veritas aluminum straightedge: somewhat dissapointed

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Forum topic by bobasaurus posted 09-25-2011 12:03 AM 11612 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3489 posts in 3213 days

09-25-2011 12:03 AM

I just received a 24” aluminum lee valley / veritas straightedge I had ordered. Given the usual high quality of tools from lee valley, I was expecting it to have a perfectly flat, smooth edge that I could use to check wood and tools for flatness. It does seem to be flat, but the quality of the machined edge is not very good. It still has the circular milling marks on the surface:

The picture softens them a bit, but I can feel the small bumpy ridges while running a finger across it. This may not be a big issue to some, but I was really expecting an absolutely flat and smooth edge given the cost and reputation. The edge bordering the milled surface has also been eased a bit, giving it a rounded-over look that makes it very difficult to visually tell if something is flat below it, unless I hold a super bright flashlight behind it. Maybe a set of feeler gauges is necessary, but with just an ordinary ruler I could do a better job of checking surfaces with my eyes.

Maybe I’m just nitpicking here… does anyone else have one of these with similar machining? I’m not sure if this is really a big enough issue to bother returning it. Are the lee valley steel straightedges better than the aluminum in terms of machining?

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

28 replies so far

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2661 days

#1 posted 09-25-2011 01:28 AM

For the $27.50 that tool cost, I wouldn’t expect NASA specifications. I think LV advertises .003 accuracy over the entire length of the tool. That ain’t bad for $27.50 (assuming its within spec).
You could probably get a Starrett straight edge with no milling marks….........but expect to pay a considerable premium.

View Bob42's profile


456 posts in 3819 days

#2 posted 09-25-2011 01:49 AM

I would call them and ask if they maybe had a problem with it. Can’t hurt to ask.

-- Bob K. East Northport, NY

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2954 days

#3 posted 09-25-2011 03:52 AM

I have one of their longer straight edges, I never noticed if it still had mill marks, and it does what I want it for, which is checking the jointer now and then.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3039 days

#4 posted 09-25-2011 04:46 AM

My 36” is the same way, and it has never failed me in doing what it’s supposed to, including checking jointer table co-planarity with feeler gauges. For the cost it’s a great value and unless you’re trying to achieve machinist specifications, will do anything you need to around a woodworking shop.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3741 days

#5 posted 09-25-2011 05:32 AM

I kind of like the marks on the bottom or the 48” one I use. It seems to sit and stay better than if it was glass smooth. I thought the marks on the bottom were deliberately put there…maybe I’ve been wrong all along LOL!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View bobasaurus's profile


3489 posts in 3213 days

#6 posted 09-25-2011 05:53 PM

Yeah, I’m probably overreacting on this. It does seem to be a well-made tool in all other regards, and I’m sure I can still use it in the shop. Thanks for the feedback. I’ll be changing jointer knives later today with it, so hopefully it will serve me well.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4950 posts in 3989 days

#7 posted 09-26-2011 08:29 PM

It is aluminum, not steel. It will be milled, not ground. Don’t want this to sound like a short answer, but that’s what it will be.
Ever seen the saw tops with that finish?


View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2722 days

#8 posted 09-26-2011 08:32 PM

You could always take it to a machine shop to get it surfaced.

Just kidding. Bad joke. Sorry. ;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#9 posted 09-26-2011 08:44 PM

curious – is this the back (wide) side? or the edge (narrow) side of the straight edge. Since the usability of the tool is with the EDGE (as in straight-EDGE) as long as the edge is within spec the machining on the back really has no play here.

that said – never hurts to call LV and ask.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View tnwood's profile


259 posts in 3115 days

#10 posted 09-26-2011 10:21 PM

I’ve had mine for many years and it is machined as well. Actually, the machine marks give me a warm, fuzzy feeling that it is straight. I don’t know what tolerances it has or is purported to have but it works well enough for me and my “close enough” view of the world.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3097 days

#11 posted 09-26-2011 11:43 PM

You’re kidding, right? You expected polished surfaces for $27.50?? Those mill marks won’t harm your straightedge in any appreciable way.

The milling was probably done with a liquid bath to prevent overheating. Polishing would probably distort the aluminum pretty badly due to localized heating during polishing.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View macgee's profile


49 posts in 1666 days

#12 posted 04-07-2014 07:51 PM

This is an old thread but I just ordered one. It definitely has a potato chip/banana curve going sideways. I measured it to 6mm (almost 1/4”) out of straight from one end to the other. You can easily see it looking down the straight edge, the curve is much more pronounced on 1/3rd of the blade, not a even arc.

So using it on it’s side is totally out, I know there’s only one grounded side.

I called Lee Valley and they said it’s within specs!

It’s a bit disconcerting buying your absolute reference tool for your shop and you see it curved.

Now the grounded side appears straight but I’m unable to check it the entire length as I don’t have a good straight edge that long or longer. It looks good against my 24” straight edge.

My concern if it’s got a potato chip curve it then it might be twisting?

I have a Stabila level beam that’s machine flat and not curved but only 24”, I’ve been very impressed by it. I’ve had it for years and recently had it checked at a friends machine shop, came under (+/- .0005) the entire length.

I also had the Woodpecker straight edge but returned it because it wouldn’t stay upright without holding it, kept falling over; it also had a curve in it but nothing like the Veritas. The Woodpecker has two very fragile thin edges next to each other to keep it up right; the whole piece is quite thin, I was disappointed.

I know these are cheap but I’m blown away Lee Valley doesn’t warn you/mention about the large tolerance and to expect a potato chip curve when you receive it. I might not have roughed up my feathers so much when I received it.

View bobasaurus's profile


3489 posts in 3213 days

#13 posted 04-07-2014 08:08 PM

Sorry to hear that, I would return the potato chipped one if at all possible despite the rep’s claims. I’ll check mine when I get home. It has proven a useful tool over the years and is still true (I think), despite my earlier gripes. For the tolerances I’m checking, the milling marks don’t matter.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View macgee's profile


49 posts in 1666 days

#14 posted 04-07-2014 08:24 PM

Thanks Allen,

I’ve got a call to a machinist friend of mine who has a large surface table that I might be able to use.

It’s just a drag having to question a brand new reference tool that is suppose to eliminate questions.

A good straight edge is is such a useful tool in a shop. I like the milling marks, they are there for a purpose, less binding.

This is not my first rodeo but have to admit, there is a reason why good straight edges are so expensive but thought it would be worth trying from reputable companies like Veritas and Woodpecker.

I’ll post a pic or two of the curve, it’s easy to see.

View tnwood's profile


259 posts in 3115 days

#15 posted 04-07-2014 08:55 PM

I’ve had a 3’ model for years and the reference surface is machined. However there shouldn’t be that kind of bend in it. It may have been bent in shipping (mine came in a very sturdy cardboard tube) so I would check with LV. They will take it back in any case if you choose not to keep it. That is why I buy from them. Rob Lee knows how to keep happy customers. I’d call them to see if the bend is out of spec – I think it might be. Even if it is not, they will either replace or refund the costs.

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