- 2 Mar 2005
- Reaction score
- Perth, Australia
Hi. You would likely know, from the articles, that I have a 40-degree Veritas Custom #7 and a 42-degree Custom #4. I did get 50 degree frogs for these planes, but they were used once (to try them out) and have lived on the shelf ever since.xraymtb":3df508mj said:Any experience of the custom planes for Veritas - particularly the #4 and the 40deg frog?
Considering a new smoother to replace/compliment my Stanley, which works ok but isn’t brilliant nor a pleasure to use. I was thinking of the Low Angle Smoother initially as it would also be handy for the shooting board then noticed the #4 with the lower frog. A lot of my work is in softwood (or more common softer hardwoods) and I wonder if the 40deg might work well for end grain and face grain in this case? Would swapping the frog (if future needs requires a higher angle) be more of a pain than maintaining multiple blades for the low angle?
I’ve read Derek Cohen’s really good articles on the two planes but couldn’t see a comparison between them.
The only reason these planes work (and very well) on the interlocked hardwoods with which I work is the chipbreaker, which gets set tight. The 40 degree frog is about as low as I would ever go, as it is pushing the boundary of clearance angles. The 42 degree is pretty safe. But ... if you plan to get something in this range, you had better be good at setting the chip breaker!
A little background: around 2012 there was concerted discussion on chipbreaker use on a few forums. David here was one of the main pushers
Up until that time I was a dedicated high angle user - HNT Gordon woodies (60 degree BD), Veritas BU smoothers (50 degree bevel for a 62 degree cutting angle), etc. These planes worked exceptionally well, and they left an excellent surface behind - don't let anyone say that they do not work well. I was experimenting and learning to use the chipbreaker. The rudiments if this technique can be picked up quickly, but takes time - at least a year - to master well. Over the course of a year, I began gradually to move away from the BU planes to planes with chipbreakers. Why? Because I could do more with them.
Some high angle planes are wonderful to use. BU planes and HNT Gordon planes are wonderful. The reason is that they have a low centre of effort, and this makes them easy to push. Bailey planes with high cutting angles are horrible. With a high centre of effort, they feel heavy and stodgy. I prefer smaller smoothers, such as a #3 size. The LN #3 I have was originally purchased with the highest angle from LN, the 55 degree. I hated it as it was so hard to push, plus the cutting angle was not high enough to prevent tearout. And so the plane lived on a shelf for a few years. When I began using the chip breaker, the frog was swapped for a 50 degree. This worked but it was a chicken-half-measure between chipbreaker and high angle. I took a deep breath and bought the 45-degree frog. With a closed chipbreaker, the plane is wonderful. I added a Veritas PM-V11 blade, and it is sublime.
Where is the advantage in a chipbreaker if the high angled BU smoother does such a great job? The BU smoothers excel in taking fine shavings. They make excellent finish smoothers. I think that they are highly predictable and that is a good thing. It allows you to work on the important finishing surface without fear. The BU smoothers are also really easy to set up. Child's play.
If so easy and so good, why bother with a BD and chipbreaker? Well, this combination can take thicker shavings with better results, and there are times when we need to do this. Importantly, the chipbreaker is even better planing reversing grain than the high angle, and it can do so leaving a slightly better surface behind. The lower the cutting angle - theoretically - the better the finish. I think that this is more the case on soft woods.
If I was planing a book-matched panel, I'd use a BD with chipbreaker. The centre section of the panel has grain going both ways at once. Even a high angled BU may struggle. The chipbreaker does not.
In the end it is horses for courses. The BU is easier but lacks the ultimate performance of the BD with chipbreaker. One must ask whether that extra performance is needed. It is not needed all the time.
There are very few woodworkers who only use hand planes. I am a blended woodworker, equally at home with machines and hand tools. That is the best of both worlds as far as I am concerned. It is where David and I part company, since I am not attempting to emulate 18th Century woodworkers. My machines prepare the way, and then hand tools do the finer stuff. So he would no doubt argue that I do not push the hand planes to the nth degree. Probably true, but I have no desire to do so. The tools work for me as I want them to do, and that is what matters as far as I am concerned. I admire David's search for purity, because the research he does benefits us all in the end, helping fine tune techniques. However his search for the greatest efficiency is not necessary to build furniture.
Which ever style of plane you choose will work very well. The more time you put into it will lead to familiarity, which develops efficiency in turn.
Regards from Perth