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Thread: Un-boxing and tuneup of a $10 Harbor Freight bench plane

  1. #1

    Un-boxing and tuneup of a $10 Harbor Freight bench plane

    I decided to buy this $10 ~No 3 bench plane from Harbor Freight. I knew it would be atrocious out of the box, but with some work maybe I could make it serviceable. Turns out to be a great little plane after about 2 hours of grunt work.


  2. #2
    ummm....yeah.....Steven Neuman had one of these when we went rust hunting. I could see it being a good donor for a quick handle for a Stanley, but methinks I prefer the Stanley, Veritas, LN, Wood River, et al...YMMV.

    Good to ahve one plane for rough work through. I have a type 17 #4 Stanley I picked up for $3 at a garage sale that I save for all of my really crappy planing jobs.

  3. #3
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    I enjoyed the video, thanks!

  4. #4
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    These were mighty popular for a short time back in 2009 and 2010. A pretty well-known bladesmiths even made a replacement blade for it. The overall impression from those who tried it (myself included) was that they were pretty darn good for, at the time, $7. I still have two or three of them in boxes in the shop, somewhere.
    Your endgrain is like your bellybutton. Yes, I know you have it. No, I don't want to see it.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Dillinger View Post
    These were mighty popular for a short time back in 2009 and 2010. A pretty well-known bladesmiths even made a replacement blade for it. The overall impression from those who tried it (myself included) was that they were pretty darn good for, at the time, $7. I still have two or three of them in boxes in the shop, somewhere.
    $7! Now I feel like I was ripped off ;-)

  6. #6
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    The one I have, is now a scrub plane. Iron was ground into a 3" radius. Hungry little beastie. Think of it as a wider soled Stanley #40. And at $10 ( less with the coupon) a lot more affordable than the #40.

    Mine, I also had to tune the cap iron, due to how rough it was.

    Still a nice little #3 sized plane.

  7. #7
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    IMAG0242.jpg
    Stanley No. SB4, after a bit of tune up. Looks a little like the HF #33? The Stanley is a No.4 size.
    IMAG0249.jpg
    This is my #33, set up as a scrub plane, note the iron beside it.
    IMAG0252.jpg
    All back together. This is one hungry, little Beastie. I have re-shaprened the iron maybe once in two years. iron on these is quite thick, makes a decent scrub plane iron. Radius is around 3".

    Mine was $9.99 + tax.

  8. #8
    I saw Marty's video and thought it was great. There are too many people giving noobs the idea that a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen is a necessity.
    Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of bench.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve H Graham View Post
    I saw Marty's video and thought it was great. There are too many people giving noobs the idea that a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen is a necessity.
    +1 on this. Much of my early leaning on hand planes was through finding old ones and fixing them up. A lot of information eluded me, but once learned it stays with me. A beat up old type 6 Stanley/Bailey #4, with a fresh coat of paint, to me is as much of a joy to use as a new plane fresh from the box.

    To tell the truth, my enjoyment in my shop is likely better for having mostly second (or third) hand tools than if it were stocked with all brand new tools.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve H Graham View Post
    I saw Marty's video and thought it was great. There are too many people giving noobs the idea that a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen is a necessity.
    A Veritas or a Lie-Nielsen is a NECESSITY to those who aren't willing to spend the time to make a good plane out of an ordinary or below-par plane. Some prefer to spend their valuable or scarce shop time on developing wood skills or on projects rather than on tool improvement or making. That is why theirs are called out-of-the-box tools, tools that you can use out of the box. Of course, not to mention that they carry a reasonable re-sale value that no ordinary shop-made or improved tools could compare to.

    I advise people to buy what they can afford, and to make their own tools from scratch or from third-rate tools IF they have the time and interest. Both approach work with some trade-offs.

    Simon
    Last edited by Simon MacGowen; 06-16-2017 at 5:47 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon MacGowen View Post
    [edited]

    I advise people to buy what they can afford, and to make their own tools from scratch or from third-rate tools IF they have the time and interest. Both approach work with some trade-offs.

    Simon
    My advice is similar, If one has more time than money, then learn to fix up second hand tools. If one has more money than time, buy something that is ready to go.

    No matter which way a person chooses to go, they will eventually have to learn to sharpen their plane irons and chisels. There will also come a time when something isn't working. Knowing how to diagnose a problem is a learned skill, not something one can get out of a box.

    Some of us do find as much enjoyment in cleaning up old tools to use as have in using them to work wood. Today my woodworking consisted of boring holes in some scrap with an expansion bit that was found on a rust hunt.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
    Every plane--EVERY plane--needs work. If not when you take it out of the box, then as soon as the blade gets dull or nicked.
    Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of bench.

  13. #13
    So very true about keen edges.

    The video shows a "sticking" tool even after the blade was sharpened. If one opened a new box from Lie-Nielsen or Veritas and planed -- without any honing, it wouldn't stick like that.

    By the way, if the plane was to be used to shoot, more work might be needed on making sure the sole was square to the side on that HF plane. Nothing wrong with "upgrading" a cheapo tool, but that is not a path for the majority of those who can afford a nice, new plane, ready to use out of the box. Definitely not the path for beginners who are interested in doing traditional woodworking, in my book.

    Simon

  14. #14
    Sam Snead once told a an eager fan what he should do about his golf swing: "take a lesson and then give up the game". The same advise applies to the Harbor Freight plane. You have already invested too much...you bought it. Find a good Stanley No. 4 and study about tuning it and sharpening it. It will be time and money well spent.

  15. #15
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    There was a time when woodworkers were not so anal about fettling an old tool back into service.

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