|Review by vipond33||posted 07-02-2012 01:57 AM||5515 views||0 times favorited||19 comments|
Anyone looking for a block plane based strictly on performance need not read any further. There are any number of tools that will do pretty much as well as this one minus the heart attack price, including my standby for the last 30 years, the Stanley 9 1/2. For it’s mostly the iron inside and the angle and sharpness you give to it that does the work. Once you’re set, you’re set. Having said that, there are some marvelous features to this tool that make it shine well above and beyond its rather slick polish.
I have a lot of blades for the 9 1/2; – HSS, carbide tipped for laminates, Hock, Lee Valley premium and regular old high carbon steel. Sharpened out to, I don’t know, 6400000 grit, I’ve enjoyed polished work and great results, all depending on the angle and my focus of course.
The NX60 moves it up a few notches though with some interesting features. The Norris adjustment mechanism is a real treat, for with its micro dial in on angle and projection and its virtual lack of backlash you can concentrate on your work instead of on your balky plane. The ergonomic shape is a comfortable pleasure in your hand and the rigidity in the blade and cover cap reduces chatter to a conspiratorial whisper.
Funny thing, Lee Valley has a real bee in its bonnet about the dangers of a projecting toe for mouth adjustment (can’t say it’s been a problem in all my years) but I do appreciate the fine settings possible and the side control screws for lateral alignment.
A couple of caveats to this dream tool however. This plane is heavy. I mean really. The cap assembly alone weighs as much as a cheap plane.
Now mostly it’ll be on your work and so not an issue, but if you pick it up to chamfer edges and you have dry skin, hold on tight. The longitudinal grooves help but you’ll need an overly firm grip to keep it off the floor.
The other problem is that as supplied it is really only useful for end-grain work or on very tame with the grain planing. I purchased the optional O1 blade and ground it high to 38 degrees, giving a York pitch (50) for regular work. You will often experience massive tear-out otherwise with that 37 degree angle. It is worth considering that you may raise the angle by swapping blades on a low angle tool to do this but you can not lower the angle on a general purpose block plane. End grain work will never be as good.
One unsung beauty to this tool is the ability to quickly slacken off the cap pressure a bit to change projection and angle. The huge control knob allows you easy adjustment and tactile positive force. With an ordinary block plane you are tempted to just work against the screw pressure as you don’t want to pull out a screwdriver every time you make an adjustment, and thus you eventually ruin the teeth that engage the blade notches.
Another interesting thing to mention is how you do not use your best square to check things out here. If their specs are to be believed, you are checking your square. Fun stuff that.
When this tool came out, I remarked to anyone within earshot that there would have to be two blue moons in the sky before I paid $300 for a block plane.
I had my 60th birthday last week and as I was ruefully reflecting on the 10 more years before the mast needed to serve before retirement I started to wonder about the funny weather we’ve been having lately and isn’t it interesting how the lunar cycles affect us these days. That and how nice it is has to have real beauty in your hand as you do your necessary work in the trenches. Highly recommended.
yes it goes thin
-- firstname.lastname@example.org : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.