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Thread: Smoothing plane

  1. #1
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    Question Smoothing plane

    Dear Neanders,

    I am creating my basic plane set. I started with a LV block plane and after a few months I went to an also LV, Jack plane with multiple blades (actually two but two others on their way).

    I am now considerring a smoothing plane and I need your advice.

    A couple years ago I really thought cabinet scrappers could replace satisfactory a smoothing plane so I went to the way of block and Jack combined with scrappers for all my tasks... perhaps I am wrong. When considering a smoothing plane I also faced another doubt: either a classical LV no. 4 or 4 1/2 or a high end Japanese smoothing plane like Tsunezaburo azumashuseki (Blue 2 steel).

    You guys, way more experient than myself with those hand tools, perhaps could compare card scrappers, traditional smoothing planes and Japanese ones for an amateur woodworking used to power tools but starting with hand tools also.

    Thanks in advance for your input. It is very appreciated.
    All the best.

    Osvaldo.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osvaldo Cristo View Post
    Dear Neanders,

    I am creating my basic plane set. I started with a LV block plane and after a few months I went to an also LV, Jack plane with multiple blades (actually two but two others on their way).

    I am now considerring a smoothing plane and I need your advice.

    A couple years ago I really thought cabinet scrappers could replace satisfactory a smoothing plane so I went to the way of block and Jack combined with scrappers for all my tasks... perhaps I am wrong. When considering a smoothing plane I also faced another doubt: either a classical LV no. 4 or 4 1/2 or a high end Japanese smoothing plane like Tsunezaburo azumashuseki (Blue 2 steel).

    You guys, way more experient than myself with those hand tools, perhaps could compare card scrappers, traditional smoothing planes and Japanese ones for an amateur woodworking used to power tools but starting with hand tools also.

    Thanks in advance for your input. It is very appreciated.
    My first question is about the LV Jack plane, is it a bevel down design with a chip breaker? If yes, why so many blades? Do you plan on having different cambers?

    The answer to your need may require more information on what kind of woods you use. For me, North Pacific firs and common North American hardwoods.

    For some of the hardwoods available in other parts of the world a bevel up plane with different bevel angles might yield a better result.

    For me, the bevel down planes with a chip breaker produce beautiful results.

    As always, YMMV!!!.png

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 05-29-2019 at 7:39 PM. Reason: changed bevel up to bevel down
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    Get yourself a Stanley #4, learn how to make it sing, and if you decide you want to upgrade to a higher-end plane, you won't be wasting your dough.

  4. #4
    I agree with Joel. Don't buy a Stradivarius when you are learning to play the violin. That being said, you can't go wrong with a LV or LN #4. I couldn't imagine replacing a #4 with a card scraper.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel David Katz View Post
    Get yourself a Stanley #4, learn how to make it sing, and if you decide you want to upgrade to a higher-end plane, you won't be wasting your dough.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Baker IX View Post
    I agree with Joel. Don't buy a Stradivarius when you are learning to play the violin. That being said, you can't go wrong with a LV or LN #4. I couldn't imagine replacing a #4 with a card scraper.
    That would be an excellent way to go if Stanley planes are not too difficult to find around Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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

  6. #6
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    I agree a #3, #4 or $#4 1/2 would be a good compliment with block, # 5 and scrapers.

    I do like having a mix of O1 and A2 steel in my planes. I do think A2 lasts longer at high bevel angles, say above 30 degrees; but I prefer O1 for lower bevel angles in softer woods. I haven't tried PMV11, I am sure I will someday.

    If you find a decent Stanley Bailey in those sizes already imported into Brazil for reasonable money that would be a fine place to start. Local to me the vintage blades are often not usable, but replacement blades from Lee Valley are cheaper than new planes.

    Best wishes and good luck whatever you decide. Except for the current production Made in China #4 currently selling the US for about US$35. Painted a couple different colors with different labels on it, plastic clamshell package - it's garbage. If you need a scrub plane, OK, sure it can be tuned for that chore, it is otherwise a plane shaped object.

  7. #7
    I abandoned scrapers, bevel up planes, high angle planes, and sandpaper all over forty years ago. All deliver poor surfaces. You want a bevel down, double iron plane for efficiency and for a fine surface.

    In your case I would recommend either a #3 or #4 plane to learn on; stay away from exotic steels.

  8. #8
    Osvaldo,

    Its great you are looking to hand tool work I guarantee it will elevate your craftsmanship. It is also great you are looking at quality tools starting out. ONe of the biggest mistakes I made starting out was buying inexpensive tools. They are difficult to learn on, inhibit skill development, and result in a lot of frustration and doubt about your abilities.

    Scrapers are a totally different animal than planes and cannot realistically replace them other than for highly figured wood prone to tear out. They are meant for a different purpose and work in a different way.

    Although I agree somewhat with Joel, IMO if you have the funds I would go for a premium plane and be done with it. Vintage Stanleys are a great way to start on a budget & are good planes, but can be difficult to find without an Ebay/fleabay adventure. There are a few guys around that sell reconditioned Stanley Baileys.

    Another alternative is the WoodRiver planes sold by WoodCraft. I actually have several of them along with LN's and I have to say they actually compare quite well. I expect if you get one you'll be hanging on to it. No, they are not ready out of the box like a LN, & you'll have to expect to spend a little time flattening the iron, easing some edges and cleaning off the cosmoline. But at 1/3 the price for that's no tradeoff.

    Personally I started with vintage Stanleys, and then bought a WR 4 to try. I ended up selling all my old Stanley and since have bought WR #'s 6 & 7. (Side note: I find I go to the #6 more often than any other. It is also my shooting plane).

    That said, I have a 4 1/2 LN and its the one plane I can totally rely on for surface smoothing.

    I have a LN #5 LA jack, which I purchased as a shooting/end grain plane. In my hands it is too light to work well as a shooting plane and lumber over 3/4" thick. It is a plane I find a rarely use anymore except for paring dovetails on drawers.

  9. #9
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    Osvaldo, the following are great smoothers. All different, but each capable of the highest level of performance:

    Veritas Custom #4 (mine has a 42 degree frog with PM-V11 blade).



    LN #3 (with 45 degree frog and PM-V11 blade).



    HNT Gordon smoothing plane (with 60 degree bed and single bevel 1/4" thick O1 blade)



    Veritas BU Smoother (12 degree bed, with 62 degree cutting angle using a PM-V11 blade)



    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    That said, I have a 4 1/2 LN and its the one plane I can totally rely on for surface smoothing.
    If you're going to get just one smoothing plane, I would highly recommend the LN #4. It will be perfect right out of the box, only needing a honing.

    I have the LN #4 1/2, and it's just too heavy for general smoothing use, IMO. It feels good, especially when you need the momentum, but it's tiring. After a few hours you will need a beverage (or two.)

    A LN #3 would be good, you could use that thing all day long. As long as you also had something longer, like a #5 (at least.)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    That would be an excellent way to go if Stanley planes are not too difficult to find around Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    jtk
    No more difficult than Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen planes. One assumes that, no matter the case, shipping is likely to be involved.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Guest View Post
    No more difficult than Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen planes. One assumes that, no matter the case, shipping is likely to be involved.
    If there are a lot of second hand dealers in the area, it may be easy to find something used.

    If there is a store that services woodworkers, the LV or LN planes may also be available locally.

    My position used to be everyone should look for used and learn how to rehabilitate a plane. Eventually it came to me that not everyone likes to fettle metal. Some do not have the time, others no experience. Then there are the folks who do not have a case of the vapors when seeing the price of a premium quality plane.

    Then there is still my question about his jack plane. If it is bevel up, it might make sense for Osvaldo to purchase a bevel up smoother that shares the blade.

    There are a few things to consider which have not been made clear enough to consider.

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

  13. #13
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    +1 on this suggestion

  14. #14
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    Those are beautiful planes, Derek, and I own most of them myself. I've also got a majestic Clifton #3 that is to die for. Even so, Osvaldo wants to buy a plane and learn how to operate it and maintain it properly. I think it is far more sensible to spend $50 on a Stanley #4 in working condition than to spend $350 on a Lie Nielsen smoother as a starter hand plane.

    Don't you?

  15. #15
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    Joel, I agree that a Stanley #4 is a great plane (actually, I prefer a #3, but they seem less common these days). A vintage Stanley #4 would be excellent to learn on ... if it does not require any work. Not all would-be hand plane users like to start out that way. I suspect that Osvaldo knows about vintage Stanleys - they are discussed often enough. Not sure what is available in Brazil, and Osvaldo was actually asking about premium planes: "either a classical LV no. 4 or 4 1/2 or a high end Japanese smoothing plane like Tsunezaburo azumashuseki (Blue 2 steel)" ... so new planes, or planes to aspire to ...

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 05-30-2019 at 1:10 AM.

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