A plane by any other name…

I’ve used the best of all planes from Scottish Spiers, Norris and Edward Preston to the old and not so old Marples, Stanleys and Records. Being raised with the conventional Bedrock’s and Bailey’s, I am most familiar with the styles and the idiosyncrasies surrounding them and I must say they’re my strong favourites in the smoothing plane category of the bench plane range. A new plane on the block comes under the unusual name of ‘Juuma’. It’s made in China and bears all of the signature marks of a finely crafted hand plane. I did a review on it for The Woodworker and Woodturner magazine recently and because the plane so impressed me I thought it best to let you all know what I felt about its performance.

The Juuma is fully a Bedrock pattern-plane made from stress-relieved gray cast iron. The frog is made of brass. The 3 mm thick high carbon steel cutting iron is hardened to 61 – 63 HRC and is supported by a robust and neatly made cap iron (chip breaker USA). Replete with a beautifully finished overall profile, this plane matches the very best of the very best. With regard to engineering standards, I doubt that you’ll find better. This plane has phenomenally tight, perfectly corresponding threads that result in minimal whiplash and uptake. The hardwood handles made from highly polished Bubinga needed no reworking to fit my fairly large hands. A truly well crafted plane to match the demands of the most discerning artisan.

As always, because I think first looks, though important, can be deceiving, I put this plane through some gruelling at-the-bench stress work working oak over a prolonged period before I passed my final judgement. I am so glad that it’s now a part of my permanent collection of user planes.

If you have any questions about this or any other plane type I will be glad to answer them. You can buy the Juuma #4, #5, #6 and a very neat little block plane from Dieter Schmid Fine Tools in Berlin, Germany www.fine-tools.com . Takes about three days delivery to the UK, longer to USA.

15 thoughts on “A plane by any other name…”

  1. Paul, do you know if these can be ordered anywhere in the US. I would definitely like to try one (since I don’t have any yet), but having it shipped to the US and converted from the Euro, it jacks the price up to in the 170’s for the No. 4 plane. I was also thinking about the Woodriver plane (from woodcraft) that runs about $135 US.

    1. Patrick Anderson

      The Juuma and WoodRiver are both made in the same factory (from what I’ve read) along with the Dick and Quangsheng (sp).

  2. I think that you will find other planes that match the quality of this one if you are looking for a highly engineered plane. There has been a very strong impartation to new woodworkers that these heavyweights are the only way to go and that is simply very far from true. If you dig around in what I have written elsewhere and consistently you will find that I actually advocate the plain Jane Stanley or Record #4 with absolutely not retrofits as my recommendation for a first-level plane. The only real advantage of buying a really high end plane is that it is likely to shave wood straight from the box. that said, it takes only one twist of the wheel or yank on the lever to alter that perfect setting. Then you must know how to adjust it and that’s the ingredient that’s most often missing. This is true of sharpening too. I have heard good things about Woodriver, but mostly that it’s cheaper to buy than a Lie Nielsen. I can do everything with a Stanley #4 that I can do with a higher-end plane with half the effort and a fraction of the price. i will be posting a video on what you can do with a very basic #4 shortly. I think that this will help you and many others.

  3. Paul, I’ve been following your posts and videos for some weeks. Rob Cosman also has a video where he restores and old Stanley No. 4. So I took your advice and picked up an old No. 4 on eBay for $20. It was fairly dirty and had a bit of rust, but overall in pretty good shape. It cleaned up beautifully and I flattened the sole, honed the blade, straightened up the chip breaker, and put it all back together.

    I’d never planed before, other than tearing out small chunks with an old, untuned block plane I’d picked up at a flea market. But the Stanley is amazing. Immediately, I was effortlessly planing out whisper-thin shavings. I was shocked.

    And now I know that plane inside-out, literally. I can take it apart, clean it, hone it, tune it and have it back together in minutes. Had I bought a brand new Lie Nielsen, I’d be afraid to take it apart or make any adjustments, knowing I’d throw it off its factory-perfection.

