Friday, June 07, 2013

Axminster No.19 (92) Shoulder Plane

So Axminster had one of their mid-week offers the other day, maybe a fortnight or so ago (that'd be two weeks ago, 'Murrican folk). Now I'd had four or five small bits and pieces in my basket for a few months waiting for the right moment, and said offer just tipped it nicely (or disastrously, depending on how you look at it) into Free Delivery territory. So, y'know...

But first, a brief detour into why said items had hung about in the basket for a coupla months. Because at least two, maybe three, would be out of stock at any given time. Not obscure sundries, mind you, but actual tools. Used to be that was a rare occurrence, but now? Tsk. I fear the accountants are increasingly running the joint these days, and that's seldom good news in the long run.

But back to my little tool purchasing indiscretion.

Honestly, I ordered this on a total whim - and because I was curious. Sound familiar? Yeah. If I wasn't naturally a total coward, my curiosity would have probably got me killed or seriously maimed by now. Luckily a yellow streak a mile wide ensures I can get in trouble in a civilised manner via the medium of my finances instead. Yay.

So one "Rider" sorry, "Axminster" #19 (92) shoulder plane. Yes, it's a Stanley #92 knock-off. No, it's not hiding it hardly at all. Yes, as I write, it's out of stock. Ha-hum.

I'll stick the "Review" tag on this post, but it's really not. I just haven't the time to do it properly. Instead, a few observations and lots of pics, should you be tempted by one of these and wonder.

My only exposure to genuine Stanley 9X series planes was a late 1990s model #90 bullnose; it wasn't square and some genius had glued in the little set screw that regulates the mouth opening. First attempt to - gently - adjust same, resulted in half the screw head popping off like it was pot metal. Maybe it was. It went back (to Axminster, funnily enough) and I vowed never again. Based on that single experience, I have to say this knock-off is streets ahead of the genuine article. It's square, it's flat (enough), the machining is actually verging towards the finer end of the scale, and it works. And, at last, a Chinese copy isn't suggesting it's something else by default, because it actually has "Rider" written (faintly) on the side. A hint of progress. All adjustments adjust, although tolerances are such that all threads feel a little sloppy, but it's okay.

However, don't imagine you'll be necessarily able to clean up 3/4" housings  with this (or dadoes, if you will), because this example at least, came out at 1/32" over at 25/32" wide (I think that's right anyway. Shoulda done it in them thar metricated thingies). But at least the iron is even more generous, allowing you to grind it "just so" to your preferred side protrusion. This shouldn't take long, as the other downside is the almost inevitable processed cheese slice characteristics of the steel. The edge was already gone after my four or five test cuts in some reasonably forgiving beech. Perhaps it's the factory edge and it'll improve as we get past the messed up steel as these things sometimes do, but it has that sticky feel on the stone that bodes ill.

It's not a Veritas Medium Shoulder plane (pretty darn sure that casting would be in Veritas' reject bin in short order), which I would still be my first recommendation and is worth the saving up for, in my opinion. But if your budget is really, really tight, or maybe you're looking for something that you can happily toss in the tool bag and take on site without being upset if it suffers, this isn't a dead loss. Definitely check it if you buy one, and throw it right back if it's not dead nuts on square (because I suspect those castings do plenty of moving). Oh, and prepare to get intimately acquainted with taking out the iron for sharpening, which is a right finicky business. So yeah, tight budget and lots of patience? Might be worth a gander.


  1. Just done a review Al of a few of the top endy shoulder planes appearing in F&C shortly. The Veritas Medium was the worst one for the 'diving board' effect (even though RL says it's OK in the is OK, just, but benefits from 20mins on a lapping surface) The best of the bunch was the Clifton 410, so I've sold my V med and replaced it with a Clifi.

  2. Can't say I've ever felt the need to lap the Veritas, but even so, I'd trade 20 mins lapping for the convenience of its adjustments and so forth. But then, if I was going for the 410, I'd go for an original Preston anyway, and not the knock-off... ;)

  3. Knock off it may be, but extensive conversations with Matt Platt at WH revealed that the materials used in the Clifi range are far better than the original Prestons, plus the cutter is a lot thicker. The machining is also so precise that the 'adjustments' aren't needed and the mouth is really righty tighty! End of the jour, as always, we all pays our wonga and takes our pick etc...
    Testing the V Med was a bit of a t'wern't til I put a straight edge across the bottom and saw how much the sole 'bent' (under normal operating pressure) that I realised that what Matt said was 'kosher'...lapping the sole makes a significant difference to the performance. Cliftons are lapped flat with the blade under normal working pressure so there's very little, if any, deformation.

    1. Well, jeeze, Rob, I'd hope your review would provide all the justification you need to have made your choice. You almost sound, well, like you're having to convince yourself... I mean, if at the end of the jour it's all individual opinion, why would you be trying to convince me? I'm perfectly happy with my choice and continued recommendation. Anyway, word to the wise - save your powder or no-one'll feel the need to buy the magazine to read the review...

  4. Not trying to convince anyone Al, 'specially your good self. I did say at the end of the piece though that there were no winners or losers...all the planes under test (and you'll have to read the article to see which ones they were) worked well, though some better than others. It's only personal preferences and the depth of pockets wot dictates eventual choice, init?

    1. Oh, Rob, unfortunately for you, today I seem to have reached a point when I'm fed up with giving folks the undeserved satisfaction of the last word. So instead, to be blunt, Actually I Don't Care. It has nothing to do with the main point of the damn blog post, and as it happens I find I resent you coming on here and plugging your paid review. Please go away now.

      There. I never do that. It's kinda liberating.

  5. I got one a couple of years back and actually replaced the blade with a Stanley. It works better than a Stanley 92 I also have.


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