|Review by Jimi_C||posted 10-12-2009 08:54 AM||8405 views||1 time favorited||14 comments|
At $22.95, this plane is dirt cheap, and as such I was fully expecting to have to do some work on it in order to get it into usable condition. The only other plane I have is a Stanley SB4, which is apparently a British version of the #4 (weird that I got it at Lowes a couple of years ago). That plane is shown in the second picture I attached to the review, and it should be evident what the major issue with that plane is – the two screws that control depth of cut. Rather than having a single depth adjustment, there are two, so it is a constant trial and error process to get a nice consistent shaving. After struggling with this plane for a couple of weeks, I decided to start looking for a new #4.
While I’d love to buy a LN or Veritas, I just don’t have the cash to spend, especially since I’m just starting out and need to buy just about everything still. I considered buying an old plane and restoring it, but I’d rather spend my time using it. I read Anant planes are semi-decent, assuming you put a new blade in them and tune them up, so I started looking in that direction when I stumbled upon the Grizzly on Amazon.
In my opinion, it’s a pretty nice looking plane, and has some solid heft to it. One minor difference from the pictured plane is that it doesn’t have a lever on the lever cap – it has a brass screw for tightening which is no big deal in my opinion. Out of the box, the plane looked pretty good. There were one or two little dings in the cast iron, but nothing major. I used my straight edge to check the sole, and it looks pretty flat – later I’d find out it’s not perfect after truing it on some sand paper. It wasn’t horrible – the front and back were co-planar, but the front was not co-planar with the area around the mouth. According to some sites I researched on tuning hand planes, it is important that the front, mouth, and back of the sole be flat. The other areas of the sole aren’t as important, and are in fact hollowed out on some planes (such as Japanese planes).
I completely disassembled the plane, including the frog, and started filing down the recommended areas: frog touch points, mouth opening, etc., and then turned my attention to the blade. This is the worst aspect of the plane, as expected, and required the most work to clean up. First off, the cap iron is horrible. The machining on it is very rough, to the point it looks like someone shaped it with a Dremel. The edges are rounded back, and the contact with the blade is spotty. Holding the blade/cap iron up to a light I could see there was a pretty evident space there. I started out flattening the back of the blade, first on some 150 and then 220, followed by a 1000/6000 water stone, and then did the same to the beveled edge. After about an hour of work, I had a blade that was shaving hair semi-well. A bit more work and I’m sure it’d be even better, unfortunately I cracked the glass I was using to flatten on (cheap picture frame glass… I need to pick up a granite slab). I had already taken the cap iron and lever cap to the 150 to make sure their contact surfaces were nice and flat as well. I dried everything off and sprayed it down with some Boeshield to prevent rust and reassmbled. There is a bit of slop between the the adjustment knob and yoke, so if you go from raising to lowering the blade, you have to make a few turns before it re-engages in the other direction. I understand that’s common on cheaper planes, so again it was expected.
Taking the tuned up plane to a board, I was able to get a decent shaving that looked pretty good. If I had to guess it was .005 or so, as it wasn’t paper tissue whispy, but I holding it up to a light it looked pretty translucent. I’m sure with a little more tuning I’ll have no trouble getting some good shavings out of it.
Overall, I’m happy with this plane. I bought it knowing I’d have to devote a night to tuning it up, I was just hoping it wasn’t complete garbage based on a couple of bad reviews I read Grizzly planes get. If the blade had been better, I probably would have given this 4 stars. As is, I’ll probably buy a Hock blade for in a few months, which should give me a pretty good plane for ~ $60.
-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"