Do you see Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen as Low End equipment??

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Forum topic by Patrik posted 10-16-2011 05:23 PM 7012 views 0 times favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 2743 days

10-16-2011 05:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lee valley lie-nielsen

Hi fellow woodworkers!

In the latest episode of the whoodwhisperers videocast, Marc is putting the finger on the “boutique-ness trend” that is going on in the handtool segment of woodworking right now.

I think Marc say it alot better than me, so you can see the episode on youtube and jump forward to the time 21.40 where he talks about this trend for a couple minutes.

As marc said, it’s ridiculus that LV and LN is seen as low end on this scale.

And aren’t we all fooling ourself that our handwriting (handcraft skill) will be soooo much better if we use a pencil made from gold and diamonds, rather than a “ok” plain, normal pencil?

What is you say – Do we fool ourself for what “we really need” ?

Best regards, Patrik

-- If people concentrated on the really important stuff in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing rods.

40 replies so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3100 days

#1 posted 10-16-2011 05:33 PM

I personally cannot afford these tools but I do have a favorable opinion of them. Other than my carving tools, which are mostly Pfiel, most of my tools were either bought right after I got married in 1971 or are used tools which I bought along the way at yard sales, antique stores, or on Ebay. I do have a few that I bought new and I still will buy some new tools here and there. I bought a dovetail saw for instance from Lee Valley.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3084 days

#2 posted 10-16-2011 05:41 PM

Arnold Palmer wrote a 5 part series on golf in Sports Illustrated in the mid sixties. I hung on every word.

As is sometimes the case, writing about sport can shed light on other areas of life.

In this case, he said something like, “Play eighteen holes with just a seven iron and a putter. You’ll be surprised at how close your score is to what you typically shoot with a full bag of clubs.”



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 2796 days

#3 posted 10-16-2011 05:49 PM

But that’s how hobbies work…Most people in hobbies do not get by on what they absolutely need. They usually get by on what they can afford.

I agree with Marc, but for some the tools themselves are a large part of the hobby. So they’re not just tools qua tools. We could also get by with making all our projects out of cheap pine…

And, I’ve never thought of Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen as low end or boutique. I see them as high-end mainstream tools and everything above that is boutique.

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2926 days

#4 posted 10-16-2011 05:56 PM

I think to suggest LN and Veritas is “low end” is absurd. It’s akin so saying Rolex and Brietling are “low end” because Patek Philippe and Franck Muller are around. Adcom is crap because of Krell and McIntosh. The Mercedes S class is a Volkswagen becasue the Bentley GT exists. There are too many examples.

There will always be boutique items that compete with “high end”. Many border on the absurd. To wit, need a bath towel and want to look cool?;jsessionid=30PHC5FZIEA1SCRBXUYVAIAKEG4RAUPU?productId=prod1600011&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1&langue=en_US&buy=1

Giant Monogram Beach Towel
This luxurious giant Monogram beach towel comes with its own refined stand in natural leather taking up all the iconic Leather Goods codes of the house. This precious set can be carried in the hand or on the shoulder, for a chic summer attitude at the beach or for a nice yachting spirit.
- Size: 180×200 cm / 72×80 inches
- 100% cotton
- Stand in natural leather
Graphite :
MARRON $1,690.00

Or just want to get dry?|82377

Sale $4.79

LN’s are designed after the venerable Stanleys who a true craftsman should have a hard time scoffing at. Glorious infills are reserved for the realm of the collector and the user with a proven taste for fine tools. Even those can be had for less than $1000 on Fleabay. Would you charge an Iron Chef with a crime for having a $1000 chef’s knife, the core of his profession? Probably not.

Ask Philip Marcou, a Lumberjock, a reasonable gentleman, and the producer of fine boutique, heirloom planes if he thinks that Lie Nielsen and Lee Valley are “low end”. Ask him how many he has in his own shop. The answer will prove that this argument is moot at best; intentionally incendiary at worst.

I’m no LN lover but if you sense that this accusation offended me, you are correct.

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

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 2796 days

#5 posted 10-16-2011 06:11 PM

Al, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever “seen” you get upset.

View ksSlim's profile


1290 posts in 3123 days

#6 posted 10-16-2011 06:12 PM

My Granddad pounded into me ” its a poor craftsman that blames his tools” , “learn what a tool will do and make it do it”. Most cutting tools wil cut, some due to different materials will hold an edge longer.
If one can afford the luxury tools, by all means use them, if not, get proficient with what you can afford.
Many of the more pricey tools of today have returned to the 17th & 18th century idea that utilitarian tools can also have an artistic quality. Some of the best OLD tools are also a joy to look at and use.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5148 posts in 4194 days

#7 posted 10-16-2011 06:26 PM

As was said a long time ago (I wish I had said it myself).
“Ain’t ain’t the arrow. It’s the indian.”


