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Veritas Plane Review – Router Plane

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Alf

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Shock news for Normites; a router without the aid of electrickery! :shock: Until recently you could even buy a new one from Stanley, but not any more (gotta love accountants, eh?). There are one or two hundred skulling about on the used tool market though, so what does this new one bring to the table to make one want to spend the extra lettuce? Naturally, unless you run away, I'll attempt to tell you in my usual verbose way...



Before we start, a word about the packaging. I just love the thought that's gone into this. Isn't it nice? A sort of Router Coat of Arms. All the individual bits get a box that can be reused for storage and the router itself nestles in it's rust-inhibiting paper in a little cardboard cutout. Awwww, almost too nice to take out.



But not quite. :mrgreen:



Just for a novelty the body is ductile iron, so you can throw it about the workshop with impunity if that takes your fancy, and the knobs are Bubinga. Other bits are brass and sundry metals which I-wouldn't-like-to-hazard-a-guess-about-but-probably-include-aluminium. The design is the usual metal variety, that is to say, ah, bevel-up... :whistle: Rather than having an arched, open throat and so forth, this one has a closed throat like the early-#71/#71 ½ type routers, and the depth adjustment is dealt with in a different way; of which more later. As you'd expect, three cutters are provided; 1/2” and 1/4”straight, and a 1/2” vee/pointed. I think the cutters are A2, but can't find it specified in the blurb anywhere; best guess anyway. :roll: The 1/2”-ers are both of the detachable cutter type, and a little aluminium stick doodah is provided to help you hold them for sharpening. The 1/4” is forged, although it looks genuine enough to me... <groan> There's also an optional fence available. Vital statistics: 8 ½” X 4 ¼” maximum dimensions, 2lbs in weight. (Google does a nice line in conversion to metric, btw...) You may delight in the instructions here should the mood take you.

Dunno about you, but I've never seen a pretty router plane and this really doesn't break the mould. Businesslike, yep, I'd go with that. Attractive? Er, no. But certainly well finished. The paintwork is all sound, the lacquer on the knobs is a little thick for my taste but okay, the edges of the sole are beautifully chamfered, and the sole itself is an ode to flatness and fine grinding. Seems a bit of a waste just for a router plane really. :D Lots of lovely knurling on the various brass knobs too, and not too painful on the fingers.



The blades are also nicely ground and finished, and sharp enough to use outta-the-box, 'cos I did. And before you all ask, I tried them in both a Stanley and Millers Falls router and they do fit. Apparently there have been some supply issues with the 1/4” cutter, this one isn't a proper production one and I wasn't to be too critical of it in consequence. Like I would do that... All I can say is, despite my best efforts, I can't find anything wrong with it. :) Well apart from the obvious; it's one piece and therefore a major pain to sharpen! But that's in the nature of the beast; 1/4” wide is too small to take the screw for a removable cutter.



The more sharpening-friendly 1/2” removable cutters will be familiar to anyone with a modern enough Stanley-a-like. A hex key is provided with each cutter to undo the screw. “But the screw size is the same, so why two?” I wondered. Stay tuned. :-$



The bottom of the blade post is grooved to fit the grooves in the upper side of the cutter to give a secure fixing, just as on the Stanley-a-likes, but the aluminium stick doodah (sorry, “blade holder”) isn't.



In fact you hold the cutter in it in such a way that the brass screw head tightens down on the grooves. Presumably that's why it's brass; so it won't damage those grooves. But it's also slot headed. Aaargh. I have a pet hate of different screw head varieties on the same tool. I'm sure the reasons are sound, and it's not a big deal, but oh, how it bugs me. [-(



Anyway, I assume the idea is that the rebate in the end of the doodah should be such that the back of the cutter rests against the shoulder of the rebate to keep it straight. It works on the pointed cutter very well. In fact I loved the neat way the angles on the back edge presented the angled faces of the cutter at the correct angle.



On the straight cutter it didn't work at all. :( That is it held it firmly enough, but not in line. Tightening up the screw that last tweak tended to skew the cutter if you'd managed to hold it straight up until then. It's absolutely not a problem if you then hone by hand, but the suggestion is you can use the doodah in a honing guide. I think you'd drive yourself nuts trying to, to be honest.



