|Review by Newage Neanderthal||posted 10-16-2011 07:39 PM||4270 views||0 times favorited||5 comments|
I am reviewing these planes as a set because for me that is how they were purchased and that is how they are used. I will be focusing more their use than how well made they are, primarily because it is already well known that they are top notch in that regard and me saying they’re machined nicely doesn’t add much.
Fit and finish
Just so it is touched on and to get it out of the way; these planes are very well made. Set up involved nothing more than removing the packing oil and honing the blade. The blade wasn’t razor sharp out of the package, but it was close. The back of the blades were completely flat and only took a short time on the 4000 and 8000 grit to polish them up. I didn’t bother checking the flatness of the soles because the true test is how they perform, not if the sole is flat. If there was a performance issue I would have checked the soles, plus I have a feeling the guys building the pieces that now live in museums were not checking their wooden jointers with precision ground straight edges and .001” feeler gauges.
These three planes make up almost a complete milling set. The reason I say almost is because none of them are the best performers for heavy stock removal. An old jack or a scrub makes them complete. Now, you can set up the Veritas jack to remove a good bit but it’s not ideal due to the back wear and beveling issues with the 12 degree bed angle.
There are two things this set has going for it when it comes to them being your primary milling tools. One, they all take the same blade. This is well known and it’s a nice perk. This topic seems to galvanize people somewhat with one group saying it’s the best thing for handtools since cherry; others saying it’s a hassle to have to change blades and pretty much useless. Personally, I just think it’s a nice benefit. I don’t change the blades much, but when I do, it’s very easy to do and saves from having multiple planes set up at multiple bed angles, amount of camber, etc.
The other thing I don’t think gets talked about as much but is more important to me. They all feel and handle the same. They all have the same tote and knob style; all have a very low center of gravity, and all adjust basically the same way. The amount I turn the adjustment knob on my jointer extends the blade the same amount as it would on my jack and smoother.
The tote is probably the biggest thing that you will see complained about in forums. When I first got these planes they felt clunky to me too. I greatly preferred the totes on my old Stanley’s and figured I was one of those that just didn’t like the totes as much. After a while though I noticed something, when planing thicker stock, raising the height at which I was planing, they felt better. Better even than my others. They placed my wrists in a better position when higher up. I thought this was just some weird thing with me, but decided that when I built my new bench I would make it 2” higher than my last. I did, and it is great, the higher bench actually makes it easier to saw and the planes work great at that height. I wasn’t until a few days ago that I seen Robin Lee actually mentioned that the totes are designed for higher modern benches. I think this should be published more.
Another common complaint is the wear on a bevel up takes place on the flat side of the blade. It does. There is no getting around it, especially with the 12 degree bed reducing the clearance angle. Personally though, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t use these planes for heavy stock removal, which helps out. The deeper the cut the more it will become an issue. I use A2 blades, which stand up to wear very well. What it means is it takes me slightly longer to get the burr all the way to the center on my first stone. I really don’t mind an extra minute of sharpening when the A2 blades stay as sharp as they do for as long as they do.
All three planes have small set screws in the sides that prevent the blade from shifting laterally. They’re nifty I guess, but would be a deal breaker if they weren’t there.
These planes being bedded at 12 degrees instead of 45 degrees means that you get a finer adjustment on blade depth. At 45 degrees the blade moves equal part forward and down as you turn the wheel. At the lower angle it moves forward more than down. This is helpful mostly on the smoother; it makes it very easy to creep up on the thinnest of shavings. Laterally the blade is adjusted by moving the wheel left to right, known as a Norris style adjuster. I don’t like it, but it’s kind of a moot point to me. I always make lateral adjust with a small brass hammer, on any plane, just what I’m used to. I have never had an issue with accident lateral adjust like some have though.
The jointer has screw holes in the side to accept the fence they sell. I have the fence as well. I used it once, just to play with it. Figure it would be nice to have if I had a lot of edge jointing to do or something, but honestly, if you know how to use a jointer, it’s kind of pointless. It comes in at 22” long, the same length as the #7 but the mouth is set back further than on a #7. This allows you to get more of the plane registered on the edge for the first part of the stroke and also sets the mouth more in line with the focus of pressure from the tote hand. This is the plane that sees the majority of the work in my shop and has preformed perfectly.
The jack is the only plane with smooth side walls, allowing it to be used on a shooting board. It also has a depression on the side for your thumb and the cap iron is designed in a way that allows your fingers to grip it well. Veritas clearly put some thought into this plane being used on its side.
The smoother while probably the least used, is my favorite. I love the weight, the width, the slight adjustment from the low angle. All and all, I love this plane.
I actually gave my pre-war Stanley’s to a buddy of mine. That should say it all.
-- www.newageneanderthal.blogspot.com . @NANeanderthal on twitter