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Lie-Nielsen vs Clifton

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Philly

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Hey Alf,
Here's one to get things rolling!
I'm interested in everyones opinion on Lie-Nielsen vs Clifton planes. There is a definite price advantage to the Cliftons, and they are made in England. Yet there is a fair bit of Clifton-bashing going around.
I own a no.4 and no.5 from Clifton and a couple of LN block planes. The LN's are beautiful tools no doubt, but are they that much better than the Cliftons. (you notice that I have not mentioned modern planes from Stanley, Record etc as these are such badly made tools in comparison!)
So, lets hear what you lot have got to say!

regards,
Philly :D
 

Alf

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Ooooo Philly, controversial. :D

As I don't have a single Clifton to my name (shame on me), I shouldn't really comment. However I did try a #7 at Westpoint, and was impressed. It planed the wood - which didn't throw up it's splinters and cry "No! Not a Clifton, I'll only be squared up by an L-N or better, you cad!" incidentally :D - and what more can you ask? If they can come up with a reasonably priced #5 1/2 jack I might be seriously tempted. It'll probably boil down to the dollar exchange rate at the time in all honesty.

But just going on the specs rather than prejudice or asthetics (both of which have a place in my plane buying, I fear) the L-Ns have a major advantage for me with my concrete floor - they'll dent if I drop them, rather break. Worth the extra, to me at least. Not that I wouldn't sob like a baby if I did drop one, but better that than having to bury the mortal remains of a broken Clifton. :cry:

Cheers, Alf
 
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Anonymous

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Philly/Alf,

I've got a Clifton #3 and a LN Low Angle Smoothing Plane (the LN should be in a gloat thread really - Christmas pressie from Mrs AG). The biggest difference is in the details. The finish on the Clifton, including the grinding of the blade, was not as good as that for the LN. It's not terrible by any means, but required 15 minutes or so of tidying up on the stones as against the 5 minutes for the LN.

Having said that, I like both of these planes a lot, and I've heard a rumour that Clifton will be launching a 4 1/2 bench plane later this year, which I'd be very tempted by instead of going for the LN. I shall reserve judgement until I've got money to spend though...

I've got a Clifton 3110 and am very happy with it , but I've got nothing LN to compare with this directly.

They're both great makers IMHO. The LN costs more and is a better finish. The Clifton is made in Sheffield and it's nice to have a local manufacturer that's trying to bring quality back to our tool making tradition. I think the national support thing for me is a good reason to buy Clifton, as long as they don't let quality slip.

Cheers,

AG
 

Midnight

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I find it hard to do a head to head comparison of L-N v's Clifton, not only through not owning any Cliftons but in the differences in the plane styles the two companies market. The differences in build quality only broadens the difficulty.
I've mentioned some of my L-N's in other posts here; I won't repeat what I've said earlier. However, if memory serves, I don't think I've covered why I chose L-N to replace and expand on the few Stanleys I started with.
Discovering that even when well tuned, my Stanleys just couldn't achieve the quality of prep / finish I'm looking for really angered me. Trying to build a decent range of tools is difficult at the best of times, more so at this time of year when work gets quiet and Christmas puts its own demands on an already tight budget. I don't claim to be unique there. So I start looking for replacements that I can COUNT on being reliable and capable of doing the job properly (giving that the monkey behind them can learn to use them properly). I put about 18 months of research into the first L-N purchase, a 62, and I wasn't disappointed. The build quality blew me away. It performs way beyond my expectations, and I dare say I've hardly began to explore the full envelope of its' capabilities.
Having done the research and with a working example of performance and build quality to fall back on, subsequent purchases were so much easier.
When working with them, I've noticed 2 fundamental changes in my work, firstly; knowing that the tools can be relied upon to simply perform, i.e. no blade chatter, no tear out, no suddenly falling to bits in my hand, I can relax a bit and put all my focus into working on the board in question. Secondly, knowing that I'm working with very high quality tools that are not only absolutely reliable, but capable of achieving a far superior degree of flatness / quality of finish than I could ever dream of getting with the Stanleys, my expectations have risen considerably. Hopefully that's starting to be reflected in my work although I wouldn't presume to judge.
As a rookie, another major benefit of the L-N's is that when things DO go wrong, I know it's not the tool that's caused the fault, and look to improve my technique. There's a lot to be said in not only being comfortable with your tools, but being confident of their capabilities too.
To that end, I fully expect the next tool purchases to involve buying some Cliftons. They didn't earn a reputation for making some of the best shoulder planes by selling garbage.
 
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Anonymous

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I also used to have, and have just sold, two Stanley block planes both the
low angle and the standard one. These where rubbish at first to say the
least, but once you've sorted out all their problems due to terrible castings, things not even and too much japanning they turned out to be two great little planes! All this said it took me a week to get them to this stage, once there though they both produced whisper shavings.

