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deserter

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Hi all, I am looking at buying some planes over the next year and am at a total loss which make to buy. I have ruled out all the cheap makes as I already gave two of them and they just aren't what I like.
The question now is do I go for something middle of the road like stanley or record, or would I be better spending big money in premium planes like Clifton, Veritas or Lie Nielson?

I have searched he forums and the web and found reviews of each make but not together as a discussion so I thought I'd ask and see what the consensus of opinions is.

I am a cabinet maker as a profession but only for the past 3 years or do, I have managed to replace all my chisels with Ashley Isles ones and find they are so much nicer to use and own.
 

Harbo

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Oh dear another can of worms?
Plenty of discussion and conflicting advice on this Forum - try a search?

Old Stanleys or Records off the bay or Quangsheng from Workshop Heaven for good value.

I love my LA LV's.

Best to visit a show and try some out - Yandles is in April but probably a bit far from you (Martock Somerset)?

Rod
 

Alf

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Except if everyone does that a lot of the point of the forum is lost. It'll just be a load of questions and "PM sent" follow ups.

Anyway, in that spirit, I wasn't going to partake, but... Firstly, it seems counter-intuative, but actually you'll get more response to this in Hand Tools than Buying Advice. Secondly, what planes are you looking to upgrade/acquire? A recommendation for one model might well be different for another. Thirdly, as Rod says, nothing beats laying hands on them for yourself; really that's all that's going to separate the planes at the better end of the market. One man (or woman's) Best Plane Ever, could be your idea of planing hell. If you can't get to a show, there may be someone near-by who might have one or two to let you have a try. Or it may even be the catalyst for a "Mini Bash" or small get together of forum members in your area.
 

Jacob

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If you just want to do woodwork then old Stanley or Record nos. 4 and 5 seem to be about best value for general purpose planes. So cheap you can get a dozen for less than the price of one of the new ones. That's where I'd start. Then perhaps upgrade with stayset irons (my latest discovery!).
Or 5 1/2 for bigger stuff but they seem to be pricier.

On the other hand, as you might gather from some of the posts above, you could become a tool enthusiast, in which case it doesn't really matter what you buy as long as it is expensive! :lol:
 

Cheshirechappie

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If you're a pro, then your time is money, and you probably don't want to be spending the best part of a day de-rusting ebay oldies, lapping soles flat, and all the rest of it. If you are prepared to use your spare time in that way, then Jacob's advice above is as good as any - except that you may have to buy two or three to get one good one. If you want something that works reliably to a high standard straight out of the box, that probably narrows the field to LN, Clifton, Veritas and Quangsheng. If you want to buy British, it's Clifton; but with a bit of care over choice of retailer so you have good service if you do have a problem, any of those should give years of good service.
 

deserter

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I don't want to be buying second hand, as I have no idea where to start fixing things like rusty soles etc.
I like the idea of buying British however realise that unfortunately this is always the best quality anymore.
The planes I'll be looking to get to start off rather depended on cost but a number 4, number 6 or 7, and some form of open sided/rebate plane.

Following from the comment about pm's I understand this is not in the nature of the forum but people we're very coy about offering an opinion for fear of the inevitable argument which follows. The suggestion I may have popped this in the wrong section is very valid I should of thought more I guess.
 

Cheshirechappie

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On rebate planes, the general opinion seems to be that the Veritas skew rebate is the best of the bunch currently available - streets ahead of Stanley, Record etc. (I've got a Stanley, but I've never been happy with it. It just doesn't seem to like hardwoods for some reason. I use a couple of old junk-shop wooden rebate planes on those, and tidy up with a shoulder-plane if I need to.)

On bench planes, the Clifton forged blade/stayset capiron is many people's favourite, but LN, Veritas and Quangsheng all have their proponents. They're all better than the rest.

By the way, a jack plane is a pretty useful tool - a number 5 is arguably better if most of your work is in hardwoods, maybe a 5 1/2 if mainly softwoods. With a bit of care, and maybe a couple of interchangable irons, it can do all the other planes can. It's been suggested that by having one iron ground and honed with a camber for heavyish stock removal, and one ground square across and honed razor-sharp for trying-up and smoothing (Axminster do a very nice leather wallet for keeping the non-duty iron in), you can save the initial investment in a battery of bench-planes. Later on, a dedicated plane set up for each task is a lot more convenient, though.
 

