A while ago I mentioned I was thinking about purchasing a Lie Nielsen no#5 Jack plane and also wanted a no#7. However, four months later I am still using my exceptionally crappy modern Stanley no#4 smoother and no#6 as a jointer / fore plane. With that in mind I have come to the conclusion that the preferred planes in my tool set would be a no#3 for smoothing, no#5 jack plane which could double as a large smoother if required and finally a no#7 for jointing and final flattening of stock.
I would probably only keep my crappy Stanleys for rough DIY type work or green wood etc.
In the perfect world I would love for all three planes to be made by Lie Nielsen, but at the following Axminster UK prices: no#3 £282, no#5 £282 and no#7 £369 - I simply cannot justify spending £933 - especially as a beginner! Can I?...
Having done a lot more research on plane manufacturers, I have discovered a UK company called Workshop Heaven who are selling planes made by Quangsheng at a fraction of the price of the Lie Nielsen ones. These planes are basically Lie Nielsen clones, based on the Stanley Bedrock design, complete with thick blades and 'improved' chip breakers 'a la' Lie Nielsen. The only constructional differences appear to be:
- The Quangsheng blades are T10 Carbon steel instead of A2 as used by Lie Nielsen. Some reviews have stated the Quangsheng blades are incredibly sharp and possibly sharper than A2 steel and hold a good edge.
- The Lie Nielsen planes use bronze lever caps with the Quangsheng ones being brushed steel.
- Lie Nielsen offer high angle frogs - whereas the only Quangsheng option would be putting a back bevel on the blade. I guess it's possible that the Lie Nielsen frogs might fit the Quangsheng planes?
Spot the difference...
According to the reviews I have found on the Internet and online wood working forum discussions, the Quangsheng planes are very good (albeit made in China) both in terms of construction, finish and performance, with some people stating there is very little difference between their Quangsheng planes and their Lie Nielsen planes. The biggest difference as far as I can tell is slightly tighter machine tolerances on the Lie Nielsen planes, translating in to slightly finer blade control.
The three planes listed above from Quangsheng would only cost £389 total, no#3 £90, no#5 £110 and the no#7 £190 - Wow! That leaves a lot of change to buy some nice chisels....
I wrote to Workshop Heaven enquiring about the Quangsheng planes and they said:
'Officially the soles of all sizes are flat to 3 thou, although in practice they are typically better than half that.
We offer a lifetime guarantee on all of the tools we sell (your life not the tool's). I'm interested in regular happy customers, not a 100% record of never losing money on a deal.'
All in all they sound like a good buy...BUT ... would I regret buying them down the line?
So ... what to do?
Any readers own a Quangsheng plane or have any experience with them? Anyone know anything about them or can offer any advice - it would be greatly appreciated!
On a slightly different note - all progress on the Stools has been delayed due to me making the 'school boy error' of running out of glue - doh! I did intend to order some more glue online, but thought I might include a plane order...
Looking forward to your thoughts on the above...