Quantcast
  • We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Lie-Nielsen Skew Block Plane Review

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Status
Not open for further replies.

Alf

Established Member
Joined
22 Oct 2003
Messages
12,079
Reaction score
0
Location
Up the proverbial creek
As one of the earliest models of plane Thomas Lie-Nielsen put into production, you could hardly accuse this of being a cutting edge review, but I couldn’t find all the information I would have liked to about it before buying, so I thought I might as well give it The Treatment. To make it commensurate with my other reviews, this is based on my usual looking over and initial few hours of playing, so largely first impressions.



The majority of this plane is manganese bronze, with a stainless steel (I think?) side plate and front knob of Bubin-, whoops, sorry, Cherry. #-o It’s one hefty block plane, weighing in at nearly 2lbs without the bronze fence (2lbs 4oz with it) and 48mm/1 7/8” wide by 167mm/6 5/8” long. All the blurb gives the length as 6 7/8”, but I couldn’t get that at all - odd. :-s The blade is 38mm/1½” wide, 1/8” thick A2 steel; bedded at 12°. The angle of skew is 18°.


Compared to a L-N #60 ½ low angle block

Fit and finish is one of the big factors with choosing L-N tools for many people, and by and large this one ticks the right boxes. The lever cap is blindingly shiny for the most part, but there was a little muck left in an unmachined area and on a couple of the screw heads.



No big deal, but not quite what you hope for when you fork out the larger chunks of dosh. The machining of the sole, side and blade bedding is fine, while the side plate isn’t bad but I think polished (?) so not entirely flat. Its bottom edge is just shy of the sole (by about 0.5mm), but I doubt whether that’s enough to carry out a Cosmanesque rebate for dovetailing without removing the side plate. :-k The depth adjustment knob is quite a dull, steely grey; different from other L-Ns I have. Different metal? Different manufacturing process? I don’t know, but I don’t warm to it much. Looks a bit too industrial amongst all that bronze for my taste. Overall, it’s a brutal judgement, but I consider it one of the ugliest planes L-N makes. :-$



By the nature of the thing it’s lop-sided anyway, but with the side plate being steel as opposed to the rest being bronze, and also noticeably thinner than the bronze side, it just looks plain weird. Then there’s the knob which has all the alluring shape of a toilet pan… Nope, for all it’s shiny lever cap, it’s not a pretty plane. Just as well I’m not used to pretty planes then, isn’t it…? :wink:



The blade was, as to be expected, finely finished and needed minimal work on the back; polishing more than flattening. I put a honing bevel a couple of degrees higher than the 25° ground bevel provided using the Veritas jig and Derek’s handy advice on how to deal with the very same blade, and slotted the blade back in to the plane. You have to go very easy on the pressure you apply with the lever cap. Even with the side plate attached to support the “open” side, even quite minimal pressure slightly distorts the sole behind the mouth. It’s a natural hazard to be expected with this design of tool, especially with the low 12° bed, but I was starting to realise this had the potential to be rather a temperamental tool if you don‘t take care.



The adjustment wheel has only about ¼ of a turn of backlash and it works fine. However it felt a bit “gritty” in use. Not with actual grit, just rather like the feel of a blade back on a coarse stone. Strangely unpleasant, and my gut instinct is that dull finish on the knob is to blame. I hope it’ll smooth out with use. The blade also has a bit of a tendency to skew as you advance or retract it, which is a bit of a pain. As long as you’re aware of it you can compensate, but it’d be nicer if you didn’t have to.

