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Thread: Combination Plane and Lee Valley feedback

  1. #1
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    Combination Plane and Lee Valley feedback

    After planing a splendid piece of white oak 5" wide & 1.5" thick I decided it needed a beaded corner instead of just rounded. I assembled the 3/8 beading cutter and long rods on my combination plane. Gingerly I lowered the cutter, balanced the plane and began my cut. It did not go well. I adjusted the skates. I lifted the back of the plane and managed to start a groove. I worked backwards gradually. Keeping the plane level is very difficult. If you put your thumb on top of the fence and your work piece you get more control and possibly some splinters. The brass knobs repeatedly came loose and caused wracking of the plane. My cut wavered, wobbled & jammed. The fence is not long enough at full extension I said to myself, have to replace it with a longer one (have some black walnut for that). Despite being fully on the rod the brass screws came loose. The knobs are a bit small. The skate knobs are a bit bigger and feel much better in the fingers.

    After half an hour I looked at the hacked up bead, the blade cuts string but does not seem that sharp. I tried it left hand, right hand but no joy. I removed the left side altogether. I put the plane down turned the wood around and glued my slab of black walnut over the oak, almost hiding the attempt, a block plane round over it is.

    Then I noticed my phone had rung. I called back. "Lee Valley here just wondering how your combination plane is going?" "It seems you are the only person to have bought one in south west Ontario". "We have had reports of wracking, how is yours?" Well knock me down with a feather!

    I explained what I had been doing that morning. The fence is too short, the rods too short, the knobs are too small & come loose and yes it ends up wracking. It is also horrible to balance sideways and with the skate. The little blade knob stops you using the left skate properly as the head jams up against it.

    I explained the tester for the product must have had their eyes closed. If the rods were wider the screw area on the rod could be larger and more effective.

    She invited me to return it if I wish. I have to try some other cuts with it. My oak bead cut was not the easiest but the other issues at full extension won't go away.

    My gut feeling also says the blade bed angle is wrong and the blades are not that sharp.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  2. #2
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    Err, did you hone the iron before you used it?

    One thing that is true of all combination planes is that they require extremely sharp irons. No factory grind, not even LV's, is going to "cut it" literally or figuratively.

    There is a technique to using a combination plane without putting excessive pressure on the rods. The general idea is that you register the fence to the work with your left hand and push the skate[s] forward with your right. The left hand should not supply any forward force, and the right hand should not supply any lateral force. The sort of trouble you got into is what happens when you mix the two, particularly if the pressure that registers the fence to the work is being carried by the rods (it should be "contained" within the fence, flowing from your left hand to the fence grip and thence to the wood). Having a dull iron also complicates matters as it increases forces across the board.

    Combo planes require some investments in technique. They're complex and fundamentally somewhat compromised tools that aren't for everyone.
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 10-04-2017 at 8:02 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stewie Simpson View Post
    Patrick; you seem to enjoy quoting Patrick Leach's site. Have a real hard look at his comments on the #45. http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan6.htm

    Stewie;
    I know those comments and his thoughts on the topic well - Patrick sold me my #55. Even he would (and does) admit that increased cutting angle isn't a panacea.

  4. #4
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    Patrick and Stewie,

    To quote an acquaintance of mine from a different forum, you guys are about equally matched for distance; how about trying for height now?

    Your discussions of the ins and outs of combination planes, cutting angle, and so on are interesting. Your attacks on each other embarrass both of you and irritate others (at least, me).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    After planing a splendid piece of white oak 5" wide & 1.5" thick I decided it needed a beaded corner instead of just rounded. I assembled the 3/8 beading cutter and long rods on my combination plane. Gingerly I lowered the cutter, balanced the plane and began my cut. It did not go well. I adjusted the skates. I lifted the back of the plane and managed to start a groove. I worked backwards gradually. Keeping the plane level is very difficult. If you put your thumb on top of the fence and your work piece you get more control and possibly some splinters. The brass knobs repeatedly came loose and caused wracking of the plane. My cut wavered, wobbled & jammed. The fence is not long enough at full extension I said to myself, have to replace it with a longer one (have some black walnut for that). Despite being fully on the rod the brass screws came loose. The knobs are a bit small. The skate knobs are a bit bigger and feel much better in the fingers.

