Wednesday, 14 December 2011

1000 Page Views

1000 Page views - A nice little milestone for my little blog. Someone must be reading it!

Hopefully people are finding my 'wood working journey' vaguely interesting maybe even benefiting from my mistakes . So this post is a quick thank you to those few people who regularly drop by the blog and offer me advice, and take the time to comment.

On that note, I would like to ask 'you all' - and yes I have read the forums.

Has anyone who has paid 'big money' and purchased a Lie Nielsen plane had 'buyers remorse' and in hindsight wished they had gone the (much cheaper) refurbed Stanley route?

The reason I ask is I am considering purchasing a LN no#5 with two blades (heavily and slightly cambered) to act as my 'go to' plane for smoothing, roughing, shooting end grain and flattening. I like the idea of being able to reduce the mouth without having to remove the blade each time as they are based on the Stanley Bedrock design. They are however - super expensive!

Later and as funds allow I'd also like a LN no#7 and these two planes (no#5 & no#7) would cover almost all my needs.

I do already own new (read - poor quality) Stanley no#4 and no#6, which I might sell.

So what are your thoughts or criticisms on the above ideas?


upriver said...

Simon- I love your blog and encourage you to stick with it.

As for LN tools: I have purchased several, but only one bench plane., a #3. I have not regretted any of them, they are truly excellent. However, I use vintage #5 and #7 stanleys (with Hock irons) and they are also excellent.

I believe if you have the money, you will never look back on an LN purchase. If you do not have the money though, a little patience and a vintage stanley will go a long way.

I spent the money on the smoother because I figured that was the one where tolerance is most crucial. I use the #5 with a heavily cambered iron, and so a mouth that doesn't close very tightly is not a big deal.

In short, I don't think you can go wrong. If you get the LN #5 you will not regret it. If you do enough searching and find a decent Stanley, you will not regret that. If anything, its time vs money. Do you have the time to find a truly good #5? Time to tune it up a bit? Or do you need to get working right away?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your big One "O", uh oh, oh... ha, ha.

I don't own any full sized LN planes, but I do have a hand full of their block planes, specialty planes, saws, and trinkets. Never come close to regretting the money they cost.

I own both the Veritas Low Angle Jack and LA Jointer. They both work flawlessly, so it may sound a little weird that I kind'a regret buying them. The reason is that in most of the work I do, I find them extremely redundant. I pretty much only use the Jointer for two things.
Flattening my bench, but at only 5 feet long I could get away using the jack.
Edge jointing longer stock, but I don't do much big stuff and find it unwieldy on the shorter stuff. So it spends most of it's time on the shelf.

The Jack plane is as they say, "the jack of all trades, master of none". What that really means is that it "can" do just about anything, buuuuuuttttt.... not necessarily very well or not very conveniently. Each different job requires a different set up, and while it may seem easy to switch from one set up to another, it's not like it will just click from one setting to the next. It's enough of a buzz kill to have to stop to sharpen. Switching settings sucks in my books.

I know that there are superior woodworkers than me that like jack planes for smoothing, but I can't stand them. The thing is that your wood has to be perfectly flat for the blade to engage the wood properly, because the high spots lift the mouth(and blade) away from the wood. What do you risk happening when the front of the mouth is not in firm contact with the wood, and the blade is cutting? Tear out. You also will need to lower all the high spots before you can smooth the low spots. This will add unnecessarily to your smoothing work, and also could risk having to plane the wood thinner than you had planned. I know that Chris writes that smoothers are "nice to have", but I think I see it in the same light as how toilet paper is nice to have, but old news papers can get the job done...

The bedrock system is without a doubt easier to adjust than the bailey, but remember because it adjusts on a sloped bed,every time you change the mouth opening you have to adjust the depth of cut. I find that for smoothing at least, once I find the sweet spot for the mouth opening, I'll do anything to avoid moving the frog. For me this feature is like buying a car because you like the cup holders. But don't get me wrong. I like me a good cup holder!

In one of Chris's DVD's he said that if you can only get one premium plane, get a premium Jointer, if I recall, he also said that you don't need to spend much on a Jack plane because it's mostly for rough work. Tom Lie-Nielsen has said that if you can only get one plane get a Jack. Others say get a smoother, because it's the last thing that dresses the wood.

I don't think I'm really giving much of an answer, so on that note I'll finish with this...

I have a #3, and a #4 type 11Stanley's for smoothing. I am very lucky that they both work like superstars. I just picked up a type 10 #5 with high hopes. Then discovered that one of the frog screws is wrong. Until I find a replacement screw, the plane is worthless. Ahh well.

