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So you’re looking to get into woodworking, and you figure the cheapest route is probably to avoid the big expensive power tools and go with small hand tools. You figure, it was good enough for our 18th century forefathers, it’s good enough for you. Then you get the shock from seeing the price of some of the nicer planes on the market. Well, Anant out of India has got the planes you want at more reasonable prices for the everyday normal guy.

Most experts will agree that you have three choices when it comes to hand planes. You can spend big bucks and start using your plane out of the box; for a reasonable amount, you can either get a used vintage plane of high quality or get one of the average-quality new planes out there and spend some time tuning it, flattening the sole, sharpening the irons, etc. before you can start using it; or lastly, you can buy a cheap plane at the big box, and have it be so far from usable that you’ll stop using the hand plane out of frustration.

An example of the second school of thought, the Anant block plane replicates the classic and well-loved Stanley 60-1/2 block plane. You’ll need to spend a little time tuning up the plane before you use it, but it’s not so far gone that you can’t make it into a very enjoyable working plane. It won’t have the same tool p0rn feel of the Lie-Nielsen or the Veritas planes – but you’ll be able to buy more than just a single plane at a time, because at $40, it’s about half the price of the premium planes.

Anant makes a full line of planes based on classic, proven plane designs, often with their own improvements built in. As much as I love the idea of using a classic, vintage plane, I love the idea of it being brand new even more.

Plane and Simple [Resource for Choosing and Tuning Hand Planes]
No. 60-1/2 Block Plane [Anant]
No. 60-1/2 Block Plane [Highland Woodworking]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

 

10 Responses to A Hand Plane Without Giving Up An Arm (Or Leg)

  1. Gary says:

    Having used new and vintage planes, I’d have to recommend buying a vintage Stanley and tune it up before buying an Anant. Castings are not very well done and it can take a lot of time to lap the sole flat. Irons are not very impressive either. Buy vintage or save your money and buy LV or LN.

  2. l_bilyk says:

    I would also suggest vintage, but to be honest i have had good luck with one of these. After some lapping and sharpening it turned out to be a very good user

  3. o4tuna says:

    I’ve used power tools for most things up till now.
    But I’m getting into some hand tool only stuff.
    I’ve inherited a couple decent planes & bought a couple cheap ones.
    Anybody know of a “for dummies” kind of instructional resource for setting up & using a plane?

    It just ain’t happening the way Roy Underhill does it…

    I might have better luck with a hatchet

  4. Justin says:

    I’m with Gary. Buy vintage. With the Anant’s, the blade steel isn’t worth a damn. So after you get through all the tuning and lapping and filing, you still have a crappy blade that’s tough to sharpen, and doesn’t hold an edge.

  5. Geoff K. says:

    For $40 you could get a new, solid quality Stanley plane from Lee Valley:

    http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p=41227&cat=1,41182

    It’s not vintage, but I’ve had great luck with all woodworking products from Lee Valley. They also carry a low-angle version of this same plane:

    http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p=41228&cat=1,41182

    I don’t work for them, I just help pay their salaries with my purchases… 😉

  6. wilkins says:

    “Reasonable prices for the everyday normal guy” is code for cheap junk for people who don’t know any better. If you are interested in learning woodworking or supplementing your power tools with hand tools, you should keep in mind two things: 1) Good tools have always been expensive. 2) You will never know the pleasure of using good tools if you buy cheap junk.

    There is no shortage of cheap junk out there- just visit one of the Borgs. You should expect about as much performance from one of these planes as you will get out of a $20 circular saw.

  7. Rob says:

    Fine Woodworking has a pretty decent series of videos online about handplanes
    http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/SkillsAndTechniques/SkillsAndTechniquesArticle.aspx?id=29680
    I have some vintage and some more recent Record planes which work pretty well after being tuned. The Anant’s aren’t terrible, especially for the price but after buying a replacement iron you’re into it for 50-100% more than you originally paid for the plane in the first place. If you have the time, garage sales are good for vintage stuff. More and more often, the flea market folks are positive they have some kind of “collectible” and charge appropriately.

  8. Fred says:

    Old Stanleys also came in a variety of grades – with those called Bedrock being at the top end of the Bailey designs.
    A modern thicker blade (like Hock) will improve the performance (less blade chatter) of even a well-tuned old Stanley.

  9. Lyle says:

    I have the Anant 60 1/2 and the A5 Jack plane. I tuned them up with little difficulty, and they are flat and square out of the box. Of course, Hock iron is a given, the irons that come with the plane should probably be filed for toothing.
    I especially like that they come with tintul handles, not plastic like the English high-dollar models.
    I look forward to getting the A4 smooth and the A8 try planes!

  10. Chad says:

    Or you could make a really good wooden krenov style plane. They’re really easy to make and equally easy to tune and true up the sole. You could make a whole set of them for cheap and customizing them is always fun.

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