Is Heft a Cultural Thing?

I’m never quite sure. I used to think Record’s steel sash clamps of old for joinery were the best but my mind changed through the years and I wouldn’t really want them near my furniture these days. Then, living in the USA, I used US Jorgensen pipe clamps for my making and they worked fine enough though a bit crude. I liked them well enough, I suppose, and used them for two decades or so, but can’t say I like them as such, really. Now I use a variety of clamps in my work and have narrowed them down and I rarely if ever need weight and nor do I need clamps that supposedly clamp square and parallel in any sort of forced way. that’s another silliness introduced in latter years by makers and sellers. It’s always been a bit silly to me because misaligned and misplaced clamps have a way of pulling things out of square and so you need to work with them to micro-adjust parallelity, pressures and such to ensure you don’t clamp something that you are pulling or pushing out of square by the sheer physics of several inequalities you can create as you apply pressure through the screw mechanism.

It’s been over the last 20 or so years of using mostly inexpensive extruded aluminium box-section sash clamps that I live now with them with no regrets and no need for anything with heft any more. Through very practical applications making furniture and general joinery and woodworking that I am now left where I a. Aluminium weighs about 1/3 that of steel which is much denser. The box section of my sash clamps give me the best weight-to-strength ratio I am always looking for and especially when I have half a dozen clamps on any piece I am making which is always very common. But I do get it that heavy joinery in big frames with any kind of regularity will usually benefit from cast iron and steel, T-bar clamp types––I keep half a dozen around to use even though that might only be every few years. I actually don’t need them nor do I like lugging them out.

These square-section aluminium clamps are really my favourite but I do retrofit them with a wooden insert that takes out the torque in the twisting action when applying pressure through the clamp head.

I used to hear people say things like, “Now that’s got some heft to it!” with exclamation marks of positivity included. Or maybe, “Now you can clamp the tar out of anything with those. Mmm, Mmm!” I’m never quite sure if it’s more a macho-man thing rather than just a practical application though. Each to his own.

So just what is it that I feel differently about these? Some do the same with hammers and plastic-handled chisels with steel caps on them. “Now you can really beat on those!” Or, “You can really beat with that, and then some!” Of course, you know my view on heavy bench planes. There’s a string of them available now, Juuma, WoodRiver, Lie Nielsen, Veritas, Clifton and such. Weigh too heavy for me. Too many carbs and calories for this man and that’s the truth. Plane hard work and both puns intended to decorate your day.

Three of the heavyweight planes I avoid in a day’s working. They can get remarkably uncomfortable when you use planes as much as I do in a day (but if you are into weights and weight lifting they’ll save you your gym fees). But long term, your wrists and arms will surely thank you for owning, using and then relying on a basic Stanley #4 and #5. They just keep going. I have owned and used my two for almost 60 years of full-time, six-day-a-week use and they show no signs of giving out in the next 60!

So just why do we make heavy work of woodworking? Why in times past did the masters of old on every continent throughout the world never simply load a lead weight to their wooden bench planes? Those historical wooden versions were lightweight and any added weight was of no true worth at all. Surely we are not stupid enough to think that they didn’t know any better? Or that the world was just waiting for alloyed steels to be invented? It was because they knew they didn’t need nor want weight. They only needed sharpness at the business end of the plane because sharp planes pull themselves to task and need no weight to pull them to the surface which is not what modern gurus and sales outlets will tell you. Sharpness and sharpening were known to be an iterant task and it took no longer than two minutes to do, reset and get back to work. Of course, wooden planes are much, much lighter in the work than any and all metal versions.

I rely on just four different clamp types now and have done so for the last twenty-five years or so. My aluminium sash clamps (top) in various lengths, come in at around £15.

When I first bought these from the Lidl supermarket chain I didn’t realise how robustly made they were. I use them all the time and will buy another dozen when they come in. These are some of the best yet and cost just under £5 for six.

I use spring clamps a lot for small glue-ups say on strip-to-strip glue-ups these days. And they just get better and better with regard to product quality. I have klemsia clamps. too, I like them for some things and we have a series of videos on making your own which can be made from scraps.

‘F’ clamps are better than ‘G’ versions in my opinion and I never use the ‘G’ clamps I’ve kept through the years for no good reason anymore. I have a dozen or so of these and you need not pay a lot for them. These came from the Aldi supermarket chain fifteen years ago and they work fine.

The ‘F’ clamps I use are inexpensive and these have worked surprisingly well through at least a decade or more for me now. They usually come in a cluster of five for about £10 from Lidl or Aldi here in the UK. Certainly, I suspect that almost all clamps of a similar design will come from Asian makers somewhere.