I have a Clifton #5 too which is my only bench plane (at the mo) and gets
used for everything and I mean everything!! This plane, for the money, is
a great performer! It's casting is of a high standard, as is the quality of the blade and comfortable handles. It's happy whether your planing rough stock or taking whisper thin shavings and is capable of leaving a glass smooth surface, even in endgrain. Now when I first got this plane it took me a little while to learn how to move the frog in and out, play with the lever cap and then sharpen the blade up. A small learning curve that I
think would be the same with any different plane you bought. You have to
play with these things to see how they work and what works best for them.

I have just become the proud owner of my very first LN 60.5 block plane. I took it out of the box, sharpened the blade and it produced whisper thin shavings instantly. I didn't have to move the mouth or alter the blade!! This is what your paying all your extra money for, a no nonsense down to business tool. The castings are past fantastic and the finish is more than you could ever wish for, but this is what costs and it cost nearly the same as my Clifton!!

I suppose you could take this one stage further and purchase a BCT or a Holtey plane. These come with the blades ground to a mirror finish on both sides. You take them out

of the box and you use them, no sent up, no sharpening, no nothing. They'll even resharpen your blades if you send them back!

I think what I'm trying to say is that you get what you pay for! If you want the ultimate plane then you'll pay the ultimate price for it, probably into the thousands.

There are though various stages up this 'slope' and you really need to decide for your self where you want to begin.
 

gidon

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Simon - I recently got the same plane - a real beauty! I didn't even further sharpen the blade - left the 25 deg angle (as advised by someone) and it works a treat. I'm finding it hard to use anything else. I did spend 1/2 day on a #4 Footprint plane which now works pretty well. But the back of the blade was almost beyond hope - hours (honestly) on some wet and dry and still never got it flat flat. Still sharpened nicely though when I gave up getting any better. Also lapped the sole until I got bored of that. Has no one invented a machine for lapping the sole of a plane for you (I was dreaming of one as my arm became more and more knackered!) Sorry drifting OT - haven't compared a LN to a Clifton - but the LN is as close to perfection as I've seen in any tool (now that's praise).
Cheers
Gidon
 

Philly

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Hey Gidon,
Agree with you on the L-N block plane-it's a dream!!
As regards lapping, I used some 60grit emery cloth to get things moving before progressing thru various grades of wet'n'dry. Speeds things up a bit, I can tell you. But to be fair, why the hell should you have to flatten the sole of your hand planes-that should be a given! It's why I started this topic off, because tools from L-N and Clifton are in a different league to most mass produced drivel on the shelves.
Using a fine tool is a revelation and it spurs you into a higher level of workmanship.

regards,
Philly
 

gidon

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Philly - I did try some 80 grit al oxide paper - but found it a little uneven. Maybe emery paper is better - I've never tried it - thanks.
I guess tools like Stanley and Footprint and made to a price. A lot a folk just want a sturdy tool for general DIY jobs or such like - and aren't too worried whether they can read the newspaper through their plane shavings! So there's still a place for them I reckon. There is a large gap though between a £40 Stanley and £250 LN though. In my opinion they still needs to be something between the £40 Stanley and the £150 Clifton too. Anyone want to go into plane manufacturing?(!)
Cheers
Gidon
 

Alf

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A couple of things I would heartily recommend to avoid hours of lapping.

Firstly try David Charlesworth's technique to minimise the work on the back of plane irons, although this will produce an itsy-bitsy back bevel (can be a good thing too) . i.e. Raise the blade on a ruler, piece of shim stock, 'leccy's tape (thank you Simon. Still not tried it yet though) or whathaveyou so you're only having the flatten the first few millimeters of the back. I wasn't sure about this until I tried it, and now I'm a convert.

Secondly, for lapping plane soles try Quicklap (TM). Just that bit faster, the AlZ lasts longer and, better yet, it's now available in 60, 80 and 120 grits from Screwfix. I also resort to it on really bad chisel backs, although the 1.5" firmer I'm currently working on will probably kill me before the back's flat. That sucker's tough. :?

FWIW. :D

Cheers, Alf
 
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Anonymous

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Alfs right peeps, don't bother trying to lap the whole back of the blade
its not worth your time and effort. You should use DC's method, its much
better and you still get that mirror finish. He uses an ultra thin
engineering rule to lift the blade slightly, but I prefer to use just a
single thickness of 'Leccy tape. Works a treat and you don't have to
keep going to polish the back as often.
 
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Anonymous

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I have been reading in interest at the conversation regarding the Lie Nielsens , Cliftons and other palnes. I am in the same boat as many as to what I should buy, and as so not to be dissapointed once I've paid my money. It's not easy and I myself are still undecided. Grandad used to swear by his Stanley but things have changed since those days and it's quality that counts at the end of the day.

