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Veritas Plane Review - Part Seven. Bullnose Plane

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Alf

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Seven reviews for seven other reviews, or something...

Just when you thought this flood-ette of reviews had dried up, Lee Valley sent me yet more to give my wholly unqualified opinion on. :shock: The Veritas Bullnose is the second plane to join the shoulder plane family. Although I’m never certain referring to this style of plane as a shoulder plane is entirely helpful for the beginner, bearing in mind the difficulty inherent in using the short toe. The bullnose market has been allowed to dwindle in recent times, leaving the poor woodworker with the Stanley #90 as the only real option of any width, so this is a particularly welcome addition. At least it is to me; there seem to be two schools of thought on bullnose planes and a lot of accomplished woodworkers are in the other - “what’s the point?” - one. It is, as they say, a case of horses for courses.


Surprise! It's a bullnose plane - okay, so I couldn't think of a caption...

As before, ductile iron, A2 steel, “Norris” style adjustment, lateral grub screws etc all make an appearance. Plus a few “trademark” brass knobs for the adjustments. It arrived in quite a large cardboard box, possibly with an eye to the large shoulder plane coming soon? Totally enclosed in anti-rust paper with packing paper to take up the extra room. A comprehensive instruction book viewable on the Lee Valley site and lots of sticky, gloopy rust preventative all over the plane finished the ensemble. The latter I’m all in favour of; better a few minutes with a rag and some white spirit than a new tool with rust. :)


Exploded bullnose - ooo, nasty

Absolutely the first thing to strike me about this plane is its size. For a bullnose it seems a lot bigger than the figures suggest on paper. I was moved to wonder if the bull in question wasn’t a bull elephant… :wink: (and yes, I have been saving up that joke :oops: ) With its 1” wide iron it’s actually a little narrower than the Records and Prestons I’m more accustomed to, but it is a little longer, and I think taller. Despite it’s similar styling to the medium shoulder plane, who’s looks I’m not greatly enamoured with, I really warmed to the appearance of this plane. It looks a workmanlike tool, ready to do the business without fuss. As I’ve come to expect, the machining and finishing of all the bare metal areas is excellent; chamfered arrises, finely ground sides and sole etc all impart a feeling of quality. The areas of unmachined casting are all well painted, although there’s only one area on the toe that’s visible on the outer surfaces anyway.


Fine grinding, no?

A quick run over the sole and sides found them to all be square and flat as I would expect. No surprises there.

Due to the small size of the plane, removing and replacing the blade is a trifle finicky. L-V seem to have taken that into consideration by slightly altering the shape of the lug on the adjuster that registers in the blade; at least that‘s my assumption. It’s a bullet shape, which gives you just a bit more leeway than the straight sides of a cylinder, and apparently this change in shape will be made across the whole range.


Okay, so only a slight alteration, but it least it shows I'm taking notice...

Even so, it’s tricky not to ding your newly sharpened edge if you try to remove the iron with a twist move from the top, so opening up the mouth and going in from below is probably a better option. I’m afraid I couldn’t bring myself to try the blade straight out of the box; somehow it just doesn’t seem right. :oops: Honing it took very little time, the back being virtually flat and the bevel already quite finely ground. As in the medium shoulder plane, the combination of the blade bevel and the low 15° bedding angle make for a low angle of attack, ideal on end grain.

For some reason I found the lateral grub screws rather more difficult to deal with this time. If anything they’re a trifle too sensitive. A moments inattention in removing the screwdriver tip and - whoops - the screw turns a trifle and suddenly the blade is too restricted. Or too loose. Or completely off altogether. :roll: Sensitivity in adjustments is a fault on the right side though, and once the settings are done there’s little or no reason to fiddle with them again anyway, unless you hone the blade out of square... Once again the instructions on how to set these screws was clear and easily followed. The depth adjustment is smooth and precise, with a little backlash but nothing that good plane adjuster-using habits can’t cope with. The mouth adjustment is provided by the movable toe à la the Stanley #90, rather than the shim method favoured by the popular Record #077. A simple turn of the knurled brass knob on the top and the toe will slide easily forward or back. In order to retain the mouth setting there’s a small grub screw in the depression on the top of the toe piece which stops the toe sliding all the way back, and incidentally clouting the edge of the iron. An added extra with the moveable toe is that it can be totally removed to turn the plane into a chisel plane. Not the easiest plane style to use, if truth be told, but the facility is there if you want it.


It's a bullnose pretending to be a chisel plane

All the adjustments are straightforward, easy to get to grips with and precise. The only thing you’ll need is to make sure you have a small slotted screwdriver on hand. I didn’t, so a certain amount of toolbox rummaging went on before I could adjust everything!

