Speaking of Lee Valley: Review of large shoulder plane

Howdy,
Check out the newest addition to their line of planes: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.asp?pageP273&categoryQ&abspage=1&ccurrency=2&SID I was fortunate enough to get a chance to test this plane and here are some of my observations.
First impression: It is massive; just the sort of heft that lends itself to really hugging the work.
The heft also worried me a bit, as it took a bit of time to get the hang of gripping the plane. I like the wooden knobs on it versus brass; great idea to add one at the toe. The tilting rear knob is extremely handy and comfortable to use. Also, there are angled, tapped holes on either side near the front so that the front knob can be set at an upward angle in use. Nice touch, that.
I played around a bit with how the finger-hole can best come into play. Found that it works nicely when holding the plane upright with the middle finger in the hole. I also played around a bit using my thumb. One negative: The sharp edge on the inside of the hole could be a bit painful for extended use. I suggested they might want to bevel the inside like the outside is, but understand that could be cost-prohibitive.
The sliding toe-piece adjustment is great. Simple and very precise. Combined with the side set-screws and the Norris-style adjuster, it was very easy to get an extremely light cut with a very small mouth opening, and do so repeatedly. (I still think the side-screws may be the best enhancement LV/Veritas came up with. For someone who likes to hone his irons often, it takes any doubt out of my mind that I can get things set up in a split-second just like they were before I removed the iron.)
I'm wondering if the clamping mechanism could be made with a slightly larger screw. It's not necessarily a problem as it is, but it might be a bit more comfortable in use. (But I expect that could cause problems by extending past the sides.)
OK, now my overall impressions of it in use. I didn't have any tenons to trim, so I just used it on endgrain. Without any honing, and only a bit of adjustment, it was taking perfect endgrain shavings in oak and figured maple. I also tried it on pine to see if it could handle the soft stuff without terrible breakout at the end of the cut. It was great.
The mass was very handy, and the combination of two knobs plus the fingerhole really does seem to give me some decent alternatives for gripping the plane as it's used in various positions. I am not experienced with large shoulder planes; the only thing I have to compare it to is the L-N large plane, which I have played around with for a total of 30 minutes or so. But I must say, the LV plane is much easier to handle. With the L-N plane I couldn't figure out where to put my hands to get a secure grip, while with this one it's a matter of choosing the best alternative grip. It was actually pretty easy to control once I experimented with different grips a bit.
The iron is nice and beefy, and came well-sharpened (though I'll probably hone it a bit more before using it on any projects). The fit and finish were quite good, especially for a pre-production plane.
Priced at $169, this is definitely an outstanding buy. Those who have been considering the high-end L-N shoulder plane would be well-advised to look closely at the Veritas plane first.
Chuck Vance (no affiliation, etc.)
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Chuck:
Thanks for the review. Like their earlier, smaller, shoulder plane, the new one appears to reflect LV's innovative approach to things. They don't add Froo-Froo type whistles and bells but rather little things that make a tool work better, make it easier to set up and to use. The fingerhole is an example of one of their "Of course! Why didn't someone do this before!" innovations as is adjustable angles for knobs.
Good gripping positions seem to be the shortcoming of the Stanley, Clifton and LN shoulder planes. I understand the constraints of the tool needing to be use on both sides and the bottom. but the LV "small" shoulder plane got around that one with the swivel knob and an O-ring to act as a friction device to hold it in position while you lock it down there.
With the refinements, improvements - it's surprising to see that the $170US price tag is over $50 less than the LN version. More for less - what a concept!
Some questions
How wide is the iron? Where the sides to bottom really really square? Was the bottom really, really flat? What's it weigh - give or take an ounce
thanks again
charlie b
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(snip)

Hi Charlie -
1 1/4" Square Flat 3 pounds 12 ounces
Cheers -
Rob
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charlie b wrote:

Yeah, the improvements they make to existing plane models would seem to be the result of having actual tool-users design the planes, rather than just some engineer/marketing guy. (E.g., Bridge City.)
They also actively solicit input from the tool-using public while their products are in the pre-production stage. (And they take into account the suggestions given.)

Frankly, I don't know how they do it. I'm just glad that they've chosen to aggressively pursue that intermediate market niche for handtools.

1-1/4"

Yep.

Yep again.

I think it weighs in at 3.75 lbs.

My pleasure, charlie. I'm glad it was of some use to you.
Just to emphasize once again: I have no stake in Lee Valley/Veritas other than the fact that I hope they keep making innovative tools that are reasonably-priced.
Chuck Vance
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On Tue, 07 Sep 2004 07:48:36 -0500, Conan the Librarian

Once again, Rob firmly attaches himself to my wallet. <G>
I'm neither a Normite or a Neander, so I find shoulder planes to be the most useful planes I have. This one looks like it'll be great. I can't wait to try it out.
Barry
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