You get what you pay for but also what might be good for one person might not feel right for someone else. It about choice and size of pocket. There's no stopping you saving up if it's out of your price range at the moment. There is also a place called www.pennyfarthing.co.uk that does some quality 2nd hand tools but there isn't a definite supply. www.lie-nielsen.com and complete list for some great pictures.

For me its Lie-Nielsen for what I need to do, but I saved up my pennies and dont regret it.

I have no connection to any of the web sites mentioned and my main occupation is IT. Being a craftsman is what I'd love to do full time given half a chance.
See how you get on. Good luck.

Iain
 

Alf

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Hello Iain, welcome to the forum.

Funnily enough I got my -new to me- L-N 4.5 from Pennyfarthing Tools (the url is http://www.pennyfarthingtools.co.uk btw folks), not to mention a rather spiffy Stanley #66 beader. There are one or two other s/h tool dealers listed on my website too, should anyone require a little more grease on The Slope... :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 
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Anonymous

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Hi All
I have checked out your web site and have followed the links to the other second hand, hand tool companies. I found a great deal of antique tools rather than quality 2nd hand tools. I'll keep looking as I've still some things to get before I emigrate out to Australia some time this year. Australia do have british tool resellers but they do come at quite a cost.

This brings me to an offer if anyone is interested. My friend is a tree surgeon, who due to his line of work comes across many fine lumps of wood. One such lump comes from a very famous home from Henley-on -Thames who's former owner has since passed on . A band of 4 who have been seen crossing a road. Sorry no more clues as I could get in trouble, but it's a bit of find.One such piece ( Yew )and other pieces ( Oak )is currently being worked on by myself. My problem is this. I dont think I'm going to able to complete the project in the time that I have left in the UK. Taking wood products into Australia is not easy in the first place and this is going to cause me even more of a headache and there is a chance that it could be destroyed at customs , so I'm a bit stuck for options.

If you ,the reader who is a craftsman and not out for profit would like the wood you can have it for about the price of a 2nd hand lie-nielen.But you must collect. I live in Reading Berkshire. I could be persuaded to meet halfway if craftsman was eager enough.The main piece is about 6ft long , 2 ft wide and 2 1/4" thick. Its a bit heavy and I will say, not flat. It does have bows in it, so depending on your intentions access to a serious planner would be a distinct advantage. Im trying to make it into a garden chaise lounge in its natural state becuse that's what the piece has lent itself to be, based on my current tools.
The other bits are smaller, lighter and flatter and the could get smaller and lighter as time goes on. This is not a sales pitch but a genuine offer and I wouldn't want the wood wasted , lost or destroyed. Its taken about 100 years to grow so lets be kind to it.

Regards
IH
 

Alf

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Iain,

Yep, you'll find all the dealers put the flash stuff up on their sites. You need to give them a ring and ask for user stuff.

Too bad you can't take the wood with you; nice score.

Cheers, Alf
 

frank

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whats a lie-nielson or a clifton :twisted:

allways carry a bag of sand for the slippy slope
 
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Anonymous

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Thank you Frank.
You have been very helpful.Perhaps you are better at carpentry than you are chat forums.
 

Chronosoft

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Factor in that the blade of a L-N is A2 Cryogenic Steel (and I think I am right in saying the Clifton isn't) which are 40-50 quid worth (ish) and with the dollar exchange rate at the moment I guess the gap has never been closer.

I have had my hands on both at a woodworking college (the L-N 5 1/2 was the teachers pride and joy) and his assistant had a Clifton - the finish on the L-N was visibly much better.

Just my two penneth worth - discuss group :lol:
 

Aragorn

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I've followed this thread with interest. I'd love a nice decent plane and apparently there are such things that actually work!
At the risk of much tutting and lip-smacking and general banishment, I just wanted to ask - are you getting down to your final finish with your planes, or do you use sandpaper? :shock: If you sand down to your final finish, does it matter how fantastic the plane's finish is? Aren't you just roughing it up again when you work through the paper grits?
If you're scraping to your final finish, do you use sandpaper at all? If so - does the same question apply too?
See - you can tell I'm a decent-plane novice! Should I get out of the hand tool section with my tail between my legs! (Unfortunate birth defect, I know) :oops:
 

Philly

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Aragorn,
No, good questions mate!
I use machines to get timber into shape (surface planer and thicknesser) and then use my hand planes to clean then surfaces. I don't sand these pieces at all ( as long as the grain isn't too wild!) as the finish from the planes is beautifully polished. If the piece is curved then sometimes I will sand it. This isn't to say I am anal about planing but it is so much more satisfying and quick compared to sanding. (when it comes to sanding I use a random orbit sander)
Hope this is of help,
Philly
 

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