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Thread: Newbie Needs Help Picking Out L-N Block Plane

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
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    69

    Newbie Needs Help Picking Out L-N Block Plane

    As my first project I'm building a simple box. It requires a block plane and its a good excuse to buy my first plane. After reading this and other forums and on-line reviews, it seems clear that its worth the money to buy a Lie Nielsen plane instead of getting something less expensive and paying to replace it later. I have two questions about which L-N plane to buy and was hoping for some guidance.

    1. There is an L-N block plane that costs $95 (the 102 or 103), and there is an adjustable mouth one that costs $165 (the 9-1/2 or 60-1/2). Should I spend the $70 to get the adjustable mouth or will the less expensive one suffice? Of course we'd all like to get the best, most versatile tool possible every time. But $70 is real money to me. The trade off of getting the more expensive plane would be that my next tool purchase or the purchase of materials for my next project will have to wait for a while. The list of tools I'd like to get is long, and if the $70 could be better spent elsewhere (like going towards nice chisels), I'd prefer to do that. On the other hand, if I'm just going to be wishing I'd ponied up the $70 everytime I use the less expensive plane than its probably worth spending the extra money.

    2. My second question is more simple. Low angle v. standard angle. If you were buying your first block plane, and likely only block plane for at least a few years, which would you get?

    Thanks in advance for your responses.

  2. #2
    I would get a low angle adjustable mouth as my first block plane.

    I would also post this in the Neander forum, too.

  3. #3
    I have the LN 60 1/2 and the 102. I mostly use the 102.

    I'd get a low angle to start.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    My first was the low-angle, adjustable mouth block plane. Highly recommended, either from L-N or L-V.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Escondido, CA
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    6,214
    I have and use the 102. It was my first high-quality plane and became the example of how the restored and home-made planes should behave.

    I would recommend you buy the 102. If not then yes, a low angle because it is better on end grain.

    Then as your needs diversify, look into making a couple of Krenov-style wooden planes. You can get Hock blades specifically for this task or rescue a blade from an old transitional plane.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
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    I'd go with the adjustable mouth low angle and pick up an extra blade. These are "bevel up" so you can sharpen a higher angle on the spare for use when that makes sense. You can probably find a lower priced plane that won't be as pretty but will work just as well. I have an older Stanley 60 1/2 and a really old Stanley #65 that's a little larger. Both are in fine shape, work great, and I have less than $80 tied up in the two combined. The 60 1/2 planes are pretty common. There are 14 on "The Auction Site" as of this morning. The #65 are a bit harder to come by.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Hampstead, NC
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    Veritas/Lee-Valley makes a nice set of block planes as well. I wouldn't rule those off the list if you are in the markey for a high quality plane.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Moore, SC
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    112

    Different Sizes!

    Dan,

    I don't know if you have ever handled these planes in person, but the 102/103 and the 9 1/2 - 60 1/2 planes are significantly different in size. That is what is making up the big price difference, not the adjustable mouth.

    The 102/103 series is 5.25 inches long, and has a 1.25" wide iron.

    The 9 1/2 / 60 1/2 series is 6.25 inches long, and has a 1.375" wide iron.

    All of them are great planes. I would definitely go with a low-angle, either the 102, or the 60.5.

    I actually went with the 60 1/2 R (rabbet) plane. I figured that it could do all of the jobs a standard block plane could do, plus the extra functionality that a rabbet plane gives you. I haven't been disappointed with it, and it is my go to block plane.

    Hope this helps some.
    Andy

  9. #9
    I have the Lie-Nielsen 60 1/2 block plane and aside from my router and workbench, it is my most expensive tool. It is truly a pleasure to use and it is without a doubt the highest quality of any tool I own (maybe the highest quality of anything I own). I'm sure other items from Lie-Nielsen are equal in quality, but I just love my 60 1/2.

    I would also look at the Veritas line from Lee Valley. Quality is just as good and design is more interesting.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    I actually went with the 60 1/2 R (rabbet) plane. I figured that it could do all of the jobs a standard block plane could do, plus the extra functionality that a rabbet plane gives you. I haven't been disappointed with it, and it is my go to block plane.
    I would give some consideration to this... I have the LN LA adjustable mouth plane. Certainly a fine tool, but I don't use it that much. For whatever reason, it seems like I reach for my LV large shoulder plane as it can work up against shoulders and in rabbets. The rabbet block would be handy....
    - jbd in Denver

  11. #11
    Low angle, adjustable mouth block plane from L-N. It was my very first plane, it opened up the whole world of hand planing for me, and I use it constantly. You will NEVER regret that purchase.

