Moderators: Random Orbital Bob, nev, CHJ, Noel, Charley

 Topic locked
User avatar
By Alf
#17991
Hot on the heels of part four, it's part five! :shock: Never thought I’d get this far. Still with me? Right, off we go:

The Veritas Low Angle Smoother is Lee Valley’s contribution to the current fashion for low angle bench planes, just recently joined by its bigger brother the Low Angle Jack. At 10 ½” long, its ductile iron body is a tad bigger than the competition (c’mon, you know who I mean…) and has an adjustable mouth. A2, 1/8”thick steel blade, hardwood handles (bubinga again? If so, with the current trend for it amongst toolmakers, we must all be scaring an awful lot of bubinga trees…), grub screws and a “Norris” style adjuster complete the now familiar picture. The packaging was once again all over the place thanks to the previous reviewer (s‘cuse me while I get the out the waxen effigy and pins), but a sturdy cardboard box, packing paper to take up the gaps and rust inhibitor paper round the plane seem to be the order of the day. The instructions had also gone AWOL, but I was able to download them from the relevant page, and you can look at them too. Yet again they’re very comprehensive, and a model of how instructions with tools should be. My own low angle smoother from Maine is one of my most used planes, so I was eager to see how the L-V would fare against my already entrenched partiality. :wink:

Image
Head to head

The overall look fits in very well between the block and bench planes, which is pretty much where it is in plane type. It’s not actually too hideous to behold, by and large. But perhaps I’m merely becoming immune…? The milling, machining, grinding and general finish is as good as I‘ve come to expect. The blade bedding area seems to have had particular care taken over it, I thought.

Image
Left: Lie Nielsen. Right: Lee Valley Veritas

The lever cap is a little different, being more of a T-shape. It looks a little odd after all those East German swimmers on the bench planes, but the shape has more to do with ergonomics than looks - more of which later. Like the blocks, a circular depression has been machined on each side to assist grip; while shooting in this case. The handles are very similar to the bench planes; a lacquered finish, quite an upright, blocky rear handle, but a slightly lower front knob (still taller than the competition).

Image

I wasn’t totally enamoured of the brass ferrule-cum-washer at the base of the front knob; I realise it’s there to protect the base as you loosen and tighten the knob while adjusting the mouth, but it’s rather sloppy and just looks a bit untidy. Perhaps the base diameter of the front knob was a bit shy of the originally designed dimensions?

The dreaded straight edge and square were run over the sole and sides, and as before it was a case of squinting while holding the plane up to the light to see any gaps. Unusually the sole had a bit of a wave effect, rather than straightforward concave or convex, but as it was so infinitesimal anyway, what the heck. It would be nice to have had the dead-on accuracy of the sides to the sole that the shoulder plane exhibits, bearing in mind this plane is so obviously set up for shooting, but it’ll do.

One of the oft-heard complaints about that other plane is the fuss and fiddle involved in removing and replacing the blade. Principally getting the yoke plate the right distance from the edge every time you sharpen it. With an A2 iron it’s not something that’s done as much as it might be with a less long-lasting edge, but it is a poor feature. The Veritas is so easy as to be laughable. Loosen and remove the lever cap, lift the blade up from the adjuster pin and Bob’s your uncle. A plain, ordinary iron, yoke plate free. Giggling insanely at the ease of it, I took the blade to the stone. This is the first blade I’ve had from Veritas that had the potential to be a long-term sharpening job. The hollow in the back went all the way to the edge, rather than in a Japanese style. Rats. So I used the ruler trick and it took no time at all. David Charlesworth should get a knighthood or something for that alone.

Replacing the blade was child’s play, causing a fresh outbreak of hysterical laughter. I had my usual fiddle with the grub screws either side of the mouth, replaced the lever cap and set about getting it to take a thin shaving. As per the instructions, I opened the mouth up fully and then used the excellent adjuster to set the depth of cut and lateral adjustment. It’s a little tricky to do the former without upsetting the latter, ‘cos there isn’t much room between the end of the adjuster and the rear tote.

