Which Smooth Plane to buy?

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Forum topic by 12strings posted 10-15-2012 02:44 PM 12221 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 2382 days

10-15-2012 02:44 PM

I need advice on purchasing a smoothing plane.

I don’t want to spend more than $200, so lie neilson is out. Currently in consideration:

-Veritas #4 1/2
-Veritas small BU Smoother
-Wood River #4
-Look for an old Stanley #4

I have zero experience with Bevel-up planes, other than block planes. I have an old Stanley #5 that I have tune up and use for both general use and smoothing, and really like it. Given that, should I not consider the BU smoother at all…will it be too different from a standard bench plane? Does anyone have experience with more than one of these to rate one over the other?

I really only want to have one smoother (I’m a simple man).

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

19 replies so far

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2284 days

#1 posted 10-15-2012 03:21 PM

Here’s my two cents (or $200)... I’ve got an old Record #4 (basically the same as a Stanley) and a Veritas BU smoother. I paid $20 for the Record and $219 for the Veritas.

They both do a great job of smoothing.

The Veritas is “nicer” both in looks/feel (personal preference) and features (set screws to prevent lateral blade movement, for example). Is it $200 nicer? For me, it was. But that’s mostly because I like to buy shiny new tools. The reality is that the $20 Record plane does everything I would need a smoothing plane to do.

I like the Veritas bevel up planes for a couple of reasons. 1) No frog adjustments = simpler set-up (I know, it’s not that difficult to fettle a standard bench plane, but still…) and 2) I also own the Veritas LA jack and jointer planes, which use the same blades as the BU smoother. That means I only needed to buy one high angle (50 deg) blade and one toothed blade, and those blades fit all three planes.

Not sure if any of that helps you at all, but good luck with your decision!

-- John, BC, Canada

View knotscott's profile


8013 posts in 3373 days

#2 posted 10-15-2012 03:27 PM

I’d take a good older American made plane over a new Asian import any day, but I’m sure just about any of them can be made to work. LN, Veritas, Clifton, etc., are top shelf, with a price tag to match….if budget allows, you’re all but guaranteed a fine plane right out of the box. If you can’t justify the price difference, and good used older plane is my choice. Good Quality Hand Planes On a Budget

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View BigYin's profile


416 posts in 2414 days

#3 posted 10-15-2012 03:38 PM

Pre war stanley 4 1/2 is the best choice for a smoother. same length as a No.4 but wider.

the above site will advise on what you need to look for.

Ebay today has a 4c in US price still low.

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Don W's profile

Don W

18713 posts in 2565 days

#4 posted 10-15-2012 03:39 PM

I’ve got LN, veritas and vintage. LN, veritas seem to work right out of the box with just a little fussing. Vintage takes a little fussing unless you get it pre-tuned from several LJ’s who do it. Side by side a well tuned vintage works the same and cost a lot less.

I’ve got a LN #62. Its a great plane, I just wish I’d got the #164. If I didn’t have a good #4 or #604, that would be first. My recommendation is a good vintage #4.

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

View lj61673's profile


261 posts in 2397 days

#5 posted 10-15-2012 04:30 PM

You can cross the Veritas #4-1/2 off your list for $200 or less.

The Veritas small BU smoother is a great piece, super flat blade right out of the box. Just a quick honing with your favorite sharpening method and you’re ready to roll

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2382 days

#6 posted 10-15-2012 04:39 PM

Good point on the price of the 4.5. Maybe I was thinking of the #4 price.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2483 days

#7 posted 10-15-2012 09:00 PM

Don W is too modest not to plug his own site. ^^^ His collection of planes that he restores and sells are quite nice, and reasonably priced. I bought an old #4 from him that I’m quite happy with.

-- Brian Timmons -

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2574 days

#8 posted 10-15-2012 09:39 PM

Veritas bevel up smoother.
I’m in love with the veritas bevel up planes. :)

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7757 posts in 2911 days

#9 posted 10-15-2012 10:06 PM

An old/older #4 smoother with a NEW quality blade, like a Hock, would keep you under a hundred and put you into a higher quality tool. I did this with one of my old Sargent #418s and it kicks butt now. Not going to argue which blade is best because there are several after-market blades that make these old planes hum…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View ITnerd's profile


263 posts in 2597 days

#10 posted 10-15-2012 10:15 PM

+1 to Brian; Don W’s stuff is the way to go unless the 200 is burning a hole in your pocket. he has a fully refurbished Stanley Defiance +4 for 32 bucks! You could pick up a ready-to-go 3 and 4 and still take the wifey out for a steak dinner.

-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2483 days

#11 posted 10-16-2012 01:17 AM

Exactly my thinking. I could recommend that everyone get a Lie Nielsen smoother, but I’m poor! So I give the kind of advice I feel economically qualified to give.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 2604 days

#12 posted 10-16-2012 01:32 AM

I was not a hand plane user until recently. Went to a local woodworking show where Lee Valley was demonstrating the Veritas family of planes. My first and only plane so far is a Veritas low angle smoothing plane. I purchased this plane for the flat sides for use with a shooting board. I now own 5 blades for this plane that make it so versatile. I have 2 25 degree blades, one straight and one cambered; one 38 degree blade, straight; and 2 50 degree blades, one straight and one cambered. I bought the additional blades over time but with an investment of $320 I have 5 planes to use

View Don W's profile

Don W

18713 posts in 2565 days

#13 posted 10-16-2012 11:49 AM

I’ve written this statement about 100 times here on LJ’s, so I’ll write it again. We all work a little different. I tend to be a bit impatient. I have a LN #62, so I know how easy it is to change the blade, but it’s nothing like reaching over and grabbing another plane, already set foir the task. And we’re talking a price difference that’s pretty insignificant.

The other part of that is a plane sized to make a good jack, makes a fair smoother and so forth.

I’ll be honest, if I win the lotto, I’ll have a whole set of LN planes, but then, there’s no way I’d sell my whole set of vintage either.

It may sound like a really tough decision, but its really not, whether you buy vintage, LN or veritas, if you pay a reasonable price, your not going to lose to much on the resell side, should it come to that.

The most important aspect of hand planing is have fun!!

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

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2382 days

#14 posted 10-16-2012 02:10 PM

Thanks for all the advice… I think, after looking at Don W’s tools, I think I’m sold on getting a vintage smoother.
It will compliment my trusty #5 nicely…after that, all I need is a shoulder plane, and my plane collection might just be complete. :-)

I hope to go to the WWI marketplace in a few weeks to hold some #3’s and #4’s to find out which feels better in my hand…I’m thinking the 3 might be too small…and I have no idea how anybody uses a #2 or a #1.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Don W's profile

Don W

18713 posts in 2565 days

#15 posted 10-16-2012 02:18 PM

I don’t use the #1 very often, but when I do, I hold it like a block plane and it works very well and is actually a lot more comfortable than it looks. Look in the comment section

I like the number to for some small task. I wouldn’t start smoothing a table top with it, but hey, its just cool.

Everyone should have a #4 in my opinion (#4 size, doesn’t need to be a Stanley). A #3 is also nice, but the #4 should come first, unless you are very young, or very small built. Which I am neither.

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

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