This is what I meant. You can get junky tools anywhere by most any brand today. There are just too many people that get on here and say everything a HF sells is junk. This couldn't be further from the truth. Every company has specific items that is junk and without first hand experience with the HF plane you just don't know. I have bought some items from HF that were junk but the majority of tools were as good as anybody elses. Lets just be fair. I have bought selected Bosch, Delta, Porter Cable, Stanley and other brands that were every bit as bad as Harbor Freight bad items. It would be wrong though just because I bought one lemon say everything the company sells it bad.
If I misinterpreted your statement Steve, I do apologize. It just seemed to strike me wrong. Maybe I just need to finish my second cup of coffee. I find my self getting somewhat grumpy in my old age.
You are correct, almost any brand can have some issues. Harbor Freight, Kobalt from Lowes, Buck from Home depot, etc. They can be made to work, sometimes. Some will argue all of the time. I have heard several occasion of Lie Nielsen planes that had to go back.
I hate Stanley Handyman planes. I have had some that took an enormous amount of work. I believe these were the worst planes Stanley ever made.
There are a lot of folks who buy the HF plane and turn them into scrubs. For that type of task I'm sure they are fine.
I do have some Harbor Freight tools that have served me well, so I wouldn't trash HF for the sake of trashing Harbor Freight.
I don't believe tuning a plane is all that complicated. There are countless resources to turn to, and most give a fairly consistent message on the tasks needed. A lot of vintage planes work as is. Remember back then, woodworkers only bought them to use them, so they had to work. Obviously that's not always the case, but I've tuned hundreds, and most can be completed in a couple of hours or less.
Sharpening on the other hand is a different story. Sharpening is like a religion, mostly driven by (my opinion coming up) those trying to sell expensive sharpening equipment. Sharpening doesn't have to be complicated. Polish the back to get a consistent straight line, and sharpen the angle. The degree is a lot less important than most believe, and yes, it takes a little practice.
I think the most important thing to remember is this is a hobby for most, so its important to have fun. If turning your hand black from working the metal isn't your thing, you're not going to like fettling planes. I personally buy the citric soap by the tub. I love this crap!!