Alf

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Ah, now we're planing with an edge (woodworking equivalent of "now we're cooking with gas" anyone? No? Spoilsports.)

If you like the idea of buying British, then as Cheshirechappie sez, the Cliftons are right up there with the LN and Veritas in quality. Quangsheng not quite as good, but still okay - some ho-hum about buying Chinese, but that's up to you. (I did and was impressed. Still lust after an LN #7 though) As a rule of thumb generally LN or Cliffie for bevel down, Veritas for bevel up. Worth giving particular thought to going bevel up for the smoother, I reckon, for whatever that's worth.

As far as the rebate/open sided plane goes, for a genuine rebate plane, the Veritas is the nicest modern one. In fact it's the only one that's actually made a serious effort to improve on the old designs, and nailed it. If you're thinking more of a shoulder plane, opinion is slightly more divided but again Veritas tends to get the majority vote - not least for their ergonomics. Again, the LN and the Cliffies won't exactly leave you sobbing at their uselessness though.

Hope that helps a bit. :D
 

deserter

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So a number 5 is sounding good, I want to be able to clean up timber which has been cut on my bandsaw and ultimately smooth it to a reasonable finish to be able use my cabinet scrapers on.

The rebate type plane I refer to goes back to when I was a college and we had a Record plane about the size of a number 5 but the blade came straight through the sides if that makes sense several time I used it to clean up tenons and thought it was a wonderful thing to have although the college model was a little battered.

The main thing here is that I want to buy tools which will last me for my life without too many issues, as I'm only really starting out I have had a collection of cheaper tools which either don't work well or are uncomfortable to use, so I have been trying to replace one item with every pay check in the hopes that eventually I will have a tool collection I like and which work as they should.
 

Harbo

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I eventually went down the Bevel Up path and as my daughter was living in Canada at the time bought Veritas.
The LV LA BU Jack is a great all rounder.
Within the BU range most of their blades are interchangeable and it is very easy to change the Effective Pitch by secondary honing for difficult woods.

Rod
 

woodbloke

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Harbo":ck8xcepw said:
The LV LA BU Jack is a great all rounder.
Within the BU range most of their blades are interchangeable and it is very easy to change the Effective Pitch by secondary honing for difficult woods.

Rod
BU every time. I've tried all sorts, including a Norris panel plane (which I still own) and the bevel up configuration beats them all hands down.
True story. At West Dean a few years ago I took down a particularly nasty :twisted: lump of wood (the Wood from Hell) and asked the LN rep to plane it. He had a huge bench filled with all the current LN offerings and the one he went for straight away was the LN BU jack (the equivalent of the LV BU jack) which did the job. If you've not tried a BU plane before then it's worth having a go before you decide on where to splash the cash - Rob
 

Digit

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I have no difficulty myself selecting any of the above planes, for the simple reason I can't afford any of 'em! :lol:

Roy.
 

Cheshirechappie

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There's a thread running on the Hand Tools section about Bench Rebate Planes - might give food for thought.
 

Midnight

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deserter, it would help if you gave some idea re the types of stock that you normally work with. When I first made the transition from woodmunchers to handraulics, I'd no desire to spend a month fettling a lump of abused rust back to working condition, but couldn't afford to even think about high end planes. I bought a few Stanleys, disillusionment happened; I'd no idea if it was the tools or my lack of technique, but either way, things just weren't working. Fettling, blade and chip-breaker upgrades followed, and improvment did happen, but never with any kinda concistancy. After a year of cursing the damn things, I gave up, bought my first L-N and haven't looked back. Working with tools that were absolutely capable of doing what I expected, I knew that any fault in use had to stem from my technique... education and improvement happened in leaps and bounds...

I rely on tools to earn my living; the concept of having to spend an age fine tuning a new tool before use seems rediculous to me... the tool should be fit for purpose straight out of the box. For that reason alone, if in future I need to add to the range of planes I have, I'd limit my research/buying options to Clifton, Lee Valley and Lie Nielsen. They consistantly deliver product that performs just as they should straight out of the box, and in the unlikely event that you need to use your guarantee, the customer servise and after-sales with all 3 companies is second to none.

