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Veritas Plane Review - Part Ten. Low Angle Spokeshave

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Alf

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There were ten in the bed and the little one said “How come you’re only reviewing this shave now when you’ve had it for over 2 years? Oh, and roll over.”

Yes, the first shall be last and all that jazz. After some strenuous use of this tool over the last few days I figured I was freshly au fait enough with it to add a review to the cannon. This shave is very like the woodies of old, primarily because of the low angle blade of course; but also has more than a hint of a Stanley “Razor Edge” and a modicum of similarity to the Rapier. The body is black, powder-coated aluminium, with a movable aluminium toe and brass nuts and screws for the adjustments. The A2 steel blade is 1/8” thick and 2” wide (that’s 50mm, metric fiends). It came wrapped in a copy of its instructions in a sturdy plain white box.



I rather like the appearance of this shave, I must admit. The shape is, of course, pretty traditional which may account for it. All in all it looks pretty classy. The fit and finish is excellent, as we’ve come to expect; after two years of use the main evidence of the passage of time, apart from the sawdust, are a couple of scratches on the toe piece.



Adjusting this shave is quite an interesting experience at first. Rather than have an iron with twin posts like a wooden shave, the sides of the iron have a bevel which is captured by the heads of the two bolts, tightened with knurled brass locking knobs. Probably best to refer to the instructions to see what I mean…
Moving the iron backwards and forwards opens and closes the mouth opening, while the “back” of the blade also provides the sole of the tool, with cutting depth set by the height of the toe piece.



The latter has two possible positions. One way up it creates quite a reasonable sole in front of the edge for convex and flat work; flip it 180° and the toe becomes vestigial for use on concave work. Because of the length of the iron front to back the concave curve it can follow isn’t particularly “quick” though.

The iron comes with a 20° main bevel and 25° micro bevel. As far as I can recall the blade was pretty flat, and the edge doesn’t take long to hone. The only real drawback here is holding the iron at all. It’s small and the sides are sharp. The instructions include plans for a simple holder, despite Veritas also making a small blade holder, which is excellent and well worth making (or buy the commercial variety).

Fitting the blade is a case of slipping it in, bevel up, under the bolt heads which, in conjunction with the angled sides of the iron, act like a sliding dovetail. Tightening the nuts is best done a little bit on each side at a time to get an even grip. Setting the depth of cut using the toe piece requires a screwdriver, and it can be finicky until you get the knack. My screw heads are slightly messed up, simply from the number of times I found myself fiddling to get the setting right before I was familiar with the tool. Too deep a cut and the iron tends to get pushed back, and even out of the grip of the bolts altogether as there‘s no mechanical stop to prevent it. Too shallow and you could be there all day on some jobs.

Ergonomically I find this spokeshave pretty comfortable to hold both pushing and pulling. Not much else to say really.
Oh, I like using it one handed, a bit like a very odd block plane, just to chamfer end grain edges; it’s light enough to do that with no problem at all. Almost like using a knife really.



This shave is the one I reach for first every time, and 80% of the time I don’t need any other. It excels at end grain, as you’d expect with the low angle, and only in the worst cases does it rip up long grain rather than shave it. My one grumble is its inability to really waste away wood at speed, because of the iron slipping backwards if you take too big a bite. Its performance overall is so good that I’m willing to overlook that little shortcoming though. On the whole I think any moderately keen spokeshave user will want one of these in their arsenal. Up until the recent rash of new bevel down shaves on the market I’d have said this was the only modern shave to bother with, and even now I think it’d still be my first choice if I was buying again.

Low angle Spokeshave £38.78

Edit: So if I liked it so much, why did I sell it? The simple answer is my selection of other spokeshaves grew and were dedicated to each job - wooden for end grain, round-soled, etc - so while the LA shave did everything okay, the others did individual things slightly better. I'd still say this is an excellent all-rounder and if, god forbid, you were looking to buy only one shave, this has got to be the main contender. And still, if I was starting again, I'd go with this one to see me through until I could build-up my selection again. If I hadn't wanted to deny the claim of "collector" I'd probably still have it... :oops: Alf 30/3/07
 

Philly

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Nice review (again!) Alf
I do find this shave a little "strange" in use-probably due to the sole being the back of the actual blade. It is pretty awkward to set up, as depth of cut and setting the width of the throat is so intertwined. Once you get it sussed though you're away. It certainly doesn't like to take big shavings, especially in hardwoods. The blade pulling out backwards is a real pain and dangerous too (as my hand will attest!), but with a little experience good results are achievable.
One tip I found useful is this-make sure the two irons that hold the blade are set at THE SAME HEIGHT. As you loosen and tighten these it is possible for theses to be set higher or lower than the other, whilst still being correctly tightened. But this doesnt clamp the blade evenly, and contributes to the "blade pulling out" syndrome.
This is a good shave, but after trying the new "regular" style shave from Veritas (or the Boggs :shock: ) it does come over a bit more awkward to use.
Thanks for the review Alf, and I hope my comments make some sense.
regards
Philly :D
 
A

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Nice review Alf and I have to agree that this is one excellent shave (first I reach for too) :wink:
 

DaveL

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Alf,

You never stop pushing do you, :shock: I will add one to the list, the old iron Stanley just doesn't cope that well. :(
 

Waka

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Alf

As usual excellent review.
I bought one of there about 6 months ago and had a lot of trouble getting it to work satisfactory, the balde kept coming out.