Image
Not much wiggle room in there to get at the adjuster. More on the ergonomics below

Having lateral adjustment at all is a bit of a luxury really, and a real boon if you have trouble sharpening your irons square. I then adjusted the mouth down to not much. Just as on the two larger block planes the mouth is simply adjusted by loosening the front knob, manually moving the mouth to where you want it and then tightening it all up again. Not sophisticated, but simple and surprisingly precise.

Image
The toe disassembled, seen from below

Then it came down to how it felt in the hand. As with the bench planes I found the rear handle particularly problematic, mainly due to the angle.

Image
Top: Veritas grip. Below: L-N grip. I'm not sure how helpful these are to see the difference, but for what it's worth. The L-V grip is also a little lower than the L-N.

I was also a little conscious of how close my fingers were to the end of the adjuster (see earlier picture); it felt a little cramped in there and there’s nowhere to put your forefinger to create a three finger grip which might have helped. My second opinion, having larger hands, found it much worse. His third finger rubbed against it, and after just a few minutes of use he had quite a sore area of skin. Of course after enough grindings of the iron the problem would go away, but we concluded the iron could probably lose a little off the top, and the adjuster rod be trimmed down ¼” or so, and the problem would never exist to start with. Shooting was much better. The sides do seem to be a little bigger in comparison than the other low angle smoother, and the depression for the thumb milled in the sides really works. The especially clever bit is the lever cap. It’s shape means you can curl your fingers round it and it’s really very comfortable. 10/10 for comfort while shooting at any rate.

I gave this one a go planing end grain, long grain and the face of a board in beech, ash, oak, cherry, etc etc, and excellent results were obtained.

Image

I did a direct plane-off comparison with the L-N and there was no difference between them at all. I was very impressed.

Image
Endgrain shaving

I then tried the shooting board, and was impressed all over again. The L-V is much easier to hold, and that makes for better control on the shooting board. It was a real pleasure to use on its side. What’s this? All my partiality for my own plane being blown away? Gulp.

Image

So what’s the verdict? You’re all agog to know, I can tell. I really, really, really like this plane. I didn’t expect to especially, but the blade’s sooooooooo easy to replace compared to the L-N, and the results are just as good, I can’t help myself. If only, oh if only, it had totes as comfortable as the L-N. :cry: Once again, trying before you buy is essential I think. If you can live with the handle, or you’ll only ever use it for shooting, you’re laughing.

Low Angle Smoother £128.00

<Edit> As of 1st October there's been a review of prices, viz:
Low Angle Smoother £123.38
Last edited by Alf on 21 Mar 2007, 13:19, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
By Chris Knight
#17994
She does it again! Another bullseye of a review. Re-defining the category is wot she's doing.
User avatar
By Midnight
#18000
Not being familiar with the 164, my first thought to the description of the blade replacement hassles with the L-N were.... surely they've copied the adjuster / lever cap from the 62??...
A quick looksee at the online instructions was educational; what a palaver...sheesh....
From experience with my #9, I'm familiar with the damage your hands can suffer with a less than perfect interface betwen hand and tool; the close proximity between knuckles and the adjuster knob would certainly cause me some problems; not exactly ideal for a tool designed to be in the hand for a while.
And yet, neither of the planes seen to have the perfect combination of ease of use and ergonomics; perhaps a better solution to the proximity between tote and adjuster would come from studying Karl Holtey's #98.

Alf.. if you keep this up, we're gonna have to get you an F1 spec racing cool cap to control that head swelling....

Another excellent review...
User avatar
By Chris Knight
#18012
Mike,

Fisrt Sauer, now Holtey - what are you up to?
User avatar
By Alf
#18021
Yeah, Mike, you're dropping more names than a loose leaf telephone directory. :P I tell you what, get me a Holtey and I'm quite willing to compare... :wink:

Cheers, Alf

Fearing an uber-gloat in Mike's future... :shock:
User avatar
By Midnight
#18022
what are you up to?


ummmmmmm..... a kick in the ass short o 6ft last I checked.. and no that's NOT an invitation... :wink:

I've simply been doing research.. studying what it is about infills that's sposed to make them so much better than conventional iron planes. It's been educational..

