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Lee Valley premium planes?

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ali27

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A long while ago LV introduced premium block planes. Rob lee
wrote they would introduce an entire line of premium planes AFAIK.
So what happened? Anybody got one? Would be nice to see a picture
and some information on what makes them premium.

Ali
 

pedder

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ali27":1a4191ni said:
A long while ago LV introduced premium block planes. Rob lee
wrote they would introduce an entire line of premium planes AFAIK.
So what happened?
Lehman
 
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Rob Lee made a presentation at the Woodworking in America conference last October on how they develop the tools they make. I asked him at the end of the presentation about when there would be more premium planes. It turned out that the last picture he showed as part of his presentation was of some prototype premium planes. Of course the picture flashed on and off the screen rather quickly the first time he showed it, but he was quite kind to put it back up for a longer look when I asked my question. There were several planes one of which looked like a smoother sized plane. I can't remember any details of any of the other planes in the picture, sorry!

He had brought three or four of his design/engineering staff to the show with him including one he pointed out as eager to release more premium planes - I think that young man must have had something to do with the design of some of those planes.

I wouldn't want to put words into Rob Lee's mouth but I thought his answer to my question was basically that they already had a lot of products in the pipe line including those chisels made of the new steel everyone is waiting to learn more about. He did explain that all this development work is internally financed by the Lee Valley company and the manufacturing costs for the premium tools has to be absorbed along with buying all that other exotic steel for the new chisels and plane blades. I got the impression it is similar to us who have a tool buying budget and can't have all the goodies at once (only for them it is on a much larger scale).

Perhaps Rob Lee will comment on this thread and explain it much better than I have. I apologize if I have misquoted Mr. Lee - the presentation was over six months ago now. (And I know I was very lucky to attend Woodworking in America!)

Rick in Oakville (Canada)
 

Rob Lee

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Hi -

Rick has a pretty good memory....!

We've been very busy working on a number of longterm projects - the chisels being one of them. The others...well.... not even Alf knows, so I can't really say here. It will be a busy fall... that's for sure!

While we've designed a number of premium planes - we have still to commit to tooling. Since we're a private company, and pretty much self-financing, we can only invest in capital at a certain rate. Most hard core woodworking tools have a long capital recovery time... so the more we make - the fewer we can make (sounds odd, when you read it...) and the longer we have to wait before we can start again. The (not so) recent economic wobblies around the globe have us focussed on many more less capital intensive products ...

Then too - manufacturing is lot more difficult and time consuming then the average person realises. Looking at the chisel project alone (as the costing happens to be up on my screen right now!) - we've spent 632 hours on the bench chisels design alone, and another 923 on steel selection... that's in addition to any pre-prodcution work, tooling, or material (it's all custom run). Such a simple thing, and so much expense.... mind you, we'll sell them (hopefully) for the foreseeable future, and much of the knowledge is transferable to other projects.

All this to say that we haven't forgotten - just managing our resources, paying the rent, and keeping people employed....while we wait for the right moment...

Cheers -

Rob
 
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