Playing devil's advocate, you might gain better flexabilty opting for a jack plane and rebating block plane.
 

deserter

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I work as a cabinet maker where we work mainly in oak and walnut, the other timbers we use frequently are ash, yew and maple, occasionally we use cedar of the Lebanon for drawer bottoms.
Working in an industrial setting most large stock removal is machine done so it's only really fine fitting and finishing which gets planed, having said that I also make furniture at home on weekends for fun, and maybe a little profit, I use hand tools for as much as possible at home as an escape from the noise of the workshop and I get more pleasure from working by hand.
I am leaning towards a Jack plane as my primary I must admit, it appears it is capable if doing most tasks and the recommendation to use a bevel up version is interesting.
As said the tools I use I need to work straight out of the box, my boss wouldn't take kindly to me spending hours flating the sole or grinding the chip breaker when I should be using the tool productively.
 

Cheshirechappie

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deserter":31abpro0 said:
I work as a cabinet maker where we work mainly in oak and walnut, the other timbers we use frequently are ash, yew and maple, occasionally we use cedar of the Lebanon for drawer bottoms.
Working in an industrial setting most large stock removal is machine done so it's only really fine fitting and finishing which gets planed, having said that I also make furniture at home on weekends for fun, and maybe a little profit, I use hand tools for as much as possible at home as an escape from the noise of the workshop and I get more pleasure from working by hand.
I am leaning towards a Jack plane as my primary I must admit, it appears it is capable if doing most tasks and the recommendation to use a bevel up version is interesting.
As said the tools I use I need to work straight out of the box, my boss wouldn't take kindly to me spending hours flating the sole or grinding the chip breaker when I should be using the tool productively.
From what you say about the requirements of work, a small and nimble smoother might be best suited to final fitting and finishing work. The 'traditional' answer would be a No.4, but if you have to cope with wild grain (as the likes of yew can present you with from time to time), then a bevel-up plane with a couple of interchangable irons honed to higher effective pitch might be more versatile. I've never used a BU bench-plane, so I'll have to leave others to advise. A good low-angle block plane is handy for small trimming and chamfering type jobs, too.

At home, however, there's scope for wider experimentation. You may even like to try wooden bench planes, which would cut the cost a lot and would expand the skill-base. Keep a watch on ebay for a few weeks to see what comes up, and what prices things tend to go for. Pop into junk shops if you pass them - all sorts find their way into such places.

If the woodies don't appeal (yet!) then to keep costs down, the jack plane for starters approach is as good as any. When you can, add a good smoother, a try or jointer and - especially if you lack a planer-thicknesser - a scrub plane. A low-angle block plane is a handy tool as well. You can either stick with the high-first-cost work-straight-out-of-the-box approach, or if finances don't permit, keep a look-out on ebay for good old Stanley or Record examples (but still expect to pay good money for good planes). Another option is to trawl the better specialist dealers - Alf has a useful list of good ones on her website 'Cornish Workshop'.

There's some interesting and thought provoking ideas about handtools in Chris Schwarz's book 'The Anarchist's Toolchest', together with a very good guide to making - er - a toolchest. Axminster and Classic Hand Tools have copies.

And if in doubt - lob a question on here. (Unless it's about sharpening, in which case you'll start World War III again!)
 

Midnight

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Sounds like you're working similar stock to myself... With that in mind, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending the L-N #5 1/2, adding a couple of spare blades (honed to different radii) and a high angle frog to the shopping list. It has enough mass to handle fast stock removal with authority (backing up behind a scrub plane for instance), it's long enough to start the jointing process in long stock, just about light enough to use for long periods without causing excessive fatigue, and when re-tuned, can work as delicately as you like on most of the more stubborn grains you'll encounter. Additionally, if this is the first of a few bench planes you have in mind, the frogs, blades and chip-breakers are interchangable with the #4 1/2, #6 and #7.

I tend to work my stock from rough sawn boards to dimensioned stock entirely by hand; the #5 1/2 seems to get the most "hands on" time... really versatile tool... joy to work with
 
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