Ebay and smoothing planes
I am sure for every good thing I say about eBay smoothing planes there will be someone who can counter what I say, but I have bought about a hundred smoothing planes on eBay in the past three years and only one had a real problem that I fixed and got on with life after an hour or so. Anyway, here’s the thing. If you look back in my past blogs you’ll find tons of info to help you fettle them and fine tune them and get them into the daily program of working wood for you and yours. And there is also a video we did here that will help you too. Oh, and here is another we did.
I took a lot of stick about recommending this plane type over its modern-day counterpart heavyweight as a Bed rock but when people come to my classes with their heavyweights and use the ones I have in the school they stay with the plane-jane Stanleys and rarely pick up the heavyweights at all if ever.
No matter the different makers, apart from Anant and Groz, these planes work exceptionally well.
I have had one of mine, actually two of mine, a #4 and #4 1/2, since 1965 and 1966. I doubt you will ever meet anyone who has used these two planes more than I have. I have used them every single day of my working life, hour on end most of the time for 46 and 47 years. That works out at about 13,824 days. I probaby pick them up and use them for long and short periods at least twenty times a day. Perhaps two and three times that many. So I have used them 276,480 times. Now I am not talking about planing a stick of maple 1 1/2” wide 14” long to get a full length, full width shaving at shows and on TV. I am talking about real woodworking making boxes and doorframes doors and stiles, window sashes and stair treads. I am talking about oak and ash and rosewood and boxwood. Spruce and cherry and two dozen others.That’s quite a lot of shavings. So when I say that these planes are heavy enough, work well enough, last long enough and that they deliver the goods, I can say it with meaning.
On eBay I look for a couple of important things. I look for a length of the plane iron and the only way I can do that is by looking at the top of the cutting iron in relation to the distance between the top tip of the lever cap and the end of the cutting iron at the top edge. I can also see how it relates to the top of the lateral adjustment lever and the top of the cutting iron. The picture show me that the iron is long or short. I want as long as I can get. If I have to retrofit with a new iron I lost my bargain price on the plane. The third from the left has much less life left than the others.
Drawings from my Journal
Another important thing I look for is broken off parts. This is especially so on rosewood totes and knobs. These rarely glue back successfully and so I usually don’t buy broken or split handles.
Broken castings around the mouth usually result in a partial or complete crack. This then transfers all pressure to the opposite side of the mouth of the plane and can overstress the sole and increase flex that will distort the registration of the plane to the material being worked. I would not recommend buying such a plane except for spares. They can be brazed and that works well but often results in a twisted sole that then needs flattening.
The last place I look is at the shipping price. Some people guess at this and charge way more than they should.
I have noticed how much higher the price these planes are on the US eBay; eBay.com. In the UK they are much cheaper and shipping seems fairly steady at around $9-10. In the UK we get delivery the next day for that. The #4 sells for between £10-35 whereas in the US they sell for much higher for some reason. There are usually about 300 planes available at any one time in the UK. Most UK planes have beechwood handles and only occasionally with rosewood. As I said somewhere, most of the rosewood handles always seem to be broken. Remember that when I bought mine in 1965 it cost me a weeks wage. Not cheap Who would pay a weeks wage for a hand plane today?
This video here will show one thing you can do with a well sharpened and well set plane that you may never have seen before. Enjoy!