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Veritas Plane Review - Part Nine. Large Shoulder Plane

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Alf

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Planed up to the nines.

The third, biggest and, I assume, last member of the Veritas shoulder plane family; the imaginatively named Large Shoulder Plane. Lots of family likenesses to be seen, but let’s pretend it’s all new to us, shall we? Come over to the bench here, draw up a stool, and we’ll have a look. Try not to drool all over it…


A shoulder plane - with knobs on

Weighing in at a toe-crunching 3¾ lbs of ductile iron, this is a serious hunk of plane. The now familiar “Norris” style adjuster and twin pairs of set screws in the sides control a 1¼” wide A2 steel iron. Black finished lever cap, brass adjustments, an adjustable toe and two “multi-positional” bubinga knobs to grip complete the overall package. It comes coated in rust preventative and wrapped in rust inhibiting paper in a large cardboard box with some cardboard cutouts to stop it shifting about in transit. As usual Lee Valley provide a decent set of instructions, which you can see for yourself her... - er, no you can't. Oh well. In addition I was also sent a set of optional brass knobs to try. More of them later.


The shoulder blade's connected to the adjuster, the adjuster's connected to the...

Well, what can I say? It’s got knobs on. That was my initial reaction on first seeing a picture of it. And the second picture. And to be honest, when I opened the box I didn’t go in for a sudden burst of original thinking. :oops: Apart from the knobs it’s simply a beefier version of it’s smaller brother, the medium. I’ve kind of got used to that look now, although one small change to this big’un is the “drop nose”, which I rather like. But I’m afraid I think the wooden knobs do sound rather a jarring note. They just don’t tie in with the other two shoulder planes in the family at all, and look plain weird. I’m not the only one to think that (makes a change :roll: ), so Rob Lee had alternative brass knobs made to compare. As you do... The overwhelming vote on the Wood Central hand tool board was they looked much better. I have to agree, but you can judge for yourself.


Purty, ain't it?

L-V’s usual high standards in finishing of milled and ground surfaces is well in evidence, as is the careful chamfering of all the potential sharp edges. In actual fact this plane is officially a “seconds” - it has a tiny machining error mark on the toe - but apart from that it’s supposed to be up to scratch in all other respects (I asked), and indeed it has the lurid green sticker to indicate inspection by quality control. By and large it is up to standard, although there was a tiny dink in the inner edge of one side too. A couple of seconds with a diamond stone smoothed it out okay though. The textured recesses, one on each side, and the interior are all finished well. One moan I’d had about the medium shoulder plane was the distinct visible misalignment of the casting, something L-V were looking into improving. I pleased to say they seem to not only have looked into it, but sorted it out too. Nice job. :)


Canada Vs. England

Now we come to the part I really dread; checking sole flatness and so forth. It’s not something I’d usually bother with myself, unless it didn’t work, but for the benefit of the review-reading public… The sole is very slightly convex along its length. That’s without the lever cap present at all, so it’s not the old “additional lever cap pressure deflecting sole” issue. It doesn’t seem to affect it in use, but it’s there. I turned to the sides to see if they were square to the sole. They aren‘t. Again it’s not by much, but it is definitely off. :( I’m more than a bit disappointed, because the medium shoulder and the bullnose were absolutely spot on and I was confident. Could be Murphy’s Law in operation of course, and the review one’s the duffer, but I can only review what‘s in front of me. :?
Edit: It's now been confirmed that the sides are within L-V's parameters - so ignore my whitterings. I was lead astray by both the medium and bullnose previously being absolutely spot on - apparently just got lucky. As I said anyway, it's not much and it certainly doesn't prevent it doing its job.


Perversely, I decided to try it without either knob. I'm like that :oops:

With relief I turned to the blade. Removal is a simple case of loosening the lever cap, lifting up the end of the blade to disengage the bullet-shaped adjuster, twist the blade on edge and remove. Plenty of room to twist the blade without dinking the edge in this one, so no need to go up through the mouth as is the case with the bullnose. Reverse the steps to replace it, and take care not to over-tighten the lever cap and deflect the 15° bed. Now just for once I’d managed to persuade myself to try this plane “straight outta the box”. Or at least without honing the iron first. Ah. Problem. What I found was easily the worst blade I’ve ever had from Veritas out of the <calculates> eighteen I’ve seen. A nasty dink right out of the middle of the edge, and the latter not even square to the sides. Oh deary me. :| The former could well be just one of those things, but the skewed edge, considering the importance of a square edge in a plane of this type, is something of a shocker. I ground my teeth - and then the blade (ho, ho). The back wasn’t fabulous either, confirming that old saw “it never rains but it pours“. Again, maybe it’s just Murphy’s hand in this, but these are uncharacteristic problems from Veritas… I cheated and opted for a large-ish secondary bevel to cut down on the length of time it took me to remove the nick, and it was really very quick to get a good edge.


Look, no knobs again. Just trying it, you understand...

Slotting the freshly sharpened blade back in, and just snugging the lever cap up, I applied myself to the set screws in the sides. It must be all this practice I’m getting; following the instructions to the letter I had them all done and dusted within a couple of minutes. I do like the control you get in setting the iron in these planes; it’s a positive pleasure. The nicest bit is when you apply the final tweak of pressure with the lever cap and the blade doesn’t immediately skew out of square, simply because it can’t. Nice. 8) Depth adjustment is fine, precise and simple. As previously the issue of backlash in the adjuster is covered in the instructions, but don’t let that give you the idea it’s a big problem with these planes because it really isn’t. As with it’s littler brother, mouth adjustment uses a simple arrangement of a moving toe piece with locking screw at the top and adjustment screw at the front. Turn the screw one way, the toe goes in and closes the mouth. Turn the other and the toe moves out and opens the mouth. Simple, but an improvement over my Record #073 which needs the toe moved out manually. Naturally I didn’t do any Homer Simpson-a-like “toe goes in, toe goes out” playing with this, ’cos I’m above all that. Yessir. Ha-hum...


Left: loosen the top clamping screw. Right: Clockwise to tighten the mouth, anti-clockwise to open it.
Can you spot the deliberate mistake, children?


Now we reach that part of my reviews that the Veritas R&D department and I probably both hate in equal measure - ergonomics. :roll: In short, back to the knobs. Those brilliant and talented designers <lays it on with trowel :wink: > at Veritas have given any potential user of this plane every possible chance of finding a way to hold it that is comfortable. The rear knob can tilt round from one side to the other, and all places in between, just like the medium shoulder plane. The front knob has three (count ’em) potential mounting points, all angled for extra comfort. Both can be removed, or just one, however the fancy takes you. Their wooden curves are warm to the touch, and designed to nestle cosily in the web of the hand. The recesses in the sides are deep and textured. The lever cap is short and shaped to fit in the palm. There’s an invitingly chamfered-edged hole right through the body. All these things have resulted in one thing, and one only.



It’s bloomin’ comfortable to use.

(Bet that had them worried in Ottawa for a moment… :twisted: )

At least, as long as you use both hands. :? Trying to wield this thing in one hand defeated me entirely, and it wasn‘t just the weight but also the depth and position of those side recesses. My attempted one-handed grip simply didn’t gell with them at all. Of course how does muggins here usually use a shoulder plane? One handed… So I’ll just have to adjust to clamping stuff down instead of holding it with the other hand, won’t I? :roll: A picture’s worth a thousand words, so you can see what various combinations of grip I found effective dotted about this review. Curiously I found myself using what’s essentially a left-handed set up for trimming shoulders. :?


Funny thing, playing cricket I always used to bat left-handed while bowling right-handed too.
Not at the same time, obviously...


A few suggestions of grips to try in the instructions might have been nice, but no matter. Of course I also got to try the alternative “good looking” brass knobs too. They‘re ever-so slightly smaller than the wooden ones, and with the combination of the colder metal and the rather crisp knurling they‘re not ‘arf uncomfortable in comparison with the original wooden style. If I’d never seen or tried the wooden ones I wouldn’t know any different I suppose, so they’d probably be fine, but as it is they just don’t compare. In a straight comfort race the wooden knobs were the right ones to go for, no doubt in my mind. So giving my aesthetic soul a kick in the pants, I once again tossed the brass widgets back in the box.


More knobs than the winner's enclosure at Royal Ascot...

