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Veritas Plane Review - Part Eight. Low Angle Jack

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Alf

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Possibly time to jack it all in… :roll:

The Veritas Low Angle Jack is Lee Valley’s second contribution to the current fashion for low angle bench planes. My first thought on hearing of its imminent arrival in their plane line-up was “why?” There is, after all, rather a popular low angle jack already on the market, the maker of which is on record as describing it as “hand’s down the best tool we make”. So this one isn’t just going into ring to compete with anyone, but the heavyweight champion of Maine. :shock: Just as well LV decided to pile on the pounds then perhaps? ‘Cos this plane is no #62-a-like, but rather designated the #62 ½; more a low angle 5 ½ jack in fact. Hmm, my favourite size coincidentally. I was intrigued.


Funny how I subconciously photographed this plane from behind, just like L-V have. :?

At 15” long with a 2 ¼” blade and weighing in at 6lbs it will always have the option of a career change to Brussels paperweight - but that’d be a waste. Ductile iron body, 3/16” thick A2 steel blade, “Norris” style adjustments, bubinga totes all go to make up quite a hunk of plane. Fortunately the packing and box were up to the job of holding it, and the instructions are once again a model of communication. See them for yourself here.


Easier to assemble than an Airfix kit

My second thought was that the term “jack” for this plane just doesn’t suit it. It’s more like the old infill panel planes to my mind, but perhaps the term isn’t sufficiently well-known to be marketable. Anyway, I wouldn’t fancy preparing rough sawn stock with this plane; it’d be a waste of it’s accuracy in my opinion, although it could of course be done. Smooth planing large panels and work on the shooting board is this tools bread and butter I reckon, so I was looking forward to seeing how it performed.


Nope, can't think of anything to say. Just drool for a bit instead perhaps?

I think it must be high-speed evolution or something, but after long and continuous exposure I actually have to concentrate to see how these planes look now. I seem to have developed a self-preserving blind spot or suchlike; :wink: so some full-on viewing of elegant 1930s Stanleys and the odd gawp at an infill online was needed to re-sensitise myself. It’s not exactly, er, lovely. Reminds me of a nightclub bouncer somehow. There’s an awful lot of that unmilled rough casting area, finished in matt black, which isn’t very gorgeous. The finishing of it is well done mind you, and the grinding of the sides, sole and bed is as fine and as well executed as I’ve come to expect, including the now familiar circular depression milled in the sides to aid grip when shooting.


The slightly longer toe viewed from beneath

The T-shape lever cap design used on the low angle smoother is there again, as are the virtually-trademark brass knobs for adjustment, including one for the mouth, of which more later. The rear handle is the same blocky shape :? , and the transistion from the flat sides to the curve has a marked ridge on this one, which is an unwelcome first. :(


For the curious - the method of fixing the rear handle

The front knob is more like the old Stanley low-knobs, except, er, taller. It’s accurately described as mushroom-shaped, but at what stage of a thermo-nuclear explosion I’m not entirely sure… :wink: The loose fitted brass ferrule-cum-washer is there again, and I still think it detracts from the otherwise good overall fit and finish.

A perfunctory run over with a square and straightedge, purely for the benefit of this review, revealed sides square to the sole, the latter flat as I personally would need. I’m sure there are the energetic few who’d feel the need to get out the abrasives just to show it could be better, but my lazy policy has always been; if it works, why bother? :wink:

Removing and replacing the blade is simplicity itself. Loosen the lever cap, remove, hoick the blade of the adjuster and behold, you’ve got a big hunk of steel to hone. Goody. No wait, there’s the optional high-angle blade here too. Two hunks of steel to hone. Oh joy. :? Not that I really need to complain; they were both easy to sharpen with flat backs, already finely ground. With the 12° bedding angle the 25° bevel on the standard iron gives a low 37° effective cutting angle, while the 38° bevel on the optional high-angle iron takes you to 50°, or York pitch, for more recalcitrant timbers. Of course this can be increased further with an additional steeper secondary bevel if required. I greatly looked forward to trying this out, as it’s something I’ve want to experiment with for some time.