Klemsia clamps work on a cam-operated lever that applies direct pressure in a single action. As with all clamps, when you apply pressure to glued components as in lamination the clamp can pull the meeting surfaces out of alignment so you must be careful. I usually go back after a very short time and make sure that nothing slipped in any way.

I own a mix of 20 Klemsia clamps and use them regularly enough. The ones I own came to me secondhand or little used and then I made ten or more that work just fine and as well as the manufactured versions. making your own puts the cost at under a pound a piece.

But there are some tools and equipment that are better with added weight in the right places; shoulder planes work well with the added ‘bottom‘ weight I find. So as it is with all things, the longer you work with something the more you refine what you want to work with. Looking at the online suppliers with page after page after page of clamping options, you might think you need more than you do. From hold down to hod fasts and edge gluing clamps to mitre clamps your shop will soon become swamped. What I have written here is all the clamp types I use and I would not change any of them for heavier versions as I never have to “clamp the tar out of anything.”


  1. I agree about the extruded aluminium clamps that you mentioned. Generally inexpensive and for most work, very effective. The only limitation to use, as with all long clamps, is their length.

    I suppose that it’s possible to obtain versions of these that are well made at an extra price, but in the main they are inexpensive – and as you pointed out some years ago – require some fettling to get the best out of them.

    The adjuster threads are often tight and need some work; the spring catches sometimes need a little work to eliminate the friction and most importantly, the lateral play in the hollow aluminium bars when tightened can be eliminated with a well-fitting wooden insert driven down the centre.

    You then have an excellent clamp with its rigidity much improved.

    I recall that you made a video of the fettling process showing how to insert the wooden spine some years ago….. it’s worth seeking out if it is still on the web-site.

    Best wishes from Wales.

    1. It all comes down to the greed factor of younger generation taking over corporations.
      Offshore manufacturing with inadequate specifications lead to many a degradation in quality of some of our favorite products.
      Competition used to depend on improved quality or service in competition. Now days it is just base on the bottom line and the margin of profit.
      We are in the dark ages. It stretches into all areas of service, including government.

  2. The one thing you can be sure of, you can never have too many clamps. There will always be that job that needs one more clamp, regardless of how many there are in the workshop.

  3. I think there is a bias that aligns heft with quality in people’s minds. There are many cases where it is true. Quality speaker drivers have big magnets and this adds heft and quality. Some cheap power tools or small electronics are build down to a cost and this is reflected in the weight. Of course, the opposite is true with high end cycling or hiking gear where lack of heft denotes highest quality. I suppose in the end it is knowledge and confidence in a discipline that lets one operate beyond simple biases. I do appreciate my aluminum clamps. I have some hefty pipe clamps but these only get pulled out for larger projects. I also like my Stanley planes which are quite a bit lighter than some of the expensive boutique planes available. The Stanley’s feel “nimble”.

    1. Stanley had more “real world” plane making experience than anywhere else in the world. Also very good metal casting skills.

      1. I have to agree with you on years of experience.
        Stanley was my first choice but it was slightly out of my budget.
        I’m making the Spears and Jackson work but it is taking a lot of extra checking and rechecking, clearing the chip breaker, and sharpening the iron.
        I guess I can look at it as good practice for when I save up enough plastic bottles and aluminum cans to buy what I should have bought in the first place.
        I heard a few YouTubers say it would be a waste of money for a novice to purchase the best and most expensive tools when starting out. I beg to differ with that advice. The novice may not immediately get the full benefit of the top of the line tools but it isn’t a waste of time and money. Odds are it will eliminate a lot of headaches while learning how to use the tools. I know the Disston saw my neighbor gave me hasn’t been wasted on my novice talents. Just using it the way it is designed helped me learn how to use a pull saw without fighting it and bending the blade the way a DIYer told. me they would bend.

  4. Once again, Paul, your words are truth! I, too, have a variety of sections of black pipe standing unobtrusively in my shop, ready for the sliding clamp components stored away, all players waiting to “get in the game!” The “first string” players are either aluminum bar clamps or Jorgensen “K” body clamps, and plastic bodied 6″ bar clamps for smaller requirements. While different workers may prefer different styles of clamps (cramps), the one common fact between us all is we never have enough of them!

    1. It’s thirty years ago now that I developed a product line making a few hundred pieces a week. I tried every kind of clamp on the market until I found the absolute cheapest one that did the job perfectly and in seconds. It cost me $2 US for about a hundred. Bailing wire! 4″ long, quick twist with a pair of pliers. Tried to patent it but the patent office said every rancher in the country had been using it for a century or more.

      1. There is an improvement on that. Wire ties. Wire with a loop on each end and a dedicated puller to twist the wire. Used to tie sacks and steel reinforcement for concrete.

