First plane

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Blog entry by siavosh posted 07-03-2013 06:26 AM 1354 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was wisely advised not to buy tools before I needed them and to buy the best ones I could. After feeling the frustration of working with non-square stock in my first two projects, I knew it was time for a plane. And since my birthday was coming up, I knew I could splurge a bit in the quality department by asking everyone in the family to simply buy me gift certificates.

After way too much online research, I chose a Lie-Nielson low angle jack plane for its versatility and quality. I considered buying a vintage Stanley on e-bay but I really didn’t feel comfortable in my abilities to pick a good one or know when I’ve tuned it to its potential. I decided that for my first plane I wanted to (1) minimize frustration and discouragement and (2) set the standard high so I know when a future plane needed some work.

After the gift certificates were gratefully accepted, the order was placed, and the UPS realtime tracking was monitored until it arrived at the office today. The workday never seemed longer.

Once I got home, I clamped up a simple board to act as a bench stop (a great tip from Sharon Rogers at Renaissance Woodworker, the video) and took it for a joyous spin.

The main motivation for the plane, at least for now, was for squaring up stock that I saw. So over the last weekend while I was inpatiently waiting for the plane’s arrival, I started puting together a shooting board from the Lie-Nielson plans, using MDF, plywood, and some scraps. Now I’ll take this chance to note that even though most web guides on shooting boards make it sound like a piece of cake, many of them don’t mention that the glue up and clamping is pretty tricky (for a novice). I had a few panic attacks when my carefully squared pieces swiveled under the clamping pressure. I’m eager to hear if anyone has any suggestions for accurate glue+clamping edge/face pieces.

Followed by screws (I didn’t have a countersink bit, but my hand brace came in handy to make the screws flush).

Then it was time to give it a shot with a humble piece of pine cut-off.

I was happy—confident that my next project has the chance to be marginally better than the last, and even more fun.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

15 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days

#1 posted 07-03-2013 07:31 AM

confident that my next project has the chance to be marginally better than the last, and even more fun.

that’s what its all about!!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View A Slice of Wood Workshop's profile

A Slice of Wood Workshop

997 posts in 2634 days

#2 posted 07-03-2013 11:49 AM

Nice purchase. That shooting board will help you square up those ends while you work on your sawing skills, then you wont need that board.

-- Follow me on YouTube-

View jumbojack's profile


1667 posts in 2085 days

#3 posted 07-03-2013 02:32 PM

Slavosh, congratulations on your purchase. That is a fine plane, you have purchased on of the best. That said you still need to gain the skills required to keep the plane working at its potential. Perhaps get one of those used planes and get it to work like your LN. There is no teacher, no instructional video, no amount of reading, that can give you the results you gain from tune/test, tune/test, tune/test. Eventually your LN is going to need to be sharpened, readjusted…..tweeked. I think you would feel better playing with a $40 ebay find than your prized LN.
About the parts you are gluing especially face to face; yep, they like to move a bit. Take a lesson from the hide glue guys and kind of rub the parts together a moment. This pushes some of the air pockets out and the parts will get a little tacky. You have several minutes to adjust your parts to square or whatever configuration, you will ‘feel’ when it is OK to clamp.
There is nothing quite like the sound of a sharp well tuned plane sliding through a project piece, it is like magic.
I hope this helps.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Sanding2day's profile


1001 posts in 1308 days

#4 posted 07-03-2013 02:32 PM

Very nice… Happy Bday and thanks for sharing your adventure :)

-- Dan

View helluvawreck's profile


23142 posts in 2328 days

#5 posted 07-03-2013 02:44 PM

Although I don’t own any Lie Nelson tools I have never read any derogatory marks about them that I can recall but I have read a lot of good things about them. I believe that your remarks make very good sense. I have thought about getting some of their planes myself. However, I have about 2 dozen Stanley planes off of Ebay that are quite good users and I would have to really do some serious thinking about it. I hope that you enjoy your plane and eventually wind up with a complete set. Have fun.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 1332 days

#6 posted 07-03-2013 03:30 PM

Thanks folks.

jumbojack: you make great points. I’ve been dreading having to sharpen/tune my LN plane blade for fear of messing it up. I think I’m now officially on the market for a small stanley block plane on ebay to do as you recommend, tune/test.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View rfusca's profile


155 posts in 1305 days

#7 posted 07-03-2013 04:44 PM

Siavosh – when you’re on ebay, you don’t need to restrict yourself to Stanley planes. Record and Millers Falls (to name a few) also made some excellent planes and are sometimes priced better.
Nice job on the shooting board.
On face to face glue ups, you can use other boards and wax paper to surround it hold it in place for critical alignments.

