Buying good tools cheap #4 – Plough plane

With reference to buying via eBay.

One thing that comes with age is the ability to look retrospectively at changes in culture. Someone walking along the street tapping their palm and staring into it didn’t happen anywhere in the world two decades and less ago. I think you might find everyone stopped and staring at you. Today, almost everyone you meet will have been doing exactly that within ten minutes of you seeing them. That’s significant cultural shift and for all I know they could be looking on eBay for the same tool I am or you are.

There can be no doubt that eBay buying works and works well. It has changed the way we shop for tools and equipment and it looks as though this form of shopping is here to stay. Tools, secondhand, antiques and new, are cheaper today than ever before as a direct result of the worldwide-web and the ease with which we use eBay to buy and sell our stuff. That said, one bad buy can lead to false economy, so we must become eBay savvy and read and look at things thoroughly.

eBay sometimes cuts out the middleman of catalog companies as makers present their stock and we gain direct purchasing opportunities. eBay increases competition between those left in the ring and of course we can check out a dozen suppliers in a few minutes to determine who we want to buy from. Hand tools are indeed exchanged at an amazing rate. They cycle through hour by hour and we have choices we might never have had before. This then contrasts markedly with buying new only and, as most hardware shops no longer sell the kind of quality we once relied on them for, we turned to catalog companies that presented so many makers we were then left in a confused muddle wondering what we were buying and not knowing even if we really needed it. As a description of one maker’s product was then used to describe one made by another we decided to ask online from other [people and this too left us with more mere opinions rather than information from those who really use them. Thus, opinions and descriptions of the products lost their value and meaning and we learned then, as best we could, to then read between the lines to know if what was being said was so.

With eBay, it’s only through seller descriptions and photographs of the exact items that help us to make our final purchasing decisions. There are guides and reviews of sellers to help us in the process and we of course run the risk of being burned on a purchase. If our first and last purchase turned out to be bad, we are reluctant to try again, but in the years I have bought my tools on line there has only been one or two at most that I regretted, Some sellers have fallen shy of the mark, and many hundreds have been all good.

This past two weeks I have spent time buying things I needed for different situations with regard to tools. I needed 6 plough planes for the UK school. I wanted to use Record plough planes alongside Veritas plough planes. I bid on seven and won five. I watched for missing parts and looked for extra parts that I could retrofit if needed. I didn’t need long stems because we don’t use them but once every twenty years, and what can be used on wide boards works equally well on narrow ones. A few years ago I extolled the virtues of the Record 043. I was then paying £8-15 for one with all of the parts. This was just excellent value for money because they worked wonderfully well for so little and they were virtually indestructible too. After that blog they shot up to £40 per plane doe a few weeks, but now they have settled down again. Last week I did the same with the Record 044. This is a great tool too, and benefits from knurled-tweak adjustability, unlike the 043. I bid on 6 and acquired 5. This go around I paid £60 for the five planes including shipping. Taking a part from one to retrofit another, and I worked this out before purchasing, meant I would end up with 5 working model’s for an average price of £12. I paid well over a week’s wage for mine when I was 18 years old. Now then, you will have to work out what you want to spend because, just as when I did the blog on the wonderful #4 Stanley smoothing plane and the prices doubled and tripled for a couple of months, that’s what may well happen here. But even if it did, it would still be excellent value for money and you get  lifetime plane that will last at least two hundred years.

What am I looking for?

Well, with this plane there is very little to go wrong. I have found several of these plough planes with full accoutrements including extra length bars and all 8 cutting irons from 1/8” to 9/16”. Even if they have none, these irons are easy to make with a hack saw, flat file and some 1/8” O1 steel flat stock from MSC (USA) Click here.

I have always loved these robust hand planes. They not only work well, they work in most any wood and they take almost zero skill to get the results that at least equal any machine router with  fraction of the dangers and risks to the user or the work. In my case, these ploughs give pristine cuts every time I use them. I use them in oak


  1. Paul,

    I’ve been trying to get a 043 and 044 for some time now. 043’s are hard to find over here and those I have seen have been jacked up in price.

