What is acceptable quality in a new plane?

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    A fellow teacher of mine just bought 2 new Stanley 78 rebate planes for our primary school woodworking classes.

    The planes, made in Eastern Europe, arrived dusted with metalic shavings/filings and very coarse scratches on the sole and sides – something on the order of 20 grit sandpaper large.

    Worse, much much worse, the soles are not flat. They are arched from toe to heel AND cupped from edge to edge. After 20 minutes of sanding on a flat plate, the sole at the mouth still has 0.25mm clearance (even worse in the middle of the mouth because of the cupping).

    After sanding intermittently all day (while teaching), the mouth is still not “flat”.

    I understand that a new plane is “not a tool but rather a kit of parts” — but where is the line between acceptable and indecent? (not a rhetorical question)


    That kind of gross “imperfections” of the sole you long ago left anything I would call decent quality. Clearly not acceptable.


    For the proverbial young person, this situation is fraught with uncertainty. On one hand, Paul and others publish instructions on metal plane sole flattening which appear to accept the process as a fact of life, as is tuning up badly machined frogs. On the other hand, magazine reviews often criticize planes for not being flat and further, with some frequency identify planes with grossly inept manufacturing.

    I guess I should be thanking my lucky stars that the planes are hollowed and not convex (bulging outward) as this is less difficult to flatten correctly.

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