Simon (Boo). said...

Wow - thanks guys - lots of info.
You both have a no#3, which surprises me, I never realised they were so useful.

I defo dont have any interest at this time in Bevel Up planes, so that makes things a lot easier.

I never realised the depth of cut changed with frog movement so thats something to consider. If Im changing the mouth Id probably also be changing the blade ie. To or From a Cambered blade, so depth of cut would also be probably changing regardless?

I do understand that the longer length will effect the ability to smooth well and take longer.

At the moment I am using mostly pre planned timber and not building large pieces so I figure the no#5 will suite for most purposes including jointing.

But - I do plan on soon buying a 'job lot' of timber to cut costs and this would mean I would be doing a lot more stock prep. Hence a no#7 later on. This decision wont be soooo painful as the money saved on wood should (help) pay for the plane.

I could spend time and search out a good Stanley on ebay and then fettle them, but Im sure I would end up with a few crap ones to sell on. Im already pi**ed off about buying new no#4 & no6 Stanleys that are poor quality.

To be honest, I think I have been spoilt by my other LN tools such as my saws as they are such a joy to use. I guess I crave that same feeling with each tool I reach for.

However, I seem to have an internal conflict going on as the cost of one new LN #5 would buy all the Stanleys Id ever need (with lots of messing around and hassle)... I do have the money but I also have the time!

Now I see why they call it the 'slippery slope of Hand Tools' - Im addicted to Lie Nielsen!

Thanks again guys.

upriver said...

I like using a dedicated smoother. Its a very different feeling plane than the jack. I chose #3 because I am a smaller person, with smaller hands. Most use a #4. I've tried them both, its a small difference. I have tried using a straight iron in my #5, and it does a passable job. But I agree that switching out irons is more trouble than it sounds like, especially if you want to adjust the frog for ideal smoothing. Its possible... but certainly preferable to just grab a different tool for what is indeed a very different task. So far, those main 3 have treated me very well to go from very rough timber to completely finished surfaces. I thought I needed a low-angle plane to deal with some extra curly maple I have, but Chris Schwarz turned me onto a technique: just use the smoother across the board (traversing) a little earlier in the process than normal, and then smooth as normal. Worked like a charm and saved me $250!

I would still lean towards seeking a good vintage #5, get a Hock blade (he will grind the 10" radius if you want) and save your money for a premium jointer and/or smoother.

Anonymous said...


Forgive me for being so adamant, but I feel that smoothing pre milled material with a jack is my biggest concern.

Smoothing is a very pure task. The goal is to take a piece of wood you have completed dimensioning, and ONLY remove just enough to remove the mill marks. Literally one or two passes. Well unless you need to clean up tear out, but then also you want to plane in a localized area, and not affect the overall dimensions. That is where a #3 shines over a #4, and a #4 over the #5.

I'm not trying to talk you out of the Jack, it's an awesome plane. I think what I'm trying to say is that you will be buying a smoother down the way.

Hold off on the Jointer as long as you can, but you will be buying one of them one day as well. Ha, ha...

Simon (Boo). said...

I guess its one of those inevetability things... I was reading the Anarchist Toolchest (again) last night and CS also prefers a no#3. Hmmn...

While I use pre-milled timber most of the time (at the moment) a lot of it is far from straight let alone square! So my no#6 gets a fair bit of use.

I do have a no#4 - and its temperamental but can be convinced to give a fine shaving. I ve never experienced any other planes than my own.

I guess i was hoping that as the no#5 fits between both of those, the LN quality would allow it to perform better than the Stanleys and give me a jack plane as well.

I am hoping the Sales will help me decide after Christmas. Maybe think about a hock blade for my no#4?

Once again guys thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

When you put it that way, you have a really good point. Modern Stanleys are horrible. Your question has been haunting me since you posted it, and has had me replaying the past few years of my own. It could be at this point in your journey, one really good plane will out shine your others to the point that they seem obsolete. The Jack really is not a bad option, it's just that it seems to be marketed as a legitimate One Plane to replace every other plane.

If you view it as the stop gap that it is, and also plan your future purchases in a manor that it still has a use later, it could be a win, win.

My goal is to one day, never use my LAJ for anything other than shooting.

Another option is to get a good smoother, convert your stanley #4 into a scrub plane (heavy camber and the mouth wide open), and use the #6 as your jointer.

It's a difficult decision. I hope I haven't made it worse...

I do want to encourage you to invest in some kind of quality plane. LN, Veritas, let's not forget Clifton. Any one of them will kick the crap out of your stanleys. That I can promise you.