  5. I haven’t used my cast steel bar clamps much, they produce too much torque and the steel bars leave rust marks on the wood.
    I’ve also tried the Bessy line of bar clamps but you can’t get a good grip on the round handles and I’m always fussing with the quick release mechanism which won’t engage when I need it most ….in the middle of a glue up. After buying a Lie Neilson block plane and finding it too heavy I refrained from buying any bench planes from them. I did buy the #48 and 49 tongue and groove planes from them. These are a copy of the Stanley planes with some improvements. They are a joy to use and good working Stanley models are hard to come by.

  6. I have a Dozen heavy Iron Bar clamps from 4 to 6 feet from my grandfather, and only use them when they are the only clamps that fit. They can exert so much pressure that they can easily deform whatever you clamp. Mostly I try to use F clamps which are almost always sufficient.
    On the other hand I have a friend who builds wooden boats — there the heftier the clamp the better because the whole purpose is to deform planks into a desired fair curve.
    The funny thing about my grandfather’s clamps is that they seem to get heavier each year……..

  7. When I made my version of your double sided bench i needed more clamps. I used 2 threaded rods through 2 length of timber with 2 holes in each. A ratchet ring spanner helped to do them up quickly. They cost me nothing as I had the rods already. Although a little slower to tighten, they pulled from both sides equally.
    I also like the cramp heads I have had for some time. I guess the idea behind them was that they were easy to carry in a toolbox, you just found a suitable 1″ wide piece of timber on site.

    I have also used ratchet webbing tie downs and bulldog clips in the past.
    I also love my cheap f clamps. I have heard them described as poor qaulity, but mine have been fine, never felt the need for the more expensive ones.
    I am not convinced with the aluminium clamps, some I have had that were beyond fettling, I may just have been unlucky. They did seem to shoot up in price a while ago, I found steel ones to be cheaper the last time I bought some.

  8. The aluminum clamps are ideal but for one thing. Some of the ones I bought, even after the Sellers modifications and fettling, had the problem that the jaw would sometimes cant over and grab into the bar. Once that happens, it tends to happen again and again. Some of them are fine, a few just aren’t reliable.

    I suspect it is variations in manufacturing for these inexpensive clamps and there are some bad batches as I’ve heard others report similar things. I’ve tried many things to fix the bad eggs, but so far without luck. Their brothers (bought at the same time, same brand) are fine. I tried a fancier version of the aluminum clamps, made by Dubois, but the cheaper ones like you use are more functional because of the sliding tommy bars rather than the butterflies on the Dubois. The butterflies can sometimes interfere.

    The cheap aluminum ones you use are my favorite, but there are some bad eggs. Wish I could fix them.

    I splurged on two expensive F clamps with extra deep throats, about 6″. This is a luxury but now and then am glad I can reach that far.

    The real magic I learned from my daughter: Strips cut from bicycle inner tubes. Each wrap adds a little more pressure and they will accommodate difficult shapes. You can catch one strip under another to add length and keep on going. If you need a gentle clamp, stretch less and wrap less.

  9. In my neighbourhood the saying goes:
    “He who dies owning the highest number of clamps wins…”

  10. I, too, Paul, have come to realize that more mass=more work and nothing else. My Bessey pipe clamps feel like the barbell I lift. They are never used. I love my sash clamps, thanks to you. I never knew they even existed before I watched your videos. I have ones by Jorgensen and Universal in lengths from 24” to 60”. They were a bit pricey but are superb with real Acme threads and will last more than a lifetime. I’m now going to modify them with the wood inserts and pads. I also returned a Lie Nielsen #4 plane. Weighs a ton. I’m much happier with my Stanley and Woden #4s. Thank you for imparting your 60 years of actual experience.

  11. Paul, I hope your healing is progressing rapidly, and your condition is returning to your old normal. Time….

    My own clamp assortment is centered on a few: The Irwin/Bessey Quick clamps, then F clamps (mostly at glue ups; and mostly bought used, Pony being the most common), and then the Dubuque aluminum bar clamps. Funny, I like that they have the butterfly handle vs the sliding rod handle. I find that makes them work no matter where on the bench or table they are used (they don’t hit). Speed often being a primary concern during use. They are no where near £15, but over time I have collected almost enough. The screw mechanism has always been flawless. I will have to look at your past musings about clamp twisting though.

    Good to see your reasoning behind the parallel clamps. As I progress in my wood work, I find that good joinery with a plan for assembly has dramatically lessened my requirements for squaring or holding materials straight. That costs money sometimes, as it means there is more scrap in the reuse pile, but it is true — crooked in, crooked out.