Now we come to the fun bit; fitting the cutter in the plane. If you've ever played cutter collar merry-go-round with a Stanley-a-like, you'll like this one. First of all the collar is captive, so you're not having it slopping up and down the adjuster post. Secondly, it's spring loaded so it holds the cutter even when the collar locking knob is loosened for depth adjustment. I really, really like it. But wait, there's more. I don't know if this was cunning on the part of the designers and they're just waiting for us to work it out or I'm a genius (place your bets...), but you can do a really handy thing. Simply loosen the locking knob enough so that when you push in on the spring the blade can tip forward enough to clear the adjustment knob. Except rather than pushing it with one hand, holding the router with the other and using your teeth to fit the blade, you can sit the router down on the flat-faced knob and let its own weight push down the spring, leaving you with one hand to hold the plane steady and one to fix the blade. Vunderbar! In short, putting the blade in is a flippin' doddle. :D



Now the depth stop isn't bad either. Rather than an odd rod arrangement that no-one seems to really understand how to use, it uses the depth adjuster post.


Wind the blade (C) down to the desired depth with the depth adjustment knob (A), lock off the cutter clamp (D), then wind up the top brass depth stop knob (B) up against the underside of (A). Snug up the other depth stop knob (B) to lock it in place and you have your depth set. Back off the cutter to the starting depth for your cut and proceed. The depth stop knobs have holes in them, into which you can put the hex keys to help tighten them up, which is why you need two. Clever, huh? The instructions suggest you may only need to do that and finger tight will be enough, but in practice I found it'd loosen the upper depth stop knob (B) when I went to back off the depth adjustment knob (A) unless I'd used the hex keys.

Please note; inserting flap G into tab H will not work. :wink:

The depth adjustment itself is very precise; maximum depth is 1”, and one turn is equal to 1/32”. You can actually get it to do whispy-ish shavings. :roll:



Time to take it for a spin. A classic use might be leveling out the bottom of a housing, trench or dado. I confess this is a first for me; either tailed routers or specialist planes have always been employed before. :oops: Luckily I know the theory. Knife the sides as deep as possible...



...make a groove with a wide chisel to guide the saw...



... cross cut backsaw to cut the sides to depth...



... chisel out the worst of the waste...



... and finally the router to clean up.



The finished housing, and the only thing letting it down is my sawing... :oops:



Still, not bad for a first attempt, and a lot quicker than I thought. More to the point, the router did its job well. In theory the pointed cutter should give a finer finish, but to be honest that's good enough for most things I can think of.

I do have a tiny reservation with the knobs though - surprise - which was highlighted when cutting this housing. You may want to skip this bit... :roll: I like the ten-to-two position when the sole of the router is fully on the work, and I like the fact I can swivel my hand about the round shape like a ball and socket joint. In fact it wasn't until I looked at the pics that I realised I was swiveling my hand slightly towards the work to compensate when one side of the router was hanging over the edge; it was so comfortable I didn't notice it at all. However, for lots of things I find I like to shift my thumbs and/or forefingers to the front or back of the plane to compensate for the centre of gravity not being fully on the work, as I had to when the router was inclined to dive out of the end of the housing. I can do it, but I have to consciously shift the knob from the front of my hand to the palm, almost heel in order to reach, and that makes the grip feel too high. With the less lovely Stanley I don't have to alter my grip at all. I'm not really convinced of the benefit of the angled knobs for a natural grip to be honest. They take the focus away from the action too much for me. But I did try to give them the benefit of the doubt, really I did. Of course there's a handle hardware kit to make your own... 8-[

In addition to the usual cutter position, there's a bullnose position for restricted spaces...



... and lateral positions left and right so you can keep the bulk of the plane on the work while doing tasks such as fitting hinges. Countersunk holes are also provided in the sole so an auxillary base can be fitted to span a larger recess, fit a custom fence, etc.



Talking of fences, there's a 3 ¾” long, ¾” deep, 3 ½ oz, fence of black aluminium, steel, and brass available as an optional extra to try too.



Now I have one or two routers to choose from :oops: but none of the non-electrickery ones have a fence, so this is all new to me. To be honest I've never felt the lack and was fully expecting to continue to think as much. I have plough planes and such, for heaven's sakes. :roll: However I was impressed with the fit and finish, and some nice detail in the design. The fence is two-faced; straight on one side, two point on the other for curved work. To change which is bearing on the work, you have to unscrew the fence rod, which is made a tool-less task by using the fence mount secured against the flat provided to act as a T-bar. Nice touch.



The screw to secure the fence mount to either side of the plane is stored in a threaded hole at the end of the rod when not in use, another nice touch, but it's another slot head so not tool-less. :| Securing the fence mount is easily done, and the rod is then slid along to the desired setting and the brass knob tightened up.



The fence doesn't quite rest against the underside of the sole, which is no big deal except for the rattle. I must have gone over all available knobs looking for the loose one before I realised what it was #-o ; it could easily be fixed if you added a wooden face to the fence – two holes being provided for the purpose.

