Form, function or price

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establiSHED member
3 Nov 2013
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In a forest in Wales
Okay, here goes. The usual question of what tool brand fits best I'm afraid.

I'm about to push the button on finally getting some decent planes. I'm looking to the following;

4.5 Smoothing plane
5.5 Jack plane
7 Jointer plane
Block plane
Trimming plane (often dubbed chisel)
Flat and curved spoke shaves

Now originally my conundrum was whether to get classic kit in the form of original Lie Nielsen or clones and I never really thought to entertain new designs. However I'm now in that classic position of "Veritas or Lie Nielsen". I've discounted the clones as I know I'll always question this purchase.

Veritas is a more modern design but Lie Nielsen is clearly the top of their game, i.e. I can't help feel that the Veritas kit looks more like it's function over form and the Lie Nielsen is firmly rooted in tradition. Don't get me wrong, I get the whole aspect of if it ain't broke, don't fix it but I'm now firmly on the fence here.

I would rather buy once and buy right so cost is not the over riding factor (although I'm not looking to spend for the sake of spending either).

Any users of either and / or both brands that can offer some advice. I appreciate that both are quality products but are there any gotchas in the comparison that people have come across.

All advice appreciated.
How about Clifton? Quangsheng, second hand Record/Stanley with replacement blades?

I have mostly Records some with thicker blades and a LN 60 1/2, home made spokeshave with a Hock blade or Preston Spokeshaves.

Lots of other options to consider.

Racers":tsj7udcg said:
How about Clifton? Quangsheng, second hand Record/Stanley with replacement blades?

I have mostly Records some with thicker blades and a LN 60 1/2, home made spokeshave with a Hock blade or Preston Spokeshaves.

Lots of other options to consider.


Hi Pete, thanks for jumping in. I did look at Quangsheng / Qiangsheng, Clifton, Stanley and Record (new and old). I really have boiled it down to LN or LV at the higher end. I appreciate Clifton is in that bracket but I can't help feel that LN has the edge between the two and they share similar design - that and I've seen some issues with the Cliftons over the years with Q&A.
Everyone will give you a different answer to this, and most likely will be evangelical in their conviction in telling you what to buy; just look at the twenty page thread on knockoff tools!

Eight or nine years ago, I replaced my entire professional workshop with LN and never regretted it. That said, I have sold a few LN's on since, either because I didn't use them or I found a few vintage tools that felt a bit better in use, just a personal thing.

But with all that said, I also have a Veritas Low Angle jointer which is very good so I suspect that you'll do well with either brand. I have no experience of Clifton, for the same reason you mentioned, and QS just don't do it for me, although I did put a QS blade in a WS 5 1/2 which was very good.
The cutters supplied with L-N are A2. You might love it, then again maybe not. To Lee Valley's credit I believe all the tools you mentioned can be ordered in O1 if you happen to prefer it.
LN LV Clifton Chinese it won't make much difference to your woodwork which ones you get. Might as well have one of each. Or buy just one for starters and see if you like it.
5 1/2 does almost everything.
Don't forget to buy some wood!
Prefer a No.4 smoother to the 4.5 but that's me.
I suggest:
A LN No.4
A Clifton 5.5
A Quangsheng 7 (if they do one).
A Veritas Apron Plane.

That should keep everyone happy! Oh and don't forget to include a wooden Plane. They have their advantages. The ECE horn handled Planes are good (the cheaper one with the wedge, not the expensive Primus rubbish).
Just to clarify, I'm not a newbie. I have mostly dealt with power tools / larger machinery and 'got by' with some hand tools. I'm now however moving into more hand built kit, hence the drive to LN or LV.

I don't have an issue with Chinese kit but it's really not on my radar at the moment. I very much believe in buying once and buying right and feel the Quangshengs will always make me question my purchase.
Why? I have one of their block Planes. It's jolly good, on a par with my Veritas apron Plane, which is also jolly good. It's as though you think that buying LN will give you superior performance. It won't. It just might make you feel more secure, which is more of a psychological thing.
BTW. I no longer use my Quangsheng Block Plane. Not because it's a bad Plane but because it's heavy. Prefer my lighter crappy Stanley 80's affair - which works well enough.
Might be worth a think about how you intend to use the planes. From your list, I suspect that the 4 1/2 will be dedicated to smoothing duties, and the 7 to try and jointer work, but if the 5 1/2 is intended for true jack or fore plane work - heavy stock removal with a wide-open mouth, well-cambered blade and fairly deep cut - then a 'premium' plane may be a bit OTT. If that's the case, vintage or lower-priced new will serve perfectly adequately, allowing a bit more on the budget for the planes where extra quality counts - accuracy in the try plane, and a really good blade an cap-iron combination together with solidity in the smoother. Whatever you do, your try plane will probably be the most expensive plane you'll ever buy (with the possible exception of a plough), but since the accuracy of a lot of work depends on it, it's worth committing a sizeable chunk of the budget to it.

