General purpose plane

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Mcdemon

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5, 5 1/2 or 62 for a start. They are not called a Jack for nothing. All the hand tool experts on you tube recommend this way to go, Rob Cosman, Richard McGuire etc. Check out their hand tool buying videos. You will want a Jack plane eventually for flattening boards anyhow and they can double up for smoothing also.
 

pe2dave

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Hi guys, just checked back in. Thanks for all the replies - more information here than I could ever have wished for, much appreciated.

I am loathe to go down the second hand route simply because I don't know what I should be looking for and I'd need to learn more skills just to get the plane up to a usable standard. Not saying that's something I won't do in the future but I'm keen to crack on with developing my woodworking skills first!

At ebay prices you can afford to get it wrong a couple of times and still not match the posh prices?
Lots of lessons to be learned whilst doing it.
Fettling a Stanley number 4 is not rocket science, it's quite logical (or watch Paul Sellers video for tips).
You could transform one of them into a scrub plane for any rough work you have!
 

Jacob

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At ebay prices you can afford to get it wrong a couple of times and still not match the posh prices?
Lots of lessons to be learned whilst doing it.
Fettling a Stanley number 4 is not rocket science, it's quite logical (or watch Paul Sellers video for tips).
You could transform one of them into a scrub plane for any rough work you have!
Exactly
And the most outstanding advantage of the ordinary Stanley is ease of sharpening -that's what the design is all about, the whole point.
If you buy one of the fashionable and expensive retro designed heavy numbers you then have to spend as much again on modern sharpening kit.
One double sided oil stone will do all your Stanley blades for life. Add one fine stone and a strop, for ultimate perfection!
 

Woody2Shoes

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Exactly
And the most outstanding advantage of the ordinary Stanley is ease of sharpening -that's what the design is all about, the whole point.
If you buy one of the fashionable and expensive retro designed heavy numbers you then have to spend as much again on modern sharpening kit.
One double sided oil stone will do all your Stanley blades for life. Add one fine stone and a strop, for ultimate perfection!
I think you're significantly overstating the difficulty of sharpening a blade. I use inexpensive diamond stones and it takes me the same amount of time to sharpen a 'thin' 1970's Stanley blade for my old no 4 as it does to sharpen a 'thick' blade for my Wood River/QS planes.
 

shed9

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Not quite sure why people are so keen to keep on banging the ‘old tools are better than new’ drum to the frequent request for new tools for new users? I get it if people are looking to fix up old tools but when they specifically ask for ready to use tooling then surely the focus is the end use.

New tools and good ones at that have a very legitimate place in the woodworking sector, both at the professional and hobbyist level. The availability of well-made functional tools should be embraced and thoroughly encouraged. Watch and understand the full manufacturing and quality control process for a Lie Nielsen, a Clifton or a Veritas bench plane and then see if the argument of ‘posh priced tools’ still holds water.
Do food forums advise forum members to buy old Kenwood chef’s and rewire the motor themselves as opposed to a new ready to use Kitchen Aid? Perhaps they do?

Old tools have their place but they don’t consistently compare to finished tooling at the initial stage of acquiring tools. Some people just want the tool to work without having to finish the tool itself. Whilst I also appreciate the often touted argument that you can plane wood with pretty much anything with a sharp edge, woodworking is not always a means to an end, it’s often the woodworking itself which is the point.
 

Jacob

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Not quite sure why people are so keen to keep on banging the ‘old tools are better than new’ drum to the frequent request for new tools for new users? .....
Simple really - they are very much cheaper (tenth of the price) widely available and generally are good.
I'm a bit suspicious of all the retro tool revivals of discontinued models, which may have been discontinued for very good reasons!
 

Andy Kev.

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Simple really - they are very much cheaper (tenth of the price) widely available and generally are good.
I'm a bit suspicious of all the retro tool revivals of discontinued models, which may have been discontinued for very good reasons!
I can say from experience and direct comparison that the retro reactivation of the LAJ is an exception to the rule. It's simply a very good tool. See if you can get a try of one, just out of curiosity. I think that you might be pleasantly surprised.

