Luban Chinese Block Plane

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Devmeister

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In surfing the internet in search of photos and data of the Stanley 52 chute board, my newest reproduction project, I came across a Luban block plane. The main name is one I can’t spell but starts with a Q.

At first glance it looks like a copy of the Lie Nielsen plane but then it hit me.

Under the Obama administration, remember him?, he passed legislation requiring spent army brass to be ground up so that it couldn’t be reloaded.

The Chinese bought tons of this brass confetti. I have worked with valves made of this stuff and they don’t sweat solder very well. You can tell from the color of its bullet brass.

Bullet brass is an alloy designed for the special needs of cartridge function. It tends to be higher in tin and does not machine as well as regular brass. Tends to be a bit grab-ie and breaks small end mills with ease as a result.

Traditional woodworking tools were gun metal which is a bronze. LN uses either a silicone bronze or a manganese bronze.

The Leban plane cap is way to yellow. A tin like yellow. These guys are using bullet brass to make these tools.

If you are fine with that, that’s OK. I just don’t like it’s color and I don’t like it’s workability. Personally I gravitate towards the bronze alloys. This is esp true in how the tool patinates over time. There os nothing better than seeing an older LN #4 smooth plane that had seen years of loving use by a craftsman.
 

Sideways

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Interesting observation.
My buddy has copper, brass, gunmetal and phosphor bronze in his workshop, bought as part of a secondhand job lot. We had to sort it and did so by colour. Side by side they are easy to group, you can also see colour differences between different alloy compositions to some extent.

I have a (probably Indian made) low angle block plane and that uses brass - it's distinctly yellow.
I have a vintage bronze infill plane casting that has a lovely warm colour from the high copper content.
The mechanics of my one recent LieNielsen scraper plane is definately far closer in colour to brass yellow than it is to warm vintage or phosphor bronze. I'll check it side by side with a bar of gunmetal now you've pricked my curiousity because the colour of gunmetal is between brass and the bronzes that we have.

Do you have any reason other than colour to think the Luban planes are made with military brass ? And as long as you don't have the chore of machining it, wouldn't the high tin alloy be stronger anyway ?
 

thetyreman

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the LN block plane now costs £150 it's just gone up in price recently, luban is less than half the cost, but there's something good about the LN quality wise.
 

Devmeister

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As I mentioned, I had a brain fart. Meant to say zinc instead of tin.

Getting technical! Bullet brass is C260. A general purpose brass like some brass bar and sheet is C360.

Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin.

Copper is one of the more difficult metals to machine. It’s like putting play putty on the lathe. Would rather deform than cut.

So C260 is already at a disadvantage as it is more copper like. Great in a gun as it expands in the chamber when you shoot.

But here is the pain in the rear. Zinc has a low boiling point. So it out gasses during a melt. A lot! The blueish smoke coming of the crucible is zinc vapor. Extremely toxic stuff. You need to add it back prior to pour. You can buy zinc pellets for this.

Bronze does not in general have this issue. Phosphor bronze, normally used in bearings, has a nice rose tint to it.
 

Devmeister

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Don’t quote me on this as it’s been a while since I looked at the yellow metal used by LN. I believe it’s manganese bronze.

We all like bargains but I personally draw the line. LN is a socially responsible and environmentally responsible company. They ceased coconolo wood when the lumber poaching became an issue.

LN also had extremely high quality standards. A #7 or #8 jointer is ground within ONE thousandth of an inch flatness. And these are the worst cases.

LN uses ductile iron as does Veritas. More stable and not as brittle. As much as I love original planes, these are made from grey iron. The Chinese will use grey iron if they get the opportunity.

So I prefer the LN. I understand how painful it is but once bought it’s bought for life!
 

Devmeister

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Now I am curious. LN uses manganese bronze. In general bronze is copper and tin. Brass is copper and zinc.

Where things get strange is that manganese bronze is a copper zinc alloy. So wouldn’t that be a brass? Phosper bronze is copper and tin with a tadof phosphorus.

