Faithful No. 6 Fore Plane review - in two parts (with a video!)

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Pabs

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I wanted to get more into dimensioning timber and decided to add a No. 6 bench plane to the others I have to better square edges. I figure as I get more experienced I'll figure what I need and what I don't need and then I can justify taking the plunge on a really nice fancy plane.

But in the meantime I got this Faithful brand No 6 for under £50 new. I thought I'd have a bit of fun and do a review as it's taken me a while to tune it. Unfortunately I didn't really think about this until after I'd started so sorry not many pics of it as it was new.

Initial Impressions

Sole is flat as seen on a precision ground cast table on my bandsaw - I don't have a certified block to use. I also used a straight edge and square to check the sole again and the sides. I saw an opportunity to adapt David Charlesworth's (DW) trick of using some tissue / cigarette paper (17gsm / 1thou) to test for gaps (had to explain this one to the wifey as I gave up smoking 10 year ago- never too late!) The casting of the plane is square and flat and nicely ground. Nice brass and wood furniture but the painted finish is shoddy, paint is thick and globulous. But then it was only 50 quid.

Of more concern - and the reality of the work I'm going to have to do - the iron came with a skew to the grind and the cap iron / chip breaker also had a skewed grind meaning a lot of work to regrind a primary bevel and square off the cap iron. But I don't mind - all part of the process! I bought this expecting to have to do some remedial work, if the sole had been out of true I would have probably sent it back for exchange but I can work with the tool steel and unhardened chip breaker. But I don't want to use any power tools at all.

Anyway cleaned all the factory oil off and first attempted shavings using 'as stock' were completely rubbish. Chewed up a scrap of iroku. I suppose this was to be expected given the slack tolerances for the cap iron. :oops:
iroku.jpeg

Attention first to the chip breaker. This came to me ground very poorly at the mating surface with two distinct hills at either side extending to the edges edges, this would require flattening. This also explains the chattering on the Iroku. First I cleaned it up using Scotchbrite - but just coarse for now. Flattening the psuedo-bevel (mating surface, unsure of the proper name) was just a case of lapping on 3m microfinishing film but while also keeping the curve for the sprung section neat - this was by far the most challenging part of all this as I favour my right over my left. Once I'd achieved a uniform bevel it was the DW cigarette paper feeler gauge to check for any catching when compressed against the iron and adjusting the grind of the bevel by tiny amounts to get the two surfaces mating.
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The Back of the Iron to you!
The issue here, aside from the issues with the bevel, is heavy tooling marks that can be almost caught as a fingernail nick. Without a linisher capable of acheiving a perfectly flat finish and only wanting to put sweat in I settled for two methods:
1. Dowelled Method
- this is where I get a squared bit of timber (preferably wider than mine, one of my learning curves!). I mark off spacing to settle two dowels to pin the iron in place then flush cut the dowel to the iron. This was more effective than the other method and the one I ended up using mainly - up to 120grit:
back.jpeg
2. Superglue method.
- this is where I'd superglued a block of wood at least as big as the plane and heavy - at least a couple inches thick. I'd then use this as a carraige to push the iron against the float glass microfinishing film. this was more prone to errors and uneven finishing I think because you loose proprioceptive contact with the metal having all that wood there. But still an option, you do have to deal with the SG after but just twist the iron off easy enough then scotch to get the SG off. TBH it's a rubbish option and I don't know why I did it, I think I wanted to use the float glass for its flatness maybe.

Anyway I then just took the burr off as it was created when sharpening the primary bevel and that was pretty much the extend of it. As you can see the back isn't great atm, I'll plan on putting more time in at the next proper resharpen.

I'm also using it as an experiment... Regarding the back of the iron I question how far you need to go with it in terms of width of surface finish, as well as the keenness of the edge. I would think the compression seal of the chip breaker being slightly textured would help . This comes from the idea that perhaps this seating is analgous to in-cylinder friction reduction studies I suppose! So what I did I was lap the back at same grit progression as the main bevel just remove the burr from sharpening and create some kind of shallow bevel.

So I'll play about with the blade:ricasso ratio as I'm wondering if you only need to clean up at least the depth of the deepest shaving you'll ever reasonably take which could be achieved with a DW-like block positioned a few micrometers or whatnot above the stone upon which you'd ride the body of the iron, thus achieving that very subtle bevel on the back of the iron.