    So if someone like me, with zero experience, can pull off restoring an old Stanley based on books and YouTube videos, anyone can. It makes me smile now when I see your videos and you go on about being able to do anything with your old No. 4.

    1. That’s real woodworking in the doing and is what this is all about for me. Taking hold of challenges and getting dominion over something that might otherwise intimidate you is the first important step. One of the number one comments at the Woodworking Shows show I demoed at last winter (to about 30,000 woodworkers) was, I can’t get my plane to do that. We spent time showing them how in every demo I did which was 8 times per day.
      Most anyone can restore a good old Bailey-pattern plane for about £20 or $20 in about an hour just following my blog or my YT video or indeed those resources put out by others. It’s unlikely anyone will fail and it gets you into the important steps of sharpening, refining and setting up your first plane. I rarely receive an email from someone who couldn’t do this and usually, if I do, and that’s once a year, I can walk or talk them through their dilemma, which is what’s important to my strategy in training woodworkers I can help become good woodworkers. So, you did it. Well done you!

      1. Thanks Paul. If you have time for a question…

        I’ve now gotten the plane bug and am looking at my next purchases. I guess I’ll eventually need a scrub plane and jointer plane. I’ve seen you use second no. 4 with an open mouth and concave blade in the way that a scrub plane is usually used. That’s generally a cheaper option than what I’m seeing most Stanley 40’s for. Is that what you’d recommend, or is there anything major I’d be missing by not getting a dedicated scrub?

        1. I once owned a scrub plane here in the UK and still own one in my US tools. I even owned a Stanley furring plane that I sold 30 years ago for the princely sum of £1,500. A lot of money for a plane back then. I think that we are about to release a YT video on converting a #4 to an effective scrub user plane. That’s really all I would use as It is very effective. I also suggest an old wooden jack plane with an open throat as these can work even better than any scrub plane I ever used once you crown the iron.

    2. Charlie Hubbard

      I’m almost embarrassed to bring this up as my maiden comment on this excellent blog, because this is pretty tangential to the real topic here, but there is something I’d like to say in defense of Lie Nielsen planes (I own one, but would like to own others). Yeah, they do work out of the box (although even Lie Nielsen suggest that you give them an initial honing), and they’re well machined, and flat, and use high quality materials and all that. That’s true. They’re also expensive as hell. But the things are *beautiful*! They’re gorgeous. They’re fun just to hold. They’re like completely functional works of art. They have an all-brass #4 that I’d love to own. I would actually use it for its intended purpose, but if it just sat on a shelf in my office and looked pretty, that wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to me.

      1. Charlie, I agree, they are amazingly good looking tools, and if I had tons of spare money to throw around, or if I were making money from this hobby, I’d definitely get a hold of one. I may eventually anyway. But I have no regrets at all that I started with vintage models that I’ve personally restored. There’s also a lot to be said for patina!

  4. hi paul

    i have been doing some research a bout the purchase of my first plane, i am going to work only with hand tools, and come up with the conclusion to buy a low angle jack plane. it is an all around plane that can do various tasks with different blades.

    but some are saying that i have to invest in more specific planes like a number 4 and so on, because i am only going to use hand tools.

    is ths true?
    and if a LA jack plane was fine as my first purchase, should i buy something solid like a LN or veritas? or should i try the Juuma?

    1. A low angle jack would most likely never be a first plane recommendation for me simply because it’s so limited as a bevel up plane. You have to go back into history and not listen to just me. Why, when we already had bevel up planes two centuries and more ago, did craftsmen who made their living using hand planes use bevel down planes most of the time for 99.9% of their work? Everyone is doing quite a number, mostly makers, to convince everyone that bevel-up jacks are the way forward but to do that you must obsess about many issues to get them functioning well. Now if you are interested in the shavings you make and that’s the goal it’s a good way to go, but if your interested in functionality and what results under the plane that’s different.
      You must make your own decision, but a bevel up plane will always be further down the list by half a dozen or more planes in the essential planes tool list regardless of which maker you choose. The Jumma parallels all the North American makers with regards to quality but it is made in Asia and I think I favour buying local and domestic if the quality is there. It has nothing to do with cost. They are all very heavy planes, whereas any number 4 is the best starting point as a an essential first plane. It’s not pretty and you can’t boast about owning it, but it sure does everything you really need for 95% of the daily bench work

