HP-8X; The Inside Story…

Drivel Starved Nation!

Yours truly designed the HP-8 Mini Block Plane years ago because I was looking for a small plane that does what only small planes can do, and that is the ability to do delicate and precise work using only one hand. It was an instant hit. However, because this plane is also used in the Chopstick Master, it is by far, the best selling plane in the history of the company.

When Harvey Industries acquired Bridge City almost three years ago, Jack Xu and I had a mega-discussion as to what could go wrong with this transition. We discussed racism, political views, quality control, PROPER ENGLISH, patent infringement, dealer support, rip-offs, and lastly, how much wine needs to be consumed before all decisions are bad.

After all that wine, I shared that my biggest concern — the core of Bridge City Tool Works — was how to continue our innovation culture. From as far back as I can remember, the number one customer service question was, and always has been, “What’s next?” And to this day, it is still my concern if I want to take more bird pictures…

Several months ago, Jack shared with me the sales data for the aluminum body HP-8 and I was floored. (This was yet another reminder that I had no business running a business.) Regardless, I mentioned that I liked our older, heavier body versions made from either brass or stainless steel better. Jack asked me why, and I said “I like what I like.” They all cut fine assuming the iron is sharp, but I just liked the heft of the heavier planes.

Well, imagine my surprise when these three boxes showed up just before the Christmas;

My attention peaked when I saw three different colored stamped foil logos… I thought that looked cool and wondered why I never thought of doing something similar… I must have been stuck in my ways, or I couldn’t afford it… I hope it was the latter.

The contents of each box corresponded with the respective colored logo;

These were the new, stainless steel HP-8X planes in three different VDC (vapor deposition coating) coatings. And I had no idea they were coming. I like these kinds of surprises!

VDC is a great finish on stainless steel and is bonded at the molecular level so it offers incredible beauty and protection. The bottom of the plane however is raw stainless steel;

All have adjustable mouths, and all feature depth skids.

These are terrific little planes and it is a limited edition run. I like this aspect as well.

Whether these planes are for you or not, I can say they are impressive and I wish I had thought of doing this myself! Oh, guess which is the most popular color both here in the US and the rest of the planet?

-John

PS: Thanks to all who had kind words for my birdy pics. Here are some more and thanks for looking!

This Great Egret juvenile below was learning how to fly. Taken this past July. I like this image because it reminds me of a Rorschach Test I flunked… image taken at the Haggerman NWR north of Dallas, TX.

The other two images are of a Yellowstone raven that insisted upon posing for me. I was about 20 yards away. Most people perceive this to be a jet black bird, but it exhibits subtle colors in the right light…. These birds rank close to the very top of animal intelligence.


24 comments on this post:

  1. Talk about a great Christmas. Not just material things but things that are made because of you.
    As for my choice, black is perfect for every purpose and occasion! Congrats on a major life achievement.
    Joe

  2. Thank you for this — I’d been debating, but your comment on heft is compelling (and this way I can leave the depth skids set up for the one w/ my Chopstick Master and not have to fiddle with them each time I use it). Another order for one in black to match my PB-2. Will there be similar colour choices for the new iteration of the Doweling Jig? Any word on when it will be available? Need to save up.

    Have you ever considered accessories for this little plane? In particular a chamfering guide?

    Regretting not getting the recent Woodpeckers chamfering plane after reading about it on the Festool Owner’s Group….

  3. William,

    The doweling jig files were just sent, so 6-9 months from now is my best guess. The doweling jig is anodized, and the colors are specified as per my blog.

    I do believe there is a fence for the HP-8X, I’ll double check. This is a dual fence, guide and 45 deg. chamfer.

    John

  4. The planes are pretty, black will be my choice.

    Your image of the Egret is amazing, high key b&w?
    Raven’s glisten in sunlight but not to the extent shown in your photos. They could use singing lessons.
    Dale

  5. No just a learning amature, mostly landscape and some macro but warming up to birds. You may know of this photography forum, if not take a look. There is a wide range of expertise and types of photography interests. Your images will certainly hit the top of those who post and discuss bird photography.

    https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/b400456e2556

    Dale

  6. I would guess blue is the most popular.
    Stunning photos. I love Ravens – on Denali we had to bury any food caches at least 3 ft deep in the snow to avoid them getting carried away.

  7. I believe it’s the HP-9v2 which has the dual-purpose fence.

    I’ve got an idea for an attachment for the smaller plane for chamfering — if it works out, I’ll let you know.

  8. Mine (in black) just arrived, and it’s gorgeous and precious and I’ll have to try to take a photo worthy of it, and make work which is up to the same standards.

    The new boxes are great, and the plane sock is a nice touch — I will note that you should suggest to the packing folks that they not nestle the product box into a corner, instead they should strive to get it in the center surrounded by two L shaped twistings of Kraft paper — naturally, true to my luck the one ding on the edge of the outer box telegraphed into a matching dent on the inner box (please don’t send me a new box).

  9. William,

    Thanks for your constructive feedback and your patronage! Your boxing observation has been passed on to management.

    -John

  10. Thanks John for sharing the story behind the HP-8X and the stunning pictures of the birds… how the beauty of nature can be transferred into tools man made!

    Just out of curiosity, I was looking at the new PP-1 and got captivated at how the plane can cut a round groove of 1mm radius into the blanks. Does it uses a special iron in order to achieve that?

  11. Alex,

    Yes, it is a custom iron, works beautifully, and, it is a bevel up iron so it is super easy to sharpen, just hone the bevel.

    -John

  12. Just ordered mine, in sapphire. While I’m an absolutely terrible woodworker, I’m a great collector, with the hope that one of my grandkids will take up the collection upon my demise and actually create art which rivals the beauty of your tools.

  13. This plane rocks. I was picking up a JMP I purchased in JAN at the Mountclair shop and the folks unboxed a gold version for me to play with. Not only was it beautiful but wow did it feel great in the hand. Cut really well right out of the box. Fast forward to this week and I just picked up a blue one. It is destined to be my apron plane of choice. Hope that coating holds up, Then again use marks are OK. i intend to use this a lot. Just feels great in the hand. Thanks for making such a cool tool.

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