    I was watching a rapier 043 on ebay uk thinking it should be a lower price and it ended on 62 quid??

    It’s a catch 22 for me. If I see a record tool available over here it’s usually pricey, if I find one in the UK, the shipping is rediculous.

    1. I would hang in there. We are spoiled here when it comes to tools and the prices and quality. I just bought two almost as new S&J panel saws for $14 and $9 + shipping. I also make a point of looking in the Buy-it-Nows because often the prices are really good and I can buy it and get it without waiting for bids to come in. I still think a good 044 or 043 is well worth $100.

    2. Duty demands that I report in on this topic, however late. There seems to still be a residual inflation in Record 043 eBay prices in the wake of Mr. Seller’s commendation of several years ago. I sometimes wonder if he’s driving up the price of wood itself.

      But I just now won an auction for a complete 043 plane in very good condition (1 blade, short arms) for £21.17, which was my “maximum bid”. The 17 pence bit was a crass American trick for which I hope I can be forgiven. It worked, as the next highest bid was £21. Shipping is to be nearly as much, but it’s coming to me for a total cost of just under $60.

      1. SSSHHHHHH.

        You can reveal that little trick among our friends here, but don’t go blabbing it over a lot of other tool and wood forums. Don’t nickle and dime (how do you say that in English English?). Use odd, unlikely numbers of pennies (pence?) (did I get that right? Eh, mate?)

  2. Hey Paul,

    Do you like to use Record 044’s and Veritas plough planes for different applications? Are their advantages to using each?


    1. They work equally well. There are tricks to making them both work better though. I will write something on how to really set them up shortly. Little things matter and you need to know what they are. Give me a little time and don’t let me forget.

  3. I have to say that the Veritas model is basically the same plane as the 044 but as with all Veritas planes they have really thought through the finer details. I like their wooden handles and their retrofit components for wider cutting irons and their new T&G sets. The engineering is up to spec too. I would own both types and do, both here in the UK and the USA.
    My purpose in these articles is to get people on the bench and working and so I am promoting the eBay stuff rather than not working or having to save for the higher end stuff.

  4. Paul,
    How do you feel about the stanley #50? They seem to be better priced in the states than the records.

    1. Yes, the 50’s are great plough planes too. I have a couple of them and they work just as well. Here they sell for higher, but they are excellent value for money.
      A lot of people have owned 45’s, expecting them to work well when they never really worked that well with moulding cutters. This is because there was no forepart to hold the wood down as it was being cut. Any short grain caught and lifted and so tore. But the other cutters for plowing and such worked just fine.
      Yes, if you can get a 50 go for it.

      1. Dear Paul,
        Now i have the 45 plane will it do the job of the 44 plane in the same quality or not,

  5. Hey Paul,
    Here’s an interesting comparison of all three of the aforementioned planes.
    I think the gentleman does a nice job comparing pros and cons for all three.

    Couple questions. First, I was thinking about how to cut a drawer bottom groove without a plough. Money is tight, and steals are hard to come by. Is there some combination of knifewall/gauge line and router plane that could work? I don’t see why a 1/4″ blade in my stanely no. 71 wouldn’t work, albeit probably less efficient.
    Secondly, I think I remember you saying that you prefer plough planes without a handle, wherein your hand is directly behind the iron, such as the 043. Am I remembering this correctly? And is there a reason?
    As always, much obliged.


    1. Re the #71 for grooves. I have never tried it and would need to think it through. Try it I suppose.
      You are right that the 043 gives greater inline thrust and therefor less possibility of overhand scudding in the cut, but placing the han low on the 044 handle achieves good results. I would definitely save for a 043 or 044 asap though.

  6. The skew blades give a cleaner cut because there is less judder with skews than square-on blades. But setting the iron shallow for the final cuts produces the same end result too, so that eliminates the need for a skew.

    1. Thanks Paul, I’ll set the blade shallow so that it doesn’t hog out so much on the final passes.

  7. Paul –

    I bought a Record #044 from an eBay dealer in the UK for a very reasonable price, however shipping added a bunch (they would only use the expensive shipping).