In order to make this as comfortable plane to hold as possible, Lee Valley have retained the through hole in the body and stubby lever cap design from the medium shoulder plane. In addition to this is a small depression on the top of the nose piece, which is very helpful, and remarkably comfortable given its rough cast surface. I found I was relying more on the hole in the body for motive power than the lever cap, especially with the plane on its side, and this got quite painful on the thumb because of the edge, and despite the chamfering there. Not a major niggle, but something I’ll probably look into solving sooner rather than later.


Trimming a tenon shoulder

I have actually used this plane on a real project, :shock: but of course when you’re genuinely absorbed in making something, you always forget to take pics…:roll: So I worked a tenon and a stopped rebate in some ash to take a few glamour shots. :wink: End grain is where that low bedding angle really shows its worth, and trimming down a tenon shoulder was easy.


Having fun trimming tenon cheeks

The only problem is the one that besets all bullnose planes (for obvious reasons) - the lack of sole at the front. For that reason I couldn’t honestly recommend a bullnose to a beginner as a cheaper (I'm assuming..?) alternative to a full shoulder plane, as they’re more than likely to lose the will to keep trying long before they gain the knack of registering that vestigial front sole effectively on the work piece. Even after I’d got into the swing of it again, I found I blew it every so often. The same problem effects it in all its use of course, so you do need to bear that in mind. Trimming the cheeks was also pretty good; the 1” iron providing that useful extra width the ¾” shoulder plane suffers from the lack of when trimming cheeks. Trimming up the base and side of the rebate (with the grain) was okay, although the low angle isn’t ideal for this, and the nose got in reasonably close to the stopped end.


That's what I call being brought to a stop.

I switched to chisel plane mode to take it right up to the corner which was an experience. As is the nature of the beast, it immediately wanted to nose dive into the work. :roll: I go the knack in the end, but I can’t honestly say I’d choose this plane on the basis of “wow, it’s a chisel plane too” :wink: I’m reliably informed by someone who likes the chisel plane feature that it’s great for cleaning up glue squeeze out. I can truthfully say it never even occurred to me to use a precision tool such as this on glue, :shock: but for what it’s worth… One of the things I find I use my Preston bullnose for most isn’t in fact bullnose stuff at all. I rather like it as a sort of a block plane, with the advantage of the rebating feature. Very handy when space is too tight for a standard block, or you need to get your grip clearer of the surface of the work for some reason. I haven’t really taken to the Veritas for that sort of thing at all yet; it’s just that bit heavier and lest “handy” as far as I’m concerned. Maybe in time...

So, what’s the verdict? If you’re in the market for a new bullnose, choice hasn’t exactly been the watchword. Neither, alas, has decent quality. The Veritas has filled both those voids and should be applauded. It does a damn good job, easy to adjust, reasonably comfortable to hold and it isn’t too hideously ugly. I was greatly looking forward to its arrival, right from the first drawing I saw of it a while back. With all these good things about it, it begs the question; why haven’t I warmed to it? The conclusion I’ve come to is the “handy” factor. It’s just a bit beefier in size than I’m used to, and I don’t find it so handable - all good news to the larger handed who’ve always found the available bullnoses too small of course. It’s easily the pick of the new bullnose planes currently available, so if you’re in the market for this specialist type of plane then I don’t think you’d be disappointed.

Bullnose Shoulder Plane £??? shrouded in mystery as yet 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, a price, as of 1st October!
Bullnose Shoulder Plane £96.35
 

Aragorn

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Thanks Alf - another excellent review. Impartial? I dunno - you always seem to rather like any plane :wink:
 

Alf

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Aragorn":39d79diy said:
Impartial? I dunno - you always seem to rather like any plane :wink:
Ahh... you noticed that... :oops: :lol:

Thanks, folks; I shall sleep easy knowing I'll have probably made Rob roll his eyes just enough to retain my reputation. :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

Alf

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Aragorn":2e5rc6xl said:
It's hard to say what exactly gave it away.... :wink:
LOL! :lol: It was me going on about chisels all the time wasn't it? I knew that double bluff wouldn't work... :roll:

Cheers, Alf
 

Rob Lee

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Alf":2f381c1b said:
(snip)

Just when you thought this flood-ette of reviews had dried up......


(snip)
Hi Alf -

Have to be quick (I have visitors here) but a great job ....you're almost done 'em all... ;)


Well - so far, anyway..

Cheers -

Rob
 

Noel

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So,there's another one coming shortly.............
Good work Alf.

RGds

Noel
 

Alf

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Noely":1aljgix4 said:
So,there's another one coming shortly.............
:shock: At the rate he's bringing them out, and the rate I'm reviewing them, this could be a life's work I've embarked on here. :shock:

Cheers, Alf

I'm sure there used to be a woodworker of that name round here someplace..? :roll: :lol:
 

bugbear

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... One of the things I find I use my Preston bullnose ...

Did you forget to meep?

BugBear
 

Alf

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bugbear":1sx43h47 said:
... One of the things I find I use my Preston bullnose ...

Did you forget to meep?
Ah, at last a true connoisseur to notice these important details :D

Cheers, Alf
 
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