[ Can't believe I'm actually thinking about a hand plane instead of a power
The only plane I own is a lil' Stanley low angle block plane. But, even with
that one, it was obvious to me the advantage of that over my PC 333 ROS when
I had to take some resaw blade marks out of some Jatoba.
So now I'm thinking I'd like to invest in a nice Smoothing Plane for
finishing purposes. But I'm not sure whether to start with the Veritas #4,
#4 1/2 or Low Angle Smooth.
If stock size matters, most of my projects are small: I'd not be planning
large table tops for example. If stock matters, I'm a newbie and still
enjoy playing with a wide variety of woods. If experience matters, I'm a
*real* newbie. If task matters, I'm thinking about using it just as a final
finishing - as I mentioned above, instead of progressing through the Grits
(60-220), I'd like to try a plane.
Oh - money does matter, so Veritas is probably the upper end of my budget
We don't do much hand smoothing these days, even the dedicated
As a general bench plane, I use my #5 more than my #4 and for
smoothing I'm more likely to use a #112 scraper than a #4. Only where
I'm smoothing wood straight off the saw would I use a #4 (or similar).
If it has been mechanically smoothed, then I'd go straight to the
So I'd suggest a #5 as a general purpose plane.
And I'd suggest if he wants a smoother, then we recommend a smoother
for him. :-) I think he'd be fine with the Veritas. Personally, I'd
opt for the low-angle, but that's just me. (It's so easy to set up that
it might be a good choice for a newbie, IMHO.)
If you opt for the low-angle then I suggest you might al;so consider
the optional high-angle balde. Low angle planes tend not to work so
well on 'wild grain' where higher cutiing angle of optional blade will
work better(read the tech note on Lee Valley site).
Good suggestion. I know that some folks report problems with the
low-angle planes on wild grain, but I haven't really noticed it. I
feel that the combination of solid bedding, precise depth adjustment
and adjustable mouth work together to give you a smoother that works
on almost any wood out there (as long as you keep it ultra-sharp).
Of course it could also be because I long ago sharpened my
low-angle planes with a higher angle than they come with from the
factory. I did it by accident when the iron for my L-N #164 slipped
in the sharpening jig and I didn't notice it until it had already
started to change the angle of the iron. When I realized my mistake,
I just decided to "make lemonade", so I took it through all of the
When I was done I was surpised as it seemed to work even better
than before. :-) Due to a pre-production testing opportunity, I have
a couple of low-angle smoothers now, and I keep one sharpened close to
the factory angle while the other is sharpened to a higher angle. I
reach for them almost interchangeably and simply use the one that
seems to work better in that particular situation.
For someone without that luxury, having two irons would be an
excellent alternative. With the LV plane, swapping irons out and
getting the plane adjusted is a matter of a few seconds. (Due to its
adjustment/clamping mechanism, the L-N would take a couple of minutes
to swap and get it adjusted properly.)
On Mon, 03 May 2004 13:20:02 -0500, Conan the Librarian
But how much smoothing do we really do with our smoothers ?
Anyway, he said money was tight - so it's time for some sharpening kit
and a trip to eBay. A #4, a #5, a #80 and blow the change on a
Well, I do it on every project I make. :-) And if I need a
smoother, a jack isn't going to cut it.
IMHO, when you are looking to buy a smoother, you don't really want
to get "any old Stanley". It is a dedicated tool (with one exception
-- see below) and if you go for a #4, you'll likely want to see it in
person before buying. At the very least, you'd want to buy it from
someone who knows their stuff (Leach or Tom Bruce comes to mind) and
will back up what they sell you. Even then, to get the best possible
performance, you'd probably want to upgrade to a Hock or other
aftermarket iron and you'd have to do quite a bit of tweaking to get
optimal performance. (And for a newbie, this could still be
Or he could simply do as I suggested in the first place and buy the
LV low-angle smoother (with an extra iron as another poster noted).
With that he would have one plane that can be set up to work extremely
well as a smoother, and can still be set up in a couple of seconds for
rougher work (as well as endgrain work).
Let's see ... a dozen #4s at $30 a piece = $120. A Hock iron to
get one into primo condition as a smoother and you're at $165. For
$165 you could get a LV low-angle smoother.
IMHO, if a newbie wants to learn how to turn a sow's ear into a
silk purse, then an *b*y plane might be the way to go. If he just
wants something that will perform like a dream with little more than
honing the iron, then a LV plane is the way to go.