Replacing the blade is a simple matter of reversing the removal process. When you first set up the plane it’s worth opening the mouth right up to avoid accidentally damaging that newly sharpened iron. This is the popular and simple arrangement of loosening the front knob and sliding the mouth forward. Lee Valley have added a feature that this style of adjustment has always cried out for; a stop. A simple brass knob tapped into the front of the plane body can be adjusted so you can bring the mouth setting right back to where it was, time after time, and not hit the blade with that unpleasant “clunk“ noise. Just like on the bullnose in fact, but not even needing a screwdriver to adjust it. Better still, you can use it to fine tune the mouth much more accurately than just “a nudge here, ooops, back a tad etc”. It’s not something I’d actively gone out of my way to look for in a plane of this sort, but once you have it you do wonder why it’s taken so long for someone to introduce it.


The toe adjuster from below, toe piece removed

The two lateral grub screws are reasonably easy to adjust and depth adjustment is precise and smooth, plus there’s a trifle more space in front of the rear handle to fiddle with it than on the low angle smoother.

It’s probably best to draw a veil over the comfort of the rear tote and Freaky Hands me. I still fail to get along with it, I’m afraid. Rob Lee assures me that I’m in the minority here though, so don’t assume it’ll be a negative as far as you’re concerned too. The front knob I like a lot. The mushroom-shape naturally gets your hand into a shape to apply pressure down on the toe, and your fingers rest naturally under the “cap” of the mushroom as you lift the plane at the end of the stroke. For shooting the shape of the lever cap gives your fingers exactly the right place to grip, and the milled depression in the side is just right for the thumb. Once I’d got used to unusually long area of sole in front of the mouth shooting was a breeze.


Mmm, curly shavings

My first thought when I found out I was going to be able to play, er, rigorously test this plane was that it looked like it would be excellent on a shooting board. I was not mistaken. The extra width and heft is very effective, especially on thicker end grain. Once you get it going into the cut the momentum does all the work; a surprisingly relaxing plane to use really.


Lying about

Face planing I wasn’t so sure about. I’ve never been much of a devotee of the low angle plane for smoothing, but needs must and I could hardly let the review-reading Neanderthal down by ignoring it. :wink: Alas my timber fund doesn’t stretch to Bird’s Eye Maple or Thuya Burr, so I decided to get nasty by dragging out my evil faux-mahogany board. The one with the grain reversals in ½” stripes along the whole face, the tendency to make string instead of shavings and more tear-out prone than Tear-Out City, Arizona. I swear that low angle blade visibly shivered… It did its best, I went diagonally to give it the best chance, but it really wasn’t a meeting of ideal cutting angle and timber.


The Board From Hell doesn't make friends with the standard angle iron :( (ignore the tram lines - it was sharpened for the shooting board without a camber. Oh, and ignore the yellow tinge from the side lighting too :oops: )

So I swapped it out for the high-angle blade, and went at it diagonally again. After a bit I went straight along the grain. Some minutes later I realised I was ankle deep in curlies as I found I was making full-width shavings just for fun. And the resulting surface? A damn near perfect as I’ve ever managed to get it after hours of scraping. The Board From Hell tamed?!


Trust me, this is a huge improvement

Verily, that’s a bloomin’ miracle. In one dazzling hour I became a high-bevel low angle plane convert forever more. :lol: Was it just the blade? Well mainly. But I’m pretty sure the heft of the plane helped it all seem so effortless. It was only when I stopped that woman-handling 6lbs of iron around for a couple of hours really caught up with me… :shock:


High angle shavings on the left, standard angle on the right

So, whadda I think? Putting aside the rather subjective area of tote comfort, this plane is very, very good indeed. To be honest, I was quite taken aback at how much I liked it. To get the full advantage from it, I think it’s well worth getting the additional high-angle blade and using it as an über smoother for those difficult woods. Just to up the Big Fight Anti, :wink: Rob Lee has now declared about this plane that “I think this is one of the finest planes we make”. Yep, the gloves are off here, right enough :lol: The thing is, much to my surprise, I’m not sure I don’t sneakingly agree with him...

Low Angle Jack £??? Shrouded in mystery at the present time Check with BriMarc

NB: In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that in this case Lee Valley have very kindly said I can keep this review plane, for which many thanks. I have made every effort to not let this affect my review, and I hope this is self-evident, but you, the reader, will always be the final judge. :D

<Edit> Whoohoo, as of 1st October, we have a price:
Low Angle Jack £131.60
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,

Thanks for the two reviews - brilliantly done as usual AND I don't think you let ownership of the LA jack deflect you from your chosen course..

