Because woodworking and the tools with which to do it has
been around for quite a while, the common belief is that
when it comes to hand tools, the tried and true designs
are the best. You can improve the materials and the
fit and finish of the design, but the design stays the
same. Hock plane irons and chippers, along with Lie-
Nielsen planes are prime examples of refinements to
classic designs. Steve Knight's woodies are a synthesis
of japanese and euro wooden plane designs - the adjust-
able throat being an innovation.
Veritas on the other hand seems to start with an almost
blank piece of paper and a good deal of knowledge about
what a specific tool is intended to do, how it does it
and how it's used to do it - theory and practice. Their
new shoulder plane (medium shoulder plane to be exact)
is a great example.
Ever tried to find a comfortable way to grip a Stanley,
Clifton or Lie-Nielsen shoulder plane? Veritas has solved
that problem - 3 ways:
- The heel is large and has nice rounded edges so it fits
the palm of your hand nicely.
- They added a swiveling "knob" that you can adjust to fit
comportably in the webbing between thumb and the hand-
accomodating lefties in thr process. The knob is smooth
where it should be smooth and knurled where you need to
grip it to lock its position.
- And then they added a finger hole through the sides of
the plane, between the "cap iron?" and the iron itself.
The hole is even beveled so there's no sharp edges - a
nice extra touch. You pick up the tool to use it and
the grip is intuitive,comfortable and it works - without
thought or effort.
They also addressed another shortcoming of the "classic"
design - iron alignment. With four, not just two, set
screws, the iron stays aligned during throat opening
adjustment. If it feels a little dull you won't
hesitate to remove it and touch up the edge because
there's no fiddling and fussing when you replace it.
Corners that need to be sharp and square are sharp
and square. Edges that are going to come in contact
with your hand while using the tool are all nicely
They've gone after bench planes, spoke shaves, scaper
holders and sharpening guides, getting very good to
great results using innovative approaches on how to
do it. (ok the sharpening guide could use a little
refinement to square irons and bench chisels)
Veritas - "Innovation in Tools" - right on the box.
Kudos to Veritas.
Now if I could just learn exactly how to pronounce
it - vur-EYE-tass, VUR-i-tahs - sounds latin - truth?