LN smoother, Bevel down or Bevel down?

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Forum topic by JayCop posted 12-21-2011 06:04 AM 1747 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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37 posts in 2459 days

12-21-2011 06:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

I live only minutes away from Lie Nielsen and have been lusting for a smooth plane for a while now. I love the looks and non-rusting qualities of the bevel down Bronze No. 4. On the other hand the low angle bevel up smoother may be more versatile. Also the low angle Jack could be an option. I plan to only really use the plane for smoothing and not thicknessing stock.

What do you guys and gals think? What way should I go?

13 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2976 days

#1 posted 12-21-2011 06:09 AM

If it were up to me, I’d probably get the bevel up smoother. Don’t get me wrong, I also lust after that bronze #4, but really you can get a very good vintage #4 for a decent price. Also, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the bevel up planes.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2623 days

#2 posted 12-21-2011 06:26 AM

I would have more interest in the bevel up plane as well. The bevel down planes are everywhere, and all I have heard or read about their bevel up planes has been positive.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3673 days

#3 posted 12-21-2011 08:32 AM

The bevel up plane irons are more of a hassle to sharpen
for smoothing as they have to be cambered and you have
to learn to hone them on the curve. If you don’t use
a camber, ridges will happen. With bevel-down planes
a simple dubbing of the corners can substitute for a camber
and sharpening a mild curved camber is easier than the more
pronounced one used for smoothing with a bevel-up iron.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3008 days

#4 posted 12-21-2011 09:46 AM

i guess you’ve got to learn to sharpen a curve camber blade.

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2500 days

#5 posted 12-21-2011 10:12 AM

By design, a bevel down plane is able to take thicker shavings than a bevel up plane, so for me I prefer bevel down for a jointer or a jack plane, but that is not the purpose of a smoother. The bevel up is ideal for a smoother since the purpose is to take thin shavings to leave a pristine surface. In any case that is what I use, I changed from a Veritas bevel up jack plane to a LN bevel down, but I still use the Veritas bevel up plane for a smoother.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2592 days

#6 posted 12-21-2011 04:48 PM

check out my recent review

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

View JayCop's profile


37 posts in 2459 days

#7 posted 12-21-2011 06:14 PM

The census seems to be bevel up for smoothing. Now my next great decision is BU Jack or BU number 4?

Thanks for the great review Don. I read it last night and again this morning. The blog series you linked to in the comments was also very helpful.

I use the sharpening system that LN recommends with the same jig. The smaller wheel lets you pressure one side more than the other and can put the slightest of camber on the blade but is that enough for the BU plane?

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2592 days

#8 posted 12-21-2011 06:41 PM

I’m not sure I agree that the bevel up is the consensus for smoothing. The standard bevel down #4 is one of the most common smoothing planes on the market for a reason. For normal everyday smoothing, I’ll still reach for my Bedrock 604 or my Stanley 4 ½. The bevel up excels in very difficult grain, end grain and shooting. For typical, normal smoothing, I’d still recommend a good sharp #4 (or 604). The difference is you can buy a decent #4 user for pennies.

If you can have only 1 plane, then I would probably suggest the #62. But if you want my outright recommendation, I’d say get a #4 and a #62. Even if the #4 is a good older Stanley that sells for about $30 (or less). As I mentioned in my review, I’m a vintage Stanley guy, and my favorite “smoother” is still my 604. I really don’t believe the 604 works better than any of the #4s I have, I just like the square sides, similar to the LN and it just fits my hands better. One of my best working #4’s is still this ugly little frankenplane.

I’m not a believer that you can get one plane that does it all, and does it well. I absolutely love my new #62, but I hope I didn’t give the impression it’s the only plane I have that I absolutely love.

I don’t put a camber on my smoothers, I round the edge. I don’t believe one way or the other is right or wrong, I just did the rounded edge first, it worked for me, so I continued. I did the same one my #62, but I’ve still only sharpened it once.

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

View JayCop's profile


37 posts in 2459 days

#9 posted 12-21-2011 07:09 PM

Thanks for another great informative reply Don. I see what you mean by the #62 not being the be all end all of smoothing. I do have a old 1910 #4 with the corrugated base that I cleaned up some but it needs a new blade, chipbreaker, and leaver cap too.

What about the size of the #62 is it too big for say small draw or box parts?

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2592 days

#10 posted 12-21-2011 08:05 PM

Well, again, the 62 is new to me, but knowing its bench plane equivalent, I’d say you could make it work, but it wouldn’t be convenient.I have a nice low knob #3 that I will uses for the small stuff. I have a #2 for tight spots, but theats more of a “cool” plane to say you have than really functional.

My 604 needs a new blade, and my research shows the IBC (woodcraft) will most likely be the one I get. I’m not sure if I will get the set or just the blade. The cap for a #4 should be easy to find, but to be honest, I’ve picked up complete #4 in restorable condiftion for $5 at flea markets. I’ll check, I may have an extra cap.

I like to collect, restore, and play with these things. I just sold about 25 or so just to get some space back in my shop. I’m not suggesting you need a complete set, but figure out what type of planing your going to do and put a set together over time. If your taste requires LN quality up front, you’ll need lots of time, but if your willing to put in a little restore time, they can be ewasy to find.

You can also play around with different back bevels on the #4 for difficult grain. There are many who can make it work for everything. I haven’t mastered the whole, ruler trick, back bevel, change the angle route yet.

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

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2718 days

#11 posted 12-21-2011 08:09 PM

If you think of the bevel up as a giant block plane on steroids, it makes more sense to me. For smoothing, I still go to a standard angle bench plane with a tight mouth, followed by a scraper. If you’re tackling difficult grain, a higher bedding angle or some sharpening tricks can be employed. Of course, there are situations where a block plane excels; one on steroids maybe moreso.

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

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3673 days

#12 posted 12-21-2011 08:34 PM

I turn to a #4 almost all of the time for smoothing. I have a L-N low
angle jack and I’ve mentioned before that I don’t use it much. One
benefit of the standard pitch planes is the chipbreaker, which can
be set very close to the edge and in fact, can be honed to a mirror
polish which actually does make a difference in some cuts.

One benefit of the low angle planes is they are easier to use one handed,
but that doesn’t stop me from using a #4 one handed anyway, often
grabbing the plane in the middle and pulling it.

View JayCop's profile


37 posts in 2459 days

#13 posted 12-24-2011 09:51 PM

Thanks to everyone for your input. I am going to get the No.4 in bronze. Just can’t help my self it’s so pretty. Then I will save for a No. 62 and get that as my next tool purchase.

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