Tool Review: Rockler’s new handplanes
Chris Gochnour tested four of Rockler's new high-end handplanes–a No. 4 smoothing plane, a low-angle jack plane, a block plane, and a three-in-one shoulder plane.
Rockler has introduced a new line of high-end handplanes under the name Bench Dog. I tested four of their models, a No. 4 smoothing plane, a low-angle jack plane, a block plane, and a three-in-one shoulder plane.
The planes have good bones, with bodies cast from durable ductile iron and hefty blades made of good steel that is, for the most part, ground well, with the backs requiring only 5 to 10 minutes of lapping and a few more to hone. The planes were cleanly machined, although not all soles were flat or sides square. They sport nicely shaped mahogany totes and knobs, and many of the fittings are polished brass.
Once tuned up, three of the four performed well, felt solid, and adjusted tightly—performing close to the best on the market. The block plane required only a bit of sole lapping because of a crown. The No. 4’s chip breaker needed some fettling to fit better to its blade. The low-angle jack’s blade had a noticeable back bevel; and, when the blade was set parallel to the sole, it was skewed relative to the adjustable toe. But the plane still performed quite well.
The shoulder plane was the outlier. It started with too many strikes against it to warrant the time needed to set it up. The sides were not square to the sole, the blade was narrower than the body, and the bullnose attachment lacked alignment pins.
—Chris Gochnour is a contributing editor and furniture maker in Salt Lake City.