Endless dissatisfaction – More Steel Woes

Hello Mr. Savage,
This message is not to discuss a place in your teaching workshop, I write here as I did not find any other e-mail address [due to spambots and such it is a little too risky for us to have our email address printed on the website – sorry – Ed.] and I do not use Facebook, Twitter or any other stuff like that.
I’m a guitar maker living in the north of Spain (next to Barcelona) and these lines are just to say THANK YOU for your tool review page: I’ve found countless problems after some years and your information makes me feel I’m not the one to blame but the manufacturers.

I’ve struggled for years with cheap planes (try to make a joint with a plane with a sole that is not flat, not even remotely close to flat…) I’ve tried to flatten soles, square sides… I’m a woodworker, not a metal worker: everything ended in frustration. For years I thought I was not skilled enough to use certain tools until I realized -to my amazement- that MOST hand tools on the market were nor properly made if you wanted to use them to a high standard of work. I’ve studied books about hand planes, articles, magazines, websites, forums (wow, that’s another issue but I don’t want to talk about internet forums…) and found out about pitches, frogs, bevels, blades, steel, old designs… I could write a book about that, I just don’t feel like doing it but YOUR WEBSITE is the only reliable source I’ve found to confirm my point of view. Last week I bought a Veritas Low Angle Smooth Plane (from **** ***** in Germany) and I had read excellent reviews ANYWHERE. I liked Veritas design over Lie Nielsen for several reasons, but when I received the item it was a total disappointment: the mouth opening DID NOT FIT THE SOLE OF THE PLANE, IT WAS PROTRUDING! I’ve had cheap Stanley planes (the new ones, which are supposed to be crap) and at least the sliding mouth opening is on the same plane as the rest of the plane. Otherwise (if you want to take fine shavings, for God’s sake, this is supposed to be a smoother…) you cannot use it: end of the story. Plus, the knobs were loose (no big deal) but the bronze parts were CORRODED (straight from the factory) and, to my amazement, the BLADES (I bought a second one with a 38 degrees bevel) were useless: the back was full of HUGE scratches, the result of obviously not taking care of the blades and being thrown somewhere in a pile… who knows. Believe me, getting rid of those scratches (I’m talking about blades that cost more than 40 euros each…) would have taken me a long time. The blades of cheaper planes come in a better shape than this…
It’s strange, I bought an excellent Veritas scraper plane (based on Stanley’s design, number 80, I guess) and it was excellent. I’ve used it for years and it is perfect. I did not expect such a LOW QUALITY on an item that was 250 euros or more. I’ve just returned it (**** ***** have been very helpful but they want to inspect it: “We’ve never seen anything like this”, they say… well, neither have I seen it until now, and I expect to spend my money on something better. It’s disappointing. I’ve seen this guy (Rob Lee) from Veritas writing on some woodworking forums, he seems very helpful… but I would prefer paying my hard earned money to get a good useful tool instead of having a low-standard tool (this tool should have never left the factory if Veritas had some good inspection guy) and have a nice president of the company (supposedly) on forums.
I really don’t know if buying a Lie Nielsen, I think they have to be better and I can get it from Axminster in England but if I have new issues with it (sole not flat, and so on) I’ll have to do the same: wasting time, wasting money, not being able to find DECENT tools, no matter the price. I’m afraid there have to be more items like mine out there but some amateurish folks don’t dare to return them (they’re not sure about their skills and think: “Hey, if I pay top money for this… it must be flat”). I’m amazed when I see the attitude of some “pros”: they pay close to 400 euros for a Lie Nielsen and they say “I did not check it was flat, I don’t care as long as it’s working well… craftsmen from one hundred years ago did not have flat soles and did great work”)… Well, they did not have to pay the equivalent of 400 euros, they did not have internet hype, they did not buy from manufacturers who own state-of-the-art technology… That’s why your page has been such a great relief: commercial pressure from all these guys (Veritas, Lie Nielsen, not many more I’m afraid) seem to rule the Earth (as far as hand tools is concerned…) So, THANK YOU for your page. No wonder why many craftsmen still prefer wooden planes after all…

E.S [we were asked not publish the author’s name or name of the supplier as they were very helpful – paying shipping costs for returns etc – Ed.]

Hi Edgar
Thank you for your comments, you are not alone most of us feel bad because we cannot do what we know can be done with wood. We blame ourselves our lack of knowledge, but sometimes its not us its the lousy tools that get sold to us as high quality.

Don’t let the b…..rds grind you down!



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