Like you, I have been surprised by how a LA jack by that other maker, can tame boards that would seem impossible - given the usual received wisdom about cutting angles and difficult woods, although it has been with the normal blade rather than a higher angle blade.

Now all you have to do is carve a handle that fits!
 

Adam

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Funny, my LN low angle is one of my favourites. I can't quite place whats so nice about using it, but they just seem to work nicely don't they?

Nice review once again.

Adam
 

Pete W

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Very nice, Alf... and I think you deserve to keep the plane.

And just in case Mr Lee is reading this, some of us *really like* the textured parts of the planes :).

Pete (currently languishing in the south of France, with intermittent dial-up Internet and no wookworking, but plenty of excellent food and wine as compensation :)).
 

Midnight

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Bloody typical.. just when I'm starting to think I've nailed which future purchaces I want to make, auld Sneaky slips in the half size from hell to blow the lot wide open again... and to think I thought he was a nice guy too...... sheesh..

Brilliant review again Alf... but yer pal's a toe-rag....

:wink:
 

Rob Lee

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Midnight":2nuazaa9 said:
Bloody typical.. just when I'm starting to think I've nailed which future purchaces I want to make, auld Sneaky slips in the half size from hell to blow the lot wide open again... and to think I thought he was a nice guy too...... sheesh..

Brilliant review again Alf... but yer pal's a toe-rag....

:wink:
Hah -

Wait 'till you see the Lg shoulder... it's 3 3/4 Lbs of sweetness... :)

I even think Alf may really cave on the appearance too...

Cheers -

Rob
 

J.A.S

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Alf,

great reviews, once again. Your declaration of an interest only serves to underscore your integrity.

But, 'bull elephant'? Honestly. :roll: :wink:

Jeremy
 

Midnight

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it's 4 3/4 Lbs of sweetness...
HOW MUCH....??

mannnn.......that makes my smoother sound like a featherweight....

whatchya makin 'em from... Uranium....????

:wink:
 

Alf

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Midnight":9mgm4jwh said:
Brilliant review again Alf... but yer pal's a toe-rag....

:wink:
Ta, Mike, and everyone. And you're right - he is a total stinker. You've no idea the gloatable stuff I get pics of that I have to keep quiet about :cry:

Rob Lee":9mgm4jwh said:
Hah - Wait 'till you see the Lg shoulder... it's 4 3/4 Lbs of sweetness... :)
Ah, the rarely seen Record #074 weighed in at 4 3/4 lbs; a bit wider though I believe. That's quite a piece of arn - will it come with its own personal crane...? :lol:

Rob Lee":9mgm4jwh said:
I even think Alf may really cave on the appearance too...
Hmm, I'll reserve judgement if I may. :p

Cheers, Alf
 

Midnight

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Oops - that should have been 3 3/4 lbs - message edited above!
I take it this puppy wasn't built to take prisoners huh..?? Any idea when it'll be unleashed?
 

Rob Lee

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Midnight":4l69flhc said:
Oops - that should have been 3 3/4 lbs - message edited above!
I take it this puppy wasn't built to take prisoners huh..?? Any idea when it'll be unleashed?
Hi -

Officially - it hits the streets here the first week of September. They're actually in production right now - we're building inventory for our retail stores. First completed ones should be within a week. The UK availability will depend on Brimarc - but I expect it will be reasonably fast after that.

US retail has been set at $169.

Cheers -

Rob
 
A

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Lovely reveiw yet again Alf. I guess the scraper plane is redundant now that you have this and the high angle blade?
 

Alf

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Tony":n5dai16p said:
I guess the scraper plane is redundant now that you have this and the high angle blade?
No, I'm not selling it to you, Tony... :p :lol: One day I may get to play with some really, really evil wood, you never know. :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 
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"And the resulting surface? A damn near perfect as I’ve ever managed to get it after hours of scraping. The Board From Hell tamed?!"

You misunderstand - possibly due to our recent negotiations. :wink: :p

I was NOT trying to buy it :evil: just passing comment on your own sagacious observations - I'll be trying a blade regrind on my LA smoother before parting with money for a scraper plane (assuming I get on with the hand scrapers)

By the way, what are these 'difficult woods' that everyone talks about?

Cheers
Tony

PS How much for the second hand LN?
 
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