-- Chris S., North Atlanta, GA - woodworker,DBA, cook, photographer

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 1332 days

#8 posted 07-03-2013 05:33 PM

Chris – thanks for the tip. Buying a vintage plane over the internet is still pretty nerve wracking since I feel like I can easily get a lemon. Any general tips on what to look for and ask for? As of now I can only guess at the flatness of the soul, the amount of rust etc.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View rfusca's profile


155 posts in 1305 days

#9 posted 07-03-2013 05:41 PM

As long as its coming with all the hardware, nearly anything is fixable with enough sweat and elbow grease.

Make sure all the screws and stuff are pictured. Often times they’re not standard threads and are difficult to source.

Check the pictures for the area right by the throat – if they crack, and it happens sometimes, that’s often where it is.

Flatness of the sole can be lapped out, so thats not generally a deal breaker.

Rust is about the only thing you can’t really gauge too honestly. I’ve had ones that I thought were lightly rusted, but then it turned out somebody painted over the rust :( . Rust isn’t really a deal breaker either. About the worst that I can think of is that it would rust badly enough on the blade that it pitted out too much – and I’ve not seen that.

I’m sure there are other members who can shed more light. I’ve done a few restorations, but nothing drastic.

-- Chris S., North Atlanta, GA - woodworker,DBA, cook, photographer

View Tugboater78's profile


2446 posts in 1653 days

#10 posted 07-03-2013 07:57 PM

Happy birthday! and congrats! I am eyeing a LN 4 1/2 at the moment hoping i can come up with the money to buy, so i will have a good smoothing plane that i know will work. though one of the ones you have is another i would purchase.

Buying off ebay can be tedious but keep an eye out for ones with all the parts? It’s preferable with pictures from all angles, even better ones with the parts separated to get a good look at what is there.

I have had some good luck with some rusties, though they require some work. I actually prefer to work on them a bit to get used to how they go together and know the potential problems.

Only major problems i have had, and i look at it as practice to tuning, is having some pretty warped blades or chipbreakers on some of my purchases. On the other hand i bought a Wards Master #6 (basically a stanley) for $28? shipped if i remember right, that all i had to do was sharpen the blade, knock the rust off the sole and sides and wipe the dust off the rest and i have it singing through some pretty hard oak right now while making my workbench.

I am by no means an expert, and i am learning as i go, DonW and others have some pretty good blogs on how to fettle up oldies.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View shampeon's profile


1711 posts in 1645 days

#11 posted 07-04-2013 05:56 AM

Siavosh, I have an older Stanley block plane you can have if you’d like. I don’t need it, and it would be good practice for sharpening, etc. I live in SF, so just send me a PM if you want it.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 1332 days

#12 posted 07-04-2013 07:44 AM

Ian, wow thank you so much for the offer, I’ll send you a message :)

Jason/Chris – awesome tips. I’ve been glued to ebay today looking at planes and comparing them. The rabbit hole gets deeper…

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days

#13 posted 07-04-2013 11:52 AM

No getting out now. Welcome to the very slippery slope. There is just something about bring a plane back from the brink.

Nice LN. I have the 62 LN as well.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8000 posts in 1443 days

#14 posted 07-04-2013 08:55 PM

Congrats on the LN Jack. I can totally relate to your philosophy of wanting to know how a “ready to go” plane works first. There’s room for LN and vintage in each of our shops.

As I’ve posted before, there are other great ways to get vintage tools besides the bay:
Don W-

Neither of these guys are in it to make a quick buck, and their planes should be pretty much ready to go. Don’t know where to start? I’ll bet they can recommend something.
Welcome to the sickness. We can quit any time we want;-)

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4166 posts in 2318 days

#15 posted 07-04-2013 09:21 PM

You are doing what did when I was an apprentice
I enjoyed my tools

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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