Incidentally, to regrind the blade of my LAJ does take a lot, lot longer than to regrind the blade of my Record 5 1/2 ... but routine sharpening is equally quick on both because obviously its only the very edge that is involved in each case.
 

Andy Kev.

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Not quite sure why people are so keen to keep on banging the ‘old tools are better than new’ drum to the frequent request for new tools for new users? I get it if people are looking to fix up old tools but when they specifically ask for ready to use tooling then surely the focus is the end use.

New tools and good ones at that have a very legitimate place in the woodworking sector, both at the professional and hobbyist level. The availability of well-made functional tools should be embraced and thoroughly encouraged. Watch and understand the full manufacturing and quality control process for a Lie Nielsen, a Clifton or a Veritas bench plane and then see if the argument of ‘posh priced tools’ still holds water.
Do food forums advise forum members to buy old Kenwood chef’s and rewire the motor themselves as opposed to a new ready to use Kitchen Aid? Perhaps they do?

Old tools have their place but they don’t consistently compare to finished tooling at the initial stage of acquiring tools. Some people just want the tool to work without having to finish the tool itself. Whilst I also appreciate the often touted argument that you can plane wood with pretty much anything with a sharp edge, woodworking is not always a means to an end, it’s often the woodworking itself which is the point.
I think that the claim ought to be modified from "the old ones are better" to "the old ones will function just as well if you have got them fettled properly". Obviously there is virtually no fettling to do on a brand new plane from one of the top three manufacturers and, given modern manufacturing processes, they are probably made to finer tolerances.
 

shed9

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Simple really - they are very much cheaper (tenth of the price) widely available and generally are good.
A tool ten times cheaper is cheaper for a reason and that breaks down (but not limited) to lower quality manufacturing processes, lower QC, lower quality materials, minimal R&D and lower wages for real people. Buying much cheaper tools is not right for everyone and price is not always the driver.

I'm a bit suspicious of all the retro tool revivals of discontinued models, which may have been discontinued for very good reasons!
Good design doesn't need redesigning so not sure this is as much a retro revival, more a manufacturing revival. Also Lee Valley could hardly be accused of retro tools.
 

Jacob

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I think that the claim ought to be modified from "the old ones are better" to "the old ones will function just as well if you have got them fettled properly". Obviously there is virtually no fettling to do on a brand new plane from one of the top three manufacturers and, given modern manufacturing processes, they are probably made to finer tolerances.
Yes OK but learning how to fettle them is an essential skill and avoiding this by spending £350 extra on a LN instead of a old Stanley 4 doesn't look like a good deal to me. It is a lot of money. Plus the old one may not need much fettling anyway.
 

Droogs

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The reason people are pointed towards old tools, is that they work and work well unless they are damaged or mistreated at some point in the past and you are unlucky enough to end up with it. New hand tools are by and large mass produced with little to no QC and mostly barely fit for purpose.

As your final sentence states the process is the point rather than the just a means to an end. Therefore why go through a process that is frustrating, demoralizing totally corrosive to your image of self worth because you have gone out and bought cheap sh 1 t, that you, due to ignorance in the field, don't know is exactly that. This just leads to people saying coitus elsewhere to this and giving up.

The majority of those saying buy old stuff and learn it inside out and bring it up to where you need it is that, they are the survivors of that journey and have stuck at it. They also know, yes you can get good quality modern new kit but you must pay a premium for it and people starting out shouldn't have to do so in order to see if they like bashing wood.

After all you wouldn't rush out and buy £500 roller skates just to try out roller disco would you? No you would get a pair of cheapos first or nick your grandads old pair from the loft
 

johnnyb

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many years ago when lie nielsens et al didn't exist and record still existed in Sheffield. we competed with collectors and coveted norris and spiers. I well remember selling all my old planes at a david stanley auction and buying a clifton. I figured I wanted to make stuff not collect stuff. it was a beautiful plane but the iron wasn't as good as some of the planes that I'd sold. go figure I thought. now not many woodworkers use norris planes at all. I suggest buying any plane is a leap. many young joiners have no planes at all.
 

Andy Kev.

