Help! Which Plane to Start Smoothing/Finishing!

[ Can't believe I'm actually thinking about a hand plane instead of a power planer... ]
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 ($180'ish USD).
Thank you!
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wrote:

We don't do much hand smoothing these days, even the dedicated neanders.
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 scraper.
So I'd suggest a #5 as a general purpose plane.
--
Smert' spamionam

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Andy Dingley wrote:

Who's *we*, kemosabe? :-)

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.)
Chuck Vance
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Whew! Prof Dingley's comment threw me for a loop there! Thought for a second he was trying to sell me a Timesaver Wide Belt Whatachamacallit... :)

That's the advice I'ma looking for! Thank you!
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<SNIP>

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).
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You're welcome.

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 finer grits.
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.)
Chuck Vance
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Thank you!
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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 wedding dress.
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wrote:

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 problematic.)
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).
Chuck Vance
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On 4 May 2004 06:05:49 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@txstate.edu (Conan The Librarian) wrote:

eBay #4s? Common as lying lawyers. Buy a dozen, and turn the one rough one into a scrub plane.
--
Smert' spamionam

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(Conan The Librarian)

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.
Chuck Vance Just say (tmPL) I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. And there's nothing wrong with that. :-)
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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.
Alan
http://www.knight-toolworks.com
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On 3 May 2004 20:47:03 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net (Alan W) wrote:

Hmmm. "First plane for a newbie" and we're arguing over an eBay #4 or one of Steve's.
I can't help thinking of the chapter in Toshio Odate....
-- If I could do haiku, I'd do haiku, OK?
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Actually, the OP's request went like this:

So it wasn't really a "first plane for a newbie", but a smoothing plane chosen from among the Veritas line.

What chapter is that? I've got his book on Japanese tools, but it's been a while since I read it.
Chuck Vance
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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"... :)
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wrote:

not easier or harder, just different.
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snipped-for-privacy@igetenoughspamalreadythanks.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 irrelevant.
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.
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wrote:

I say get the LV low angle smoother. It is the first plane that I try (and quite often the only one needed for smoothing).
Alan Bierbaum
web site: http://www.calanb.com
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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 try.
And if all else fails, I get my #112 or card scrapers out.
Chuck Vance Just say (tmPL) And you can always buy a second iron with a higher angle for your LV plane.
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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.
Chuck Vance
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