I gave it a spin with the fence first, which meant removing the side plate. There are a couple of small screws to undo, and the pins on the plate just slide out. Easy peasy, once you’ve dug out the screwdriver… The original Stanley #140 this is based on never had a fence, and it’s a handy addition. The version I bought has no “nicker” blade to score cross grain (although one is available if you order direct, for an additional $25 charge) but a cutting gauge did an adequate job. I found it a little finicky to juggle the plane, fence and screwdriver for the fence screw with only two hands while I lined up the cut to match the line I’d gauged, so evidently I need to sort out another way to do it or wish I‘d got a nickered version for ever more! A knob rather than a screw would have made it easier, not least because all the screws on the plane are rather stiff to turn anyway. The fence is rock solid, and a nicely finished piece of kit. As it stands the narrowest rebate it can be used on is 3/8” wide, but there’s provision for a wooden sub fence (in the form of two screw holes), which would reduce that with no difficulty. The finish from the skew blade cross grain was, as you’d expect, excellent, and I can see myself reaching for this plane in cross grain situations time and again.



Moving on, I removed the fence and replaced the side plate. Seems you have to make sure you hold the plate firmly up against the side while you tighten the screws, or you can leave a gap. It also seems to be a bit flexible rather than a solid sort of “click” into place that you might expect. I was then left with a “normal” block plane - just skewed. I tried it on long grain, which was okay, but the low angle isn’t ideal of course. Then end grain held in the vice, which was also okay, but I wasn’t exactly blown away.



I think I’d sooner use an ordinary low angle block to be honest; this one‘s just a bit too large and unwieldy. I really must sort out the weight training regime… Searching around on-line for information on this plane before I took the plunge, I found someone extolling the virtues of it on a shooting board. It makes sense - skewed blade, heavy, could be good. So I gave it a spin, and despite having to use the plate side of the tool - the squareness of which I was doubtful about - it proved very effective and the result seemed to be dead on. The milled groove in the side was ideal for my thumb, and I was able to get a reasonable grip for my fingers. Not ideal for a long shooting session, or large stuff, but handy for the odd thing when the skew block is already out on the bench and my regular shooting choices aren’t.



To sum up, I can see this plane really earning its keep on cross grain jobs; which is great, ‘cos that’s what I bought it for. \:D/ For general block plane work I wouldn’t recommend it - too big, too heavy, too fussy in its set up for everyday use. In no way is it a multi-tasking plane that’ll solve half your toolbox requirements in one fell swoop, but very much a specialist tool for plane addicts, in my opinion. Now that makes it sound like I don’t like it, but that’s not the case at all. I think it’ll earn its place in the tool chest with no trouble; once it’s set up it does a brilliant job and is fairly comfortable to use. Of course I always tend to use two hands on a block plane anyway, so that helps. Do you need one? Need? Well no, not exactly “need” as in “essential”. Might there come a time when you “need” one in a more “a skew block would make a better job of this” way? Oh yes, I think that‘s quite possible. :whistle: You’ll know when, and of course the choice is easy - any colour you like as long as it‘s bronze. :lol:
 

bugbear

Established Member
Joined
16 Jul 2004
Messages
13,074
Reaction score
1
Location
North Suffolk
BTW, Alf, are you roping in a trusty assistant to get all those "hands-on" shots, or are you getting REALLY good with a tripod and the self-timer?

BugBear
 

MikeW

Established Member
Joined
15 Apr 2005
Messages
1,933
Reaction score
0
Location
Forest Grove, Oregon USA
Alf":95azzqtq said:
Ok, ok. Before I got off like I told someone I saw this new Alf review so I couldn't log off. Really, I couldn't...

...Snip…
Searching around on-line for information on this plane before I took the plunge, I found someone extolling the virtues of it on a shooting board. It makes sense - skewed blade, heavy, could be good...
Yep, I also use it for nearly all the shooting I do for boxes, picture frames and the like.

I don't use it much for what it's made for, cross-grain cutting per se. I use a different plane for that.

Now if someone would make a non-removable side version with an adjustable mouth. More solid. More useful for triming end grain...
 