  12. #12
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    Feb 2009
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Howard View Post
    Dan,

    I don't know if you have ever handled these planes in person, but the 102/103 and the 9 1/2 - 60 1/2 planes are significantly different in size. That is what is making up the big price difference, not the adjustable mouth.

    The 102/103 series is 5.25 inches long, and has a 1.25" wide iron.

    The 9 1/2 / 60 1/2 series is 6.25 inches long, and has a 1.375" wide iron.

    All of them are great planes. I would definitely go with a low-angle, either the 102, or the 60.5.

    I actually went with the 60 1/2 R (rabbet) plane. I figured that it could do all of the jobs a standard block plane could do, plus the extra functionality that a rabbet plane gives you. I haven't been disappointed with it, and it is my go to block plane.

    Hope this helps some.
    Andy

    Andy - thanks for the tip, that is great advice. I'm leaning towards buying the rabbet now as your logic seems sound. I've never held these planes, I've only seen them on the Internet. I'm trying to maximize my dollars by getting the most versatile tools I can and I really like your suggestion. I hadn't made the connection on size to dollars. I thought it was just the adjustable mouth feature. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Thanks to everyone for all of the great input.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
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    2,854
    Dan - I ahve (and use) all of these planes - the L-N 60 series standard angle, low angle, and rabbet block planes, and the 102 and 103. I've also had the Lee Valley standard block plane (the $145 one).

    I sold the Lee Valley because I liked the way the Lie-Nielsen worked (I did not like the Norris-Style adjuster mechanism in the Lee Valley). But that's just one man's opinion - Lee Valley certainly has very loyal adherents. Both companies make vastly superior block planes to the Stanleys (both the antiques and the modern junk). I've never tried the new, premium Lee Valley, and it sure looks tempting.

    Back to the Lie-Nielsen. If all you intend to do is build small stuff like boxes and picture frames, I would get the 103 (I believe that's the low-angle version). It fits that scale of work, though the machining is not as nice as the 60 series, IMO.

    Buy the 60 series low-angle if you intend to gravitate toward larger, furniture-type projects with harder cabinet woods. The sole length helps greatly when planing down a long edge on a door to make it fit just right, and the extra weight really helps when paring the ends of dovetails on a drawer.

    And, the best part is, you can sell it for at least 80% what you paid for it on fleabay if yo decide you don't like it (but I see very few on e-bay - I get the feeling most owners don't want to part with it (I certainly woudn't).

    Just my $0.02.

  14. #14
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    Feb 2009
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Keller NC View Post
    Dan - I ahve (and use) all of these planes - the L-N 60 series standard angle, low angle, and rabbet block planes, and the 102 and 103. I've also had the Lee Valley standard block plane (the $145 one).

    I sold the Lee Valley because I liked the way the Lie-Nielsen worked (I did not like the Norris-Style adjuster mechanism in the Lee Valley). But that's just one man's opinion - Lee Valley certainly has very loyal adherents. Both companies make vastly superior block planes to the Stanleys (both the antiques and the modern junk). I've never tried the new, premium Lee Valley, and it sure looks tempting.

    Back to the Lie-Nielsen. If all you intend to do is build small stuff like boxes and picture frames, I would get the 103 (I believe that's the low-angle version). It fits that scale of work, though the machining is not as nice as the 60 series, IMO.

    Buy the 60 series low-angle if you intend to gravitate toward larger, furniture-type projects with harder cabinet woods. The sole length helps greatly when planing down a long edge on a door to make it fit just right, and the extra weight really helps when paring the ends of dovetails on a drawer.

    And, the best part is, you can sell it for at least 80% what you paid for it on fleabay if yo decide you don't like it (but I see very few on e-bay - I get the feeling most owners don't want to part with it (I certainly woudn't).

    Just my $0.02.

    David - thanks for the input. I do want to eventually gravitate to furniture projects, but I'm trying to avoid the mistake of taking on projects I don't have the skills for right off the bat. But long term goal is furniture. What do you think about the idea of getting the 60-1/2R as a first plane instead of the 60-1/2?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Dayton Ohio
    Posts
    610

    Used has extra hidden costs

    I own and use Stanley, L-N and L-V block planes. They will all work. However, don't kid yourself if you find a cheap used one and you have no experience tuning one up. To do so correctly, you will need to learn how, either books or websites. You will need cleaning supplys, what depends on the tools condition. You also stand a chance of buying something broken.

    I suggest you find someone who will show you some tools and let you play with them, to get a feel and make a better decision. Your safest bet is to buy new from L-N or L-V as they will be tuned up and fully ready to use except for final blade honing. This means that you must also get a way to sharpen along with your first plane.
    It's extra cost, but cannot be avoided. You simply cannot do good work with dull tools.

    -Eric-

    PS: I love the L-V premium block best and use Shapton glass stones for sharpening.

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