Yeah Western planes are expensive (and rare) here. I usually buy them when I’m back in England. I have a vintage Stanley from eBay which works great, and some modern Chinese-made ones which are good too. In particular, QiangSheng gets great reviews and I have their 5 1/2 bench plane and really like it. I haven’t found a way to buy directly from them yet, but I bet it’s possible.
I don’t see much point buying a workbench. Make one! And mid-range Japanese chisels and saws are easily and cheaply available locally. The only other thing I spent significant money on was a good “Genno” chisel hammer.
workbench needs to not move when you are planing. Otherwise it’s a pain to do it. The challenge is finding a piece of wood 4 inches thick, approximately the size of a table, made out of a heavy wood like maple. The top alone costs 30,000NT. I plan on making a bench out of metal and have to bolted to the floor so it doesn’t move. Like heavy steel square tubings welded together.
My new one is about a sheet and a half of 3/4" birch plywood, cut into strips and then laminated the other way around to give me a 6cm thick top. And then just construction-grade pine for the frame. Looks like this (before installing the vises):
Birch plywood is costing about 3200 for a 4x8 sheet (before it was 2500, funny how fast stuff goes up in price). So to build the workbench you propose it will cost at least 10,000nt in materials alone. Pine planks are more expensive than they are worth. Honestly I could get the same amount of rock maple for the same price, and I rather use rock maple for workbench legs than pine.
Steel is cheap anywhere and I plan on getting a bunch of heavy 3" square tubings and TIG weld them together for a heavy and stable workbench base, and a 1/2" thick sheet of steel as the top. A piece of plywood would make it usable for woodworking. The challenge is probably moving the heavy steel plate.
Yeah, the plywood cost me 2600/sheet about six months ago. So ~4000 total for a sheet and a half. The 4x4 pine legs were from B&Q like two years ago, I bought a couple bits thinking I’d have a use for them and then never did until now. They were cheap, because it’s crap pine – lots of twist and cracking to deal with. The only good pine in there is the stretchers, which are offcuts from another project. I agree furniture-grade pine is weirdly expensive here, and these days I just buy ash instead for the same price.
Basically it was the japanese that came and raped the mountains and tortured the locals to do it for them. They were (are) horrible for doing this and cause a lotmof deforestation. But they were long term thinkers (unlike the chinese environmentally speaking) and so built half well thought out roads and replanted. A sife note, most logging takes place on old roads. We are allowed to clean/clear the road, but very rarely are new roads allowed to be made. The definition of a new road generally has to do with actual digging of virgin dirt. More or less. As camphor was a very major product for japanese, and until now, it was heavily harvested (mostly for oil) but also heavily replanted. The japanese have spread camphor around the world and the oil cost made other countries plant tons of it as well. Australia for example consideres it invasive… So ya, almost all camphor cut now is intentionally grown. Only exceptionally large trees would be targeted for illegal logging as the risk vs price is far from worth it. If anything, illegal excavation for selling to rich people and temples is the main source of wild illegal camphor harvest. Bull camphor is a whole different thing though, and if you are hearing this in the news about expensive, medicine, illegal etc connected to camphor, it will be this one not regular camphor.
Mahogany is not from Asia, it is from south america. So all mahogany here is intentionally planted or wild seeded from planted trees. Even to this day there are huge companies (like TaiTung, taiwan sugar) selling trees for planting. They sell them by girth and height. Very common. One of our farms is neighbored by about a hectare of mahogany trees, about 50 years old. Roadsides are planted with them, even private lands are planted qith them quite commonly. As the wood is excellent and higher priced, it was a common thing to plant on large plots not being used 30nplus years back. Teak as well but doesnt grow as fast so not a lot here…but available. I agree that it can be hard to know the real source when buying a chunk of wood. We can prove all.our sources but it is very costly to bid, clean the roads, get machines in and do the work, truck it down, saw it up and all the in betweens which is why we only do wholesale as its insane qhat goes into it. But sustainable is possible here. It would be nice to try and get a better domestic market going here but i am not ric. We normally need a 50% deposit and contract before even starting to bid on the land. When people back out, you go bankrupt as wood is all about logistics and timing and taiean has some insane mountain roads with even more insane weather.
An interesting aside. With government forestry and it is perhaps more a problem of people growing agricultural ceops on forestey land. Which is illegal. But it is way more profitable long term to grow food rather than wood so a lot of mountain plots are seen growing mangos and such. Which the government cuts down when they find out. They sub contract that work out as farmers have been known to murder the loggers. It is actually a small worry and a big point of getting the property lines right with logging here. The dudes in the mountains dont fuck around if you cut down their trees…rightfully so.
Taiwan luthiers. You talk about heavy tables and maple…you really should try out acacia. Its like a dark maple in that regard. Seriously, really friggen hard! Make a table with strips, glue and clamp. Back home we made all our benches and tables (tops) out of maple scraps. Probably nothing more than 5" thick. We normally made. 24" wide boards from scrap, planed flat then stuck 2 together and hand planed. A 8x4’ 5" thick maple table top is pretty hefty. I dont know the exact numbers but the local acacia is probably heavier. Can still bolt down.
If you are interested/serious shoot me a message we can talk in private. Have a lot of acacia already rough sawn for the floor market. So they arent long. But ready and already been sitting for some time (not green). Rough sawn. Can do customsaw milling too but only for large quantity (costs/logistics).
People can get places to do custom sawing and planing for small quantities. Lots of shops are willing, but its not often as cheap like in the west.
Word to the wise. Taiwanese are wierd about noise. Fireworks and temple stuff is fine. Machines not. a few years back we had to.close a small factory (30 years running, cutting wood) because the city grew up and an apartment complex was built. They complained about noise and it eventially all went to shit. And this is in the deep south. Taipei,i can only imagine how annoying they must get. So be careful. Now i make a point of not too early, not too late and not during nap time. Basically 9am to 1230pm and 2pm to 6pm. Other times are used for none sqwing work like moving, cleaning, trucking. These time constraints also raise costs for a lot of wood factories, hence their movin and/or closing down.