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Forum topic by PollyB posted 08-03-2015 01:42 PM 985 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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PollyB

7 posts in 490 days


08-03-2015 01:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hand tool plane wood-bodied wood body krenov hand plane wood plane

I hope I’m not stepping on any toes here, but I have a question for you guys:

How much interest would there be in purchasing working hand planes, Krenov style, good quality priced below LV and LN metal planes and much below “boutique” pricing of “planes as art” vendors?

We see a lot of posts from part time woodworkers that indicate many are interested in hand tool work but don’t have enough shop time to spend making tools, and can’t justify or afford the prices of most wood bodied bench planes. There are guys out there making wonderful planes, but not at prices for everyone.

Our prototypes are definitely user tools, not art. They aren’t ugly, but we don’t invest our time in the level of finish of the “high-priced spread.”

My partner and I are thinking of other hand tools as well. For a “rough draft” peek at what we are up to, take a look at my project post: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/171754 It shows some early prototype work we’ve done. All my metal bodied planes are on the shelf now, and I’m finding our prototypes are much easier and at least as good as the old pre-war Stanleys, LV and LN planes.

Any and all comments, critiques, advice would be appreciated.

-- PollyB, On my boat, https://courtenay-co.shopify.com


11 replies so far

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JayT

4773 posts in 1672 days


#1 posted 08-03-2015 02:03 PM

Honestly, you can try it, but will be very difficult to make a go. Several obstacles to overcome.

  • If the plane is too simple, a decent woodworker will feel they can just make it themselves, and Krenov style are pretty simple to make. (That’s also an advantage for keeping your costs down)
  • Lower priced planes won’t have a lot of profit. If you are working on low margins, then you have to make up for it with volume and I don’t see enough market to get the kind of volume necessary.
  • Biggest issue I see is that good quality vintage planes are still relative bargains. Anyone can pick up a ready to work Stanley jack or smoother for less than you will likely be able to produce a new plane. Not disagreeing that a wood-bodied plane can be as good as an iron one, just tough to make a profit when competing with those prices.

If you have a good plan to overcome those, then go for it. I think the reason you see the “boutique” planes is that, with the prices they command, there is enough profit to cover the low volume. They are also nice enough that the average woodworker thinks, “I can’t make something that good, so I’ll have to buy it.”

If you are doing the planes as a part of a larger tool business, then they may go. I just have trouble seeing how they could be the main money maker.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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Mattyboy

50 posts in 539 days


#2 posted 08-03-2015 04:57 PM

I think it would be of great interest to many people, but getting the word out to those people might be tough. There seems to be a real movement to hand tools, so the demand is there. Personally I’ve had a lot of frustration with eBay and find using it a chore that I hate. I have started making some of my own tools.

Some people I know have been looking into the Mujingfang planes from China because they’re low cost, so there is a market.

-- Matt, Northern CA

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PollyB

7 posts in 490 days


#3 posted 08-03-2015 05:56 PM

Thanks for these comments, guys. I appreciate it a lot.

JayT: We have thought a lot about your points, and we currently are thinking:

1. Anyone can make a Krenov plane. For the guy who comes home from work at six, after a forty minute commute, has dinner with the family, takes out the trash and then sneaks down to his shop, he doesn’t want to spend his limited time making tools. He wants to spend his time using them making projects. Retired guys with all day to work in the shop, yeah, they’ll make their own. Or do a refurb. More power to ‘em.

2. We’ve got our costs well pinned down and pretty precisely controllable. We can sell at a bit lower than the Wood River stuff at Woodcraft and do a decent margin, although we’re looking at getting close in some cases.

3. For lots of folks, an e-bay user plane is rolling the dice. A little like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. And there are all those folks who don’t want to spend their limited time and limited dollars chasing missing or damaged (and usually rather expensive) parts to get that “ready to work” vintage plane into shape. (Been there, done that myself.)

As for the “boutique” planes, I see a lot of posts that say, essentially, “I really, really want one, but I can’t afford it.” So far, our prototypes work really well, well enough to sideline my vintage Stanleys (I have three) and my Veritas (I have one of those) and my partner’s Lie Nielsen (he has one). I think we can provide equal functionality with the “boutique” guys at a dramatically lower price point and without the two year wait for delivery. Unless we are “blessed” with 1,000 orders the first month (or even 100 orders) we expect to ship from inventory.

And we will be adding other tools to our catalog as we establish our processes and quality control.

As Mattyboy said, the demand is there and growing.