Setting the main bevel, refining.
First off I rigged the TSProf to take the iron at the 25deg angle. I've done this process before and find it gives consistent results as long as I set it up square and make sure there's minimal flex in the system. I found that the factory angle was an inconsistent width across the width of the blade and the angle of grind was off - it was around 25 up to 30! Here I've marked the bevel with black sharpie to better show this (this is after about half an hour of work!)First I attended to the back.
skew to blade.jpeg
I started off with a 220 grit cheap stone I'd bought for resetting bevels and set to work. Having an inclinometer here really helps - especially when working with different thickness of stones which can throw of the angle by 0.5 deg which is enough to be optically noticeable on inspection especially with such a wide primary bevel. Once the primary bevel was ground I started progressing through the grits. Here you can see the effect of not accounting for this in the scratch pattern (which was just 0.5deg out - the successive stone was thinner than the previous):
oops.jpeg
Between the stones if there was a rather larger grit progression between two of them I'd go to the float glass with lapping film and 'bridge' the gap. It's more steps now but much less effort overall. Using the wrong grit progression / solution is like deliberately tying your shoelaces together before a marathon. You'll eventually get there but people will wonder about you.
scary sharp.jpeg
Eventually I worked my way through all my Chosera stones through to the 0/1 micron diamond stone (0.5micron / 60,000AIS - entirely unnecessarily btw, would have been enough to have stopped at 8k for a mirrored edge). However, at this stage things were looking more hopeful for the Faithful.
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By this point I had a nicely polished bevel. I have feathered the edges a little too.
nice.jpeg


Part 2 - the bawbaggio bits and some final thoughts...
 

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Faithful No. 6 Fore Plane review part 2 of 2​


Bawbaggio Bits (nae good bits)
- Quality of the metal furniture is poor compared to the solid casting of an old Record. Everything is thinner, more tin-like. Here you can see the different in cast thickness on the frog Vs a smaller from from a Record 5. The Record has thicker material despite being a much more compact tool
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- The frog does not sit square. This either needs high spots knocking off from the shoddy paint on the bed or flattening of the frog face. I'll prob punch the pin and do both. just haven't gotten around to it. This is the best I could get it for now which is at least even on both sides even if the centre doesn't look well supported:
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- The frog set screw is a really nasty looking peice of alloy, no real substance to it - and the hole in the bed wasn't even threaded! I had some hardened bolts so just forced a thread through to get it working properly.
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Setting up
With all that done and wifey getting low on patience I reassembled it for now.

Here's some thin ~5GSM paper (approx one thou). I did a wee video as well
paper.jpeg


Final Thoughts
PRO - nice flat sole sqaure casting. Easy to sharpen iron (might be a wee bit of a softie though) PRICE.
CONS - fittings are cheap and feel flimsy. Paint causing issues with furniture fixing down to sole properly, needs stripping away in places. Lots of remedial work needed on the iron and chip breaker. Unsure how hard / tough the tool steel is.

Very subjective. Depends if the time:money offset makes it worthwhile. There's sill more to be done but it took near on a full afternoon getting it to this point.

For the money it's amazing but where they cut corners soon becomes clear. Fortunately mostly rectifiable.

I'll see how much I use it, I have a few upcoming projects needing jointing (table top) so I will use it for that and see how I get on.




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Very subjective. Depends if the time:money offset makes it worthwhile. There's sill more to be done but it took near on a full afternoon getting it to this point.
Well done, youve obviously been learning a fair bit 👏
In terms of the money offset..... is it still a good deal? I bought a irwin record block plane ( new, but dead cheap off ebay ) and it took a lot of effort to make it useable.... if i had simply worked an extra afternoon, i could have bought a much better plane with my afternoons earnings, rather than make a mediocre plane useable. It gave me no joy to fix it.....

Thanks for the writeup though, very useful for prospective buyers and info for others tuning a plane 🙂
 
Great write-up, and perseverance. I've seen the horrible paint job on a few newer, and cheaper tools, it seems the paint finish doesn't go through even limited quality control...
 
