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Friday, 13 November 2009

Quangsheng Planes

Today we have made the final payment and received shipping information on an order of planes from Quangsheng Tools in China. We have been looking for an acceptable range of budget handplanes for a couple of years now, and after six months of intense questioning these guys seem to have come up with the right answers.

The planes were originally developed with the help of Woodcraft in the USA, where they are marketed as Wood River planes. Unusually they are cast from steel rather than iron, a very good but expensive way of doing things that I had previously thought to be the preserve of infill planes. I asked for a copy of the specs and it is a low carbon steel (anything under 2% carbon is steel) with a high chromium content so it should have reasonably good corrosion resistance too.

I also asked about their grinding and was told that they anneal the castings before grinding them and was sent this photo showing a nice big solid bed grinder - important as it acts as a heat sink as well as pretensioning the body and holding it absolutely rock steady as it passes under the grinding wheel. A steady flow of coolant again reduces the chance of the body being stressed by the introduction of heat.

For the handles I have opted for Chinese grasstree wood, they also offer rosewood handles which they apparently buy in from England. From an environmental perspective I couldn't justify using a far eastern timber that has been transported here, shaped, sent all the way back to China and then brought all the way back here again, it seems ludicrous. So the stuff that is local to the place of manufacture, and apparently grows like a weed seemed by far the best bet, I have used grasstree handled tools before and although somewhat plain, it is stout and perfectly acceptable.

The one thing that does concern me is the use of T10 (the Chinese equivalent of W1) for the irons, this can vary hugely depending on the heat treatment, specifically the hardness of the water that is quenched in. Soft water does lovely things to tool steel whilst hard water tends to do the opposite. I haven't been able to find any definite information on the hardness of the water where they are made so we shall just have to wait and see. If it comes to the crunch we can always replace the blades or re-do the heat treatment.

The big question now is how fast TNT can get them here. They rather unhelpfully quote 10 days plus, which could mean anything.

*Update* We have upgraded the shipping option so they should be here at the beginning of December, just in time for Free Shipping Fortnight!!!!


  1. They use distilled water for quenching.


  2. The more you advertise the name of the company and where these planes come from, the more likely there is that bigger importers will flood the market!

  3. How much costs to you these planes and to how much you sell them?


  4. Many thanks Jin, Distillation is a very effective and predictable method of softening water so there's no reason why they shouldn't be spot on. Out of interest, do you work at the factory or are you a user of these tools?

    Anonymous, I can see where you are coming from but we believe that if a product is made right then the makers name should be known so that people can make an informed choice. We prefer compete on service, as far as I know we are the only UK tool company to offer free shipping to anywhere in Europe on orders over £100, and also guarantee all of our tools against material or manufacturing defects for the duration of the purchasers life.

  5. Hi Matthew,

    These planes sound quite promising, assuming you don't have any issues with the steel used for the blades.

    Will you be offering a general range (ie. jack, smoothing, block and shoulder planes)?


  6. Hi Olly,

    As far as I know they don't do shoulder planes, someone out there does because the Chinese wholesalers have them but we are dealing direct with the manufacturer. Aside from that we will be getting block, rebating block, 3, 4, 5, 6 and some rather delightful bronze shaves and brass mallets.



  7. Auguste,

    The first trial pallet will have cost about 5 grand by the time we include shipping charges and import duty.

    We use a method called profit maximisation to work out our selling prices rather than the usual 'cost plus' etc. Interestingly (for the economist in me) cost of production doesn't come into it, but we do factor in elements like competitors prices and service levels.

  8. This transparency makes a lot of honor to you. I will sure hold in consideration your website for my next purchases.


  9. Lets just say we have an deep interest in these planes, and already they are causing a stir. look at the Stanley block plane, very popluar until the likes of every importer had a copy made in china / india, now the market has been flooded, and now you might sell one a year, these are a lovely set of planes and less competitors know their origins the better.
    You dont see the likes of Stanley & Toolbank shouting from the rooftops about where they scource their products from, its so that they can have a good run at selling a good product that not many other competitors will have and as they look on in with envy.