View a1Jim's profile


117416 posts in 3810 days

#8 posted 10-16-2011 06:37 PM

I’ve never heard that before, I certainly don’t feel that there low end tools. I guess it’s all where you come from and how much money you have to spend on tools. I’ve seen comments about a $ 5000 Saw Stop being low end compared to European model table saws.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View mnguy's profile


207 posts in 3632 days

#9 posted 10-16-2011 06:58 PM

I think ‘low end’ as a category for hand tools describes a tool that is both inexpensive and that cannot be setup accurately and precisely, and /or cannot be made to maintain that setup. There are many inexpensive tools (and, sadly, some moderately priced and expensive tools) that fall into this definition of ‘low end’. I do not own any L-N tools, but own several LV planes, marking tools, etc., and these LV tools do not fall into my definition of low end. I believe a highly skilled craftsman (which I am not) could adjust and sharpen a $200 LV plane or a $1000 boutique plane and work with them all day long and produce beautiful work, while they could not do this with a $25 big box plane. Therefore, the $25 big box plane, while having a place in many wood worker’s tool box, is ‘low end’.

View tom427cid's profile


294 posts in 2704 days

#10 posted 10-16-2011 07:27 PM

Hi all,
Having worked as both a woodworker and a mechanic my attitude about tools is not necessarily “high end” vs “low end”. When I started swingin wrenches Snap-on was the best and Sears was not. However if I needed a 1/2” wrench and all there was was a Sears would I stoop so low to use it? Of course I would. I needed to get the job done. To me the difference between the high and low end is the QUALITY of the tool. My bench chisels-those that are used all the time-are such a mish-mash of brands that to consider them a set would be laughable.Well,most of the handles match. What is not laughable is that the sizes of those chisels go from 1/16 to 1 1/2” by 16ths. Over the years I have found chisels that had better steel(edge holding ability) and so I would up-grade that size.Do I need every one? No. Primarily I use 5-6 of them.
When I was doing heavy equipment service my truck was in the shop and I borrowed Charlie’s truck. We called him Captain Crude,not from disrespect but from envy.I discovered that while Charlies tools were at first glance pretty lacking,when I needed something special,Wow it was all there to do what I needed. A very valuable lesson to be learned here.We used to say if you dropped Charlie naked in the middle of the Sahara a while later he would drive out in some sort of air-conditioned contraption-but still naked!
While a poor craftsman blames his tools,the real craftsman can take basicly nothing and make it do his bidding.

-- "certified sawdust maker"

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3185 days

#11 posted 10-16-2011 11:20 PM

Great Topic. I have a little experience with this so I will add my two cents as well.

Since I am a hand tool user, I have many. I have a pretty sizable arsenal of handplanes. Only one was purchased new; a LN rabbet block plane. It came sharp and required no tuning to use it other than to set the blade. It is a nice plane for sure. The rest of my planes are older, used Record (most of them anyway) planes. They ALL required some tuning and setup. But I read a lot on the internet and some books and learned how to set them up properly and they all work like they were intended to. I had the opportunity last year to attend a hand tool class with Chris Schwarz at a hand tool distributor’s classroom in Germany. This distributor, Dick GMBH had a very fine selection of tools from Japanese, to Veritas, to LN, etc, etc. I got to use them all. I can honestly say that my properly tuned, used, older Records worked just as good as any that I tried that week. I found the high end planes did nothing that mine couldn’t do.

I say, if you have the money to buy high end stuff, go for it. You will save some time by skipping the tuning process of an old, used plane. But if you don’t have the money, buy the old stuff and learn how to tune them. With some skill, your old used plane will perform just the same as the big dollar high end plane. And quite frankly, I enjoyed tuning my planes.

-- Mike

View Don W's profile

Don W

19034 posts in 2801 days

#12 posted 10-17-2011 01:01 AM

I believe if your going to be a craftsman, you’ll need to learn what constitute a quality tool. A quality tool is one that will do what you expect it to do. We all do things a little different, so its not going to be the same for all of us. Ancient man made some pretty amazing things with tools a lot less sophisticated than we have today, so its not necessarily just the quality of the tool. its the quality of the craftsman using the tool.

I like fussing with older tools, making them work, I believe it makes me a better woodworker. Not because I’m spending time fixing tools, by tuning the equipment you come to understand how that equipment works and why it works or it doesn’t work.

I like listening to the “experts” but I learn an awful lot from the normal weed end hobbyist posting here as well. Being marketable doesn’t necessarily make you good, it just makes you marketable. The average consumer wouldn’t know quality if it jumped up and bit them in the butt, that goes for the average consumer of tools as well. Watch out for marketing, its just that, marketing.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7689 posts in 3034 days

#13 posted 10-17-2011 01:51 AM

Those Lie-Nielsen planes are JUNK! That’s why I don’t have any! But I can tell you this, when I get my first one I’ll let you know how it’s the greatest tool ever made!

What I wonder is, how did those old timers in the 18th century make such fine furniture without the top of the line, obscenely expensive, must-have-or-else-you’re-just-a-low-life-woodworker tools we all know we need today? It’s a mystery akin to building the pyramids without iron tools or how mankind lived through the dark ages with little more than dung to eat…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View maljr1980's profile


171 posts in 2689 days

#14 posted 10-17-2011 06:02 AM

as far as the saw stop is concerned, it cost 5000 only because of the safety feature it has. we have 2 saw stops at work, and it is no better than a general or powermatic saw for about 40% of the price. we also have a computerized altendorf sliding table saw and holzman 5 sheet beam saw. i highly recomend the saw stop, especially for the hobbyist if they can afford it, but it still remains a simple cabinet saw when compared to things that cost 20,000- over 100,000

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2873 days

#15 posted 10-17-2011 06:15 AM

I just feel the need to say that I personally stay as far away from brown towels as is humanly possible (regardless of the price). I’m just sayin… ;=)

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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