Home Depot hand planes

//Home Depot hand planes
Home Depot hand planes2015-06-08T14:42:04+00:00
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    Topic
  • #1840466

    Adam
    Participant
    Post count: 5

    Hi everyone,

    Im wondering what your thoughts are on the cheap hand planes available at Home Depot. I assume they are low quality but Is it possible to tune them up enough to make them adequate?  I just purchased my first hand saw, a veritas carcass saw, and I would love to get a higher quality hand plane to start but it’s not in the budget. I have many more tools to buy before I have a workable shop so I am hoping to use the cheap planes as a temporary solution. Thanks!

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  • sgerrish2
    Participant
    Post count: 2

    I was on a limited on money when I first started buying tools as well..but if you going to mess around with a cheap hand plane to make it decent. Just buy an old stanley they are all over the place I pick mine up from garage sales/antique  stores I paid 20 for my no 5 and restored it. You will learn so much when restoring the plane and have something way better then the cheap home Depot ones. I will try to post pictures later if I can.

    • Adam
      Participant
      Post count: 5

      Thanks for the advice! That makes sense. I had looked on eBay a bit but not knowing much about antique planes I was to nervousness to make a purchase based on a few pics. If I could see one in person like you suggested it would be better.  I would love to see your pics if you are able to post them. Thanks!

  • Joshua Farnsworth
    Keymaster
    Post count: 58

    Yeah Adam, I agree with sgerrish2. If you check out my handplane buying guide it should be helpful in choosing a starter hand plane. The antique stanley planes are vastly superior to any of the cheap new planes. Here’s an old Stanley Bedrock No. 5C plane that I bought and refurbished a bit:

    stanley-605-C-jack-plane-woodandshop-01

  • sgerrish2
    Participant
    Post count: 2

    Here is the before and after of my no.5

    And after!

     

  • RasTaino
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    Avoid old Stanley planes with a kidney shaped hole in the lever cap. Look for the keyhole shape, they are a sign that the plane was made before WW2. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “they don’t make them like they used to”. Also know that corrugated soles usually do more harm than good, so I avoid them. When you have the plane in hand make sure the knob and tote do not wobble and are solid.  If you are restoring a smoothing plane or block plane the flatness of the sole matters. However if you are restoring a scrub or fore plane it does not matter as much. This is because scrub and fore planes are for rough work and smoothing and block planes are for fine work. If you go through the effort of flattening the sole you may as well flatten the sides for good measure. I would recommend getting a honing guide once you have acquired a few planes. It will make it easy to maintain specific bevel angles on different irons. For example you may have two irons to do different types of work. Maybe one is at 25° for end grain work and the other is at 33° for smoothing work. The irons that come with the hand plane may not have much life left. In that case, I can recommend Hock irons.

    • Adam
      Participant
      Post count: 5

      Wow, thanks for all the great info  Rastaino. That helped because I’ve heard that pre WW2 planes were the best but wasn’t sure how to tell when it was made. I will definitely go the vintage rout now.

  • RedTail
    Participant
    Post count: 2

    I have done both.  I have purchases a plane from Lowes and tuned it up and I have purchased many old Stanley planes on eBay.  You have to be careful buying on eBay.  some are beyond repair.  I have been able to get some great planes there though.

    I do agree, however, that you are better off restoring an old plane than tuning up a bib box store plane.  The amount of work is about the same but the old planes feel much better when in use.

  • mhiggins
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    The problem with big box store planes or cheap planes in general is that the mating surfaces between the frog and the sole are often not machined at all, just raw castings.  These will never really be capable of doing fine work unless you happen to be a machinist with some time on your hands.

    If you’re not comfortable buying from ebay, there are some reputable used tool sellers online that will give honest descriptions of the tools they are selling.  These tools will be a bit more expensive (but not always) than eBay but much cheaper than a new premium plane.  I have bought a number of items from Josh at hyperkitten.com.  If you email and tell him what you are looking for, he can probably find you a solid user plane at a reasonable price.  Or maybe one that is a good candidate for refurbishing for less money.

    • Adam
      Participant
      Post count: 5

      Mhiggins, thanks for the telling me about hyperkittin, I will definitely check that out

  • Willard Anderson
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Stanley had a patented method to temper irons (I believe it was in a molten lead bath), which allowed them to be very reproducible in tempering.  For this and other reasons, you generally can not go wrong with older planes.  You will always have to do some work on these planes (cleaning up, removing rust, etc.,) but in the long run this is a great learning exercise to see exactly how your plane works and to learn how to fettle it.  In an emergency, I did purchase a big box store Stanley plane and on the first stroke, the cutting  edge of the plane rolled up, much to my surprise.

    • Phil_H
      Participant
      Post count: 12

      Stanley had a patented method to temper irons (I believe it was in a molten lead bath), which allowed them to be very reproducible in tempering. For this and other reasons, you generally can not go wrong with older planes. You will always have to do some work on these planes (cleaning up, removing rust, etc.,) but in the long run this is a great learning exercise to see exactly how your plane works and to learn how to fettle it. In an emergency, I did purchase a big box store Stanley plane and on the first stroke, the cutting edge of the plane rolled up, much to my surprise.