    My pipe clamps and heavy I beam clamps continue to gather dust, with the rare wish to use them allowing me to keep them. Plus the “Mmmm, mmmm” response if someone visits my shop. Looks more wood shopey. Most will be future yard sale items. Unless I decide to get into spiral/curved stair work. No plans for that.

    One thing I have as an ongoing task: in any given size or type of clamp I attempt to have the same clamp model (or operating method). No need to suck what feeble brain power I have available during a fit up — especially if it involves glue. The clock is always ticking.

    As always, thank you for putting together your thoughts and sharing them!

  12. Absolutely with you on the aluminium box-beam sash cramps. I have a couple of pairs similar to yours but probably cheaper as I’m a noted cheapskate. They are the longest cramps I own at around four feet.
    Occasionally I need something longer but I improvise with a couple of lengths of (say) 3 x 2 off-saw (do you call it construction timber?), a few screwed-on offcuts and a selection of wedges cut from scrap.
    I’m inclined to the view that it’s easy to overdo it with clamping things. Just enough is just right. If a joint fits properly there should be no advantage in squeezing the dickens out of it. I’ve pulled too many things out of line doing that.
    I must admit that one modern innovation I really like is the one-handed squeezy-trigger-action plastic clamps, because I work alone and I only have two hands. Those things get used every day. Mine are Irwin brand by the bye. They’re not expensive but they save me a lot of time and aggro.

  13. I started out with some of those pistol grip clamps when I first started woodworking a few years ago. I then bought some of the aluminium ones and they are much better. And cheaper.

    So I bought a few more in different lengths and now have quite about a dozen.

    Which reminds me, I should buy a few more…..

  14. In the USA, the Harbor Freight aluminum sash clamp quality, since about 5 or 6 years ago, has gotten so light weight, so thin in the aluminum channel wall, that with no effort they can be twisted and permanently deformed, like wringing out a wet dishcloth. I don’t think they have the necessary beam strength for anything beyond the lightest clamp force, even with wood inserts. I bought some of theirs a few years earlier, and subjectively speaking, the older ones are twice as thick and robust in the aluminum thickness. I’ve since added several Dubuque sash clamps in a couple lengths. Yes, more expensive, but many times higher quality with a lifetime build, and made in Iowa, USA by a small Mom & Pop family operation. The online retailer Harry Epstein sells lots of them at good prices.

    1. Here in the UK we have a dozen different suppliers to choose from. I’m testing some out now to see what the differences might be. I most likely would not go for Harbor Freight versions.

      1. I’ve had decent luck with the harbor freight clamps I bought in 2019. Adding a wooden insert helps a lot. I mainly use these for laminations and f clamps / quick clamps to clamp joints.

        Thanks for letting everyone know you don’t need the most expensive clamps in the world.

      2. For the most part with my personal experience at Harbor Freight I would have to agree. However, a few years ago they started putting up big bucks to draw the design talent from the big corporations and quality took a sudden improvement for some of their line.
        Welders are on par with Miller. A low end Miller but still matches the quality real close.
        They always had some fair screw jacks but recently they increased the load capacity.
        I’ve observed some changes in the electrical tools too. I suspect the quality improvements in many items might be due to the items being contracted by other distributors and the Chinese manufacture is slapping the Harbor Freight name on the label.
        I have to agree about my experience with Harbor Freight. They do have a reputation for being a one project use tool supplier. after that one project is complete the tool is usually useless.

  15. There is a cultural thing.
    – I remember somebody making a comment here along the line of “If you don’t own a truck you ain’t a partner”.
    – Google “American woodworkers’ obsession with weight” on the blog “a woodworker’s musings”; it is about workbench mass. I like the conclusion:
    “And by the way, if you can move this bench around while planing, you probably need to sharpen your irons. There just isn’t enough weight to compensate for dullness.”
    – Then there is that guru who pretends you need those very heavy-duty T shaped clamps for glueing-up a laminated workbench-top. I laminated mine two or three boards at a time without problem with the same inexpensive aluminium sash clamps you recommend.
    – Some people like brute force and will snap or bend their chisel. I like your “work with sensitivity approach”.

    1. i always chuckle at cultural causes. what does that even mean. because you see something a lot in a country, it must be a cultural.thing. people hate on America because our elites have the big empire of the day. and we, like every country, have loudmouths. tv shows reflect some stereotypes like Archie Bunker. there may be a reason the heavier planes were preferred. maybe they conveyed a sense of solidity and strength that a flimsier plane cannot. perhaps the hobbiest, the primary user of these increasingly heavy planes didnt notice the extra weight and enjoyed how they felt. i see these gurus use a lot of lubrication on their soles to help move these monster trucks. personally, i enjoy wooden planes. i dont like industrial planes. they look ugly to me. i love that craftsmen of old and today can make their own kit. not all Americans are nasty lol

  16. Can’t beat not-the-cheapest-option-but-almost-cheapest F-style clamps, in addition to the sash clamps mentioned here (I wish there was a domestic source for shorter versions).
    Just make sure that the movable “jaw” can “bite” into the clamp bar. The cheapest ones seem to just slide around. I can get 120x800mm F clamps for NOK 149 a pop, while the nearest Bessey equivalent cost ten times more, clocking in at NOK 1495! This might be different in other countries, but here in Norway, this is the reality.