It’s confusing is it not?
 

xraymtb

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The Chinese will use grey iron if they get the opportunity.
Sorry but this reads as a borderline racist comment about a company that I am sure you know very little about. Some of the best quality manufactured products in the world currently come out of China, quite possibly including many of the devices we are all using to interact with this forum. Generalising that 'The Chinese' will do anything is simply an uneducated and ignorant remark.

The rest of this thread reads like a LN advert or someone trying to justify an expensive purchase to themselves. I would be amazed if anyone could differentiate which materials are being used to the level you are trying to claim purely by looking at them. The proof is in the using and having been hands on with the planes you mention, the Luban/Quangsheng models are very high quality, produce excellent results, and are extremely good value in comparison to other high end models.
 

Orraloon

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I tend to agree with the above. The Chinese will make whatever the the client wants at the cost level the client is aiming at. Good stuff you pay for, cheap and cheerful you take you'r chance. Rather than heap [email protected] on the manufacturing in China just ask who is asking for that stuff to be made. BTW I have a quengshang low angle block plane and reckon its pretty good. I did not trouble myself as to the metallic makeup of the brass cap. It's doing the job. Casting my eye about the workshop the bandsaw, thicknesser, jointer, miter saw, drillpress, sanding machines and most of the hand power tools are also made in china. Could that be because we did not like paying a living wage to our own people.
Regards
John
 

Eric R

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Sorry but this reads as a borderline racist comment about a company that I am sure you know very little about. Some of the best quality manufactured products in the world currently come out of China, quite possibly including many of the devices we are all using to interact with this forum. Generalising that 'The Chinese' will do anything is simply an uneducated and ignorant remark.

The rest of this thread reads like a LN advert or someone trying to justify an expensive purchase to themselves. I would be amazed if anyone could differentiate which materials are being used to the level you are trying to claim purely by looking at them. The proof is in the using and having been hands on with the planes you mention, the Luban/Quangsheng models are very high quality, produce excellent results, and are extremely good value in comparison to other high end models.
I remember the same kind of discourse around Japanese manufacturing from the late 70's with as similar chauvinist tone. A friend of mine had an old Datsun and some wrote on the car "J . .. junk." No one talks about Japanese cars being junk anymore. This cycle gets repeated: countries break into manufacturing in the low cost markets. Over time as their expertise and capacity grows, the companies move into higher-end markets where there's a bigger profit margin. Many of the low-end manufacturing industries have left China and moved on to Viet Nam and other places in Asia.
 

Devmeister

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Have you ever worked in outsourced projects? Ask Kennedy about their experience with their tool boxes. Ask United about the king bolts that killed several hundred passengers in Chicago. Ask Demherest about his experience importing tonkin bamboo into the United States. The list is endless!

It is a known fact that if you out source, you need to move your own quality people over their to watch the operation like a hawk.

The three main factors of production is Material, Labor and Transportation. What gets made. How many get made, How to acquire raw material and who gets finished goods. Simple macro economics.

A major complaint in the past by women is that they were paid less for the same work. They wanted equal pay for equal work. That makes perfect sense.

The only economic rational for outsourcing is to obtain the product at a lower cost than available within local markets.

Assuming equal level of quality, the only way this is going to happen is if labor is extremely cheap. You also need to factor in the costs of the supply chain.

The Chinese system depends on this cheap source of labor. It is only right that a Chinese worker is paid the same as any other worker for the same job. This is not racist but only equitable practice. Now factor in the supply chain costs and it’s obvious that the same product from China should cost more not less.
My opinions are merely empirical observations based on work experience.
 

mark w

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Sorry but this reads as a borderline racist comment about a company that I am sure you know very little about. Some of the best quality manufactured products in the world currently come out of China, quite possibly including many of the devices we are all using to interact with this forum. Generalising that 'The Chinese' will do anything is simply an uneducated and ignorant remark.