I tell you what, get me a Holtey and I'm quite willing to compare..
.
Alf.. get me the price of one and I'll lend you a table saw, band saw and a dozen LN's to review... I'll use the change to drop a new engine into my Landrover...
Still.. that 98's a lovely piece of engineering.... would be scared to death to make it earn its keep though....
User avatar
By Chris Knight
#18023
Mike forgot to mention that Karl is making a run of Number 98s at the end of this year and that they are only £2650 each - he didn't put their price up with the rest of his stable apparently. Mind you as an avid follower of this plane has noticed, he forgot to mention they cost £1650 when introduced.

The price is unfortunately accelerating faster than my income and so I have come, very reluctantly, to the conclusion that there is no Holtey in my future.

I would trade Cindy Crawford for a Holtey but as I don't have her either, I am in a spot of difficulty. Any assistance, greatly appreciated!
User avatar
By Philly
#18030
Alf,
Nice work again-that Andy King must be getting nervous...... :shock:
Pity you didn't have the Jack low angle to test-the blade is easy as a block plane to remove/replace on my L-N 62, no yoke plate thingy. Maybe next time....

Also, I was pleased to hear you got good results on woods like oak, beech, cherry and ASK. Where did you get hold of some of the last one? :lol:

regards,
A picky Philly :D
User avatar
By Midnight
#18034
Ask.... an Oak / Ash hybrid species.. found lurking in areas where the soil is rich in ferrous oxide... deepest darkest Cornwall...
;)

Edited.. cos the author's a numpty
User avatar
By Alf
#18089
Philly wrote:Also, I was pleased to hear you got good results on woods like oak, beech, cherry and ASK. Where did you get hold of some of the last one? :lol:

pipper. Missed that one; thanks Philly. After the 104th reading you start to miss the detail a bit. :oops:

Cheers, Alf
User avatar
By Philly
#18091
Alf,
I didn't like to bring it up, my spelling being atrociouesh.... :D
Nice work on the reviews though, good to see your honest opinions. The handles thing is important-after all, if your going to USE the tools they need to be comfortable. It's not as if we are co##ectors now, is it? :lol:
best regards,
Philly :D
User avatar
By gidon
#29201
Alf
Your reviews are getting a lot of reading at the minute as I try and decide on my Tools 2004 purchases! They really are excellent and a great help.
Anyhow, did you have any problems with the toe moving after tightening? I was reading a review by Chris Schwarz in Popular Woodworking and he had a problem with this. He said it was a problem acknowledged by Veritas and would be fixed in a later generation of the tool.
He also mentions the iron's sides aren't parallel so making it tricky to sharpen. You abviously had no probs?
Cheers
Gidon
User avatar
By Alf
#29203
Cripes, Gidon, this suddenly popping up gave me a start!

Toe moving after tightening; nope, don't recall any trouble to be honest. I'm guessing, from reading the review, that it may be the old "inadvertent loosening of the front knob" problem (I get that a lot with my Stanley block). In which case, I think I'm right in saying the low angle smoother is getting/has now got the stop doodah that its bigger brother the jack has, which would solve the problem. Rob could enlighten us on that.

Iron sides; I honed it freehand, so honing guides weren't an issue. To be fair using Veritas' own guide wouldn't be a problem anyway, and you could reasonably argue why should they accommodate a competitor's design...? :wink:

gidon wrote:as I try and decide on my Tools 2004 purchases!

You and me both. Decisions, decisions. :roll:

Cheers, Alf

If anyone else is interested, the review in question (or rather "Endurance test") is in PWW #142 August 2004, pg 29.
User avatar
By Rob Lee
#29204
Alf wrote:
(snip)

In which case, I think I'm right in saying the low angle smoother is getting/has now got the stop doodah that its bigger brother the jack has, which would solve the problem. Rob could enlighten us on that.



Hi -

Yes - I can confirm that the LA smooth now has an integral stop doodah....

Cheers -

Rob
User avatar
By Alf
#29205
Rob Lee wrote:
Alf wrote:
(snip)

In which case, I think I'm right in saying the low angle smoother is getting/has now got the stop doodah that its bigger brother the jack has, which would solve the problem. Rob could enlighten us on that.



Hi -

Yes - I can confirm that the LA smooth now has an integral stop doodah....

Cheers -

Rob

All right, all right. Before you go off and patent that :P , I meant the mouth adjustment screw/stop :roll: