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Veritas Plane Review - Part Two. Medium Shoulder Plane

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Alf

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And now for part two - the Umpire Strikes Back.

The Medium shoulder plane is the first in a line of planes from Lee Valley Veritas; the others being a bullnose which has just been released, and a larger size which is due later this year. Funny how the shoulder plane market has been pretty quiet for so long, and then like buses they all come along at once isn’t it? Not that I’m complaining of course. :D


Don't know what Edward Preston would have thought...

Ductile iron is again the material of choice, although anyone dropping precision planes such as this frankly doesn’t deserve a second chance… :wink: Again a “Norris” style adjuster is used, and four (count ‘em) grub screws to keep that A2 blade exactly where you want it. Packing is a cardboard box and rust inhibitor paper, with additional packing material to stop it sliding around in its paperback book-sized box. The instructions had gone AWOL unfortunately, and only belatedly did I download them, but more on that later. Once again, you can judge them for yourself on the product page at L-V. And if you’re wondering what 0.700” is in modern money, it seems to be about 17.5mm wide. :roll:

Well I’d better be up front about this from the start; first time I saw a picture of this plane I thought “that is one ugly plane”. With my usual tact, I said so. :oops: After considerable exposure to further pictures of it in the intervening months, I grew to sort of like it. So I said that too. I still think it looks like two halves from two other planes stuck together, but I think I can live with that now. But what do I know anyway? My mum’s comment was “Oo, what a nice looking plane”, only spoilt by the “You haven‘t bought another one?” follow up. Not yet, mother dear, not yet... :lol: The sides and sole are very well, and finely, finished, with a small chamfer around all the grip-friendly edges to make using it as comfortable as possible.


The main bedding area for the blade and a good idea of the quality of finish

The lever cap has a slightly textured finish, which again aids control, and although there is a visible cast line in it doesn’t impinge on the comfort. Mr Previous Reviewer left a nice scratch in it though, which suggests you might want to invest in a plane sock or similar to keep it nice. The mini pebbledash effect makes a reappearance on the inset areas each side, and again the finish is sound. Before starting this review, what I knew about casting planes could be written on an atom, and I was surprised to see the two halves of what, for want of a better word, I’d call the cross pin did not match up. They join, but are offset by as much as a millimetre, maybe one and a half. I queried this with Rob Lee, and his reply was “The "cross pin" alignment is aesthetic, and has to do with how core molds work - it has absolutely no effect on performance whatsoever”. So there you have it, not a problem should you buy one and find the same thing.


It just came apart in me 'ands, guv :wink:

Now sides square to the sole are vital with a precision plane such as this, and I’m pleased to say it passed with flying colours. Not a chink of light to be seen. The sole however, was rather a different thing. I didn’t check this until after I’d used the plane, that way I get an unbiased view of how it performs. I was surprised to find the straight edge slightly rocking along the length. Even with the lever cap barely bearing on the blade it was still noticeable. After considerable too-ing and fro-ing between myself and Rob, I eventually read the instructions (pesky previous reviewer not putting them back), and greatly to my chagrin found the whole thing covered in them. Viz: “To a small degree, the depth of cut is also influenced by the amount of clamping force applied to the lever cap wheel. As you tighten the wheel, you increase the blade clamping force that, in turn, results in a slight deflection of the blade bed. This is normal and does not affect performance. A very light clamp force will deflect the blade bed 0.0005". A hard clamp force will deflect the blade bed by as much as 0.003". Extremely small adjustments to blade depth can be achieved by changing the blade clamping force.” I’m not in a position to tell whether the deflection I saw was equal to these quoted figures, but I have no reason to suppose otherwise. So it’s normal for this plane model and it didn’t seem to effect performance. Note to self; read the instructions, stoopid. :oops:

The blade is easy to remove; loosen the lever cap, lift the end of the blade up slightly to disengage the adjuster, twist the blade 90degs so it’s on edge and remove. Replacement is the same process in reverse, with added caution to preserve that newly sharpened edge. :wink: The blade itself has a single bevel and bedded at an unusually low 15degs. The previous reviewer had once again done the “right outta the box” bit, still leaving the gunk on the blade, so honing was required. Sharpening took about 5 minutes and was painless, the back was flat and the single bevel easy to touch up.

Slotting the blade back into the plane and onto the adjuster is fairly straightforward, but with all the available adjustments you do need to concentrate the first time you set the blade. The feature any shoulder plane owner will appreciate is the grub screws. There are two on each side; one near the shoulder of the blade and the other an inch or so further up. This lets you set the blade exactly parallel with the front of the mouth, and it will stay there even while you re-tighten the lever cap. The lateral adjustment part of the adjuster is really a bit redundant on this plane, but as I suppose it was just as easy to have it as not, there it is. Careful adjustment with the grub screws as explained in the instructions is the best way. The depth adjustment is exceptionally smooth and precise. Shoulder planes aren’t something that have their depth of cut adjusted often, but you could find yourself doing it with this one just for fun. Backlash is still a slight problem, but dealing with it is covered in the instructions, so it’s not an issue for even the newest newbie. Adjusting the mouth is courtesy of the Record #073, so I felt right at home. Loosen the screw on the top of the toe, and then using the screw at the front you can adjust it to the customary gnat’s whisker.


