Planes Made in the USA

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Forum topic by DarrylF posted 09-06-2011 02:59 AM 2311 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 2453 days

09-06-2011 02:59 AM

Hi all,

I’m new to this forum and I’ve looked around for something covering my question, but I just can’t seem to find an answer anywhere. I’m 18 and I really like woodworking so I’m starting to seriously build a toolbox (more than just screwdrivers and such) and I want to buy American. I don’t know where it came from because my parents certainly don’t mind if things are made in America, but I do and I want my tools of all things to be and I want them to last a lifetime. I’m needing a plane for a canoe paddle project I am starting and I’m trying to find a brand that is still made here in the $20-50 range preferably. I’ve found Lie-Nielson’s but I really don’t want to spend that much money. The Stanley’s I think I read are made in England and the Craftsman plane I found was made in Mexico. Any input would be great, thanks!

-- Darryl

6 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4095 days

#1 posted 09-06-2011 03:07 AM

Actually, with your budget the answer is quite easy. Buy vintage pre-world war 2 american planes from quality manufactures and restore them. The quality will be better than modern planes in the price range you reference. Examples would be Stanley Bailey and Bedrock planes, Millers Falls, Ohio, Union and Sargent Planes. You will need to build some knowledge, I recommend checking out the Blood and Gore Plane Site to learn more about types of planes and their use.

Another option would be to make your own planes. There is good information available. You would be able to get quality planes blades at the top end of your range.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Don W's profile

Don W

18715 posts in 2565 days

#2 posted 09-06-2011 03:11 AM

If your looking new, your not going to find a good usable plane in that range. An older Stanley would be your best bet. They were made in the US, and can be tuned to work perfectly. I have some blogs on restoring along with several other here. They were that standard that most other planes are measured by. Look on ebay, flee markets, tag sales, antiques store and online. I’ve bought good restorable #4’s for $5. Blocks like the 220, 9 1/2, 110, 18 and the like are available for about the same. I bought a 9 1/2 over the weekend for $2.50. it needs a front knob.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4095 days

#3 posted 09-06-2011 03:35 AM

Something like one of these #5 jack planes should work for your project…. One thing you would need to figure out how to do is sharpen the blade. Scary sharp is probably the least costly method to get started with. You can google “scary sharp” or search this site for more info.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View DarrylF's profile


21 posts in 2453 days

#4 posted 09-06-2011 03:44 AM

Thank you for the replies, it’s unfortunate that there isn’t much made domestically anymore.

-- Darryl

View JSilverman's profile


89 posts in 2611 days

#5 posted 09-06-2011 07:01 AM

Your search for domestic products is very admirable. We should all do that with other products than tools- our country would be much better off. Fortunately, there are very good tools made domestically- but not at the unrealistic price range you restricted your search to; at that price the used tool market is your best bet. I think local garage sales and flea markets are your best bet for good bargains (and no shipping costs). It is easy to tune a plane into working order- and then you are off and running…

View MrDan's profile


205 posts in 3286 days

#6 posted 09-06-2011 07:22 AM

I have to agree with everything WayneC has said (and everyone else for that matter). Vintage Stanleys are the way to go and so is using the scary sharp method for keeping them sharp. Inexpensive but very effective. I wouldn’t waste your time looking for Bedrock planes though, you’ll quickly learn that those go for quite a premium—unless you get crazy lucky.

And making your own plane would be an excellent option as well (assuming you have the tools to do so—this might be a “chicken or the egg” problem here). John Wilson wrote an awesome article about his shop made plane in the April 2011 Popular Woodworking issue. I’m not sure what the total cost would be for that one, but here's a link for more info.

Good luck and just know you can always rely on the good folks here on LJs for any help you might need along the way.

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