    Heft is certainly not the main indicator for quality – it can be, but only as a “side note” to other design considerations. And with heft comes mass.
    I did complete Physics for Engineers, with the dreaded “University Physics” by Young and Freeman, ninth edition – the one with the three planes, as the curriculum. I did rather well with a B+, so I do have a pretty good understanding of how physics works. That makes me wonder if those who preaches the gospel of heavier planes “because the mass adds momentum” never pause to consider what it takes to accellerate said mass to create the sought-after momentum…
    Yes, the momentum does help, but the effect is so small that the air restistance starts playing a role!

    With that rant out of the way, I wonder if “heft = quality” is an American influence? Bigger is better, and that is perhaps why the suburbs of continental USA needs to be traversed with huge vehicles with letters across the grille or twin back tires. Go figure.

    Of course, first and foremost this is a marketing schtick. Reinventing the wheel can only make said wheel so round, and then we need to figure out other methods to stand out. Ironically, in some milieus the consensus seems to be as thin a tire as possible (especially paired with mismatched, mutch wider rims), with the dread of coming across gravel roads on one’s journeys…

  17. Paul,

    For me, like you, it came down to what will get the job done for the least of money. Back when I started making my wood projects 1/2 inch black pipe and Jorgensen clamps were the cheapest. I still use them time to time. I saw no need for the 3/4 inch pipe. If one needs that much torque to clamp their project then they need to look at their machining and jointing processes. Today, I tend to make smaller projects that require the use of F-clamps or strap clamps.

    C’est si bon

  18. Either Spears and Jackson isn’t up to the standards I thought they would be or I bought a Chinese counterfeit.
    The tote is so small it give me a cramp trying to hold it. I don’t have a large hand. The angle is all wrong making it hard to hold flat. I’ve even tried different angles. It is the worse thing when it considering ergonomics.
    The iron doesn’t hold an edge worth a hoot and the it has a screw cap instead of a leaver cap. That makes it hard to adjust the iron.
    The screws on the frog keep coming loose. Right now I’m looking for some nylon rod to set along the length of the thread to turn the screws into locking screws.
    I hd to place a washer under the chip breaker to keep chips from jamming it. I was doing real fine one day and it started skidding over the board and no matter how I adjusted the iron it still skipped over the wood without cutting.
    About the only parts that seem designed properly is the front knob and the shoe. And since I’ve had all the problems I have had I’m questioning how true the shoe really is. Because I didn’t see any grind marks on the shoe I assumed it was a top quality grinding job.
    What should I expect to pay for a decent jack plane? I thought I was getting a pretty good deal when I paid $70 USD fro the Spears and Jackson. I’m starting to feel like I got suckered since you never mentioned any of the issues I’m experiencing with the one you tested.

    1. It feels somewhat accusatory rather than questioning. And suggests I was dishonest by leaving the things you experienced out of my evaluation. I assume that you got in touch with S&J and complained and returned your product with its faults rather than just post here. I hope so. I experienced none of what you say.

      1. I think you did a fine job with your evaluation on the Spears and Jackson Jack Plane. It’s just that I don’t always write exactly what I intend to say in the way I want it communicated and I’m pretty well convinced I bought a Chinese counterfeit. There is no way you could have possibly anticipated all the problems I’ve encountered. I’m sure if the hand plane I purchased was genuine I would have been satisfied without having to do so much creative engineering to fix the problems. At least I have the base metal to work from.
        I’ll have to see about purchasing a good iron and maybe a lever cap that will fit this basic plane.
        No attack on your evaluation of the Spears and Jackson Jack Plane was intended. The intent was to make you and others aware of the sleight of hand goings on in manufacturing and abuse of unscrupulous sellers.
        Simple things like with the color of the package like with the Mitutoyo Calipers are give aways to mechanics who are familiar with the type of quality control some manufactures place on their products. I’m not that familiar with all the tricks manufactures use to stand out from copy cats which makes me the typical sucker for buying a good product at prices too cheap to believe.

        1. I do suggest you contact S&J as i have in the past. they really did look at my concerns even using anonymity so they weren’t just pleasing paul Sellers.