Thanks to Philly I have now got the hang of it.

keep the reviews coming.
 

bugbear

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I have one of these, as well as fully tuned woodies to compare it to.

The inability to follow a "quick" curve is its biggest limitation. I don't find problem in it taking fine cuts, since I greatly enjoy shaping wood (e.g. axe handles) with a flurry of fine cuts, watching the shape form as I progress.

It cuts so well that the rate of wood removal is more than adequate, even though the induividual shavings are thin.

The blade takes and holds an excellent edge.

Oone thing that takes a little time to become accostomed to is the cut taking place where you can't see it (a trait it shares with its wooden predecessor). It's not a "fault" as such, just a difference from the more common metal bevel down design.

BugBear
 

Shady

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Interesting: I've got one of these too, and I had the blade 'ping' out backwards a number of times. As mentioned, it is disconcerting, and potentially downright dangerous, to have your 'deathomatic razor sharp', honed to perfection chunk of A2 steel come winging past your fingers/eyes/whatever...

I'm a big strong lad, and found this almost impossible to prevent, short of wrecking the knurled locking nuts with a set of mole grips. I actually wrote to Lee Valley, whose response was the usual a) 'send back for complete refund if you're dis-satisfied', and b) make sure you tighten them equally... (edit - by 'the usual', I mean thoroughly pleasant and sensible)

Out of interest, I suspect that 'we are not alone' with this problem, as I note that their web instructions have been modified to include the suggestion that you try scoring the blade (see here: click on the 'instr' link for details, and read down a while... http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.asp?page=44834&category=1,50230&abspage=1&ccurrency=3&SID= ) on both top and bottom mating surfaces.

I like the design feature of an adjustable mouth, which is rare for a spokeshave - but I'm not a great user at present, as the excitement of wondering whether, in effect, an exquisitely sharpened sword blade is about to scythe past my anatomy like something out of 'the last samurai' is a little off-putting for this woodworker...:shock: It's the first Veritas tool I've got that has underwhelmed me in terms of basic design... I may try their others, which achieve the same effect with shims...
 

Alf

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Shady":2rgkpmqa said:
Interesting: I've got one of these too, and I had the blade 'ping' out backwards a number of times. As mentioned, it is disconcerting, and potentially downright dangerous, to have your 'deathomatic razor sharp', honed to perfection chunk of A2 steel come winging past your fingers/eyes/whatever...
That's a bit extreme; I've never had the iron actually shoot out of the back. Hmm, thinking about it I often have my right thumb resting on the back edge, so I feel when it's starting to shift before it gets dangerous. It is a shame it has this small foible, but I've found it's an issue with other planes that don't have a mechanical stop to the iron too. i.e. A pre-depth adjuster #50 and the L-N side rebates. Possibly an argument for having an adjuster on a scrub plane too...


Cheers, Alf
 

Philly

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An adjuster on a scrub plane?
Crikey, who's going to make one of those? :wink:
cheers
Phillee 8)
 

Shady

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Alf -you've got me puzzled - I can see the side rebates 'creeping under load', but to achieve the sort of 'brown trousered' effect of this thing, you'd have to be smacking them with a sledgehammer, surely??
 

Alf

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Shady":xd3fbscq said:
Alf -you've got me puzzled - I can see the side rebates 'creeping under load', but to achieve the sort of 'brown trousered' effect of this thing, you'd have to be smacking them with a sledgehammer, surely??
Well that's just it; I don't get any "brown trousered" effect on the any of them. All of them "creep under load" (good description), which is why I'm a bit surprised at your L-V winging past you at speed. I get creep, but not winging. The inevitable question must be are you smacking it with a sledgehammer?
Seriously though, it sounds like you've got much more serious a problem with yours than I have, so maybe yours has gone beyond design foible into a problem specific to your individual shave?


Mike, just a small joke.


Cheers, Alf
 

Shady

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Maybe you're right: I'm gonna re-examine my use of this tool, because I do like it's overall design, other than this one aspect...
 

Rob Lee

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Hi Shady -

No doubt the blade can slip - it relies on the friction between the posts and bevelled blade edge to hold in place...if the surface are too finely finished - it slips more easily...

Try some grit between the bearing surfaces - or worst case, scarring the faces (carefully!) with coarse SiC paper... If it gets mucked up, we'll replace it for you....

Cheers -

Rob
 

Shady

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Rob:

Number one - Happy Christmas to my favourite tool designer/seller - anyone who puts the effort into customer relations you do, coupled with fundamentally excellent tools, deserves every success.

Number two - You're right of course - I wasn't thinking - the surfaces on a Lee Valley spokeshave are bound to be so finely finished that friction will never hold... :wink:

Number three - joking apart, I'm definitely gonna re-visit it - you've all got my 'tinkering' glands fired up here, so I'm going to have to get it working properly...

Happy Christmas to all - no 'Bah, Humbug! from me... :D
 

ike

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you've all got my 'tinkering' glands fired up here
...sounds like it could get a bit messy. :shock:
 
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