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Yes OK but learning how to fettle them is an essential skill and avoiding this by spending £350 extra on a LN instead of a old Stanley 4 doesn't look like a good deal to me. It is a lot of money. Plus the old one may not need much fettling anyway.

You're right. However, fettling is a daunting task for an absolute beginner and of course what the beginner wants to do above all is to get stuck into making things. If you inherit or have an offer of old kit which is absolutely in order, you'd be mad not to take it. Similarly you can buy old kit with confidence if you know somebody with experience who can guide you through the fettling.

A new LAJ from LN or Veritas does indeed cost a lot of money but IMO it is guaranteed to be money well spent because the tool will be absolutely bang on and, rather like the old Records and Stanleys, it will be around and functioning for a century or more (probably lots more) if you give it routine care and attention. Part of the attraction is the element of peace of mind.
 

Roberto Flintofski

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You're right. However, fettling is a daunting task for an absolute beginner and of course what the beginner wants to do above all is to get stuck into making things. If you inherit or have an offer of old kit which is absolutely in order, you'd be mad not to take it. Similarly you can buy old kit with confidence if you know somebody with experience who can guide you through the fettling.

A new LAJ from LN or Veritas does indeed cost a lot of money but IMO it is guaranteed to be money well spent because the tool will be absolutely bang on and, rather like the old Records and Stanleys, it will be around and functioning for a century or more (probably lots more) if you give it routine care and attention. Part of the attraction is the element of peace of mind.

Old Stanley, £50 max to buy and fettle,
A new LAJ from LN £300 will work str8 from the box but will still need fettling to be 100%
Being a newbie myself I would rather go down learning and sorting on an old school unit and then depending on funds and if I felt necessary buy a new one ... not that really you would need to ! A £300-£400 new plane will still need sharpening after a little "newbie use"
 

shed9

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Old Stanley, £50 max to buy and fettle,
A new LAJ from LN £300 will work str8 from the box but will still need fettling to be 100%
Being a newbie myself I would rather go down learning and sorting on an old school unit and then depending on funds and if I felt necessary buy a new one ... not that really you would need to ! A £300-£400 new plane will still need sharpening after a little "newbie use"
I appreciate that some people will want to learn that process early on and in good time most people who hone their skills probably will but that isn't the basis of the OP.

As for the idea that a decent old Stanley plus fettling equates to no more than £50 is undervaluing people's time in my opinion. Learning to clean up, possibly flatten the sole, true up the frog and restore a keen edge is not a simple quick process and is totally dependent knowing what to buy in the first place and what eventually turns up from the courier.
As previously noted, financial cost is not always the driver, availability of time, appreciation of a tool and enjoyment of its use is also a factor for some people.

Don't get me wrong I have my fair share of old and new planes - more than I'd care to admit. I've collected and used all types for years but if someone asked for advise on buying a new tool akin to LN (albeit less expensive) and especially if they share the same ethos of myself in buying the best you can, I just wouldn't steer them in the direction of fixing an old tool no was has even seen at that point in the situation.
 

thetyreman

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A new LAJ from LN £300 will work str8 from the box but will still need fettling to be 100%

you won't need to fettle any LN or Veritas planes, they have standards of quality control that are far higher than normal, I'm not saying you should buy one but that is the reason why they cost a lot more. I use vintage records and stanleys with the original blades and had to fettle them all, some of them worse than others.
 

Roberto Flintofski

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you won't need to fettle any LN or Veritas planes, they have standards of quality control that are far higher than normal, I'm not saying you should buy one but that is the reason why they cost a lot more. I use vintage records and stanleys with the original blades and had to fettle them all, some of them worse than others.


Totally agree however if a total newbie buys one, blunts it and has no idea how to fettle and sharpen it will end in tears
 

shed9

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Totally agree however if a total newbie buys one, blunts it and has no idea how to fettle and sharpen it will end in tears
To be fair, fettling an old plane to be usable is likely because of the usual suspects of the sole needing a little work, the frog needing reseating or handles needing a repair, etc. Whilst resharpening a blade is probably also on that list, most people (the OP included) will likely accept that using a ready-to-go plane requires sharpening as part of the cost of ownership anyhow - they just expect to make the other parts function in line with it.
 
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