    I have been looking on eBay for quite some time for a Stanley #95 edge trimming plane but to me the prices are too excessively high (they seem to think they have a really rare plane). I can buy a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen for way less.

    I have to agree with the poster that when either you or Chris Schwarz comments about some particular tool the prices shoot up for quite some time.

    Thank you for all the information you give us on using and setting up the tools. Also I have your Working Wood 1 & 2 and really like it.



  8. just go a Record 044 for free but its missing the depth gauge dose any one know where i can get one.



    1. They often come up on ebay but if in a bind you can use a hex head 1/4″ bolt and grind off the head to a gentle round ‘fore and aft’.

    1. Not too much. It was an excessive tool with some more simple blades that worked well and half that did not. They are fiddly, unpredictable and often awkward. i would rather have wooden moulding planes any day. they work a thousand time more effectively and more efficiently and in a fraction of the time when they are set up and sharpened properly. Some of the blades work well, very well, so I won’t dismiss them out of hand.

      1. Hi Paul,

        Could you elaborate on this a little more please – I’m not able to picture what you mean when you say work from the opposite end. Pulling rather than pushing?

        1. It means instead of pushing the plane in the conventional manner from behind the plane with your dominant hand on the rear handle, you turn the plane around or place yourself in opposition and pull it towards you.

  9. Paul,

    When you say “these irons are easy to make with a hack saw, flat file and some 1/8” O1 steel flat stock from MSC (USA)”, that sounds really promising. But does the steel not need hardening, and how could a home woodworker try to accomplish this?

    1. Yes, you can heat the steel until it is no longer magnetic, check with a magnet as the steel heats to cherry red. At that point plunge in peanut oil. The steel will be hard. Now anneal by placing in an oven at 350 F and leave there for an hour. Withdraw and allow to cool and the steel will be hard but not too hard to sharpen.

  10. Paul, I’d like to refurbish my Dad’s 043 plough plane. I didn’t have much luck with it as a kid trying it out surreptitiously ! Is this a bevel up or down plane ?I can’t find a decent close up. Thank you for making clear videos, much enjoyed. Did you write the how to guide ? Old chippies never die,but I think the smell is Scotch glue !
    S Richardson.

    1. It’s a bevel down plane as are all the plough planes. And yes I did write the how-to guide.

  11. Are you completely grinding off the head, or just the edges so it won’t dig in? I’m also in the same boat without a depth gauge.

  12. I live in Canada and have bought some tools from the U.K via eBay. When you are looking at bidding on an item, check the seller’s other items too and see if they have any other items that you might want that have the bidding ending at a later time/day than the main item you are trying to purchase. You can often get small items that you need(want) that would normally be too expensive (good quality marking gauges etc.)on their own because of shipping, packaged in the same box for about the same shipping as just one item as long as they come from the same seller. It’s a good way to decrease your shipping per piece but there is some risk involved. if you can, contact the seller via e-mail and make sure they will combine the shipping for multiple items if you win the bids. If you were so inclined, you could buy multiple things with an eye to selling some once everything crossed the pond and pay for some of the shipping that way. It’s a bit convoluted but you have to do these things sometimes to stay on budget and there is a lot of quality stuff on eBay in the UK that just can’t be found here in the center of Canada that doesn’t cost a ton in shipping.

  13. Dear Paul,

    I would like to ask for advice regarding plough planes. I am from Romania, and as we do not have the best salaries, the first tag I need to look at, is the price. So the new Veritas models directly fall off the table for me. I was looking at some used Record, or Rapier 43-s on eBay. I would basically need the plane for making drawer bottom grooves, and raised panel grooves. I plan to make the blades myself, as I have not really seen any of these smaller (and somewhat cheaper) planes with metric scale blades. Can you please tell me, if there is a chance to fit a 10 mm blade in these planes? Or is there a certain limit to this from construction that they take up only blades up to 6 mm? Yes I know that I would mostly use 5, or 6 mm blades, but I also would like to have (and somewhat more rarely use too) 8 and 10 mm blades, just in case..
    And then last but not least, many many thanks for the really valuable work that you do with this blog, and with your youtube videos. I watched all of them, and started to buy hand tools, I even built some of the tools you build in your videos. You are not only passing your knowledge to a next generation, but also giving people some confidence, that they can do much more than imagined. So, many many thanks for this, you are a real example of the best teacher!