          1. I’ll give it a try.
            I just have a hard time believing any manufacture would be so reckless matching thread size. It’s like two different thread classes were selected at random.
            The other complaints are minor compared to the screws holding the frog. I’m not even confident the screws aren’t just bottoming out when they finally bind. They certainly don’t seem to be doing the job you would expect them to do.
            Continue to take it easy. Ribs take a long time to heal. The worse I ever had were a few bruised ribs and it hurt like crazy for almost a month. I can only imagine if bruised ribs hurt then broken ribs must hurt a lot more. What ever you do don’t try to laugh until you can take a full deep breath without it hurting.

          2. The incident was two months ago and I resumed laughing just fine after the first week or so. It was the laugh power that got me going. I returned to work two weeks later but held to my “Listen to your body” practice and now i am fully back in the saddle and working well again. I rode my bike in the third week and rode regularly in the fourth. My work has been according to each day’s improvement so a little mroe each day. I’m putting in full days again and enjoying the mix of making, designing, drawing, writing, tidying and helping everyone i work with.

    2. The post “S&J Bench Planes Review” dated 8 October 2019 certainly doesn’t sound like a recommendation from Paul.

      A few things:
      – the tote. One is supposed to grab it with 3 fingers and the thumb, the index pointing forward;
      – for a smooth adjustment,
      * remove any burr on
      . the frog;
      . the cutting iron including the slot;
      . any burr on the the chip breaker that woud grab the screw cap;
      . any burr on the screw cap that would grab the chip breaker;
      * polish the top of the cap where the screw pushes on it (the screw which replace the lever on a lever cap)
      * it must be lightly oiled.
      – the chip breaker has to be fettled to ensure a perfect contact with the cutting iron,

      skidding? are you sure the cutting iron/ chip breaker assembly is correctly assembled and positionned ? Didn’t you round the very tip of the cutting bevel in such a way that there is no relief angle?

      Have a look at the various Paul videos about preparing and setting-up a plane and study them thoroughly.

      1. for the frog screws that come loose, try grabing them (lightly?) with a toothed plier to make some indent in the threaded part.

        1. Interesting trick Sylvian, thanks for sharing 🙂
          Perhaps a spring washer under each frog screw would work (I often use spring washers for loose bolts/nuts, e.g. on my lawnmower 😀 )? Or perhaps Loctite?

          1. The screws aren’t long enough to accommodate a spring washer.
            It’s a good idea. I might look for some screws long enough.
            However, I do have some nylon rod used for plastic welding I can try. I just hope I have some rods small enough.

      2. That sounds like sound advice. Since I’m a novice with more confidence than ability I’ll follow up on the advice.
        From what I read and watched in YouTube videos I never expected a plane to be ready out of the box. In fact this one was clearly stamped 25 degrees for the iron but was ground closer to 30 degrees when I checked it.

        1. Hi Robert, I use a mixture of vintage planes, wooden and metal, but I have a 3 newer Faithful planes and a cheap metal Draper 4 too; I believe the Faithful planes were made in India. I had assumed the Draper plane was too – as it looks very similar but then metal planes do. :/ The new planes are OK after PS-style fettling, but sadly not part compatible with my vintage metal planes 🙁 ; although happily my spare Draper #4 iron fits my vintage American Stanley Sweetheart #4 🙂 . And I quite like the brass screw, that you mentioned, that secure their irons; although, unlike you(?), I can easily over-tighten mine if not careful; seems very secure to me.

          I also wonder if you have the iron’s bevel down on your plane? Assuming that it is a standard bevel-down Bailey-style plane (?). [FYI I had problems with my first, vintage Maples #4 plane not cutting at all; works nicely now, after cleaning, repair, adjusting the frog opening (larger), minimal fettling and sharpening 🙂 ]

          1. I’m at the point where I no longer trust the ease of shopping on the Internet unless I buy from a known reputable source like you or one you’ve already vetted.
            I’m not disciplined enough to check and determine if the site is reputable. Probably a problem many of us our age have problems with. We grew up in an era where a mans’ word was a good as a contract. Just too many people flooding the Internet wanting to become instant millionaires.
            I know from experience I can spend the money up front or waste it on work arounds . My problem comes from setting goals and not having the ready available cash in hand and being too stingy with my money to borrow from someone else to buy the high quality tools needed to do a good job. And, I’m a little too arrogant to accept charity from others.
            I’m not a religious man but working with wood gives me a perspective on a carpenter who lived a little more than 2000 years ago. I can imagine the patience he had to be a carpenter with the tools he had to work with. I’m sure there were times when he was bored out of his mind and drifted off into some deep philosophical thought while he was planing and smoothing the surface of the wood he was working. We probably need more carpenters working with basic hand tools today. I truly appreciate your demonstrations and guidance to attention to detail when walking through how to do projects.
            That was my thoughts rambling, let me get back on track.
            It’s pretty clear the threads don’t match on the Spears and Jackson hand plane I purchased. I worked as Quality Control on submarines and never saw the thread mismatch so gross. This purchase has definitely been a learning experience.
            On a closing note, if you ever go in to have a cyst removed from your rectum you can go into surgery with a great deal of confidence you don’t need to remind the surgeon to just remove the cyst and not try to remove the . . . you know what I mean.