      Mr Anderson has it spot on! Molten lead baths were indeed used to temper Stanleys cutting edge tools. Not only the plane irons but chisels too. I have met a couple of old timers here in Sheffield who remember carrying out this procedure. They also mentioned that the steel quality of the older tools was much better than is mass produced now.

  • Ron
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    I’ve found lots of Stanley hand planes at my local flea market and I usually pay $5. They are in really good shape too. I have found Stanley no2,4,5 and paid $5 or less for each one.

  • Ron
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Here’s video on my shop in progress….

    • Joshua Farnsworth
      Keymaster
      Post count: 58

      Cool shop video! Could you please also post this in the workshop topic? I’m sure that others would love to see it.

  • Seth Ruffin
    Participant
    Post count: 62

    Thought I’d add my two cents as a resent convert to traditional woodworking. I stumbled upon Joshua’s site August of 2014 and have been working on getting together tools for projects as well as worked on some projects. I also briefly thought about ignoring Joshua’s advice and going with a big tool store plane but upon comparing prices with ebay purchases, as many others have suggested, I decided that I could get two planes from ebay for the price of one at the big box store. So I hounded ebay looking for a deal and landed one. Got both a Stanley 4 and 5 each for $20 and took the time to use Joshua’s site to refurbish them. They work great. I’ll try to post pictures of both the projects I’ve been working on since August as well as my tool refurbishing on the other post. Thought a less experienced/beginner voice on my recent experience may be helpful though.

    • Joshua Farnsworth
      Keymaster
      Post count: 58

      I’m glad you took my advice Seth! Yeah, totally post some photos of your tools. Feel free to post them as a new topic, and notify people in this string.

  • Adam
    Participant
    Post count: 5

    Thanks Seth, that helps a lot. I was avoiding eBay but I will take another look and try that function to compare prices.

  • Seth Ruffin
    Participant
    Post count: 62

    If I remember prices when I looked at Home Depot I figured out that I could buy two planes on ebay for the cost of one at Home Depot. I figured this meant if I happened to get a lemon from ebay and had to buy two just to refurbish one I was still getting a much better plan for about the same cost.

    I spent about 2-3 weeks looking on ebay before buying. The first week I really just wanted to get a feel for prices and flow of listings. Then the second week I started putting in bids but very low ones. I always made sure there were some good pictures up on the site so I could see the general condition of the tool. If it seemed like there might be a problem refurbishing it I just held off and looked at other listings. Also don’t be afraid to send an offer on non-bid listings. I was able to get a full like 9 set of 750 chisels for around $80 just because I was willing to submit an offer and take a chance. Take your time getting to know ebay and what type of tools are listed. Determine your highest price your willing to pay and for what quality, then stick to it. Also remember, there will always be a new listing that will come up next week. If you got outbid on the tool you really wanted for the price you really wanted don’t be to heartbroken over it. Better to stick to your preplanned price and bid again tomorrow than wake up the next day and regret how much you spent. Like I said, the hardest thing for me to remember, was that there will always be another listing. If I don’t win a bid today, I’ll have another chance tomorrow.

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    While I agree with the gist of all the comments – eBay/Old Stanleys > Big Box bargains, don’t dismiss the “middle” quality stuff, either.  I’ve got a couple Lie-Nielsens, a few refurbished Stanleys, and some Veritas planes, but I’ve also been stuck and needed a good plane when I didn’t have the cash for a premium model.  I bought a couple Wood River v3 planes from Woodcraft – specifically a #4 1/2 and a low angle block plane.  I honed them out of the box, tuned them for the cut I wanted, and they have become “go-to” workhorses in my shop.  I have been very happy with them – so much so that I favor my Wood River 4 1/2 over my vintage Stanley #4.  That said, it may be the 4 1/2 I favor, rather than the brand, but the point is that for 1/2 – 2/3 the cost of the Veritas or Lie-Nielsen, I got a great working plane.  I have been so happy with them that I find myself thinking about buying more Wood River planes rather than spending the extra on the Lie-Nielsens and Veritas products – that would allow my tool dollars to go further, too (I know – what I just wrote is sacrilege).

    The other option, baring an unlimited supply of money, is to go the Paul Sellers route and use predominantly a #4 or 4 1/2 and a block plane.  That’s how I started for a long while – an old Stanley and my dad’s no-name block plane.  It’s a very common misconception that one must own one of everything to do good work.  Sometimes we have to do what we can to get the job done until we have the opportunity/means to get what we want.

  • mhiggins
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    Adam,

    I remembered this from a while back and thought it might interest you.  If you are doing your lumber prep entirely by hand this is a method to come up with a really cheap scrub plane.

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    I second mhiggins –

    Making a standard 4 or 4 1/2 into a scrub is pretty common – even using a #5 is not out of the question.  It’s an easy way to get a scrub plane for a few dollars.