    1. You can fit 10mm blades and then even wider if you file out the side of the blade. Usually, on wide blades, a second part is used to support the extended side of the blade, but you need this only for some hard and dense grained woods.

  14. Hi Paul, I have a question about a wooden Plough Plane I’ve acquired, and thought you might be a good source of information; Google is failing me, unfortunately.

    I got a wooden plough plane, and it feels quite old. The iron it came with is stamped “V R”, with a little crown between the letters. Apparently this is a royal sign of approval, basically a mark of quality, which probably dates to Victorian times. (V R is meant to stand for Victoria Regina, Queen Victoria)

    But on the wooden plane body itself is a crown stamp, and directly beneath it, the letters G.P
    the “.” right in the middle also has a dash directly above it.

    My first thought was maybe it was a damaged stamping, and was meant to say G R (King George), but even looking closely, I’m quite sure it’s a P, and not just a legless R.

    If you have any information, or even the slightest inkling, about this plane, I’d love to know. And I can send pictures if you’re curious. It’s a beautiful old thing, even after having one of its arms replaced with a much simpler one at some point. And I’m absolutely itching with curiosity about it.

  15. I have a number 50. it works great and I’m a lefty but I don’t struggle using it right handed. It brings its self to task so once you are in using it with you opposite hand isn’t difficult. It’s possible I’m slightly ambidextrous tho.

  16. I thought I’d never buy a combination plane. Way too complicated for me to wrap my mind around it. Then I saw pictures and write-ups of the Stanley 46. Skewed blades. I’ve always had better success with skewed blades (they are much more common on wooden planes).
    So, I bought one for a song on eBay, and the words to the song are “no cutters”. I already found MSC (the metal source you cited) for: (1) a 1/4″ diameter metal rod missing from a small Preston Bullnose that no one else wuld buy (won’t work without that little nub of iron, but there are hacksaws and welders, eh?); (2) precisely the size of 01 tool steel that can be used for certain hand router cutters, and: (3) now 1/8″ thick tool steel blanks, already annealed) for Stanley No. 46 cutter ploughing blades.
    What a week! and so inexpensive!

  17. I just bought a Record 045c on Ebay for $60. It had one cutter–9mm, (about 3/8″). I bought 01 tool steel stock 1/8″ x 1/4 and 5/16.
    Each size is 18″ long and cost about $12 each, but produces 4 pieces. Easy to cut with file and hacksaw to size. Needs to be hardened and heat treated as Paul described. I would be willing to gift my left over materials if anyone is interested.

  18. Dear Paul,
    I have bought a record #405 plane on ebay. I have read that these combination planes have a plated coating which may contain cadmium. Is it safe using these planes? Would it be a good idea having the toxic coating removed? I don’t even dare cleaning it. Thanks in advance.

    1. I really don’t know, Jes. Not my field of expertise. I have used plated planes all my life, buffed, them and sanded them and who knows what and I am still here.

  19. I have bought and sold Stanley 45, 78 ,and 49. All have the same weakness ,dealing with changing grain.2nd.Also they require precise alignment or the shavings and grove will be off. Finally the anoying problem of chips cloging in the cutter. I am still holding n to my Stanley #50 hoping I can get it to work. If I really need a router for a grove I go to my Festool router.
    The one exception is my router planes which perform consistently . I look for reasons to use my router plane.I love to use them.

    1. I’m glad someone else has the same problem, My father made a set of kitchen units fifty odd years ago, with grooved side panels to take the backs and grooves at the front of the panels to take sliding doors, ( common practice at the time). Although he got quite good at it after a few hundred yards his complaint about clogging was the same as yours. I too have routers !!

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