Shocked and Pleasantly Surprised

Chad Stanton, a good friend, excellent carpenter and furniture builder, host of the net program Woodchoppin’ Time and Dancing Master nonpareil recently told me about some wood bodied planes made in China.  The name alone sparked my curiousity – Mujingfang.  Chad said that they performed well, were well made and (of incredible importance) were inexpensive.  I was intrigued.  I found that there are a number of planes available from the maker.  But I selected two sizes of polishing planes, the smallest and largest.  I figured that if they could make a polishing plane that worked well in figured wood, they might be okay.

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As you see by the scale in the picture, the smaller of the two planes is quite small.  But don’t be fooled by it’s size.  The plane is well-made.  It is designed to be pushed or pulled, ergo the “cross-beam”  The single bit is bedded at 60 degrees.  After very little preliminary honing and stropping, I set the little plane atop a piece of gnarly curly maple and was pleasantly surprised that it did, indeed, perform very well.  Planing diagonally, I achieved a surface that was more than acceptable and could be brought to a “Class A” finish with the slightest amount of scraping or sanding.  (In a pinch, the iron could be reversed and the plane could be used as a 90 degree scraper.)

The secret is the plane’s very tight mouth.  An added feature is a dovetailed wear insert at the mouth’s leading edge.

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The body of the plane is made from a member of the rosewood family.  It appears to be coated in shellac (or some synthetic equivalent). The finish needs to be rubbed out.  But, that is a minor issue.  All in all, I’m very happy with this tool.  In the right situation, it should prove to be very useful.

The larger (2 inch wide) polishing plane shares all of the same features found in its smaller sibling.  However, it does appear that the bed will need to be undercut a bit to eliminate some slight chattering.  This, of course , is not unusual when working with new (or old) wooden planes.

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Ultimately, these planes appear to be great value and should be useful to anyone working in figured wood.  Who knows?  A few more of these Mujingfang planes might find their way into the shop.

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10 Comments on “Shocked and Pleasantly Surprised”

  1. handmadeinwood Says:

    .

    I bought a set of these Mujingfang planes about 5 or 6 years ago and have been recommending them ever since.

    It looks as if you have a set of their ‘Hong Kong’ style planes there, (as opposed to their ‘Taiwan’ or ‘Japanese’ style) which are unique in that the irons are bedded at 60 degrees (half pitch). Because of this these little beauties are perfect for undulating grain.

    The smallest of the lot, can be set at an extremely fine cut and produces an exceptionally fine finish regardless of the grain. It’s my plane-of-choice for finishing a stormy surface without any tear-out.
    You’re right in that they need a little fettling. The irons come from the factory with machine marks, but it is good steel, holds an edge well and soon comes to life with a little work on the stones. The soles need a little flatting, but they are wooden planes and that’s part of life.

    The finish is a menace. I thought that it was some sort of boot-polish, but a wash in white spirit soon got rid of that then they came up well with some linseed oil.

    I use mine western style and I do think that the side bars are an encumbrance.

    They also made an extra-long rebate plane – about 15” in length with a ¾” wide blade. Another little gem that they seem to have dropped from their list; perfect for cleaning long rebates.

    All best and good luck with them

    • D.B. Laney Says:

      I believe that the long rabbet (rebate, in the “mother” tongue) is still available through Woodcraft.com. BTW, just made a trip to your blog. Very impressed. Will be spending more time there. Are you familiar with “Pegsandtails.Wordpress.com”?

    • D.B. Laney Says:

      I forgot to mention that I’m going to put your site on my blogroll. I’m impressed with your approach. We need to enlarge the community of folks who are dedicated to craftsmanship and keeping the “old knowledge” alive. Thanks for your good work.

      • handmadeinwood Says:

        Thank you for your kind words of appreciation about the blog.

        Suppliers of these planes in the UK do not, by any means, carry their full range, nor are they consistent in their inventories; it’s

        pleasing to see that Woodcraft have such a good selection.

        I live where the humidity range is extensive. Wood moves a lot over the seasons in this part of Wales, so I don’t use a lot of glue.
        Therefore, if you do any work involving long rebates, or rabbets if you prefer, the long rebate plane is ideal – I’d grab one pronto.
        $43 equates to about £22 sterling which is near what I paid for mine about 6 years ago.
        Peter Follansbee mentioned a similar plane some while ago, supposedly used in the boat-building trade, but is seemed a rarity from what he said .As ever, it will need a bath in spirits and a bit of fettling before use, but it is a terrific piece of kit and no-one else makes one.

        All best from Wales

  2. bobeaston Says:

    Those look like handy planes to have. We can buy them where???

    • D.B. Laney Says:

      I bought mine through Woodcraft. I’m not sure if they were part of the Japan Woodworker “purchase” or not. But there are a number of Mujingfang planes available at Woodcraft.com.

      • bobeaston Says:

        THANKS DB!
        I see about 20 of them at Woodcraft now.

      • D.B. Laney Says:

        Made a visit to your blog, Bob. Like minds and all that. Thank goodness there are “crazy folks” like us who strive to keep the old way alive and up to date. I mean, afterall, it’s just good clean fun. Gonna put you on my blogroll. Your work will “fit right in”. Are you familiar with Pegs and Tails ? “Jack Plane” is one of the most erudite bloggers around. He’s worth a read.

  3. larry porter Says:

    dennis , any truth to the rumor of a barn raising at your shop to shelter your plane collection?

    • D.B. Laney Says:

      As they say Larry, there’s a little bit of truth in every rumor. How would you feel about working a pike pole or being in charge of the ginpole and block and tackle when we start raising the “bents”? As you know, I could use a little more space.


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