  • adamjsalyers
    Participant
    Post count: 5

    My only experience with big box planes was with Lowes Kobalt No. 4.  I worked for 3 hours with sand paper attempting to flatten the bottom, and still had a ton of high spots, would have probably taken another 2 hours.  Also the major problem with the chip breaker would not seat against the iron, there was always a gap no matter how much I sanded and filed.  So every time I used it, wood would jam between the chipbreaker and the iron. Needless to say, I took it back got my money back and then found an old Stanley No. 4 in a barn for $10 and spent 1 hour restoring and it runs like new.  I’ll never buy new planes again!

  • glasgow1611
    Participant
    Post count: 2

    Don't recommend

    I tried doing it the cheap way couldn’t tune properly ended up going stanley rout worked great

  • Kotobuki
    Participant
    Post count: 6

    Hi Adam,

    I would second the idea of finding a vintage Stanley plane and restoring it. I have done so with an old number 4 and am waiting for a number 5 to arrive in the mail. The number 4 turned out well, and is a nice tool. It cost less than 40 dollars total (purchase, shipping and restoration materials), and I have wound up with a tool that should last for 200 years if properly cared for. And as a plus, I now know how a hand plane is supposed to work and how to revive them, both of which in my opinion are necessary for craftsmen to know about their tools.

    Best,

    Joe

  • Bransonderek
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    I tried buying one awhile go from home depot and even lowes. best advise with all the terrible I went through i could of saved more time restoring a stanley or buying a lie nelson.

  • Mike in TN
    Participant
    Post count: 284

    Each of the opinions has merits. If you don’t have the talent or experience to tune an older (or new)plane your best option may be to find another, more experienced woodworker in your area to help you bring your skills up to speed. At least check out all of the available videos on restoring older woodworking tools. You really need to add those skills to your skillset because all (even high-end planes) require basic maintenance and the ability to troubleshoot minor performance problems.

    I have worked with wooden hand planes, “transition” planes, older metal planes, new cheap metal planes, middle level metal planes, and some of the “high” end planes. They were all basically capable of performing the task they were intended to perform when properly tuned, even though there were some obviously better at their tasks than others. The experience (and time) made the difference between a plane that worked and one that didn’t. For those without the experience, “higher end” planes reduced (but did not totally remove) the need for fettling and normally made the process of use an easier experience. Past that, many of the fine points then become a matter of personal preference. To illustrate this concept I have on several occasions bought absolutely horrible new (and old) planes and have tuned them to perform surprisingly well. I don’t use them regularly because I have better performing tools but I do delight in bringing them out just to show to woodworkers who believe that throwing money at expensive tools translates into fine work. Do remember that rough tools can easily do the rough work and the finer tools are best reserved for the finer work. For most, older Stanleys, Record, Union, along with many of the other similar brands are a better option overall. I remember when I first started that I thought that all planes should be set for a thousandths or better shavings. That was before I realized that you were better off hogging off that quarter inch of extra stock using a different system and that wide plane mouths and cambered blades helped you get the job done efficiently.

    As in the rest of life, your past experience and circumstances will determine the best course of action for you and the older Stanleys are often the better compromise between cost, quality and skill. Taking a cheap plane, old or new, and going through the fettling process (after you know how a well performing plane should perform) is of more long-term value than simply owning a high performing (when new)plane.

    Just remember that oft repeated statements are not always true. Some of the post WWII planes with kidney shaped holes in the cap irons are actually excellent performers and are machined well. Some of them produced in the 1950’s and early 1960’s have heavier castings, and the larger brass depth adjustment knobs make use easier. Some older (very old laminated and tapered and some sheet) blades were NOT necessarily superior to modern blades. Modern blades also are generally more consistent but brand new blades sometimes will be somewhat softer at the factory edge but will improve with repeated sharpenings.

    It all depends on the tools, the individual and the circumstances. If I was looking for a tool to use as a true jack, or for scrub work, didn’t have a lot of time for hitting flea markets or estate sales, or lived in an area where woodworking tool availability was very limited, then I would consider one of the “big box store” options.

    Have fun.

     

  • John G
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    The Beauty of the Old Stuff

    So I’ve been collecting a stack of old hand planes. A few Stanleys, some Sargents, and a Keen Kutter or two (or three).  The Keen Kutter KK8 will probably be more decorative, although it should be useful – it just weighs a ton!  I have a few planes that my Dad had, also.  They were mostly post-war and not the greatest quality, but he remodeled our house including kitchen cabinets, after working all day at his regular job; so nothing is really ever out of bounds.  I found some older hand saws and a nice old saw sharpening vise.  The collection grows, and they want to do something!

    So I don’t have a great workshop right now, just a “bench” in a small outbuilding, but I do like to make stuff, and repair pieces, too.  And my goal is to do more hand work than power.  I have a tablesaw, power miter saw, a couple of circular saws, and drills.  I am beginning to understand the difference of being close to the material with human powered tools and giving up creative control to the tortured electrons of power saws.

    I’m thankful for places like Wood and Shop, and some of the old tool sellers like Hyperkitten and Jon Zimmers Antiques.  It’s all good, and all fun!

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