          2. Quality is not what it used to be.
            I normally don’t regret things I do but I have made a minor exception in the case of my purchase of what was labeled as a Spears and Jackson plane. I convinced myself I should have stressed my budget and sprung for the extra $40 and bought the Stanley. It’s been a learning experience.
            I don’t mind the idea of having to make some minor tweaks and tunings to customize some hand tools. This one is giving me a re-engineering experience.
            I guess I’m fortunate to have a fair set of chisels and at least one good hand saw, so all isn’t a total loss.

      3. I don’t think it was intended to be anything Paul suggested. It’s my illiteracy and a possible Chinese counterfeit.
        Having to regrind the iron from 30 degrees to 25 degrees should have been my first clue to return the plane to the seller.
        That’s what I get for being cheap and 70 years old. Somewhere on my forehead is engraved, “This guy is a sucker” only internet sellers can see.
        I wish there was a standard to quickly identify counterfeits and knockoffs.
        At least I have enough to work with the solid advice from you guys. I know your advice isn’t counterfeit of phony.
        Hang with me while I fight off the urge to have a nervous breakdown and give up.
        Any advice and help is appreciated.

        1. Likely to be Chinese anyway now, and not necessarily counterfeit. The quality of many things sold by once good names has gone downhill as they moved their manufacturing abroad. The quality checks leave a lot to be desired. Most of my tools are bought second hand, from a time when a name could be relied upon.

          1. Spear and jackson tools are made in Taiwan. How you read that is up to you but I understand Taiwan to be its own country and nation and therefore it would be acknowledged internationally as Taiwanese. As far as Spear and jackson bench planes go their quality was at the lower end in their premium British days after the 2nd World War and the lifespan in cast metal plane making was relatively short lived as was Marples in that field. the days of wooden plane making were numbered as were metal planes if it comes to that and most of the wooden planemakers relied on their daddy’s reputations not the rich sons on inheritance. Destined for failure, those planes were pretty bad.

        2. Truth is hard to face in our blaming imports from cheap Asian foundries and factories. We exported our smokestacks so we could breathe clean air in the same way we export all the other things economics for the dillusion of something called global economics and such. we pay twice and three times for cheap imports but it was we who demanded it first. Hence Stanley importing planes from south of their borders and so too Nicholson files. Disston saws from Canada are not the USA Disstons of old by any stretch and just where are Irwin chisels made anyway?

          1. It wasn’t my decision to offshore produce the traditional products. It was the greedy CEO’s and Corporate Board Members who made those decisions and suggestions. It just seems odd if quality is to be standardize the offshore contract would have included the full list of specifications and quality control standards to apply to the item being manufactured.
            I have a Disston crosscut saw my former neighbor gave to me when he moved. I love it. It matches all the traditional design features you would expect from Disston. It’s not the top end saw but it still has the cut for the index finger in the handle. The cut isn’t fully trenched like the top end saw but it is there for comfort and control.
            All I can say about the hand plane I bought is it has the Spears and Jackson logo on it.
            My solution to fixing the frog is to drill a hole next to the mounting hole for the frog and inserting a nylon rod. I tried the idea of using locking spring washers and it doesn’t seem to fix the problem. After 50 swipes with the plane the frog comes loose.
            As far as Chisels, I bought a set of cheap chisels from Amazon. Not too bad for a mid range set. They don’t hold an edge as well as I would like but I expected that much. I suspect if they are made to the same standards as most mid range chisels they will hold up their edge as I wear them down since the tempering process is automated and not as controlled as with hand made chisels.
            The square I bought from Lowes was a little off but easy to correct. I’m finding out I need to reset the rivets because they are slightly loose. Not enough to make a big difference but enough to keep me on my toes and check for square on a good standard before trusting it.
            In the end I have to take my hat off to my Grandfather. He didn’t have any of the high specification tools I’m expecting and still managed to find ways to square scrap lumber from chicken farms to build some sturdy homes that were square in the corners. I never saw hm get upset or mad because of the tool he was using or the wood he had. This is all on me. I have to learn patients which I apparently overlooked in my youth leaving me with a plethora of problems I should have been prepared to accept.
            I have one particular project in mind. That is to build a large Kumiko panel to place in a large open divider between two rooms. It would have been a lot easier with a good plane but I think I can work with it and find a work around with the chisels and sandpaper. And yes, I am avoiding the book you reviewed. I trust you saw the saw scam in the author I’m going on about with the tools I bought off the Internet. I suspect that book you got suckered into buying wasn’t the results of an offshore decision. It comes down to a culture decision of greed for the generation.
            I can say with an OCD for perfection we will probably make and do things that will outlast anything a generation motivated by greed can ever produce. I’m not thinking about how much attention I will receive. I’m thinking about how many generations after me will enjoy what I am doing. I’m sure you feel the same way.

