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Veritas Custom Planes - 40deg frog

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Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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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.
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.

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

Derek
 

D_W

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I should probably clarify something, I guess. I don't know that anyone will care why it is, but there are a lot of people here in the states who emulate a given period. Some of them either do furniture repair and maybe some restoration building, and others are just writing articles or teaching classes.

I probably only dimension 200 board feet of lumber in a given year, but you can make that miserable to do by hand if you don't follow a little bit from history - I didn't at first and figured what's "best" now is what's best. Steve Voigt reminds me sometimes that if you can find clear pine, single iron planes work really well for dimensioning - really good clear pine from huge trees with clear sections here is kind of a thing of the past (I wouldn't know where to get something like that). I tried a blast from the past and used a single iron 1700s jack and an early 1800s jointer (both in excellent shape and well fitted) on #1 common cherry last week and it was horrible.

I'd hate to be a purist and follow a specific era - I wouldn't be able to make electric guitars, 20th century infill planes or modern (now dated, but relatively) face frame kitchen cabinets.

Learning about the cap iron was kind of unintentional as I wasn't, at that point, following much of anything historical at all - except Todd Hughes' question (since he does some blacksmithing) of why would people universally adopt something so much more difficult to make was hard to answer. Larry's answer was that the 1700s single iron planes were so much better that they "got all used up" and there was nobody with any skill left to make more. That sounded pretty dumb to me.

But it's extracting information from what occurred without being burdened to be a purist. I associate that with something negative - being a purist means making choices in a limited environment.

There's nothing even accurate about my planes as far as I'm aware. In the 1700s, a lot of planes had a bold chamfer on them. It wasn't tall, but it was steep. In the 1800s, most of the makers went to rounding this over. I robbed the plane from the 1800s and the chamfer sort of from the 1700s. Any curator would barf.

https://i.imgur.com/VwbO2RQ.jpg

At any rate, I don't want to lead anyone to an era - just the realization that the learning curve is worthwhile - one short period of learning to do something that will often come in handy, even if it's just dealing with parts that have been trued, glued and put together using machine tools, and then such parts need re-truing but are too big to fit on a machine.
 

Peter Capon

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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.
 

Corset

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I havent posted for a while.. (shame on me) but i have spent a long time (6 montsh of evenings etc) building a complex bookcase and wall cabinits out of english cherry that seems to tear out as soon as you look at it. I have a plane problem or my problem is plane if you talk to my wife and i have virtully every veritas plane and virtually all the stanley bedrock planes. Which i use all the time. I cannot claim to be a plane maker but i have used them for the last 10 or so years and i can conclude this:
1. If i have a lot of wood to remove i reach for the bedrocks they are easier to adjust, require less effort and are quicker to adjust. The exception being my veritas scrub plane which is often commenced with. However they blunt quickly due to the thin iron and its easier to work through a few planes than sharpen every 5 mins. My stanley 608 is my favourite plane as it just ploughs through work. I will often go scrub, 5, 4. Or if edge jointing just an 8.
2. However when the grain gets tough and i need the final cut i tend to reach for the the bevel up or veritas planes. As they they seem to suit finish work better. I can get a good cut with the bedrocks but it does not last as long. I have a couple of norriss planes and some infills but teh veritas is just quicker to fiddle with sometimes.
I have no doubt i can get a good finish with all. But if you are processing a lot of wood by hand its convenient to use several planes on the go set for different cuts. I would concur that a low angle plane wood or veritas create a fantastic finish but they are a pain (for me) to work quickly through timber. If on the other hand i was using a difficult timer with amybe a fine cut i would reach fro my infill, veritas or high angle wood planes. For me working quickly requires several planes (collection justified to wife) .
For example if rebating by hand (i hate the dust from router and noise) I will rought cut with a wooden rebate plane, then a metal set to afiner cut and then maybe a shoulder plane. If i have a lot to cut it saves sharpening and keeps setting. Plus i have arthritus in my hands and changing the grip reguarly helps.
So without entering a rather difficult debate and annoying people, for me personally i think
1. Owning lots of planes is great
2. I agree with DW assessment of bedrock style planes, however i think a place exist for the low angle stuff
3. Variety is the spice of life and at the end of the day the output and the fun of making is what matters surely!
see my planes, bedrocks behind and cattered about the wrokshop...

owen
 

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D_W

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well, to be fair about the LN, I just wanted to establish a procedure for unicorning vs. a flat bevel (that turns out to be -5 degrees, or a fat unicorn does tearout control on top of a 55 degree angle the same as flat and 60). Without that, I wouldn't have bought it.

I have looked at that plane often already and thought "am I really going to look at this any further?". It's narrowly missed being sold a couple of times, but it won't last through the end of the year, I think. Making it disappear on ebay is just too easy.

Having another visit with the type, the things that I don't like about it are a bit different than I anticipated - most notably, in really difficult wood, it doesn't regulate its own shaving the way that a stanley does, so it's jerky in the cut. It has abbreviated edge life, too, but the other surprise is that I see no real evidence of the problems reported in the clearance wars.

(one other thing that I learned is that there's a fairly well thought of furniture school - to be fair, it's a white collar trap and not really something like the penn college of technology here and others that offer full time course work in cabinetmaking .....anyway, the furniture school mentioned requires purchase of the LN LA jack plane, and that's too bad. While the experiment for the unicorn was fun for smoothing, the plane still comes up short as soon as someone learns to use the cap iron, and the feel of the whole thing is off from ideal mechanics. It wants to be pushed from behind and kept further in front of the user, but planes in heavier use are more productively used with stanley plane mechanics - the position is more natural and the rotation feels more "right", especially in heavier work when one is likely to take a few strokes, move a step, take a few more. The LA jack plane doesn't start well at the back of the stroke.)
 
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Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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David, the clearance issues were the invention of Brent Beach and readily grabbed by Larry Williams. I argued a lot about that, saying it was there in theory, but not in practice.

You know I am a strong proponent of the chipbreaker, and they are my go-to planes, however I do still find use for bevel up planes. It just depends on what you are working. If you are not doing miles of planing, there is nothing quite like a Veritas BU Smoother for finishing.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

D_W

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I did find renewed (or any at all is more than before) for my cheese iron stanley 18 in all of this (and I had a box of spare stanley irons - they are all cheese hardness, too, but the steel is plain and otherwise good). So, the LN Plane will disappear, but buffing off the wire edge that was otherwise persistent on the 18 suddenly makes it worth having around -especially for running edges off on other than fine work.
 
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