Well, I wound up taking advantage of the Woodcraft "bag sale"
today. Whatever you could fit into one of their paper bags (excluding
power tools) was 15% off. Coupled with that and a $25 gift certificate
from my brother for my birthday last year, and my out of pocket cost for a
spanky new Lie Neilson #102 low angle block plane was a cool $55.33
Got it home and just happened to have some glue-ups from this
morning that needed cleaning up. Used the Stanley 103 to shave off the
glue boogers, then adjusted and attempted to level the seams with the LN.
Sweet! Wispy-thin shavings (so wispy in spots that they actually
duplicated the corrugations left from a planer pass on a thin section of
the stock). Zero tearout, and zero chatter -- that thick blade makes a
huge difference. Just for grins, I took a shot at doing end-grain with it
-- can't say I got glass-smooth results, but the results I did get were
impressive with no tear-out and only minimal chatter (I think my technique
needs some work here) The only ding I found is that the screw depth adjust
is slick, but has quite a bit of backlash that must be taken out when
changing from "down" to "up" adjustments. The heft and just plain
beautiful workmanship on this plane make me a happy camper. :-)
Couple this with the coffin smoother that Mr. Knight has recently
shipped (and for which I am awaiting with breathless anticipation) and I
may actually be on my way to being able to come close to the sandpaper-less
finishing for which I have been striving.