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Tool: Low Angle Jack and Block Plane Kit Shop Now

Manufacturer: Melbourne Tool Company

MSRP: $269

The premium hand tool marketplace is a much different place today than it was in the dark days of the early 1980’s. There’s no shortage of quality options at numerous price points. Melbourne Tool Company, founded in 2022, is aiming for a sweet spot in the marketplace with some quality hand planes at prices that make them more approachable.

Both the Low Angle Jack and Block Plane feature a 12-degree milled bed, adjustable mouths, and M2 High-Speed Steel (HSS) for the blades. Squint and you’ll see more than a little resemblance to Lie-Nielson, and as soon as you start adjusting things you’ll notice the resemblance is more than skin deep. This is far from a bad thing — Lie-Nielson based their designs on classic Stanley tools and imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. One area of difference though is the aforementioned M2 HSS. Verses the more common for handplanes A2, M2 is harder, usually seen in drill bits or turning tools. It’s a long-wearing steel that will hold an edge for a longer period of time, with the tradeoff being that it’s harder to sharpen.

Speaking of sharp, the blades for both planes in this set were sharp and square right out of the box, with no adjustments needed. The block plane needed about fifteen minutes of work to flatten the sole, mostly due to the adjustable mouth, which is most likely machined separately. The jack plane was actually too large for my sharpening setup, so that’s certainly a consideration to take into account. Adjustments were easy enough to make on both planes, though the adjustable mouth was a little bit finicky to get just right. Once dialed in, both planes were very satisfying to use. I even ended up flattening my entire workbench top just for the heck of it.

Melbourne Tool Company also offers blades for both tools ground to 38 degrees for smoothing, and 50 degrees for smoothing figured material.

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