Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Treasures From the Far East

Hollows and Rounds...Made in China?

Being a user, collector and lover of hand planes I'm always keeping my eye out for rare or unusual styles. When recently surfing around the Japan Woodworker Online Catalogue I discovered some wooden bodied, Hollows and Rounds that are being manufactured in China. China? I thought...Why not, every thing else is made there so I decided to take a closer look. I've always wanted a nice old set of hollows and rounds; I've searched e-Bay, online and local antique tool dealers but always found that most you come across are over priced old planes that you'll need to spend a lot of time refurbishing to get them back to a user friendly state or are simply nice old tools for someone to put on a shelf and look at. I wanted something I could use and hopefully not have to spend a small fortune on.
After reading the description and studying the photos of these planes I decided to order a few select sizes. They're manufactured in China and arrived well-packaged in cardboard boxes with a borg logo on the side. (no Trek-ie affiliation as far as I could tell)

The description on the Japan Woodworker web-site said the planes have been manufactured in and around Hong Kong for the past 20 years by Mujingfang. They decided to begin producing these high quality Chinese Style Planes seeing that previously, it was a cottage industry with little or no quality control. Furniture makers in and around Hong Kong use hollowing and rounding planes to create moldings and for shaping pieces of furniture. The plane bodies are hand made from well aged Rosewood and are nicely contoured to fit the hand.
They are 6-1/4" long and width varies according to size. The blades are high carbon steel and although needed honing and sharpening on arrival, the extremely reasonable price made it worth my while. They are sold as a set of one hollowing and one rounding plane for each width. I went with the 1/4", 1/2", 1" and 1 1/4" widths. After using these planes for the past six months I'm very pleased with the quality and performance; as for the very-affordable prices all I can say is...Resistance is futile.


  1. Hi Tom,
    I came across with your blog while looking for information about these Asian H&R planes that now are also available at Lee Valley. How do they compare to the traditional H&R planes? these Asian planes are smaller but they also look different, I was wondering if you can also reproduce almost any moulding with these Asian planes. Woodworking is a hobby for me and I work almost exclusively with hand tools so I want to get some H&R for ocassional use, should I get these Asian planes or I should start to save money for those from Clark & William or Phill?

  2. Alejandro,
    thanks for the comment-
    if you onlly want them for occasional use and small runs of mouldings then these planes are very capable. The shape is also nice in hand- most H & R planes are the tall, thin rectangular variety so these will feel closer to a bench plane. They did need some work but for the price I'd say you can't go wrong. If on the other hand your doing alot of moulding work then you may want to spend the money and buy some from Phil or Clark & Williams.
    Hope that helps!