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Thread: Clifton Planes

  1. #1
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    Clifton Planes

    How about these planes? I have seen them advertised and just saw them being manufactured on "How It Works."



  2. #2
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    Apr 2006
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    Here it is on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0Ops...ature=youtu.be

    I have never held or used one myself. Reviews seem to range from OK to excellent.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  3. #3
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    I've only heard good things about their planes, although Chris Schwarz did make a disparaging remark about them in his article about shoulder planes on the WK Fine Tools site. I haven't really looked into them, but they certainly look great with that british racing green. Certainly, if you order them from a reputable dealer, you should be able to return it if it's not up to snuff. The price at different dealers seems to vary considerably compared to other places. For instance, the number 7 I've seen priced at 450, 390, and 415. It all seems close enough to the price of an LN plane that if I'm going to spend that kind of money, I might as well buy a name and brand I've had good experiences with.

    Another consideration is how they hold their value. I know no one likes to think about selling their valued tools, but it seems like the resale value on LN and LV planes is higher. Good if you're buying used, bad if you're selling what was new.

  4. #4
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    I have a Clifton Shoulder plane. One of the best planes I own. It's amazing.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2005
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    Suffolk County, Long Island NY
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    I almost purchased a Clifton No. 7 recently, but there was too much uncertainty after reading all I could find about them.

    Just goes to show you how important it is to have a flawless (or as close as one can get) product from the beginning. Clifton may have worked out any problems years ago and be producing a product every bit as good as LN, but I'm not going to be the test subject. Call me cranky, but I certainly won't part with $400+ to have to lap the sole. I will do that on an $85 80 year old Stanley, though.

    I'm sure first class companies like TFWW and The Best Things will stand behind a purchase fully, which is worth it in my book to spend $50-60 more to support them.
    To my eyes, the british racing green paint, the polished edges, the round sides, and the great stamped blade all combine to make a great looking plane.

  6. #6
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    So,what did Chris think was wrong with the shoulder plane? I have 2 LN's,and the one I have posted here(the Nessie shoulder plane). The LN's are very accurately and cleanly ground.

  7. #7
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    Chris Gochnour recently completed a smoothing plane review in FWW and named the Clifton and LN #4 a tie for Editor's Choice http://www.finewoodworking.com/FWNPDF/011219042.pdf. I personally use the reviewed Clifton #4. I purchased it here from a fellow Creeker, Joe Adams, and it has become one of my favorite planes (And but for the boutique brands - I own multiples of each!).

    Here it is with it's "little brother," the Clifton 400 small shoulder/bullnose. I LOVE it!

    DSC_0005.jpg


    DSC_0001.jpg
    A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
    Ayn Rand

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by george wilson View Post
    So,what did Chris think was wrong with the shoulder plane? I have 2 LN's,and the one I have posted here(the Nessie shoulder plane). The LN's are very accurately and cleanly ground.
    In an article from '07, he reviewed three shoulder planes, and on the first page he said:

    Three new commercial brands stand out as the best tools in my book: Bridge City Tools, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and VERITAS (sorry Clifton, I’ve just had a few too many defective Cliftons pass through my hands).
    I have no idea how much weight to give that. I'm not even sure it relates particularly to the Clifton shoulder planes. I seem to remember that Clifton got good reviews in a recent FWW review of smooth planes. It's really just a single anecdotal data point, and not much of one at that. Not sure why I even brought it up.

  9. #9
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    May 2011
    Location
    Jackson, TN
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    http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/c...P/clifton1.asp

    This is the article where Schwarz actually describes the troubles he's had with these planes. It's pretty old as it was originally written in 2004, and I'm sure they've had more than enough time to work out any production kinks. Still, it's never bad advice to buy from a dealer you can easily return the product to if need be.

  10. #10
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    Crystal Lake, IL
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    I've owned the Clifton 410, their small shoulder plane, and it's as good as those made at LN, of which I own several.

    Jeff

  11. #11
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    Jul 2010
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    I have a Clifton #4 I pick it up used, had a lot of trouble getting it to work correctly. It works great now nice smooth cut. The biggest problem is there is not to many people that use them, and no place to call or go if you have problems. Had a question on a blade angle for my Lie-Nielsen called them and in 2 minutes had my question answered.

  12. #12
    I remember bob feeser on woodnet, before he ran out of steam and stopped posting, saying that he had a clifton #4 that wasn't right. The maker and the retailer both knew it wasn't right and at least the maker had stated that they were going to replace his plane. He was telling his point of view long removed from the time that he was told he'd get a replacement (perhaps a couple of years) and nobody had yet actually done anything despite telling him they'd replace his plane. He was basically sitting with paperweight with a crooked frog.

    That's a point of reference for anyone who wants direct support and expects something like LN and LV provide in terms of shipment of actual goods after the sale when something isn't right.

    I would expect to be compensated between an LN plane and a Clifton plane for that possibility, and for the reputation in the past that not all of their planes were accurately ground (I remember DC going over planes and saying that he had a plane that was 7 thousandths hollow, and I don't know if he said it was a clifton directly, but I gathered that's what it was because it was a precision bench plane that was not an LN - what else is there?).

    Shipping to and from england is also expensive, and I'd rely on getting one used and a lot cheaper than an LN if I were going to get one. And I'd ask the person who sold it if it was right.

    I know there are satisfied users who don't feel there should be any price difference at all, but in reality, when LN's bench planes are generally flawless as far as bench planes go, there's no reason to take on the uncompensated risk when the service after sale and role of retailer and manufacturer aren't as well defined in the states. Check out the cost of shipping to and from england, too, if you think you might have to go that route. Their postage is incredibly high for anything verified.

    Just my opinion.
    Last edited by David Weaver; 04-17-2012 at 9:55 AM.

  13. #13
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    On paper I really like the look and certain design features (e.g. 2-piece chipbreaker) of the Cliftons better than LNs. However, if I bought one the only person I would buy is from is Joel(TFWW), just because I know that if there were an issue he would take care of it as well as LN or LV. I would have zero worries about getting a perfect plane from him. My one hesitancy about buying a Clifton is simply that they are made from gray iron rather then ductile. I have yet to break a plane from dropping it but I can be a bit ham handed and have dropped a few (new and vintage) and I like the security of having a plane that is less likely to be permanently damage if it takes it hits something hard.

  14. #14
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    Jul 2009
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    Puget Sound, USA
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    I know of one highly respected retailer that stopped offering Clifton. The reason, little or no support from Clifton to back up their tools. It's a long way to England and it must become cost prohibitive for Clifton to really back up their product, at least to the market here in the USA. Plus Clifton is owned by Clico, an areospace industry manufacturer. In all probability, their main focus is not woodworking tools. That being said, if the retailer will back up the tool 100%, then it's probably worth it. Clifton planes sure look good.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Griggs View Post
    My one hesitancy about buying a Clifton is simply that they are made from gray iron rather then ductile. I have yet to break a plane from dropping it but I can be a bit ham handed and have dropped a few (new and vintage) and I like the security of having a plane that is less likely to be permanently damage if it takes it hits something hard.
    Chris,

    I believe the Clifton castings are annealed, which strengthens them. They have been drop-tested as well with success. We should all have wide T&G white pine shop floors though, just for plane safety

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