      1. thank you Paul for the fast reply,i mentioned somewhere where they recmmended a jack plane ifyou are using machinery and hand tools, but if it was only hand tools, they actually recommended buying specific products that do 1 job, and do it well. so yeah.. i am gonna go with a nr 4 than. i didn’t quite understood the part of buying local planes.
        so here in Belgium i have access to a variety of brands, clifton,LN, veritas, juma, peaktools, dicktum, kunz and stanley offcourse. what’s your pick for a solid, almost ready out of the box nr4?
        picking up a vintage is an option, but i don’t have the experience and knowledge to restore it, so i’m gonna stay away from that idea.
        i am slowly getting my tools together to built a joinery workbench, really excited about it.

        ps. is thre a difference between carcass and tenon saws? again i’m asking this for the purchase of my first saw.


  5. There was no ebay and little money in my pocket when I started woodworking. So I purchased brand new Stanley and had to work on them. I agree that Bailey type is a perfect design and could be the best if well made but Baileys never was. So there is my point of view :

    Although my woodworking instructor was wise enough to teach me a good deal of metal working to make special tools, I’m not convinced that buying an old or cheap hand plane is a good choice because the cost of the plane plus tools and materiel required may sums up the actual price of a good new (Chinese or other) one. Furthermore if you spend hours to flatten a sole or a blade as some do, without being prepared for that, chance is that your body will suffer a bit ant that also may have a cost.

    Also if knowledge acquired through a restoration job is useful and rewarding (if all goes right because no sand paper will be flat by itself) I cannot make myself with the idea of buying a bad tool and then improve it. In fact, who thinks to buy a cheap cordless driver or even a pair of pliers and modify them to be an expensive high end quality tool.
    Similarly, it’s not you who are working but it’s the tool which does 80 % or plus of the work. Would you have the idea to hire a bad carpenter and teach him how to do the work or improve is inability. No, you try to hire the best.

    Finally the idea of not buying foreign products to support local economy seems to me a bit marginal. It would be better to make first the proper political and economical decision. If, as in my own country, taxes paid by individual can reach up to 72 % of his incomes, it is likely that something else than Chinese competitor endangers the economy.

    For what it worth, of course

    1. I also prefer buying local, but what is really local nowadays? We might be living in Wales, or Germany, or Québec Canada (where I’m from) or even Malawi as far im concerned, but in the end we participate in this globalized worldwide economy that is currently sucking all our planet’s juices. Buying local: YES! It generally means less transport, greater Chance that Materials were Harvested or processed, and also Support for local workers and such. But again, what is local? Is a lie Nielsen plane local?maybe it’s produced in the USA, but where does the steel come from? You can get high quality steel from China, Germany or USA and no one could tell the difference. And if I buy this plane in Germany, who am I supporting? Dictum Germany, steel from I don’t know where and a very expensive (very elitist and directed to very rich people). It may not be the best example, my goal isn’t to rant on lie Nielsen at all, it is also very true with bicycles, cars, or any other manufactures product, even services! So in the end what is left for us to make a difference? Paul knows it and has been doing it for a very long time: reuse, reduce, recycle. And upcycle! These old rusty #4 and others on eBay or flea markets, these old junk looking saws and old Frankensteinesk tools or products are in opinion the best we can do against mass manufacturing, cheaply produced or High market oriented luxury goods. So in the end, by his work, paul sellers has directed Youngsters like me to buy old and restore, giving us access to a perfectly functional and sustainable Alternative to the cheap and neglected lower end Mass produced products, like hardened bahco saws or Draper vises that we would have otherwise seek out. Minimalist is the way to go in these sad days.

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