Thanks for getting through it all 👍
@baldkev yes I think it is, I enjoy the process. Find it cathartic. Same with some instruments I use for work - see it as investing in something is a good motivator to keep up the momentum with all this
 
At my Wood working for well being group i get the choice job of sharpening tools! Two block planes got handed to me. My giddy aunt the blades are so soft it wasn't the case of taking the burr off but trying to straighten the curve in the blade out "shaped like a gouge" just the pressure from fittings bowed them.
Plus the tin work beneath was rubbish "shiny tin foil"
 
At my Wood working for well being group i get the choice job of sharpening tools! Two block planes got handed to me. My giddy aunt the blades are so soft it wasn't the case of taking the burr off but trying to straighten the curve in the blade out "shaped like a gouge" just the pressure from fittings bowed them.
Plus the tin work beneath was rubbish "shiny tin foil"
If you were feeling brave you could try to reharden the iron - not the whole thing just the cutting edge. Take it up (in forceps /vice!) to bright red for a min then dunk it in water / oil @and then soak it in wifey's oven / your oven to temper it. It's magical stuff...
 
If you were feeling brave you could try to reharden the iron - not the whole thing just the cutting edge. Take it up (in forceps /vice!) to bright red for a min then dunk it in water / oil @and then soak it in wifey's oven / your oven to temper it. It's magical stuff...
The whole blades too soft! plus the mechs on both are rubbish ones a Foolstation/Screwmonkey type
 
Hat's off to you for giving it a go and you've done very well but I certainly wouldn't have bothered TBH as it will never be a decent plane. There are plenty of good old Stanley, Record or even clones around at similar or even cheaper prices, I've got a couple though perhaps less common in the Highlands. and with far less effort you would have ended up with a good plane that you would enjoy using and last for decades instead of a sow's ear.
 
Hat's off to you for giving it a go and you've done very well but I certainly wouldn't have bothered TBH as it will never be a decent plane. There are plenty of good old Stanley, Record or even clones around at similar or even cheaper prices, I've got a couple though perhaps less common in the Highlands. and with far less effort you would have ended up with a good plane that you would enjoy using and last for decades instead of a sow's ear.
I appreciate your philosophy, I take it to mean 'why polish a s***' but on a deeper level i also fundamentally agree that things of quality can be kept for a lifetime and become part of a legacy for a son or daughter - there'll be time for that...

I also subscribe to the adage 'learn by mistakes' so in my quest to tame planing I didn't want to mess up a £600 Lie Nielsen.

Plus I enjoyed it and feel like i've got a good understanding of how planes plane.

Its quite addictive!
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I know what you mean about addictive, I still have the Stanley no. 4 that I bought with hard earned newspaper round money when I was 12 and I've restored quite a lot of planes now, some sold on for charity, several still to sort out and around 20 I've hung on to though I still haven't found a 9 1/2 for my own use that isn't more than I'd want to pay. I don't own expensive LN or Veritas either, nice as they are I couldn't justify them.

My point was that there are enough oldies around and parts available that makes it unnecessary to buy inferior tools. Put the same cost and effort into an older plane and compare it with that Faithful and you would know what I mean.
No criticism meant in any way, you have my admiration for what you've achieved, we're all different and that's just my opinion but I suspect your next project won't be a cheapie.

Just in case you're interested I also had a go at making an infill plane from scratch recently, all from scrap metal I had and the brass knob is a cap from a plumbing fitting. The blade and cap iron from a job lot box off ebay so the cost in total is about 70p plus a lot of hard work as all was hand cut with hacksaw and files including the dovetails. I learned a lot from my mistakes but whether I make another is undecided. BTW it performs very well which is a bonus.
 

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There was a truly amazing thread a couple of years back where a guy made a gorgeous brass plane
 
There was a truly amazing thread a couple of years back where a guy made a gorgeous brass plane
I didn't see that thread though there are plenty on the internet that. Making one in brass was my first intention as I have the materials ready to hand however it's an expensive material and having never attempted previously I thought steel would be a good first try, if I make a brass plane and I probably will then I'll also use much nicer wood for the infill.
 
that's amazing!
Yup. I remember reading that one and thinking maybe I'd try when ive got ( 🤣 probably when ive retired, but i figure I'll probably be pushing up daisies before i can stop work )
They are beautiful, it must be very satisfying using them, knowing you made them
 
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