Melbourne Tool Company Block Plane Review
Melbourne Tool Company Block Plane Review
A new brand, “Melbourne Tool Company”, has introduced a new looking low angle block plane.
It has a HSS (M2) blade, and comes decently flat with really just a final hone before its ready to go, but not all the surfaces were up to scratch.
I purchased one to take a look at, from Timbecon, as its one of their home brands.
00:00 – Block Plane Introduction
01:29 – Unboxing
03:49 – Bed Milling
05:29 – Baseline
06:18 – Sharpening
06:57 – Results
08:06 – Conclusion
09:32 – Spicey Take
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That is the least spiciest spicy take I’ve heard, I was expecting a lot more from you Paul 😆 I’m thinking of buying it, I don’t have a block plane other than the pressed metal one I bought from Bunnings ten years ago for $20. My main driver (as you likely know lol) is price, I don’t really care about milling marks if they don’t affect the end result and are hidden 99% of the time. The blade and body quality sound good, so you might have tipped me to a yes. One question, why did you buy it if you already have the Luban block? ie, why get another from the same price/quality bracket?
The discussion on where it’s made had me remembering Burberry. British high fashion line featuring coats and bags. Up there with Louis Vuitton and Prada. They were all British made until a decade ago but they kept the “Made in” labels in their products when the public knew they had shut down the last British factory a year earlier. “Burberry London“…? Kinda? Not really.
If this was made in Melbourne, it would cost around $500
Thanks for the review, Paul. I’ve been curious about MTC’s products ever since Timbecon announced them. Overall quality seems to be on a par with the Luban and, slimmer and more svelte body aside, I do wonder whether MTC’s offerings have come out of the same factory. Not a criticism, by the way – I really like the Lubans I have. The painted frog is… weird, and I’d prefer to see clean metal, but that shouldn’t have any noticeable impact on the quality of cut. While it isn’t ever going to be a Veritas or Lie Nielsen, at the price point, I reckon this little unit would be pretty good.
Thanks for the review. I must say I really like the Lucan products I have bought and it would take a lot to make me change at the price point.
Speaking of products that trade on the idea of being made in one area but are actually manufactured in China, I recently procured some Bridge City Tool Works tools. Notably the HP 9v2 and the HP-8. Designed in Portland Oregon, made in China. In this case the machining and finishing were all exceptional, you would not be able to tell from the workmanship and finishing where they were made. Let me know if you are interested in borrowing/reviewing them.
Interesting review mate, banking all that info for when the time comes for tools like these.
If it’s called the Melbourne Tool Company, it should be made in Melbourne.
Naming peculiarities aside, these seem to be good mid level planes. As I’m in the market for both a LAJ and a block plane, and the pair fit in my budget. I’ll be buying them. Thanks for the in-depth review. Solidified how I feel about them.
I bought a low angle jack plane from timbecon about 1 1/2 years ago, they had a couple that looked very similar to the Luban. Asking about it they had them as pre-production trails, to see if they could get the quality they wanted for a bulk order.
Later on listened to the shop stool podcast I heard Alexsandra Pontonio who said she was doing some design work with Timbecon for a new lot of planes. Episode 76 if anyone is wondering. I guess that turned out to be these!
The plane I bought has similar characteristics to this one, notably the relatively rough looking mill finish, and the (in my opinion) horrible grey colour.
I took it all apart and had to do a little filing and clean up work, then spray painted it black
Good plane for the price
After I had finished shooting and editing the video, I reached to MTC to ask about the painted frogs. Apparently that wasn’t how previous prototypes were supposed to be, and that’s just what arrived from the factory.
The milling on the bed is "on the extreme", though I’ve seen a couple of other people online with pretty similar milled surfaces. Interestingly though, the tool path pattern was different.
I stand by comments that the milling probably doesn’t matter, and the plane is good, but not great.
My company has had dealings with Chinese manufacturers and they tend to build to a price, the absolute minimum. They can and do build some top quality gear but it costs. It took a few goes to learn how to talk to them. For instance, you don’t ask "can build this for ten dollars" because they will answer ‘yes’ then do so. When you respond that it’s crap they will say "what do you expect for ten dollars, if you want something decent, it will cost you twenty." One of the biggest gripes I have is that they use the shortest possible screws. These are ok when the item is new but as it beds and or wears, thoses screws don’t hold.
Thanks for doing this review.
I can’t help but think that this plane looks uncomfortable to use. It looks like it would dig into the base of the palm when using one handed?
Since picking up a second-hand LN 102 a couple of years ago my larger block plane has stayed in the draw.
I tried reaching out to Melbourne Tool Company but the emails on their website kept getting bounced back.
I think Timbecon should be a lot clearer as to how they’re associated with them and where it’s all made.
Great review, man, the balance is great.
Same as Deverell I got a pre-production low angle Jack from Timbecon. Great plane but the mouth adjustment is woeful and at times the screw in the front knob separates from the brass adjuster. As you note the blade is pretty much indestructible.
The name could confuse some, but I don’t think it’s misleading. Some Australian plane makers might think otherwise.
But I reckon for people starting out it’s a great plane for a good price that doesn’t need a lot of work to make shavings.
Curious to know why you’re replacing a rabbeting block plane with a standard one. I have a Stanley block plane (took days to get flat and smoot etc) but want a rabbeting block plane.
Thank you for that Paul. I’d gotten excited that hand tools were being made in Australia and now I am quite disappointed that it’s just a name and another product made somewhere else.
That blade was better out of the box, before you tried to sharpen it. I’m not a fan of M2 HSS blades for planes and what I saw here backs that up. You spent a lot of time making that blade worse and I don’t see where you went wrong. I don’t think you did, because that’s what happens with that steel. I don’t need a block plane, but if I did, it’s not going to be this one.
Thanks for a top review, I enjoyed watching it and agree with everything you said. I have a bit of a weakness for block planes and like you I bought one of the "Melbourne" block planes. I have a couple of observations on the plane that you did not mention. Firstly on the positive side is the accessibility of the lever cap tensioning wheel. Far easier to use than the wheels on Luban planes that are almost concealed under the lever cap.
On the negative side the geometry of the plane has some issues for me. The leading edge of the cap iron that rests on top of the blade is poorly linished with a very coarse belt and is not flat but has a gentle curve across its width. Yet the visible but unimportant surface on the top leading edge is nicely milled..
If you look at a Lie Nielsen plane the maximum mouth opening you are ever going to use has the throat plate flush with the plane nose, yet the Melbourne plane has a huge throat opening when flush and when closed down to a position where you would use the plane the front of the throat plate is well back from the front of the plane leaving a "fang" on each side of the plate that would be very easy to snag if not careful.
The other and main point for me is the one handed use of the plane is very awkward as the finger grips are set well back where they are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and design wise fits in with the shape of the side but almost force you to use a two handed grip when using the plane. I have very large hands and find my forefinger falling short of the front knob/rest when I try to use it one handed. The fix might be like the old style Veritas block plane where the have multiple finger grip positions. For the price I would lean towards the Luban planes. All the best.
As a still plane-less woodworker I’ve been eyeing off the Groz from Team Blue (due to my relationship with said retailer). At half the price I’m guessing they are not as user friendly as these. Worth doubling the investment to MTC or Luban? Im guessing a lot of the extra value is in the blade quality?
I think as a rating you could say it’s a ‘meh+’