          2. Taiwan seems to have a pretty good handle on complying with engineering standards.
            I know back in the sixties people joked about the quality from Taiwan like they complained about the quality from Japan. Both countries seems to make a parallel in progress toward higher standards. Mainland China still hasn’t evolved. In fact mainland China has bee caught by several countries exporting counterfeits and imitations. Just 20 years ago every street corner in America had hawkers selling counterfeit designer purses. US customs was intercepting them by the container load and they were still getting by customs.
            When you have a country that destroyed their own economy to insert a government that brutalized its own people over political ideals it isn’t going to recover the same way the European countries did after WWII.
            I can see your point about the lack of historical quality produced by Spears and Jackson. Black and Decker had the same problem and managed to produce a few beast of burden that kept them going over the years. Unfortunately with cheap labor being available in China it allows a combination of bad engineering designs and misunderstanding in interpreting design criteria. I remember in the late 1990s an incident with Cole-gate tooth paste in the Philippines. Some tooth paste was purchased at a Dollar Tree and set to the Philippines. Turned out an offshore manufacture in India substituted the type of glycerine called out and used antifreeze. Made a bunch of people sick.
            So we are in an age of younger generation believing they should be instant millionaires as soon as they graduate from college. Which brings us crazy things like construction straps using nails the diameter of a 16d (~4”) nail but the length of a short cabinet trim nail (~1-1/2”).
            To make it clear I never intended to slight you for your evaluation on any of the tools you review. You did present an interesting point that would add context to some of the reviews. A short history or reminder of dominate manufacturing might put things in perspective. After all, the way industries are moving with offshore production to save cost and generate a larger profit margin for shareholder and corporate executives the local furniture makers and wood workers will be the last bastion of defense of quality.
            I’ll say it again. Take care of yourself. I want to see you produce some new videos but not so bad I don’t care if you hurt yourself doing it.
            Give your grandkids a camera and send them on a mission to walk down to your favorite spot and take some videos and pictures for you to enjoy. If nothing else that should warm your heart and put a smile on your face.

          3. I know Taiwan makes 95% of bicycles and bandsaws as a global provider and the ones I ride (I own three bikes now as I have upgraded through promises that didn’t translate into the aftercare support Van Moof) and work with are really excellent and well-suit my purposes. Had it been possible to buy a UK-made version in either I might have preferred it provided they measured up to the same level of quality as those bought in Taiwan but allas those days are long gone. The machines and bikes I have have the names of former UK makers, Startrite and Raleigh, but neither are made in the UK so thst ship left and will never return.

      4. I tried it with three fingers. Still tight and the index finger digs right into the edge of the chip breaker. Be nice if the edges were softened without me having to do it.
        Then as I mentioned the angle on the Tote doesn’t seem right. If I place my arm in a parallel position to the board I’m planing my wrist is twisted in an awkward position. I tried the plane in different positions and the best I can figure it was designed for free hand holding the board without any support. What country planes wood while holding it? Not that I’ve actually tried planing wood while holding it. I’m clumsy enough I would probably end up shaving a few micro inches off my leg. Not having a lever cap like the plane that was illustrated had is something I accepted when I opened the package.
        Having an iron that holds an edge for about 50 stokes is not what I expected. And having the chip breaker load up with shavings required me to find a work around by placing a washer between it and the iron. When it’s tightened up you can see a hairline gap between the chip breaker and the iron.
        The stupid are punished and I am being punished. I should have watched a few more of Pauls videos before buying and new hand tools. I’m sure any extra shipping cost would have been worth it.
        I’m taking Pauls advice and contacting Spears and Jackson. They may have a problem with Chinese counterfeits or I just got a cull that made it’s way to the market.

  19. The famous boat designer, builder and racer said that in design weight was only useful when building road rollers.

  20. One of my favorite clamps is very versatile, infinitely adjustable and cheap: old bicycle inner tubes! They come in several thicknesses, and I cut them into strips. For clamping a fingerboard onto a rounded tapered guitar neck, they are ideal. The stretch force might not be much, but all the wraps add up to very firm, uniform clamping.

    1. How do you keep the laminations from sliding when there is glue underneath? I would think that would be tricky.

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