Left: loosen the top clamping screw. Right: Clockwise to tighten the mouth, anti-clockwise to open it.

I found it all too easy to tighten up shy of where I wanted it to be as the nose piece has a tendency to drop a little giving the wrong idea of where the front of the mouth has reached. You just need to remember to keep pressure on the movable piece while you adjust, or maybe be a bit braver about how tight you leave the clamping screw, which I was loathe to do on someone else‘s plane. :? I wouldn’t say adjusting this plane is a doddle - you do have to fiddle a little with the grub screws to get the blade exactly where it's wanted for instance - but it is controlled. You can get the setting exactly how you want it in a calm, precise way, rather than hoping for the best once you tighten the lever cap. It’s not often that I find myself smiling while adjusting a shoulder plane, I can tell you.

Ergonomics now raises its ugly head again. As before, it’s a personal thing, very personal in this case, not to say idiosyncratic, so bear that in mind as you read my comments. I was extremely doubtful about some of the claims made for the comfort of this plane, I must admit. That brass wotsit on the top particularly drew my contempt, not least ‘cos it added to the ugly quotient. :wink: Now Rob claims that once you pick this plane up the scales fall from your eyes, all becomes clear and choirs of angels start a’singing. Not exactly his words, but I think I got the spirit of what he said. :D Well the scales stayed stuck for me for a long, long time. You’d have all had a good laugh watching me turning this thing every which way trying to “get it”. Eventually I unscrewed the brass widget on the top, tossed it back in the box, told myself I’d been right all along :wink: and we got along much better from then on. I’ve come to conclusion my fingers are too short. If I had the brass widget in the web of my hand as suggested, my fingers had no control over the front of the plane. If I got control of the front, the brass doodad was digging into my palm. In the end I settled for a grip that’s not too dissimilar from the one I use with the Record, but the through hole was a definite bonus. The picture below will show you better than I can describe. I’m sure Rob’s rolling his eyes and going “tut tut”, but it worked for me. :lol: Maybe no one else favours a grip that puts pressure on the toe as well? Perhaps I’m a freak? No, don’t answer that… What my fiddling did reveal were plenty of options for any number of different styles of grip though, so there should be something for everyone. Even freaks...


Well it works for me. Note the through hole providing a good point of contact for the thumb. More importantly, the resultant shavings

My main test wood for this plane was ash. Getting fine shavings from end grain ash without them disintegrating is a pretty stern test; or the sternest I had handy anyway. And before you ask, I reckon the thinness of the shavings is the issue in this case. You need to be able to reliably take fractions off a joint to get that perfect fit. Otherwise you might just as well use your joints straight from the router or whatever and kiss those fine tolerances goodbye. It passed with flying colours, I’m pleased to say. I might almost say I got carried away with the task… Plenty of control, virtually no effort required and a good, clean, smooth end grain as a result. I’ll admit, I spent so long enjoying doing that, the long grain test got forgotten. :roll: I have absolutely no reason to suppose it’d be anything but fine and dandy though. I did do a little cross grain work and it was fine, but it’s not a task that brings out the best in anything but a skew plane to be fair.

The verdict then. I do like this plane. A lot. I think the control over the adjustment of the blade is superb and beats anything else I’ve tried hands down. I still think it's unlikely to win Beautiful Tool of the month, mind you. The variations in the quality of the casting is a minor negative; economic forces in play again, plus the difficulties in casting anything at all (thanks to Rob for the 101 on all the reasons you don‘t want to take up casting planes for a living :shock: ). But the bottom line is I’ve gone from “Yeuch, ugly plane” to having it right there on the upper slopes of the Wish List. 8)

Medium Shoulder Plane £116.50

Dear me, and this was going to be a shorter review too... :oops:

<Edit> As of 1st October there's been a review of prices, viz:
Medium Shoulder Plane £104.58
 

Philly

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Alf,
Nice review, there's a future in Journalism for you if that lottery win doesn't come up! :lol:
I think the appearance of a tool is important-a beautiful tool is a pleasure to use as well as display! One of the reasons I like my Cliftons is the combo of racing green, polished iron and bubinga (i'm a sucker for a pretty face :wink: ) I'm no luddite but there is a long woodworking history, tools and methods evolving over the centuries-it's good to be connected to that. A lot of "space-age" ideas (i.e. aluminium planes, disposable blades, etc) come and go, it's the tried and trusted tools that earn their place in the toolbox.
keep up the good work,
Philly
 

Noel

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Alf,

I'm not generally a happy clappy sort of person but that was excellent. And enjoyable.

