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Winter 2013-2014

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What's new in the world of premium planes – part 2: the Made in India group

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What's new in the world of premium planes – part 2: the Made in India group

Groz and Anant are two of the brand names we recognize as planes made in India that are sold through catalogs in the USA and Europe. Until recently these brand names were synonymous with mediocre quality-control and inadequate performance. But recently things began to change when Anant launched a line of better quality planes named Kamal. India has always been a powerhouse of metal fabrication, especially in the field of sand casting of iron and brass. So it was just a matter of time until the management in these Indian plants recognized the potential of the high-end plane market. As a result, more refined ways of manufacturing and quality control methods are now implemented in order to produce the new line of tools.

One of the new line's brand names is RIDER another one is Shop Fox. To make them stand out and perhaps resemble the Lie Nilesen aesthetics, the Indian plant created a bronze lever cap. To differentiate between a Shop Fox plane and a Rider, the Indian plant create a dedicated lever cap for each of these brand names. 

Both Garrett Wade (USA) and Axminster (a major UK tool distributer) carry them. These are not cheap planes; they cost around $66 (Amazon price for a Shop Fox) to $89 (Garrett's Wade's RIDER). Unfortunately, it seems that these planes do not come with a thick and heavy blade, which is disappointing.

Rider

Shop Fox

Another new improvement on planes made in India is a new line of a 3-in-1 plane which seems as if it may threaten Clifton's dominance in this market. Back in the 90s' the Sheffield base plane manufacturer Clifton reintroduced its version of the successful (but discontinued) Record 311 plane. This plane could be used as a Rabbet plane, a bullnose plane and as a chisel plane. A screw and detachable front part allowed the user to assemble the plane in three different configurations. This plane costs more than $250 but the new Indian made competitor (SOBA) costs only $79. What is more interesting is that the new Indian plane is said to be made of ductile cast Iron, which makes it a tougher tool that will not break if accidentally dropped on a hard surface (concrete floor for instance).

Here is the Clifton and its Indian clone/competitor (Model #28).

The Indian manufacturer has also issued a few additional high end shoulder planes that are based on the Stanley # 90 and 92. Garrett wade, Amazon and Traditional woodworker carry this plane. I emailed Traditional Woodworker and asked them if they could send me a tool for inspection. They replied that they are under-stocked and have no tool to send. This means that I am unable to report on the quality of the tool and I can't report to you if it is really a good competition to its Clifton predecessor. I am going to contact other catalogs who carry these planes and hopefully will be able to get a sample to do some planing tests and an overall inspection of its feel and quality. If I succeed in this I will let you know.