The rest of this thread reads like a LN advert or someone trying to justify an expensive purchase to themselves. I would be amazed if anyone could differentiate which materials are being used to the level you are trying to claim purely by looking at them. The proof is in the using and having been hands on with the planes you mention, the Luban/Quangsheng models are very high quality, produce excellent results, and are extremely good value in comparison to other high end models.
"Borderline racist" how you come to that conclusion I really don't know, fact is as a manufacturing nation the Chinese are totally irresponsible, look at there polluted waterways through solar panel production. We all need to be more conscious of where and who we are buying from, Matthew at Workshop Heaven recently started selling tools from a Russian maker, personally I wouldn't entertain buying these and I hope he's stopped selling them, the maker may be harmless but his taxes prop up the Putin regime.
 

Devmeister

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Why do you think the USA backed out of the Paris accord? Not because we support climate change but rather our opinions about mitigating it. China has and does enjoy most favored nation status. It is exempt from the environmental restrictions other western nations must adhere to.

The west coast of the US is now being affected by the pollution from China. It’s bad enough to travel that far and still offer a negative affect.

US oil production is amongst the cleanest in the world. Stray methane emissions from oil wells is at an all time low.

China burns coal to produce power and its power plants are amongst the worst in the world.

How about equitable fair play? Why can’t we hold the Chinese responsible to the same standards used for the USA or Europe?

And now we have that madman loose in Ukraine! Russian oil is both dirty and supportive of Putin. And who is struggling with their association with Russia? China.

Calling these issues racist is nothing short of the woke world burying their head in the sand thinking the problems will go away.
 

thetyreman

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I don't think devmeister was being racist, he was talking about quality control and standards of manufacture, it's nothing to do with race.
 

thetyreman

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Matthew at Workshop Heaven recently started selling tools from a Russian maker, personally I wouldn't entertain buying these and I hope he's stopped selling them, the maker may be harmless but his taxes prop up the Putin regime.

I think that's unfair, don't presume that the maker of the tools in russia supports Putin, he shouldn't be forced to take them off his website by woke politically correct people.
 

clogs

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I don't mind where stuff is made but rather hate buying from the big 2 which supports a restrictive regime's....
I'm glad that we import nothing from N Korea....or do we.....?
Having lived all over this small planet, most peoples are really nice it's just the ODD few and Commies we need to watch for.....
I've been saying for years that the US and UK should only import oil / gas in limited amounts....
that means being self sufficient for domestic needs.....
Then we can let the likes of Putin and the TENT dwellers drink and snort the blxxdy stuff....
 

Majimoto

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"Borderline racist" how you come to that conclusion I really don't know, fact is as a manufacturing nation the Chinese are totally irresponsible, look at there polluted waterways through solar panel production. We all need to be more conscious of where and who we are buying from, Matthew at Workshop Heaven recently started selling tools from a Russian maker, personally I wouldn't entertain buying these and I hope he's stopped selling them, the maker may be harmless but his taxes prop up the Putin regime.
I think it is going to make for extremely interesting times when we have to boycott Chinese products, if they support Russia during the present conflict . But the good side may be that we ( Europe) will start to make "cheap" goods to survive!?
 

Droogs

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I would prefer if the west were to start making inexpensive rather than cheap. However, as we have spent the last 40 years or so getting rid of any way of producing anything other than very expensive or very leading edge it will take us at least 5 years to get to the point that we can produce that which we currently get the east to make for us. Even then we could only do it if we seriously invest in new plants using automated production and also invest in people to manage and operate them. But i doubt we will, we can even invest in a merchant navy or crews needed just to feed us
 

mark w

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I think that's unfair, don't presume that the maker of the tools in russia supports Putin, he shouldn't be forced to take them off his website by woke politically correct people.
You didn't read my post correctly, I said probably the maker himself is harmless but his taxes will be put to bad use, unfortunately as with sanctions, they hurt everyone but are nonetheless the correct thing to do, no company in the UK should be trading with Russia, I'm hopeful Matthew at WH will feel the same. If denouncing the Putin regime and putting a bit of pressure on UK companies means I'm WOKE then I'm happy to be called that, sooner that than a hypocrite.
 
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