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Thread: Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    GTA (Greater Toronto Area)
    Blog Entries

    Default Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

    Just came across these handplanes, was wondering what others know or thought about them.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    NOW... Comox Valley BC

    Default Re: Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

    There was one listed for sale on one of the WW forums a few months back. I did a search at the time and recall the comments were generally that it's a "Handyman" type. Maybe suitable for trimming a stuck closet door or similar but not a serious contender in the fine woodworking arena. No personal experience though.

    Jim B

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Real Name
    Mark Rose

    Default Re: Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

    I remeber BB sold them a number of years ago (aprox 20???) with disposible type blade clamped by two larger supporting irons top and bottom. I think the blade would have been unique to the plane however.
    I would put it in the job site type tool. The mouth opening was not adjustable and the bottom was a rolled piece in a u shape to form the sides. Then bright coloured plastic formed the infill. Kind of cool in a weird way.
    Cheers, Mark
    Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut, that held its ground.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

    Default Re: Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

    I'd say that Mark has described it pretty well. They are actually well made, and work well, but the disposable blades would be anathema in a hand-tool shop. If you are allergic to sharpening and want something for the odd small task then these might be for you, but the cost of the disposable blades would become horrendous with constant use.
    They certainly don't look traditional, but they have a funky appeal.
    Mike in Orangeville, ON


  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

    Mark and Mike's description is accurate and I have to confess that I bought one - decades ago at Busy Bee on a 'final sale' price of $17 - as illustrated here:

    mine is labelled "220 hobby" and uses the same blades they are still selling; the
    one they are selling now says adjustable mouth which mine does not have....

    the mechanism for locking in the two edged disposable blade is sturdy enough but there is
    no practical way to adjust for shaving thickness because the two circular holes on the blades register on studs on a non-adjustable plate...... the shaving taken on the plane I have is "extremely coarse" and thicker than even what my conventional scrub plane is set up for, with the force required to move the plane being too excessive to get a smooth motion of the plane thru the wood........

    flunky, yes but probably the most unusable plane I've bought despite the marketing spin of words like "Swiss-made precision".

    btw, two or three years ago some fellow in the U.S. came up with a couple of
    planes using similar small disposeable blades and people like Christopher Schwartz reviewed the efforts and I think the comments were along the lines of "interesting" .....but these most recent efforts have obviously not gained any traction....I suspect that the amount of effort put into securely locking in such a tiny blade is disportionate to the relatively simple, conventional means used to lock in plane blades with much greater mass and there is little effort or resources left to go into other issues such as adjustability, sharpening ease, etc.

    good luck


  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Avondale, PA

    Default Re: Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

    Regarding michaely's post on the 220 Hobby, his is a light-duty version no longer offered in North America, which is absolutely no more than a convenience item for DYI applications.

    However, the core RALI's all use a laminated steel sole, which provides for much greater heft and directional inertia, and is promoted as assuring a permanently flat bed to an even higher degree than cast iron construction. While pricier, these models, whose latest versions are named 105 EVO and 220 EVO, offer an adjustable backplate and other features not found on the Hobby versions.

    An interesting treatise on these planes can also be found at

    Overall, my personal experience is that RALI's are certainly not the only planes to have, but they can be very useful and do offer some unique advantages, and at a reasonable price (including the blades - keep in mind that each blade has two usable edges).

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  9. #7

    Default Re: Anyone familiar with Swiss-Made RALI Hand Planes

    Actually I think the Rali plane has arguably the best mechanical design of any plane, and certainly far better than the bailey style planes. Execution is another mater.

    I have both the horn style plane with the folded base, and the one with the laminated base. I also bought the rebate plane. Lee Valley sold the fancier versions, and BB the cheaper one. Some of the larger US catalog companies also stock them.

    What makes the Rali so great is the quick cycling speed, and the way the blade depth can be set to exactly the same point by feel. Other advantages are no messing around with squaring up the blade, it goes in perfectly every time. No tools are required to change a blade, and the mechanism does not block the escapement, yet the retention is perfect.

    The craziest thing about them is that the replaceable blades are dull. This is nuts for a swiss company whose products have been in distribution all over the place for decades, whose product is innovative and precision made in some case, unless, contrary to belief, the plane is not actually targeted at gomers who can`t sharpen. The reality is that the blades sharpen well, they have a little space on each side so you can get a lot of sharpenings out of them. An there is a jig to sharpen them, so in fact, rather than being a crap plane for hackers who can`t sharpen, it is a good plane for people who can. You keep a bunch of the blades sharp, and you can keep the plane running indefinitely with zero downtime. In addition to the blades that are like injector blades in size, there is also a resharpenable blade for a resharpenable only plane, I think this is the one that looks Stanley like and is slanted to the anglo market.

    As far as the mouth is concerned, it is perfectly consistent in size with planes that do real work, in cultures where hand tools are still taught, and power tools are not used to do all the grunt work. Which is to say it isn`t a Japanese finishing plane taking a 3/10000" shaving. But it could be. It would just take a plane in this design made to a Hotley quality, at least as far as the blueprinting is concerned.

    Mine stays at the cottage, where it is always ready to take a cut and move a project along. In addition, I gave one to my dad since while his dad was a joiner and he was a woodworking stud by 60s standards, he never learned to sharpen. But as I say, they will do a lot more than just make up for a hackers weaknesses.

    I think the main limitation they have marketing wise is that over here you are either a tool snob, or you run routers and table saws. There aren't a ton of people who just want a plane that works well out of the box, and don't care how funny it looks. I have a friend who is building a large wooden catamaran to retire on. This is the perfect kind of plane for that, you could carry enough pre-sharpened blades that you wouldn't need stones, and there are chisels with disposable blades, and saws. It would save a lot of weight and messing around. I would also be great in some schools or workshops where theft might be less, and blades could be provided sufficient to the task, without needing workers with the serious skills to maintain their own tools.

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