Rgds

Noel
 

Gary H

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Great review once again, Alf. You should do this for a living! Witty, informative, unbiased, etc.etc. All the things that were said last time, really. 8)

As for your views on aesthetics, I'm afraid I must disagree. I liked it as soon as I saw it. 8) It don't count for much as far as performance goes, but as you say it's a personal thing.
But love it or hate it, the Medium Shoulder obviouly does the biz. And well, too.

Ta muchly

Gary

Edit: Please don't make any future reviews shorter.... :D
 

johnjin

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Hi Alf

Thanks very much for that.
Another excellent review and you have even got me thinking I might carefully approach the slope.
A joy to read. Well done

All the best

John
 
A

Anonymous

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Alf

Lovely review

I have one and love it and agree with your comments except for the little brass widget. I find it works well for me but then I might have longer fingers than yourself or it may be simply because this is my first shoulder plane and I know no better..

However, I think mine is beautiful and much nicer looking than the more traditional shaped metal planse like the LN or (expeciallY) Stanley

Cheers

Tony
 

Rob Lee

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Gary H":159tw647 said:
(snip)

As for your views on aesthetics, I'm afraid I must disagree. I liked it as soon as I saw it. 8)

(snip)

... obviously, a man of fine and discerning taste... :)

Good job Alf... and I see nothing wrong with your grip!

Cheers -

Rob
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,

That is a hell of a good review - very well done. Yes, you are a journalist manque or summat.

I am very intrigued by the sole flatness stuff - I can well see how it will change shape by a small amount as one tightens the hold-down screw - must say I have never thought of doing that to alter the cutting performance of my shoulder planes!

Tell Rob he should sack that previous reviewer - send them to me instead. I can be totally unbiased for a very reasonable fee.
 

Aragorn

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Well done Alf and thank you.
Two excellent reviews.

<wondering whether I really need a new shoulder plane now...>
 

Rob Lee

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waterhead37":1aa0kt0z said:
(snip)

Tell Rob he should sack that previous reviewer - send them to me instead. I can be totally unbiased for a very reasonable fee.
Chris -

I know what you're saying - but I should also say I had no idea Alf was working on these, let alone that she'd been sent any planes...

All Brimarc's doing - to their credit, I might add.

Cheers -

Rob
 

Alf

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Chris,

Urgh, the previous reviewer. :evil: Don't get me started. Rusty fingerprints on the bench planes was my surprise for today. :( Now just how hard is it to give 'em a wipe over with a little oil before putting them back in their boxes? :roll:

Now I'm off to test whether all this ductile iron is any good dropped from a height onto a swollen head... :mrgreen: There's likely to be a short delay before the next one btw, and not just 'cos of the concussion...

Cheers, Alf

P.S. It's ugly I tell ya! Ugly!! Mwahahahahahhaaaaa :p :lol:
 

Gary H

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Still trying to get the 'woodshack' watertight in
Rusty fingerprints on the bench planes was my surprise for today.
Aaaaargh! I hate that! I find those when the kids have been taking a sneaky look at one of my knives or swords. They take it out of it's sheath and leave greasy fingerprints all over the blade! :x I can always tell which one by the size of print, too :wink:

P.S. It's ugly I tell ya! Ugly!! Mwahahahahahhaaaaa
I'm sure I can hear the distant sound of a poor little plane sobbing gently in it's box.... <sob,sob>"I'm not a duckling, I'm a signet. Really I am!..." :cry:

Ta muchly

Gary
 

Charley

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Another great job Alf :) Don't make them too good though if not no one will ever send me tools to review again, they'll just send them to you :lol: :wink:
 

Shadowfax

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Wow, Alf. Two excellent reviews. And I thought I was not really that interested in planes. Not so sure now, though.
Thank you very much.......... I think!
No, I was right the first time - Thank you very much.
Cheers.

SF
 

Pete W

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Bravo!

Another excellent review, and another plane added to my wishlist. I'm sure my bank manager is already quaking at the thought of the benchplane review :).
 

Neil

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Hi Alf,

Brilliant review again - thank you!

Philly":13q14f8n said:
Nice review, there's a future in Journalism for you if that lottery win doesn't come up! :lol:
I'm willing to bet that Alf's job isn't a million miles away from this already (my guess - editor for a book publishing company)

NeilCFD
 

Martin Brown

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Alf can you get an articulated lorry down your road as we have some other stuff for review?

Frankly you have been very generous with your time and we are very grateful. If anyone has any questions (holy cow there can't be much left after such an in-depth analysis) we would be delighted to hear from you.

Martin and everyone at BriMarc
 
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