Faithfull Hand Planes. What's the Catch?

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Forum topic by Benvolio posted 04-06-2013 12:26 AM 20384 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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148 posts in 1929 days

04-06-2013 12:26 AM

So these planes have patchy reviews on the net but what’s there is generally positive.

The description on the manufacturers say the sole is machined flat and the sides square.

The problem is: all these planes seem suspiciously cheap (£62 for a jointer: – £35 for a number 4). Also sold in suspiciously unwoodworkery outlets like amazon.

So what’s the catch? What is it I’m missing? Would this plane coupled with an upgraded iron perform like the noble Wood River?

Or if I ordered it, would I be disappointed? Like an iron ingot falling through my letterbox with `some assembly required` stamped on the side.

I mean, I know there’ll be no bedrock adjustment and I’m sure the cap iron & frog will need a good flatten, but really, compared to similar tools of the same price bracket (I’m thinking Silverline) that are just unusable – how does this plane come across so well?



-- Ben, England.

13 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2996 days

#1 posted 04-06-2013 04:12 AM

I imagine it would probably be just fine assuming you would spend some time getting it tuned up. I don’t know if it has an adjustable frog but even if it doesn’t, it should perform quite well. I have yet to see a plane that would not work as long as it held the iron firmly and the iron was sharp.

There are some quite wonderful planes available today. Perhaps the best that have ever been made. That said, a plane is just a jig to hold an iron at a set orientation. About the only real performance gain for any plane was the invention of the adjustable mouth. (And arguably a chip breaker)

There is a lot of marketing hype in planes going back to the time when professionally made planes were first introduced. The Bailey pattern planes worked quite well but marketing dictated that people with discerning tastes must really need a Bedrock. Even the metallic planes themselves were marketed to replace those wooden planes that had performed perfectly well for the previous few hundreds of years.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View reggle's profile


41 posts in 2242 days

#2 posted 04-10-2013 01:49 AM

when i was at collage i used the faithful no4 and it was pretty good. i think just like the new Stanley planes you just gotta tune em up to get good results .faithfull also do some good marking and measuring equipment.

-- reggle/england/Nothing like a good piece of hickory

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#3 posted 04-10-2013 02:42 AM

I don’t claim to be an expert… only an observer.

In all the reviews I’ve read of really expensive planes, the only advantages they seem to have are that they are prettier, and they perform perfectly right out of the box. If you don’t mind a little setup work, you’ll probably be perfectly satisfied with a Faithful.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2285 days

#4 posted 04-10-2013 02:56 AM

I agree with Charlie, and would add that they are machined to precision as well. That’s the money right there.

These Faithful planes look an awful lot like the old Baileys, did someone buy an expired patent and find a Chinese company to mill the steel? We wonders.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Loren's profile


10390 posts in 3646 days

#5 posted 04-10-2013 03:21 AM

You can’t find used planes?

Planes are not that complicated. I can make one in a couple of
hours out of wood and do fine work with it. Of course I
know you are just starting out so making your own is
not a good suggestion.

It looks like the faithfuls might be copies of later Record

Baileys and Bedrocks have been out of patent for decades.
Making iron planes requires a lot of setup and industrial
commitment, so the marketing power has to be there
to sell 1000s of units.

Honestly, 62 pounds sterling is like $100, which is twice
what I can buy a used Bailey #7 with a chipped tote in
the states for. I know you have VAT and all that and that
people in N. America have it easy in terms of tool pricing.

Still, I look at used machinery in the UK often on ebay
and it looks to me like there’s an abundance of good
used tools there (I lived there as a teenager but wasn’t
interested in tools at the time).