After all that, how well does it work? I ran up a large faux “tenon” to try it out for the benefit of the camera - I also tried it on all sorts of varieties from my scrap box but they weren't so pretty. :wink: This plane has plenty of authority in the cut; hardly surprising, it being no lightweight. Cleaning up the cross grain of the cheek was fairly painless, with the extra width over the medium being of obvious benefit (a trifle over 31mm wide, in new money). Taking wafer-thin shavings of the end grain of the shoulders was equally easy, as you can see.


Ooo, whispy

Having a really firm, controlled grip on the plane is an huge improvement in controlling the cut. I gave it a bit of a workout on long grain, and it did okay, although to be fair the low cutting angle is never at its best for this sort of task. However, you can open up the mouth and almost hog off the wood if you want to - another benefit of the secure two handed grip. But let’s face it, this plane’s bread and butter is precision trimming of joints, and it does it brilliantly. Lots of control over all possible adjustments, so no excuse for blaming the tool (bad luck :p ).

So the verdict then. I do like it. I like it an awful lot more than my old stalwart Record; it’s just so easy to hold in comparison. That’s bad news too, because I’ve never had any beef with the Record, unlike the difficulties some people have reported, until now... It’s so awkward to hold after the L-V I’ve gone right off it. :( The adjustments, just like on its siblings, are great and a real pleasure to deal with. You’ll have noticed I’ve over-used the word “control”, but that really does sum it up. Control over blade setting, control over the plane itself, control in the cut. As far as looks go, well it does look a bit, er, differently appearanced™ with those wooden knobs, but unless you really feel the urge to just display your tools like some sort of c*ll*ct*r :shock: , the brass knobs are an unnecessary option in my opinion. <runs away to hide in bunker from the aesthetes> They do look good though.


When I grow up will I be as big as you, Large?

As far as the problems with this particular example are concerned, I find myself in the reviewer's quandary of trying to be fair to both potential buyer and toolmaker. On the one hand I could get all worked up about them, but that would be both misleading and grossly unfair based on a sample of one. On the other I could dismiss it as irrelevant on the assumption it‘s a one-off, but that would make commenting about fit and finish of any tool in a review a pointless exercise. So all I’ll say is that this is what I found on this one, and it’s not good, but also it’s the first tool from Veritas that’s really disappointed in that respect out of all the ones I’ve seen. 'Nuff said. The bottom line is easy enough - a damn fine shoulder plane that works brilliantly, and it’s reminded me all over again just why I want this plane’s medium-sized brother in my Tools ‘04 party bag. A great family of planes.

Large Shoulder Plane £129.25 available from BriMarc.
Optional brass knobs available direct from Lee Valley at $7.50 a pair

NB: In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that once again Lee Valley have very kindly said I can keep this review plane or dispose of it as I see fit, 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
 
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Nice review Alf; when mine turns up, I will at least be able to check sole flatness and side squareness, and report back. Now I can't wait for delivery man to knock on door...
 

gidon

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Excellent review Alf - thanks.

Alf":25qipio9 said:
... and it’s reminded me all over again just why I want this plane’s medium-sized brother in my Tools ‘04 party bag.
Me too (first one to the Veritas stand ...)!! But I'm very happy to see this review before deciding.

Cheers

Gidon
 
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Nice one Alf. Must add this to the chrissy list as my medium shoulder plane is getting lonely.

Ohh, and I will have to order the brass knobs 'cause the wooden ones are so ugly!!!!
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,
Another superb review from a master - thank you.

I guess Rob will be along soon to comment on what you found but on past experience, I guess the problems - even if not confined to this one plane - will soon be sorted.

I had rather suspected the wooden knobs would be more comfortable than the sharper looking brass - in this case I think familiarity will make the heart grow fonder so to speak.

It is a shame that one-handed operation is difficult or at least not easy. I don't like to use two hands on shoulder planes and whilst a big plane like the 073 can be a struggle at times - especially the LN with rather sharp edges in places my fingers want to go - I just don't feel natural with two hands on the thing.

I take my hat off to LV and Rob for pushing the envelope. If I did not have a full complement of shoulder planes I would certainly get in line for one of these.
 

Alf

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waterhead37":2hi8t858 said:
I guess Rob will be along soon to comment on what you found
Certainly concerning the sides my impression is he doesn't think much of my method of measurement (Viz: square, daylight and eyeball) and suspects they're within tolerances. (The "I see" when I explained my method was loaded with unspoken comment. :roll: :lol: Heigh ho. Measurements in .0000s of an inch simply isn't what I do, sorry.) They may well be within the allowed tolerances, but it's difficult for even the most scientifically inclined to review with that in mind when the figures for same are not widely available... :| However, I'll try and get round to adding a minor amendment to the review to cover that possibility some time today.