As to the low cost Chinese stuff, tell your friends to take care, Matt. The steel can be awful in a lot of cases and quality control is often spotty in other areas as well. I haven’t been hands on with Mujingfang planes, but I’d want to check ‘em out very carefully before I risk a valuable piece of hardwood to one. Most woodworking in China has historically been in softwoods as I understand it.

-- PollyB, On my boat, https://courtenay-co.shopify.com

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bobasaurus

2658 posts in 2645 days


#4 posted 08-03-2015 06:35 PM

You should offer parts or kits for building planes as well. It’s hard to find an affordable heat-treated blade for a wood-bodied plane, that would be a great accessory you could sell if you batch out heat treating and cutting. Whole kits and plans would be nice as well for the DIY’er without much plane-making knowledge.

-- Allen, Colorado

View Tim's profile

Tim

3112 posts in 1423 days


#5 posted 08-03-2015 10:44 PM

I have a hard time believing the market is big enough. There probably is a price at which you can sell a nice wood plane, but the question is if it’s high enough to make a profit.

An LJ tried floating a wood plane business (Nice Ash Planes) recently and I haven’t heard anything about it lately.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#6 posted 08-03-2015 11:10 PM

Ive thought about it quit a bit, but in my research there are already so many guys doing it, I just don’t care to take them on. There are many making decent products at decent prices.

A firm making infills are a little different. At least the average woodworker doesn’t think they can make one. Even then, the Competition is plenty.

I’d like to see the estimate where you can make a good plane with a decent hourly rate and undercut the competition.

But there are folks doing it, so why not you!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

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Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#7 posted 08-04-2015 02:37 PM

The other part I discovered is if you want to succeed, plan on doing a lot of shows like Handworks. Until your name gets established, you’ll need to show your product so woodworkers can test them.

Getting a Kudo’s from a well known name helps as well.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

296 posts in 3430 days


#8 posted 08-10-2015 04:07 PM

Laminated planes are for beginners. Lots of guys can build one and believe, therefore, why not go into production. Before you begin offering them for sale, I would advise that you re-design the pin/wedge combination. That round pin will dent the wooden wedge, which will then stop holding. Then the blade will stop cutting.

Read Krenov’s books at the least to understand what the design is all about. I have a build on my website that will also demonstrate what this is about: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMadeTools/BuildingaKrenovSmoother.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3926 posts in 2705 days


#9 posted 08-10-2015 08:54 PM

It’s really a question of advertising; getting the word out. LV, Bridge City and others have an advertising budget and a following of many years. You cannot make a killing overnight. You will go on for years before starting to make a profit (assuming you have a good product). I’m not trying to discourage you, but yours is not an easy path. Do you have the money to compete with the plane makers?

View PollyB's profile

PollyB

7 posts in 490 days


#10 posted 08-17-2015 04:05 PM


[snip] ... I would advise that you re-design the pin/wedge combination. That round pin will dent the wooden wedge, which will then stop holding. Then the blade will stop cutting. [snip]

- Derek Cohen

Thanks for the suggestion. And for the record, I’ve read Krenov and Fincke – and learned a lot from both. I regularly suggest the Fincke book to anyone interested in diy Krenov-style plane making.

I’m going to look into that. I’ve gotten about three years of moderately substantial use so far out of a 3/8” bronze pin and Ipe wedge with no signs of denting. On the other hand, I’d like to produce a tool that will still be working well and properly for my great-grandchildren or longer. Ipe is very hard stuff, but it may not 4+ generations hard. Maybe not even 2 generations. I think I’ll look into an Ipe cross pin.

I know out in AU, you guys have some pretty hard hardwoods. Got a favorite for cross pins? On your siite, it looks to be the same She-oak of the rest of the plane; on the little block plane also shown, it is a darker wood, perhaps the Jarrah?

As you note, the laminated plane is far less labor intensive that the traditional English and American wood-bodied planes and can be made at far less cost. While that seems not to have deterred some from pricing their laminated planes as art, it does open the door for plain, simple user tools that I aspire to supply to others. As you commented, one can have “world class performance for the cost of your [or perhaps my] time.”

Thanks for taking the time to comment and offer your suggestion. Much appreciated.

-- PollyB, On my boat, https://courtenay-co.shopify.com

View RobS888's profile

RobS888

1984 posts in 1306 days


#11 posted 08-17-2015 08:17 PM

Don’t sell your boat, but good luck. I think you have a good attitude and I’d like to see a picture when you start selling them.

-- I always suspected many gun nuts were afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

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