Alf

Established Member
Joined
22 Oct 2003
Messages
12,079
Reaction score
0
Location
Up the proverbial creek
<tap, tap> BB, is that you in there? You been possessed by someone else? All these unaccustomed compliments'll only go to my head you know... :roll: :lol: My trusty tripod, self-timer and the ability to count to 10 are all I need. And knowing how to delete all the duff shots that don't come out right... :oops:

Cheers, Alf
 

llangatwgnedd

Established Member
Joined
17 Sep 2002
Messages
1,086
Reaction score
13
Location
Castell Nedd, De Cymru
Enjoyed the review as always, excellent lighting in the photos.

Do you know if if Veritas got plans to manufacture on of these types?
 

Shady

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2004
Messages
838
Reaction score
0
Just to add, I'm a long term owner, and Alf's hit it about right. Not an everyday plane, and a pig to consistently set up. (I've written elsewhere about my belief that the design is angled the wrong way for stability, although I accept that changing the skew would require positive pressure to hold the plane against stock).

That sad, it is uniquely useful for certain odd jobs - and if you love your planes, you gotta have one... It sits in the corner with my side rabbet planes. Both are finicky and sometimes annoying tools, but both do things that nothing else can... And it laughs at the devil's tears - aka rust... :roll:
 

Rob Lee

Established Member
Joined
7 Apr 2004
Messages
492
Reaction score
0
Location
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Sawdust Producer":b9nnxhl8 said:
Enjoyed the review as always, excellent lighting in the photos.

Do you know if if Veritas got plans to manufacture one of these types?
....of course..... but different... 8) :lol:
 

MikeW

Established Member
Joined
15 Apr 2005
Messages
1,933
Reaction score
0
Location
Forest Grove, Oregon USA
Rob Lee":2e0fy5q9 said:
Sawdust Producer":2e0fy5q9 said:
...Do you know if if Veritas got plans to manufacture one of these types?
....of course..... but different... 8) :lol:
Maybe a R/L hand pair? Maybe without a removable side? Oh, and maybe an adjustable mouth on it :)

I don't ask for much :roll:
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

Established Member
Joined
2 Mar 2005
Messages
2,760
Reaction score
119
Location
Perth, Australia
Excellent review again Alf!

I have never used the LN #140 (in fact only seen pics of one) but alongside your pics here, my Stanley version looks the poor relation. But is works extremely well for cross-grain work, as you have illustrated. I agree, this is not an "essential" plane and also not really one that supports the view of it being the Swiss Army Knife of the plane world. I reserve the #140 for trimming tenons and raising panels. Others might happily do this with a wide shoulder plane (although the #140 would do a much better job). I do not use it for general trimming, jobs that are better suited to a traditional block plane, since I find the slicing action of the skew blade more difficult to control in these circumstances. I had not thought to use it in my shooting board since it (the Stanley version at any rate) does not have the degree of heft I would have thought desireable. But now my curiosity is awakened and I will have to give it a try!

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

MikeW

Established Member
Joined
15 Apr 2005
Messages
1,933
Reaction score
0
Location
Forest Grove, Oregon USA
...I had not thought to use it in my shooting board since it (the Stanley version at any rate) does not have the degree of heft I would have thought desireable. But now my curiosity is awakened and I will have to give it a try!
Regards from Perth...Derek
Hi Derek,

It is helpful, though not necessary, to have both handed versions--so that should be an excuse to buy the LN L-handed version as Stanley never made it (if I remember correctly).

The reason is that a better cut is made with the blade running top to bottom. The Stanley version then works best only on the left side of a shooting board. With a skew plane on its side where the leading tip is below the wood and running up and back, there is a tendency to both lift the wood and create "fuzzies" on the top edge of the piece being shot.

If this is as clear as mud, I blame it on the meds :? .
 

ydb1md

Established Member
Joined
6 Apr 2005
Messages
634
Reaction score
0
Location
Maryland
MikeW":2dyse1y6 said:
Now if someone would make a non-removable side version with an adjustable mouth. More solid. More useful for triming end grain...
I keep hearing rumours that some company in Canada is coming out with some new planes but I haven't seen anything recently. :roll:
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest posts

Top