Incidentally, the missing pic wasn't supposed to be the deliberate mistake. Sorry about that. :roll:

Cheers, Alf
 

Charley

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Another great review Alf :) I'm looking foward to seeing them at Tools 2004...



Umm which plane are you reviewing here as these pics looks like the medium shoulder plane :oops: :D
 

ike

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Alf,

Certainly concerning the sides my impression is he doesn't think much of my method of measurement (Viz: square, daylight and eyeball)
.

Perhaps it would help with if you can post a picture with the square against the plane?.

Ike
 

bugbear

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General comment: I note that Veritas have taken a good deal of inspiration from the previous generation of shoulder to the Preston/Record design; there's an awful lot of "infill" in the front end shape.

They're just not spot on square.
As I keep on saying (and I suspect I'm echoing Rob) it's all about tolerances, which (sadly) is about numbers and measurements. Nothing is "spot on square", including Alf's square!

Simple, but an improvement over my Record #073 which needs the toe moved out manually.
Heh. Compare and contrast with the non-screw controlled toe, with single-direction stop screw in the LV LA Jack. Use both sides of the paper.

Finaly, Alf, did you see Derek Cohen's handle comments in his LV LA Jack review?

BugBear
 

Chris Knight

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If the out of squareness that Alf is seeing is being checked by the same method/square as she has used previously for the other planes which did seem square - then there is an obvious question!

I don't know what tolerances are permitted in the manufacture of the plane Alf has tested but I would be surprised if they were big enough to permit more than the usual fraction of light one sees using Alf's method.

It might be worth checking the two sides of the plane for parallel with a micrometer.
 

Alf

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Charley":2r550ykf said:
Umm which plane are you reviewing here as these pics looks like the medium shoulder plane :oops: :D
That was the deliberate mistake. :roll: I got lazy.

bugbear":2r550ykf said:
They're just not spot on square.
As I keep on saying (and I suspect I'm echoing Rob) it's all about tolerances, which (sadly) is about numbers and measurements. Nothing is "spot on square", including Alf's square!
Yeah, yeah. But which of the four squares I tried? :roll: The fact is I never expected to find myself doing reviews at all, and I'm in over my head when it comes to measuring the ruddy things, but it's kind of expected. If no-one objects, I'd be quite content to never take square to plane ever again. It's not something I'm really a) interested in, or b) any good at. I'll happily stand aside for a more qualified applicant at any time.

bugbear":2r550ykf said:
Simple, but an improvement over my Record #073 which needs the toe moved out manually.
Heh. Compare and contrast with the non-screw controlled toe, with single-direction stop screw in the LV LA Jack. Use both sides of the paper.
Again - yeah, yeah. Wanna know why that's in there? Because when I didn't make that clear in the medium shoulder plane review someone queried it. Sigh. I tell you, it's a pipper getting instant feedback...

bugbear":2r550ykf said:
Finaly, Alf, did you see Derek Cohen's handle comments in his LV LA Jack review?
I did. Ironically I was drafting an update to my LA jack review with regards to the rear tote only yesterday - and then the computer ate it. I wouldn't go so far as to describe it as comfortable now, but it's become more acceptable with exposure to it. It is, after all, a woman's perogative to change her mind, and a perogative I intend to cling on to against the world... :p I'm hoping that it might have had some bearing on how I find the bench plane totes now too, but that'll have to wait until Tools '04.

I dunno, this review has easily been the worst to do. Took about a dozen re-drafts, and that was before the 20 odd tweaks and corrections once I had it on preview here, the camera played up, the pics went awol, my mended #10 broke again and frankly, all told, I'm just fed up. But one more time:

Do not get hung up on the bloomin' measurements.
The plane works.
It does a good job.
It doesn't matter.
I'm sorry I mentioned it.
It won't happen again.


Can I go away and sulk now? :(

Cheers, Alf

Probably coming down with something, so please excuse the bad mood. :roll:
 

Johnboy

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Hi Alf, great review. You could measure the out of square with a set of feeler gauges and as Chris says you could check if the sides are parallel with a micrometer. I also agree with Chris that if you are getting differences from plane to plane using the same square then one of them is out of square irrespective of the accuracy or your square. It would be interesting to know the Veritas manufacturing tolerances and if every plane is checked.