View Ron Tocknell's profile

Ron Tocknell

42 posts in 995 days

#6 posted 09-02-2015 10:28 PM

I just bought a Faithfull No 4 bench plane (£32) and was pleasantly surprised. I’ve used Faithfull chisels and, although relatively cheap, they are exceptionally good chisels. The tool steel is good and takes and maintains a keen edge. However, as long as the business end of a chisel is good, the rest is secondary. Planes are a different matter. I had read that, although the materials are pretty good, the sole isn’t guaranteed to be flat or even square to the sides although there is sufficient thickness of material to rectify this if not too out of true. To my surprise, except for the necessary honing, I was able to use this straight out of the box. The sole is absolutely flat and square to both sides. So maybe it’s a bit of a lottery and I was lucky. I don’t know.
The chip breaker needs some attention to get it to lie perfectly flat to the iron but I’ve found this to be the case with more expensive planes. The sole has a satin finish rather than the coarsely ground finish I’ve seen on cheap planes (and some more expensive planes) so it glides pleasantly and the tool steel is good.
The traditional lever cap is replaced with a cap that secures with a milled brass knob, which I prefer. Depth adjustment is unnervingly smooth, so much so that I was concerned that it wouldn’t retain the depth once set. However, so far, so good. It seems to be holding although I would prefer a little more resistance. It feels a little too responsive and requires almost micro turns for fine adjustments.
All-in-all, I’m happy with it. But what feels good in one pair of hands does not necessarily suit another. For thirty-odd quid and they could be bought cheaper (I should have shopped around), it’s certainly not a bad purchase. Best to suck-it-and-see.

View Ron Tocknell's profile

Ron Tocknell

42 posts in 995 days

#7 posted 09-02-2015 10:41 PM

Incidentally, as for Silverline tools, forget it. I have never met anyone who has successfully used a Silverline tool. I bought a cheap pipe-flaring set to complete one job so I risked buying one that would probably not last as I was unlikely to need it again. It bent on the first attempt and was unable to put a flare on a half-inch copper pipe. I certainly wouldn’t have a Silverline bench plane if it came free from a Christmas cracker! The iron is unlikely to be decent tool steel (I’ve been told that their chisels can be scratched with an iron nail) and the chances are that it is as unuseable as all of their tools.

View CharlesA's profile


3322 posts in 1796 days

#8 posted 09-02-2015 10:48 PM

I really like my planes, but I’m not really sure I’d call them faithful.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1933 days

#9 posted 09-03-2015 03:28 AM

I can only speak about the brand. I bought a set of faithfull chisels about 2 years ago. All in all, I got what I paid for. They work fine, but do not compare to the one sweetheart I have or even my buck bros. The steel seems noticeably lower quality. That is extremely unscientific and possibly unsubstantiated, but it is my gut reaction after using them for a while.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View SignWave's profile


440 posts in 3033 days

#10 posted 09-03-2015 04:05 PM

I bought another very inexpensive version of a #4. It was rough and needed a lot of work, but I was able to true up the body. The cap iron wasn’t fit to the blade, which I think would trip most people up, but I got that working too. I gave up on the blade, which wouldn’t hold an edge for long and replaced it. I now have a very workable smoothing plane, for very little money.

I suspect that is standard fare for low cost planes, including the current line of Stanley.

Some would say that if you’re going to go through that much effort, you’re better off with a vintage one. I have mixed feelings on that. I don’t think running around to swap meets is very fun, and you roll the dice with the bay.

FWIW, some people don’t care for the screw-type cap on those that you linked to, but would rather have a lever tightened cap. I don’t think it affects the operation, but the lever is more convenient when removing the iron.

-- Barry,

View Ron Tocknell's profile

Ron Tocknell

42 posts in 995 days

#11 posted 09-07-2015 12:02 AM

I really like my planes, but I m not really sure I d call them faithful.

- CharlesA

So what are you saying, Charles? They been shaving around?? Hell, I wouldn’t put up with that! Who needs slutty planes?

View hhhopks's profile


651 posts in 2375 days

#12 posted 09-25-2015 02:01 AM

Here’s my Faithful #4. I got it used. I only have sharpen the blade. It stacks up against any of my smoother.
It is flat and square. Quality is good.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View AESamuel's profile


78 posts in 1221 days

#13 posted 10-25-2015 08:37 PM

You can get lucky with faithful and have a nice flat sole, others need tuning up but generally the planes one tuned work nicely.

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