So we have a cheap plane from Bunnings and we know tool experts shun them, but how bad can it be?

Bunnings Craftright Plane
Bunnings Craftright Plane

That was the naive thought that went through our heads. The pictured plane came with a lot of vintage tools we purchased. We had no commercial interest in this plane, but we wondered what our restoration skills could do for this cheap little woodworking plane. So we set ourselves the challenge of setting it up to see how well we could get it functioning. Just for information it’s a $27 Bunnings plane branded Craftright and equivalent to a Stanley no. 4 (at least that’s the theory).

First the body. The surface finish is awful, but that wouldn’t interfere with our challenge. It might take a bit more wax than usual in use though and would benefit from flattening.

The frog, looks ok. Also a bit rough, but the screws holding it to the body are substantial enough to properly tighten it. There is a frog adjustment akin to a Stanley, but the thread is so sloppy and the plate is so flimsy you have to wonder why they bothered.

Then the blade. The grind on this is likewise terrible. The steel seems nice and hard. Possibly too hard. Back of the blade needs to be good so we attempt to flatten it. It takes a lot of work to get it flat when it looks like its been ground with an angle grinder, but we get to a stage where we are relatively happy with it. It’s not perfect, but it’s not awful.

Next the bevel edge. There isn’t one. Really no edge on this blade. We would estimate that the bevel grind is almost a millimetre short of creating an edge. At this point it isn’t a plane, it’s a pretty rough paperweight. Grinding this back is going to be tough, especially when we grind by hand and especially when the corners of the blade are missing. After a long time and lots of work we get the blade to a reasonably sharp state.

The cap iron is next. It’s not flat, has inadequate spring in it to clamp the blade and has a radius on its edge. Unfortunately the radius is perfect for catching wood shavings and preventing any chance of creating a smooth curling shaving. We fix up the cap iron and after more work we finally get an adequate shaving.

In summary if you have bought one and don’t know how to fix it, take it back. It’s not a working plane. If you are planning to buy one and are unhappy to spend three or four hours on trying to make it take a decent cut, then stay away. Why bother, just buy one from out shop

If you are Bunnings and you are reading this you need new buyers who know what they are talking about. Stop spending money on the pathetic frog adjustment and spend it on sharpening the blade and quality control of the cap iron and then you might produce a product that at least deserves the title ‘plane’.

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