I really enjoy your reviews, independent and unbiased. Keep 'em coming.

John
 

Rob Lee

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Johnboy":3gzlw3s9 said:
(snip) It would be interesting to know the Veritas manufacturing tolerances and if every plane is checked.

I really enjoy your reviews, independent and unbiased. Keep 'em coming.

John
Hi -

I've been staying out of this one for a bit - but feel I should step in to support Alf here. She did another great job on the review, and I really like the fact that she focuses on her impression and opinions, and not the measurements... Our R&D director was out of town yesterday - but I just spoke with him, and we actually do know what the measurements are on the plane we sent Alf (it was completely checked, as it was a "second")....but a bit more commentary first.

I suppose I could make the point that the real problem here is that the other two planes (medium shoulder and bullnose) are the problem - as they were apparently spot on - which is great - but we don't claim that that is always the case.

Keep in mind too that interpretation of tolerances has to be done using a context - one has to consider the intended use of the plane. Lets say the LG shoulder is 4" high. If one uses the bottom as a reference and puts a square along the side, and light is visible - then the plane is out of square. Let's say the gap is .0015"... sounds like a lot - but that's the wrong way to measure that plane. When making a cut - that .0015" along the side translates into less than .0005 (half of 1 thousandth of an inch) of error in the cut...excellent tolerances if we're talking metalworking - and absolutely fantastic for woodworking.

The measurement of the sides on the plane sent to Alf were certainly within .0015". Yes - you see a gap at this level - but no, it will not have any bearing on performance. Certainly - with the equipment and QC processes we have here - we can set and hit any tolerance we want, but there's a price for that. We try to set a performance/price target while addressing the primary function of a tool - and back it up with a pretty good guarantee. Many of the planes which will leave here WILL be spot on...and some won't - but none will miss the price/performance target, or not function as intended.

Cheers -

Rob
 

bugbear

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...and light is visible

It's a standard assumption in engineering circles that you can (quite easily) pick up light coming though a 1/10 thou gap. It's also commonly accepted that judging the actual size of a gap detected this way is difficult.

Certainly I've been surprised when "sighting" plane soles using a straight edge, and subsequently making a quantitive assessment using feeler gauges.

Amazing amounts of light will sneak through small gaps :)

Another gotcha. it's normal metrology practice to use references 10x more accurate than the errors you're trying to quantify. This means that measuring thou's (either angular or linear) needs some pretty pricy reference equipment.

So, Alf; keep telling us what ya' think. You do it well, and you do it amusingly. If you want to measure planes, feel free. If you don't, I don't think anyone's going to feel short changed..

BugBear
 

ike

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but feel I should step in to support Alf here.
I'd just like to add that (I think I could speak for everyone here) we're all in support of Alf, and many thanks to her for a throughly well written review (as usual). And thanks Rob, for succinctly reinforcing the proper perspective.

cheers

Ike
 

gidon

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Alf - I agree with bugbear - keep the reviews coming - they are excellent and a real help; especially for those who rarely get to see these tools in the flesh let alone try them. FWIW I find your visual inspection very reassuring. It means if I get a plane and employ the same method I won't worry if I too see light coming through!
Rob - very well explained - I look forward to seeing both planes at the Tools 2004 show.
Cheers
Gidon
 

Alf

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I'm sorry folks, I'm really not myself today. Disregard my whinging. I had a deprived childhood - never even saw a feeler gauge 'til I was in my twenties... Thank you for you support, underserved though it is.

My apologies, Rob. It seems I was indeed mislead by the accuracy of the others.

I'll have to stop there 'cos my head feels like it's going to explode and my eyes are watering like a leaky hose. :cry: I'd take my temperature but goodness knows how inaccurate the thermometer is... :roll:

Cheers, Alf
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Alf

Your reviews are fantastic. Keep up the good work.

As you know I'm not really a hand tool buff but I thoroughly enjoy reading your plane reviews.

I have an eclectic taste in planes. Ranging from a Stanley through an LN low angle to a Makita. :wink:

The Mak was tremendous when I had a lot of doors to sort out.

Sorry, I'll leave quietly now. :oops:

Cheers
Neil
 
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