preliminary review: small, inexpensive, "Hong Kong Style" plane

My newest toy is a "Hong Kong Style" plane (as named by Lee Valley, though I got mine that looks identical on eBay). I didn't know how much to expect, as it was <$20 shipped, but I had seen a review somewhere online (sorry I don't remember where) that mentioned this plane did very well on figured wood. The one I got is the same size as the larger of the 2 LV versions, item #07P12.20.
(For reference, the planes I use most often are a Knight razee jack, a low-angle LN block, and a LV med shoulder plane, and I also own an old #4 w/ Veritas blade, a Knight pocket plane, and an old Craftsman block plane.)
So after this little plane arrived, I looked it over - the body of the plane was nicely polished, and the blade looked great, but the through- handle and wedge were a little rough, though functional. The sole had been finish sanded with something fairly coarse, as there were visible scratches on the wood and on the brass wear plate. So I lapped a little on some 400, then 600 grit sandpaper, and that smoothed it out pretty nicely. That's all I did before trying it out. The blade fit nicely in the body - tiny mouth opening (haven't measured with a feeler, but the opening would be about as small as I can get it on my LN LABP).
I found the blade and wedge somewhat difficult to adjust at first - I'm used to the much larger blade and wedge on my Knight jack plane. Also, the small size and mass of this new plane made it more difficult to adjust with my normal plastic-head plane hammer. There just wasn't much surface area to tap on, or much mass to absorb the tap.
Anyway, once I got the blade adjusted, I tried it on some fairly normal white oak and some very curly maple. The different shape of the plane, and the pull style, meant it took a few minutes before I could plane without chatter - just needed to figure out where to apply pressure at the beginning and end of the pull stroke to plane evenly, and how to hold the plane in one hand, with my fingers around the through-handle. As I started to figure that out, though, it planed beautifully! Even the curly maple presented no problems, and NO TEAROUT. Wow! And that's without even honing the blade (I was impatient...). I expect I'll keep this plane within easy reach for smoothing small spots of weird grain, and possibly for light chamfering.
Overall, I'm very impressed with this little plane. I'm not going to give up any of my existing "primary" planes, but my satisfaction per dollar spent is probably higher than any of my other planes. Highly recommended for figured woods, when you want to take off a little more than you would with a scraper.
Just my thoughts, and I'm not affiliated with anyone mentioned above, Andy
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Thanks for the review. It's the little things that are so handy and work so well that often get overlooked - not worth mentioning. But it's the little things that can make a task easier or better.
charlie b
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