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Jack Plane Purchase... Union #5, or Craftsman?

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Forum topic by harriw posted 11-25-2015 06:15 AM 771 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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harriw

116 posts in 1674 days


11-25-2015 06:15 AM

Hi folks,

I started out on “team Norm,” but am finding more and more that handplanes, chisels, card scrapers, etc. are AWFULLY handy tools to have around. As such, I’m (very) slowly growing my stable of planes.

I’m looking for a Jack Plane next – a 5 or 5 1/2 would be fine I think. 2 options have presented themselves, and I’m curious what everyone thinks.

First, I found a craigslist ad for someone selling a Union #5: http://rochester.craigslist.org/tls/5284054651.html


From the pictures at least it all appears to be surface rust that should clean up nicely. I emailed and explained in detail that I was interested, but not anywhere near $40. I think I mentioned $10-$15. He wrote back and offered $25.

So this evening, before he wrote back to me I took a trip out to our local tool thrift store (fantastic local resource in Fairport, NY – look them up if you’re in the Rochester, NY area). They had a Craftsman Jack Plane on the shelf for $20 that I almost took home. This shop has someone who rehabs planes for them, and this looks like it had been gone over. All the rust was removed and it was oiled and sharpened, but would need to be adjusted still. The tote and knob looked solid, but the finish on them was completely shot – I’d expect to refinish them. The paint/finish on the chip breaker was peeling off too. I’d have no problem cleaning it up I’m sure, but it looked cheap, and a bit newer than I really wanted, as I was hoping for some “old iron.” And $20 sounded a bit too steep to me for what seemed at the time to have been a newer Craftsman plane… So I went home and did some google searching. I’m pretty sure that what they had was one made for Sears by Sargeant. It was very similar to this, but cleaner.

Here’s the Sargeant version:

So… What say you??? A Union #5 that needs the full treatment for $25? Or a Craftsman (made by Sargeant?) that’s halfway there for $20?

For what it’s worth, my current collection includes a knock-off #4 smoother that I think is also a Craftsman. I bought it for $4 at the thrift shop, and it was so rusty the adjusting knob was seized. But after cleaning up and sharpening, it’s actually quite pleasant to use.

I also have a Stanley #220 Block plane that I love, and a smaller block plane I use for shaving off dried squeeze-out on glue-ups.

Thanks a lot for your help guys!

-Bill H

-- Bill - Western NY


9 replies so far

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2085 days


#1 posted 11-25-2015 06:20 AM

For a five dollar difference between the two, not sure you can go wrong. Do either of them have the frog adjustment screw? That’d tilt the scales for me. Otherwise, do both have near=to=full length irons? And check the corners of the mouths very closely for hairline cracks, as that’d decide it as well.

And, welcome to the slippery slope!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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harriw

116 posts in 1674 days


#2 posted 11-25-2015 06:26 AM

Well, I checked the mouth on the craftsman pretty closley and didn’t see any cracks. It did not have a frog adjustment screw though – went looking for that. I don’t know if the Union does or not – I’ll have to take a look and see. Thanks!

-Bill H

-- Bill - Western NY

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2034 days


#3 posted 11-25-2015 11:36 AM

Either one for the prices you have is a decent deal. I don’t typically care about the frog adjustment screw, so that wouldn’t matter to me. The Union will give you a better resale value, but both will be excellent users.

I’d probably buy both :-)

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

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harriw

116 posts in 1674 days


#4 posted 11-25-2015 01:27 PM

Thanks Don – LOL I was starting to think I might grab both too :) This really is a slippery slope…

-- Bill - Western NY

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JayT

4786 posts in 1678 days


#5 posted 11-25-2015 01:47 PM

One thing to check on the Union. Early versions from them used a right hand thread depth adjuster. They later switched to a left hand thread adjuster like other manufacturers were using. Not sure if that is an early or later model, but if you are going to get it as a user, make sure the adjuster will work the same as any other plane you might buy. Otherwise it’s confusing to use.

Frog adjuster screw isn’t a big deal to me, either. Having one makes it a bit easier to tune and set up initially, but once the frog is set, I never move them again.

And like Don, I’d probably buy both and set them up differently. One with a heavily cambered iron for use as a jack/scrub plane and the other with a straight or very lightly cambered edge to use as a long smoother/short jointer.

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

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Don W

17971 posts in 2034 days


#6 posted 11-25-2015 03:46 PM

You’ll probably find both of thoise have right handed threads. Sargent only put left handed threads on there planes for a short while. And I beleive the Union is early enough to have them as well.

If you use both enough, you get used to it. (or at least I have)

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

View Tim's profile

Tim

3119 posts in 1428 days


#7 posted 11-25-2015 06:03 PM

I also don’t think you could go wrong with either one. The handle on the Union looks to be in great shape and that one would probably be my preference, but I have some Craftsman stuff that is pretty good as well. If the handle on the Craftsman is in as good of shape as the Union, no chips on the horn, then it would be a nice plane. I have right and left handed threads and that doesn’t bother me personally, but I can see how it could get annoying.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2034 days


#8 posted 11-28-2015 09:07 PM

What did you decide?

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

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harriw

116 posts in 1674 days


#9 posted 11-28-2015 10:05 PM

Hey guys,

I bought the Union on Wednesday on the way home from work for $25. here it is when I got it. LOL I was in such a hurry to strip it down and into the evaporust that I almost forgot to take before pics. You can tell here that I just threw the pieces back together without putting any of the screws back, but here’s how it looked when I got it (this is after he “cleaned it up” for me).

With Thanksgiving going on, it wound up soaking in evaporust for about 48 hours, though it didn’t need anything that extreme. Finally Friday I put it back together, and spent all afternoon grinding, shaping, and sharpening the iron. I use scary-sharp up to 2500 grit followed by stropping on mdf, and could easily shave arm hair when I was done. There is some pitting on the sides of the casting that I didn’t bother doing anything about. And the sole could use some more lapping, but I was in a hurry to see how it cut :)

The tote and knob were in very good shape – no cracks of chips. But the finish was pretty sad looking by the time I got all that white paint off the tote. So i scraped and sanded them down and re-finished them with some danish oil. I know that kills the resale value, but I bought this to use, and thought it would feel better in the hands this way anyway. The stain is still showing through in places – especially on the knob. But I kinda like the look. Here’s what it looks like now:

I did find a chip at the back of the mouth (didn’t notice it until I got back into the truck after buying), but it still cuts like a hot knife through butter, and feels great in the hands :)

Yes, many of those shavings were made with this plane (the others from my #4). It’s setup more-or-less as a smoother at the moment – I like how the #5 keeps your back hand off the workpiece, where it tends to drag when using a #4. That, and the craftsman I was looking at already had the iron shaped for scrubbing… Still thinking I might grab that one too for $20. But I’m waiting for a reply from a craigslist seller that has what appears to be a Stanley 60 1/2 for next to nothing… Realistically, I do most of my rough milling on the jointer and planer. Then again, a scrub plane might come in handy to prep stock too wide for the 6” jointer.

Anyway, I know this is nowhere close to some of the restore jobs you guys do, but I’m happy with the results anyway :) Thanks for all the input folks! I’ll chime in again if I do wind up getting that craftsman (or the 60 1/2) too :)

-- Bill - Western NY

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