With block planes, I've had a Lie-Nielsen low-angle jobby for years, and as you'd expect, it's a lovely plane. However, it has one flaw from my point of view, in that it's a bit too heavy for comfortable single-handed use. A lighter plane, such as a vintage Stanley or Record with a good blade, would not only be a lot cheaper, but would be more versatile and nimble, I think; of the new planes, if the LV block planes are a bit lighter, they may be the better overall option.

On spokeshaves, don't get too hung up on the expensive ones. The beauty of wooden shaves and vintage Stanley/Record is that they're quick to tune up, and buying cheap ones allows you to have a range of bevel-up and bevel-down types which is most useful at times; different woods in different shapes respond to different shaves. Going vintage isn't compulsory, but it's the cheapest way to have a range of three or four different ones to hand.
I have a bunch of cheap 'n cheerful planes and based on my experience I prefer the 4.5, 5.5 and 7 sizes. This has what has dictated my choices. Again, I'm not a newbie and know what I'm doing (to an extent). I have an opportunity to treat myself to some decent kit and decided to get some LN or LV planes is all.

I know the Quangsheng planes are decent kit, I'm not a tool snob but they aren't what I'm after. I'm not spending money for the sake of it, just making sure (as much as I can) that I buy the right thing in the first place. I also note the heavy aspect of some block planes, which is one of the reasons I'm looking at LV as well as they supply bolt on handles for them. I don't want any more old / vintage planes as I would rather be using them than fettling them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm listening to the advice and comments here, they are valued but my query is; given a choice between LN and LV, are there any reasons to sway in one particular direction?
All of the top-end planes (LN, LV, Clifton) perform equally well and are all well made, so it really comes down to personal preference and which ones feel better in use. I think you should visit a show where you could try out the planes and see which ones you prefer.

Cheers :wink:

I used to get all agitated about hand tools. But then I spent a year at a really great workshop; and seeing some of the finest craftsmen and women on the planet making sublime furniture that sells for tens of thousands of pounds, and doing it all with the simplest of tool kits, well that kind of knocked those concerns out of me.

Veritas or LN (or an old Record with a bit of work thrown in), whatever takes your fancy, if you've got the right stuff going on in your head then you can make astonishing pieces with any of them.

By the way, if you've got some basic machinery for the grunt work then 4.5, 5.5, and 7 is at least one bench plane too many! Keeping your workspace clear of superfluous tools is half the battle. So, working on the principle that you'll come to the same conclusion and sell at least one of the three planes, then get LN as they're easier to sell and depreciate less.
Going to a show is a good idea or why not try and join in one of the pass arounds going on at the minute.

Or plan C just buy one of your choice and see how you go before buying 3 or 5 of the same make.

Lots of experts out there to ask but personally I take all with a pinch of salt, since we are all so very different.

I'm 6'2" and love my heavy rider block plane and hated the LN 102 & 03 due to the small size.
Nice! If I was going to go for this I think I would try and find a show, retailer or UKWS member who is nearest you. Try them yourself. You can read pages of pros and cons, much of what someone prefers will be just that, personal preference. I think Axminster stock both? Anyway enjoy 'em.
If money is not an issue, go with Lie Nielsen. They work great and look fantastic. I find
the LV planes lacking beauty to put it nicely.

I would not chose WR/QS planes unless you have small hands. The handle of the QS planes
is too small, designed for a 3 fingergrip. I find it ridiculous. Otherwise the planes seem to quite
well made.

The Clifton are very beautiful and well made. Maybe choose the 4.5 Clifton and 5 1/2 LN and 7 LN.

I have a QS #6 that I simply cannot fault. I also have a few Stanley #5's which I prefer for general use, two 1930's and a 1960's. The best of the three is a mid-60's plastic handled version. It works perfectly.

If you want a good one out of the box spend big bucks. If you want an old one that works as well as an expensive one, buy several, be prepared to do a lot of tuning work, then you can sell on the ones that you don't like.
I would just go with which ever one you fancy the look of. If you don't fancy the Chinese one that begins with Q you are right not to get it. If you have the money and want to own nice new tools then buy some.

But here's the thing, I don't think you need them. I have never tried any of these expensive planes cause I have my old record no 5 1/2 no 4 and non adjustable block and they work a treat for me. The four was 15 quid the block was a pound and the 5 1/2 was free cause it was broken in the post and I got a refund and then welded and flattened the sole. Just used it to plane some wedge shaped bits of larch for a boardwalk I was making, it's good enough for me.

Sccaaaaach, that's the noise a sharp plane makes. :D
Thanks for all the advice here, it is appreciated. I'm a bit out in the sticks and no real convenient place for me to try before buy.

I do take on board the sentiment that I don't need a top end plane to achieve a particular end result. This is more about want than need if I'm honest. I want something I'm going to enjoy using and owning.

I'm pretty much decided on a Veritas block and trim plane and their spoke shaves, with the bench and jointers either being Lie Nielsen or the Veritas customisable planes.