Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Growing Fleet

While I have been away the fleet has grown considerably.  Thought I might show them off a bit and give you my take on them.  Most of these tools were bought for my class at Marc Adams a while back. I have had a month or so to use them.

Veritas Bevel Up Planes
First off the bevel up planes from Lee Valley.  Some of you may remember I already had the joiner plane.  I just added the jack and smooth planes.  So what did I choose these planes?
  • Ease of use.  These are easy planes for a beginner to set up.  There are no chip breakers to fuss with.
  • Flexibility.  I can convert any one of these planes to a high angle plane in just a couple minutes by simply resharpening the iron.  So if your planing that Birdseye maple and need a nice high angle plane to reduce tear problem and nothing else to buy.  Also the irons in these planes are interchangeable.  So I can use my smoother iron in my jack plane if need be.  This has come in handy a couple times.  I have put my smoother iron (typically set on a higher angle) in my joiner when the wood wasn't cooperating and was leaving deep tear out.
  • Cost.  Because I had several tools to buy I couldn't afford the Lie Nielsen models.  Having used both the Lie Nielsen and Veritas versions of the bevel up plane I would say you get much more bang for your buck with the Veritas.
I have been very pleased with these planes.  The A2 irons take and hold a edge.  I can pull shaving so thin that I don't even call them shavings, I call them fluff.  The fit and finish was superb.  On the down side there are some things I don't like also.  The Norris style blade adjuster on these planes can be a pain.  The pivot points for the adjuster are so close together that the slightest movement will move the iron side to side dramatically.  I have learn to overcome this demon but it does take some getting used to.  You give up the ability to just sliding your finger down and turing the blade depth knob in between cuts.  You must be careful when you turn the blade adjustment knob not to move the blade side to side. I don't normally adjust the blade that much so it hasn't been a huge deal for me, more of an inconvenience.  My only other complaint is that the smoother and joiner (especially the joiner) doesn't have machined sides so that you can use them on your shooting board.  The jack planes does have machined sides and is fairly renowned as a great shooting board plane.  It would have been nice to have this capability with the other planes.  I'm not sure if this was done to save money or to reduce the amount of unpainted steel you have to keep rust free.  Never the less, this is something that I wish Robin Lee would take a look at.

Overall, I really like the planes and would have no reservations recommending them to someone.

Veritas Small Plow Plane, Veritas Moving Rabbit Plane, Veritas Large Router Plane
This is a mixed bag of specialty planes by Veritas.  We'll discuss them individually.
  • Small Plow Plane.  I don't have a lot to say about this plane.  The product is has a great fit and finish to it.  I got a set of different width blades that seem to work great.  The fence has always locked perfectly square for me.  There honestly aren't a lot of new planes out there to compare it to.  I'm not sure why Lie Nielsen isn't already making a plow.
  • Moving Skewed Rabbit (Fillister) Plane.  This plane takes a bit of practice to get the hang of.  We used this plane in our class and I heard several people curse it's name, including me.  Its not because it's a bad plane.  Most folks brought new planes with them and they had very little experience, if any, using the plane.  This plane can be awkward to set up.  The blade has to be flush with the wall of the plane or your rabbit will just get wider and wider and the plane will be hard to push.  I come up with a "jig" to help me keep this aligned while I tighten everything up.  If you look at the photo above you will see a silver metal disk on top of the plane.  Its a rare earth magnet.  By placing the rare earth magnet on the wall of the plane it will pull and hold the iron in position.
The magnet holds the iron in alignment with the wall of the
plane so you can adjust blade depth and tighten everything up.

  • I store the magnet on top of the plane when not in use.  Works pretty nicely.  The problem i had with the plane was that my knicker was out of adjustment.  Chris Schwarz spotted this instantly and corrected it for me.  Turns out someone didn't read the directions.  Even after you get the plane adjusted correctly it takes some time to get a technique that works for your.  Its very easy no let the plane tip and mess up your rabbit.  Chis showed me that he removes the knob from his so he can more easily use the plane body to guide the plane.  The handle seems to have to high of a center of gravity and makes the plane easier to tip.  Don't let me give you the ideal that I don't like the plane.  The plane works but there is a larger learning curve than other planes.  When I get a messed up rabbit, I am normally the problem.  Perhaps I'll do a write up just on this plane and how to use it.
  • Large Router Plane.  This plane is much more straight forward.  It just works.  I chose this plane over the Lie Nielsen because of blade selection.  This plane has a wider selection of blades including the spear point blade which I don't think is available from Lie Nielsen.  This is another product that I feel you get more bang for your buck versus the Lie Nielsen.  I really must by this planes little brother the small router plane.  The biggest problem i have with it is that keep trying to use it in small places where it won't fit.  

Czech Edge Birdcage Awl and Marking Knife
I also got a couple of layout tools from Czech Edge, the birdcage awl and a making knife.  I have enjoyed the tools.  They have a nice fit and finish and have performed as advertised.  One thing that shocked me was the size of the birdcage awl.  For some reason I was expecting something smaller.  It resembles a really nice prison shank.  It does a great job starting holes for drill bits or making locations for nails and screws.  I used the marking knife my class for laying out dovetails and it did a great job.  The blade is nice and thin to get into those tight pins.  The only suggestion I would make is that they need shape the handle more so your fingers have more to grip.  I found my fingers slipping down the shaft a bit.  Overall great tools that I would recommend to others.

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