Just say (tmPL) I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
And there's nothing wrong with that. :-)
I would also suggest a Steve Knight smoother. It runs rings around my
old Stanly No 4, it took me about 40 minuts to figure out how to
adjust it and 20 of that was my own stupidity.
The surface it leaves is amazing. I've since ordered a scrub plane
and a second blade for the 50 degree smoother so I can put a 10 degree
back bevel on it for the narly purpleheart I work in.
Yessir... Yank the leash if I'm off in the weeds but my ?logic? was along
the lines of:
- still way more Normite than Neander
- fan of Lee Valley
- think I can afford $175ish USD for a plane (kinda rules out LN)
- prefer (for no good reason) the Stanley-esque ?style? over one of Steve's
wooden planes (thinking Steve's might be harder for me to adjust)
- had just resawn some Jatoba and the ROS was taking forever. The scraper
was effective but too small, IMHO. The $45USD Stanley LA block plane was
showing great promise
Thus I got myself kind'a hooked on the idea of finishing larger stock w/ a
plane. I saw the LV scraper plane, but thought the Low Angle might have a
trick or two more (e.g. shooting miters).
Almost to the point of thinking I've over analyzed (analysed) this and it's
time to whip out the Mastercard and *invest* in my first plane. Ya' know -
"p**p or get off the pot"... :)
email@example.com wrote in message
Steve's planes _are_ much harder to adjust.
It's easy to adjust a modern Stanley block plane - just try to
remember which way up the iron goes. They're a hunk-o-junk and no
amount of careful adjustment is going to fix that. If the thing cuts,
and it doesn't lock solid with a 1/4" divot when you use it, then
you're somewhere into the region of "as good as it gets" and you may
as well stop worrying.
Older Stanleys (even typical eBay clunkers, fresh out the bubble wrap)
are thankfully not quite this bad.
Steve's planes are in another league though. They're precision
instruments and capable of really fine work. To use them at anything
like their potential you're going to have to care much more about the
accuracy of adjustment than is even _possible_ with a modern
Borg-farmed 60 1/2. This is just hard - you're talking about a
precision that's hard to see, let alone set.
There's also the century-old question of woodie wedge vs. screw. Now
screws are certainly quicker for big shifts, and something like a
Norris vs. a Bailey adjuster means that they're accurate too (i.e.
without backlash). But for a smoothing plane this is much less
critical, because you're just setting it right the once and then
leaving well alone. There are also the traditions of the Japanese
"minimalist" toolbox vs. the Western "gadget freak". Yet the Japanese
way is to have _many_ planes to hand, all adjusted slightly
differently, whilst the Western approach (apart from us sorry bunch of
toolaholics) is just one or two planes of majorly different lengths
and re-adjusting each one as needed.
So IMHO, speed of setting is a valid downside to the woodie, but
As to precision and accuracy though, this is important. An inaccurate
woodie plane is an accursed thing - how many of us have old (probably
ex-school) beech woodies with tired and battered wedges that just
don't stay set ? Fortunately Steve builds them better than that -
precision is my problem, but once they're set, they stay how I left
them (although humidity control helps)
Precise setting of a woodie is no black art either. Get the right
hammer, and learn where to tap it. You can't do this right with your
framing hammer - find something small, maybe 4oz or 8oz tops, and
think about using a brass one. Then learn how to _adjust_ the iron by
tapping the body (Toshio Odate describes it, I'm not going to try
without pictures). If you strike the right four spots, you can adjust
depth up and down, you can open the wedge or you can close the wedge.
There's no need to loosen the wedge before adjusting the iron (you
can't achieve precision that way). Neither do you need to strike the
end grain of the wedge to tighten it.
That's the bottom line for me. I have several fine smoothers at my
disposal, but the one I keep under my bench is the LV low-angle. If
for some reason it is unable to handle a particular piece of wood
(rare), I have other planes with very high bedding angles that I will
And if all else fails, I get my #112 or card scrapers out.
Just say (tmPL) And you can always buy a second iron with a
higher angle for your LV plane.
I'd say you're on the right track. The low-angle does have the
potential to be more versatile than many other planes. The mere fact
of having an adustable mouth means that setting it for different uses
is a snap. You also have a very precise depth-adjustment mechanism so
you can really finetune the projection of the iron. And having a
bevel-up iron means you can easily change the cutting angle by
sharpening at a different angle or even buying an extra iron for it.
Nothing wrong with taking your time. Unless you can get them to
send you one on their new approval plan.
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