bushwacked

Hand planes and the cost

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For me, it's a Record or Stanley that doesn't need much work.  For instance, no pitting on the iron.  It doesn't take long to flatten a sole, or sharpen a good iron.  Many put a lot more time in making one look pretty, or removing rust.  There are plenty available every day on ebay to be shipped to about anywhere in all sorts of conditions.  For instance, even though I have a couple of no.3's, there's a NOS with the box one that's been on there for several weeks now (been in my cart for that long to watch how long it takes to sell) for a hundred bucks.    I'd say the most important thing is that you need to understand what sharp is, and can produce it, before deciding if the cost difference is worth the effort.  I can pull any one of mine out of it's waterproof toolbox in the trailer, unwrap it, and produce the ideal shaving for that particular model right off. When it needs sharpening, I have the setup to do it really sharp, really quickly.

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I think a good answer to the original question is 'yes'. Good working quality can be from used or inexpensive new planes, if you are willing to invest some amount of time it tuning them to peak performance. High priced planes should / may not need any tuning, perhaps no more that a bit of honing. If you have the budget, and prefer to make shavings over fettling a tool, buy the best you can afford. If you enjoy tuning and adjusting your tools, or just can't scrape up the dough, don't be afraid to buy used or cheap. I have some of grandpa's old Stanleys, and they work great. I have a Windsor Design smoother from Harbor Freight, and it works great ( and set me back a whopping $9. That's right N-I-N-E dollars!) If I had the cash to spare, I'd be all over some of the LV stuff because of the innovative designs. LN doesn't excite me as much, because they are more like just really well made Stanleys.

And, I enjoy messing around with stuff enough to try building one or two of my own.

I am a simple hobbyist, not selling what I build, and that DOES make a difference.

So there's one more opinion to pick from!

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I am a hobbyist woodworker.  I have both vintage hand planes as well as planes for Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen.  Both produce good results.  I will say I have put a lot more time and energy in my vintage planes to get them in usable condition.  Put either type of plane in a craftsman's hands, and he will produce beautiful work.  On the flip side put either plane in a beginner's hands, he is going to have trouble with both.

 

Personally, if I have the choice between a vintage or a newer, I tend to choose the newer, simply because I want to work the wood, rather than spend time getting a vintage plane usable.  Do I think the modern planes are worth the price, yes, but that as my personal opinion.

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I think Tom has a good handle on the situation.  Yes, you can get into hand planes fairly cheap and with a small amount of effort.  You do not need to super tune every hand plane in your collection.  A #5 or a scrub plane used cross grain to take cups out does not need to be a precision tool.  Of all my planes, I keep the #4 tuned the best as it's work is close to the finish.   You can also get by with 3 planes to start (actually 1 if you want to start experimenting with a block plane), as I said in my previous post. 

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I just picked up a Stanley 192.  Took about an hour to get it all tuned up and sharp.  Works well and was only $25.  No matter which way you look at it, you CAN get into hand planes for a relatively low price.

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