not going to perform as well as a vintage stanley with 5 hours of work into it. Chances are the stanley would perform out of the box it arrived in better than the buck bros even after some honing. Other side of the coin is spending 8 times more on an LN or veritas. Seems to be a case of too high of expectations for a cheap tool.

I guess my point is, if you polish up a turd, you simply get shiny shit.

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA, http://instagram.com/palas_woodcraft#

View lj61673's profile

lj61673

234 posts in 1151 days


#12 posted 07-18-2014 02:52 PM



Airframer – I agree that you get what you pay for, but that being said I still expect for a tool to do what it is designed to do and what they are advertising that it does…. and if I spent $250+ for a LN plane and I still had to hone it in I would be furious. I would never expect a Ford to match the quality and performance of a Ferrari…but I still expect my new Ford to run like a new car and get me from point A to point B. If I bought a Ferrari and I had to go get an alignment straight off the lot I would be livid.

- Joshua Oehler

It doesn’t work that way. You are not paying premium prices for LN or LV to hone the blade for you. You are paying for premium materials and workmanship.

A $400 plane needs to be honed same as a $40 plane.

View Richard Hillius's profile

Richard Hillius

157 posts in 432 days


#13 posted 07-19-2014 04:40 PM


Airframer – I agree that you get what you pay for, but that being said I still expect for a tool to do what it is designed to do and what they are advertising that it does…. and if I spent $250+ for a LN plane and I still had to hone it in I would be furious. I would never expect a Ford to match the quality and performance of a Ferrari…but I still expect my new Ford to run like a new car and get me from point A to point B. If I bought a Ferrari and I had to go get an alignment straight off the lot I would be livid.

- Joshua Oehler

It doesn t work that way. You are not paying premium prices for LN or LV to hone the blade for you. You are paying for premium materials and workmanship.

A $400 plane needs to be honed same as a $40 plane.

- lj61673

A new LN or Veritas plane out of the box will take me about 10 minutes to get in operating shape. I wipe down the plane body and put a little paste wax on it take the iron and run it over a 8000 grit stone to polish the back a bit and sharpen the edge and it’s ready to go.

Compare that to the Buck Bros. plane I spent 4 hours flattening the back of the iron and chip breaker before giving up on it because I realized the plane body itself needed probably another couple hours to flatten because it had a hollow down the length of the bed and they are no where near the same. Add on to that even if you do get that plane tuned up you still end up with a plane who’s adjustment and precision is much rougher and less refined than the premium planes. A Buck Bros. plane will never operate as good as one of the more expensive planes no matter how much work you put into them.

View Dedvw's profile

Dedvw

93 posts in 1633 days


#14 posted 07-20-2014 06:53 PM

All my high end hand planes require final honing out of the box. My out of box honing usually consists of sharpening the blade. Honing the back of the blade (to make the blade dead flat), this can take a lot of time, even on the most expensive planes. Honing the sole, another time consuming part and then flattening the chip breaker.

The high end planes are definitely better out of the box, but still can require a lot of set up (depending on how picky you are).

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

1921 posts in 942 days


#15 posted 07-26-2014 01:40 PM

I too bought one of these from HD, in my initial start down the woodworking path, and the threaded rod that secures the rear handle stripped out the threads in the base.
I’ve since decided it is a better investment to buy used Stanley planes, and now have 5 that are a joy to use. And, they were less costly than this Buck Bros.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

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