    After half an hour I looked at the hacked up bead, the blade cuts string but does not seem that sharp. I tried it left hand, right hand but no joy. I removed the left side altogether. I put the plane down turned the wood around and glued my slab of black walnut over the oak, almost hiding the attempt, a block plane round over it is.

    Then I noticed my phone had rung. I called back. "Lee Valley here just wondering how your combination plane is going?" "It seems you are the only person to have bought one in south west Ontario". "We have had reports of wracking, how is yours?" Well knock me down with a feather!

    I explained what I had been doing that morning. The fence is too short, the rods too short, the knobs are too small & come loose and yes it ends up wracking. It is also horrible to balance sideways and with the skate. The little blade knob stops you using the left skate properly as the head jams up against it.

    I explained the tester for the product must have had their eyes closed. If the rods were wider the screw area on the rod could be larger and more effective.

    She invited me to return it if I wish. I have to try some other cuts with it. My oak bead cut was not the easiest but the other issues at full extension won't go away.

    My gut feeling also says the blade bed angle is wrong and the blades are not that sharp.
    I don't have the LV combo plane, but having used combination planes from a couple different vintage makers (Siegley & Stanley), I can offer a couple observations.

    1- Like Patrick said above, your iron needs to be super sharp. Like sharp so that if you look at it wrong it cuts you. That kind of sharp. Never trust any cutting edge out of the box; chisel, plane iron, whatever. They always at least need a light honing.

    2- Combination planes are tricky to use, and a coarse grained hardwood like oak is a lousy wood to learn on. If you've never used one before, I'd make some practice cuts in poplar or something similar to get the feel for the plane.

    3- Grain selection is very important because of the lack of a mouth or chip breaker. You'll get much better results in straight grained (quartered or rift) pieces than you will in flat cut stock with rising and or reversing grain.

    4- My observations are not intended to offend. I don't know your experience level, and I do know that Lee Valley makes high quality tools. This leads me to believe that a little work on technique could alleviate some or all of the issues you're having. JMO
    Last edited by brian zawatsky; 10-04-2017 at 11:35 PM.
    ---Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny---

  6. #6
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    Been using my Stanley 45 for over a year now.....
    bead corner.JPG
    Done with a single bead cutter, made with two cuts, one down each outside face of the leg.
    DSCF0005.JPG
    Simple bead along the edge of an apron......
    bead cutter.JPG
    Set the fence just right...and make a second bead beside the first one..
    double beaded.JPG
    Easy as can be...YMMV

  7. #7
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    Like Patrick said above, your iron needs to be super sharp.
    Yes they do. Even with a sharp blade, you sometimes have to take just a little bit at a time. If all is going well, then it may be possible to advance the cutter and hog the waste.

    Combination planes are tricky to use, and a coarse grained hardwood like oak is a lousy wood to learn on. If you've never used one before, I'd make some practice cuts in poplar or something similar to get the feel for the plane.
    It took me a lot of using a #45 before my skill level got to a point of being what might be considered proficient in its use. There are a lot of moving parts with each one playing a part. My camera is out in the shop or my image of a #45 in use could be posted here. One of the tips on using a combination plane is to pay attention to how the fence is riding the edge of the work. There shouldn't be any gap opening up between the fence and the work either lengthwise or vertically. Side motion or wobbling can lead to binding or cuts going off track. Going slow and deliberate is the "training wheels" of using a combination plane. Learn accuracy first, then the speed will follow.

    Grain selection is very important because of the lack of a mouth or chip breaker. You'll get much better results in straight grained (quartered or rift) pieces than you will in flat cut stock with rising and or reversing grain.
    Plus 1,000 on this.

    When working on a project with plowing, beading or other combination or molding plane work the selection process for the wood for these operations is in need of extra attention. Some woods can be dealt with by planing them left handed. Other pieces will be trouble no matter what. Sometimes scoring the wood with nickers, a slitting knife or gauge can help.

    My work is in usually in soft woods. My guess is the #45's blade angle may have been chosen with the idea of it mostly being used on soft woods.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #8
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    I use a 45 for some task on nearly every build. There is a learning curve. If I can give any advice it would be this. Sharp is a necessity. Straight and smooth material. Small bites both in depth and the length when starting a cut. Be gentle, hold the fence against the work don't jamb it against the work. Get your elbow in line with the work and set yourself up so you can keep it that way. If you start cutting and the feel is rough or jerky something is amiss. Back off the depth and look for other obstacles. Once I figured it out it became a lot easier.
    Jim

  9. #9
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    The comments here are no surprise! Interesting that no one comments on the tool, except the fact that it was not sharp enough. The edge is made of the 'new' PV11 and of course is somewhat awkward to sharpen with fine sand paper and dowels.
    The grain was very straight along the corner, the little edge cutters did seem quite sharp and I progressed slowly. Holding the plane at full extension is difficult but the brass knobs did come loose repeatedly.
    Oak is not the easiest wood but that is the wood I was using, I do very little in pine (drawer bottoms) but I love working with it.
    I hope it does not just work in easy woods. I will try sharpening the blade and a smaller extension in cherry, which is the easiest wood I know! I do see a longer fence helping and I have some black walnut for that job.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  10. #10
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    Hi William

    12 months ago, Lee Valley offered a modification for the Small Plow to use beading blades. I wrote my thoughts on this here.

    At some stage I will write a "review" of sorts about the Combo, but there is enough about the plane in print already - in fact, the soon-to-be-published FWW mag will contain a review. What I plan to write is how to get the best from the plane for the new user.

    Now the thing is that these are not my favourite planes. I really like the Combo for planing grooves, and even rebates. It is good for dados. But beads? This is an issue that comes down to the wood you use because these planes (I include ALL planes that work with a skate and lack a sole/mouth) are difficult to use with anything that smells of reversing grain.

    I have written before that, if I were designing and building a beading plane for Australian woods, which are interlocked (reversing grain), I would have a 60 degree bed. High cutting angles, so produced, do not require a mouth. However, this is largely unnecessary with the timbers of the USA and UK, which are generally straighter grained. And you have a better selection than we do. Leaving the bed at a common angle (45 degrees) on the Veritas permits the use of Stanley blades. You could not do so if the bed angle changed - it would alter the shape of the bead.

    To get around this (see the article I linked to above), I suggested using a back bevel on the blades. I suggest 15 degrees to take the cutting angle to 60 degrees. This is what I wrote ...

    The backbevel is about 0.5mm wide. It is only on the flats. That is where the tearout occurs. A high cutting angle there prevents the tearout. You can backbevel the hollow at the baseline with a dowel and 2000 grit sandpaper, but this is not necessary if you set your depth stop to end at the tip of the final thickness. The insides of the bevel are cutting on a skew.



    Here is a picture of two beads. One is with the grain and the other is into the grain. Can you spot which is which?



    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  11. #11
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    Latest projects I have been working on have been Walnut, and quite a bit of Hard Maple
    groovy.jpg
    Whether ploughing grooves..
    tongue.jpg
    Or, using a Match cutter...

  12. #12
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    The comments here are no surprise! Interesting that no one comments on the tool, except the fact that it was not sharp enough.
    Any comment of mine isn't from experience on this plane since one hasn't been in my shop. My comments are based on experience with other plane of similar use. In my experience Veritas blades are sharp enough right out of the box.

    the brass knobs did come loose repeatedly.
    This is one I forgot to address. This problem isn't unique to the LV plane. On most of my planes being more diligent in tightening was needed. On one plane in particular, a Record #778, the screws are checked regularly in use. This doesn't sound right for the LV plane.

    Holding the plane at full extension is difficult but the brass knobs did come loose repeatedly.
    It is unclear to me what is meant by, "Holding the plane at full extension." You original post mentions placing a bead along an edge. For this the fence should be next to the edge being worked. Trying to cut a bead all the way across a piece is a much more difficult task.

