Anant Kamal.. better than Anant?


  • Anant Kamal.. better than Anant?

    I have seen several ask this question on various forums.. but few responses with the exception of the Kamal #10 rabbet. I don't think many others have been sold and probably because of the bad responses about the standard Anant.

    I can answer the question about the Kamal #7 jointer at this point. The Highland WW header says it is better machined and a step up from the standard Anant with a thicker iron. And.. the thicker iron resulted in a tighter fit and less gap in the throat opening. But.. not much more than that as to any significant detail.

    I was given a new #7 as a gift and told to exchange it if I didn't like it by my FIL and BIL who know little about hand planes. They had over-heard me mention I needed a #7 jointer and owed me a few markers.

    So... the sole was flatter than the Anant's I have had my hands on. The biggest discrepancy was about .003 and the sides had as much as .004 at the top. That good news and improvement but... the machines marks were deeper than the standard Anants I have en-countered so.....

    The Kamal has nicer wooden handles and a brass adjuster knob as opposed to the zinc on the standard A. The iron is thicker even though I cannot say at this point if it needs to be replaced with a Hock. Just how good the grade of steel is in the iron is questionable.

    But... the buck stops there as I see it!

    With the throat opening on this plane, it was so tight I was not able to take a medium shaving. I prefer to be able to take both fine and medium with a jointer. This was a problem to me as the fix is not as easy as an LV with an adjustable throat. But.. I can't afford the LV jointer.. so the challenge was faced in lieu of returning it.

    This plane had a relatively flat sole but... the machine marks were deep and I prefer polished. $15 worth of 80 grit adhesive sand-paper got it to the point of moving up the steps in grit to 1200. I did the same with the sides but could not get all the machine marks at the top out which I left. This took about 7 hours of push and pull sanding on a tempered glass plate. Another hour to go through the remaining grit. Whew...

    I had to square the inside of the rectangle that receives the fore-aft adjust bar. About 15 minutes. The Bailey style frog had to be filed to flat to take out a few high spots and machine marks to mate properly to the back of blade. The same with the rear throat on the sole to ensure a continuos bed. Another 45 minutes or so.

    Another 45 minutes to flatten and polish the iron back and the same with the bevel. Put it together to run some shavings as I suspected it would clog with medium shaving as the throat was that tight. You guessed it if you guessed I was correct. Another 45 to an hour to file about 3/64" off the face of the throat. The chip breaker and cap iron needed another 30 minutes to flatten.

    That was yesterday and today is today. Would I recommend it to someone in need of a cheap plane? NO.. Time invested would put the cost of the plane beyond an LV IMO. And I would not recommend it to anyone who doesn't understand the importance of how the frog.. throat.. chip-breaker.. cap iron works in conjunction.

    Will I keep the plane as my keeper? Yep.. as today it is as good as any other with the way it cuts. But... only after I basically re-surrected the plane from the "dead" with over 12 hours work. It was free and now it is useful as opposed to useless when I took it out of the box.

    Fine shavings... medium shavings are illustrated below.. after a lot of work. That's all I would have ask for in any plane. Sometimes you just have to weigh the value of the journey.

    Hope that helps anyone considering getting a Kamal that is on a budget or just beginning.
    Attached Files

    • dkerfoot
      dkerfoot commented
      Editing a comment
      Anant Kamal #5 Jack Plane

      I was actually planning on doing my own review of a #5 Anant Kamal I purchased, but Sarge beat me to it.

      The concept is perfect - A medium priced plane built to a higher standard than the "intro" planes out there, but at less than 1/4 the cost of the super premium planes. There is a huge gap - hand planes seem to cost either $30 or $300 - surely there should be a happy medium? Could the Anant Kamal be it?

      Well - my impressions are similar to Sarge's in many ways, but also different in some important respects.

      I also had problems with the mouth of the plane clogging. I found two issues: First of all, the top and bottom openings of the mouth were slightly convex - the middle of the opening was narrower than the sides. About 10 minutes with a file fixed that problem. The real issue though, is that it appears that the designer did not figure in the extra thickness of the cutter. When I dropped a standard Stanley cutter in, it worked perfectly. In order to work well with the much thicker blade, I found I had to back the chipbreaker off considerably - about 3/16th" from the cutter edge!

      This might be a real problem with a standard blade, but since the REAL purpose of a chipbreaker is to strengthen and stabilize the cutter it is much less critical when the cutter is twice as thick as normal. Some may insist that it is just wrong to have the chipbreaker more than 1/32" from the cutting edge. I will not argue with you, but I'll be happy to show you my shavings. It works great and there is no blade chatter, even on some fairly curly hard maple. I haven't got anything more exotic to test it on, but I am pretty confident that having the chipbreaker set back will have no discernible negative effect.

      On the downside, the steel used in the cutter seems to be a bit brittle. Hitting a knot tends to create very tiny chips in the cutter edge. It does have fairly deep grind marks and the steel is quite hard and fairly difficult to sharpen. More on my solution in a minute.

      My sole is remarkably flat. I will admit however, that I am in the camp that does not believe a plane needs to have a perfectly flat sole to take beautiful even shavings. I won't fight over it here, but suffice it to say I am perfectly satisfied with the flatness of this plane - it is flatter than any old time Stanley Bailey I have ever found. There is about 1 sheet of paper's worth of gap over the entire length (14") of the #5, which I understand to be about .003"

      Also, my sole and sides are remarkably smooth - quite different than Sarge's description. Not mirror bright, but no machine grind marks at all and very nice. It has tight circular swirl marks - similar to what you see from a ROS, but they are fine enough that I can not feel them with my fingertips.

      An oddity with mine is that the cutter is 1 7/8th inches wide - 1/8" narrower than the standard 2". Not a big deal, except the mouth is sized for a 2" wide cutter and it leaves an odd looking gap on one or both sides, depending on blade adjustment.

      The chipbreaker is very sturdy and well machined. No additional work was needed.

      The brass adjustment knob is a bit soft and the saddle tended to dig in and stick. A quick swipe with paraffin wax fixed this.

      The frog was flat and well machined. I did take a couple of swipes with a file, but I am not sure I accomplished anything. You probably know how that goes...

      One of the considerations I had in buying this plane was that it is designed to handle an extra thick cutter. Specifically, it uses the same size cutter as Lie-Nielsen. See where I am going with this?

      I paid $65 for the plane and spent an hour or two tuning it up. I then spent an extra $35 for a Lie-Nielsen cutter. It fits perfectly, arrived sharpened and lapped and ready to go. I decided to add a camber to the original cutter and use it for rough flattening.

      My biggest concern is the machine marks on Sarge's plane. That two products from the same company and the same "line" of product would be finished so very differently is a bit scary. I suggest you know exactly what the return policy is, before ordering one online.

      Though I had some disappointment when I first began working with the Anant Kamal #5, with the addition of the Lie-Nielsen cutter, I feel it is a very good value for $100 total. It is not the work of art that the $300 Lie-Nielsen Jack Plane is, but for 1/3 the price, it meets my definition of the Happy Medium.
      Last edited by dkerfoot; 06-05-2008, 12:48 PM.
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