I gave it a test making a groove with the 1/4” cutter. The first few shavings were a through groove before I realised what a pointless exercise that was. :sign3: Nope, a stopped groove made more sense; that's the thing that the plough plane user struggles with. Apart from curves, and I confess I haven't tried that yet... :oops: Anyway, a quick tap with a chisel to define the stopped end, a pause to apply a little wax to all bearing surfaces to stop the banshee screech I was getting, and that's what I did. Coo. That's easy. :shock: 'Course it wasn't stopped at both ends, so I didn't have a trouble with clearance for the length of the cutter, but by gum, it was a doddle. I have no idea if the very different fence on a Stanley-a-like is such a pleasure to use, but I'm convinced by this one.



So, what's the verdict... 8-[ Putting aside the issue of whether the world really needed an improved router plane, I like it. To be frank, I like it a lot more than I expected to. There are some really nice, satisfying design details in it that make me smile. A bit like looking at a new car and seeing where they've ingeniously found a new place for a cup holder. :lol: Trouble is they're so good they make the tiny niggle of needing a screwdriver disproportionately annoying. #-o As for the knobs, well I don't actively dislike them, it's more a case of feeling that someone's trying to fix something that wasn't broke, but you know me and ego-gnome-icks. :D Is it worth the extra over a secondhand Stanley-a-like? Only you can decide that, natch. IMO the Veritas is noticeably less frustrating to use, but if I'd never had tried it I wouldn't have known any better anyway. :roll: In the final analysis they'll both do the job.

Router Plane - £145.95

Once again, I wouldn't have this plane to review if it hadn't been sent to me by those charming Canadian folks at Lee Valley. Shipping and duty being what it is these days, it'd probably cost them more to send the boys round to rip if from my vice-like grasp and take it back than it is to just leave it to me to dispose of as I think fit. Or keep it. And I wasn't going to, but that fence does appeal to me... Anyway the point being I, as ever, have done my very best to still remain as fair and impartial as a hopeless tool addict could ever hope to be. But you, gentle reader, shall always be the final arbiter.
 

Adam

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Another good review!

Adam
 

Les Mahon

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Excelent review as always Alf Thanks.

I must confess I had already ordered this after 2 non-arrivals of E-Bay purchased stanley ones, but I feel much better knowing it has the Alf seal of approval!

Thanks
Les
 

Pete W

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Excellent, Alf - answered all the questions I had, plus a few I didn't know I had :)

Plenty of time to add it to the Christmas present list, too :lol:
 

bugbear

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Long exposure giving impression of motion! Very smart!

BugBear (who also liked the review)
 

Shady

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Thanks Alf - definitely on the list for me. I have no words for the sadness of someone who starts admiring the cardboard box a tool comes in, however... :wink: You need to get out a little more, girl...
 

Alf

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Les, two no-shows? Ouch, that's very unlucky. :(

bugbear":2u7izouy said:
Long exposure giving impression of motion! Very smart!
Sigh. The camera did it all by itself. I don't even know how. :oops:

Shady, it wasn't the box so much, as the way it was laid out in the b... You're right, I need to get out more. :-#

Cheers, Alf
 

engineer one

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so there i was mike thinking you knew how to fit handles to saws :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

next you'll be telling us you were going so fast you did not
know when to stop, and as we say in britain "it came of in
my hand officer honest guv." :-({|=

nice picture though.

interesting that you only show the bad bits not the good things
paul :wink:
 

Philly

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Another great review, Alf! Thanks!
So you like this one then? Speaking to you "earlier in the year" I had the impression you weren't too excited over it. :lol:
Does this replace your Rat? :wink:
Philly :D
 

Alf

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Philly":2c7vbjsz said:
Another great review, Alf! Thanks!
So you like this one then? Speaking to you "earlier in the year" I had the impression you weren't too excited over it. :lol:
I wasn't. It grew on me; like mould... I was particularly sceptical about the fence, but what can you do? It batted it big, brown eyes, er, handles at me like a puppy at Battersea* and I was won over. :roll: I think it's gonna have to go before I get too attached. :lol:

Philly":2c7vbjsz said:
Does this replace your Rat? :wink:
On its own, nope. With its friends, it could - the only limiting feature being me. :oops: But I like the 'Rat; if I sold it I'd only have to make a shelf to replace it... :wink:

Cheers, Alf

*Famous Home for Stray Dogs in Londinium.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Another terrific review Alf. I am going to have to think up something outlandish to top this. :p Perhaps this time I will compare dado cutting with my Elu. See what you do!

Regards from Perth

Derek
 
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