    Then I noticed my phone had rung. I called back. "Lee Valley here just wondering how your combination plane is going?" "It seems you are the only person to have bought one in south west Ontario". "We have had reports of wracking, how is yours?" Well knock me down with a feather!
    This makes me wonder if there could have been a manufacturing flaw or error discovered on some of the planes. It might be productive to give them a call and ask them about this issue. Stay calm and see if it is something that an exchange might correct. My experience in manufacturing taught me Quality Control is seldom 100% on any part or product. Sometimes things slip through. Usually QC is based on a representative sample from a batch of parts. Sometimes errant parts slip through. The whole system is run by people and sometimes people make mistakes.

    The little blade knob stops you using the left skate properly as the head jams up against it.
    With the small plow the left skate isn't used with the narrow blades. The combination plane may be the same way.

    The edge is made of the 'new' PV11 and of course is somewhat awkward to sharpen with fine sand paper and dowels.
    You may want to invest in some water stones if you do not already have some. You may also want to slip stones like these:

    http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/pag...072,43071&ap=1.

    As mentioned above, my experience with the Veritas blades on the small plow plane was they were sharp enough out of the box. Did you try any of the blades before sharpening them?

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Any comment of mine isn't from experience on this plane since one hasn't been in my shop. My comments are based on experience with other plane of similar use. In my experience Veritas blades are sharp enough right out of the box.



    This is one I forgot to address. This problem isn't unique to the LV plane. On most of my planes being more diligent in tightening was needed. On one plane in particular, a Record #778, the screws are checked regularly in use. This doesn't sound right for the LV plane.



    It is unclear to me what is meant by, "Holding the plane at full extension." You original post mentions placing a bead along an edge. For this the fence should be next to the edge being worked. Trying to cut a bead all the way across a piece is a much more difficult task.



    This makes me wonder if there could have been a manufacturing flaw or error discovered on some of the planes. It might be productive to give them a call and ask them about this issue. Stay calm and see if it is something that an exchange might correct. My experience in manufacturing taught me Quality Control is seldom 100% on any part or product. Sometimes things slip through. Usually QC is based on a representative sample from a batch of parts. Sometimes errant parts slip through. The whole system is run by people and sometimes people make mistakes.



    With the small plow the left skate isn't used with the narrow blades. The combination plane may be the same way.



    You may want to invest in some water stones if you do not already have some. You may also want to slip stones like these:

    http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/pag...072,43071&ap=1.

    As mentioned above, my experience with the Veritas blades on the small plow plane was they were sharp enough out of the box. Did you try any of the blades before sharpening them?

    jtk
    So far all the blades from the plow plane are sharp for me too.
    OP: Get in touch to LV for a return or exchange.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Houghton View Post
    Patrick and Stewie,

    To quote an acquaintance of mine from a different forum, you guys are about equally matched for distance; how about trying for height now?

    Your discussions of the ins and outs of combination planes, cutting angle, and so on are interesting. Your attacks on each other embarrass both of you and irritate others (at least, me).
    Amen Brother, very well articulated (IMHO).

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    This is one I forgot to address. This problem isn't unique to the LV plane. On most of my planes being more diligent in tightening was needed. On one plane in particular, a Record #778, the screws are checked regularly in use. This doesn't sound right for the LV plane.
    My Veritas combo's skates and fence locks up tight. I have more trouble with fences working loose on my #55, though that's partially because there are flats worn into the conical tips of the fence screws (those screws are such a design kludge that I'm not convinced that having 2 fence positions was really worth the hassle). I have it on my list to make a fixture to reshape those.

    As I said in a previous post I'm pretty careful about how much force I transmit through the rods though. They're simply not made to be pushed/yanked around aggressively, either in the original or the LV.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    With the small plow the left skate isn't used with the narrow blades. The combination plane may be the same way.
    That's correct. The minimum blade width for dual-skate operation is 1/4"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    You may want to invest in some water stones if you do not already have some. You may also want to slip stones like these:

    http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/pag...072,43071&ap=1.
    Or these, if you feel like going overboard. I prefer oilstones (and specifically Arks) to waterstones for shaped tools, because the oilstones hold their shape better.

    The waterstone slips that LV and others sell are older-style Matsunaga (King) and not so terrific IMO. I've cut up Shapton 2K and 8K stones and a Sigma 1K Hard to make slips, and both of those work pretty nicely. The other option that people use a fair bit these days is to stick PSA lapping film to wooden forms.

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