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#4 Smoother vs. Bevel-Up Smoother

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Forum topic by Matt Przybylski posted 12-21-2013 04:25 AM 803 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Matt Przybylski

457 posts in 1067 days


12-21-2013 04:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: veritas lee valley 4 smoother bevel-up

I went a bit nuts on the Lee Valley Cyber Monday sale and picked up a PMV-11 Block Plane, Medium Shoulder Plane, and bevel-up Jointer. I also had the low-angle smoothing plane originally but decided to not get it. I then got into an email exchange with one of their CS reps (who was awesome at answering my questions, very nice people) and I told him that I also have their #4 smoother on my wish list. He proceeded to tell me about their bevel-up smoother and how it may be a better choice for me because the blades are interchangeable with some of the other planes I now have from them.

I proceeded to ask (and please note, I know NOTHING about hand tools but I LOVE the Veritas line and when things go on sale I will buy them because I’m crazy like that and I WILL learn how to use the planes, I absolutely LOVE seeing people plane wood and the shavings they make as well as the look of the wood, plus I hate sanding) what is the benefit of one versus the other to basically educate myself because I know that #4 planes are very popular from reading this site and others like it. From my understanding of his reply (and please correct me if I’m wrong), bevel-up smoothers are the new #4 but people are just used to the #4s so not that many have converted. Here is his reply:

”The only difference is that Bevel-Up smoother can achieve a lower angle if you need it. A Bevel-Up plane has less moving parts and adjustments are easier. As an example to control the amount of cut you adjust the opening. With a bevel down plane this means you must move the frog. This is done with a screwdriver and with our #4 all you need is to remove lever cap but with some the blade and chip breaker has to be removed. With a bevel up the toe is adjustable and you just loosen the knob and slide it. The #4 has machined sides which means the sides are 90 degrees to sole so the plane can have a fence attached or used for shooting. The bevel up smoother cannot because the sides are not machined. There is pros and cons but if your intentions are for a Jack also then the bevel-up smoother is your best bet. There are many die hard plane enthusiasts that do not accept the bevel up but usually if you can get one in their hand to try they typically reconsider their opinions.”

Well, having read that, what do you fine LJs make of it? Is he correct? Can others chime in with some info on this topic? I’d really appreciate any insight offered.

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com


13 replies so far

View lepelerin's profile

lepelerin

323 posts in 1014 days


#1 posted 12-21-2013 06:53 AM

I do have the small BUS from Veritas. I simply love it. It changed my perspective on hand planing. Prior to the veritas plane, I was using a refurbished regular Stanley #4. The adjustable toe, for me, is a really cool thing. Again I am a beginner with hand plan, I just practice like crazy. I cannot really say if they are right or wrong. This is a question of if you like it or not. Try and judge by yourself.
Some experts here will answer your question with a great deal of details.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7734 posts in 2337 days


#2 posted 12-21-2013 07:50 AM

You can do equally fine work with either.

The technical differences will become clearer over
time.

I prefer planes with chipbreakers for general smoothing.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View funchuck's profile

funchuck

119 posts in 1746 days


#3 posted 12-21-2013 10:04 AM

This is more preference. Both are very good. I have 2 bevel up planes (BU Jointer and LA Jack). I also have 2 bevel down planes (#4 and #6). I tend to prefer the bevel down planes. Here are a few of the advantages/disadvantages I can think of:

Bevel up planes are much easier to change angles. You can have several blades. Low angles are good for end grain work and for a shooting board, while high angles are good for tricky grain. If you work a lot of tricky grained wood, this is a very good thing.

For bevel down planes, you can’t lower the angle, but you can increase the angle by introducing a back bevel on the blade. LN also sells a high angle frog that you can use.

For blade angles, the advantage goes to the bevel ups.

The bevel ups are also easier to close/open the mouth. With the bevel down planes, you need to move the frog forward/back to adjust the mouth opening.

For me, I prefer the bevel down planes because I can adjust the depth of the blade while I’m planing. Also, the one thing I don’t like about the Veritas bevel up planes is that when the blade is out, the adjuster falls out at the worst time. Usually, after the blade is taken out, I try to pry the adjuster out, but it seems stuck. So, I put the plane over the trash and brush away all the shavings. At this point, the adjuster decides to fall out into the trash can full of shavings…. then I have the fun task of trying to find the adjuster. Seems I never learn and this happens all the time. One other factor is that I think the bevel down planes look better… not really a reason, I know, but when a tool looks good, it tends to motivate you to use it.

One other thing is that I usually don’t work with tricky woods…. mostly poplar, cherry, pine and oak. All pretty tame and easily handled by bevel down planes. Even though I seem totally in favor of bevel down, I still use my bevel up planes. The LA Jack is used for the shooting board and the BU Jointer is my longest plane, so it is used a lot for bigger projects.

-- Charles from California

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1889 posts in 1182 days


#4 posted 12-21-2013 11:44 AM

This is an interesting thread. I have the Veritas bevel up smoother on my list, got to the site too late on black Friday to snag one. I do have the Veritas LA Jack, and really like it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Don W's profile

Don W

15240 posts in 1256 days


#5 posted 12-21-2013 01:11 PM

The bevel up, bevel down debate goes on and on. What seems to never get mentioned is the personalities involved. I believe there is a place for both if your work is diversified enough. Effects on hand planes goes from the type of wood to the humidity for the day, how you hold the plane, the amount of skew, how sharp, how you sharpen, etc, etc, etc.

If your a shopsmith, make one tool do everything and don’t mind reconfiguring mid project then a BU would be best. If you’re like me, and want a plane for each job, don’t like stopping to reconfigure, then you’ll want multiple BD. Or maybe you’re somewhere in-between.

Its a “do you like levis or Arizona jeans”. The only real way is buy a pair of each and wear them.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

372 posts in 1506 days


#6 posted 12-21-2013 01:15 PM

One other point is that since the bevel angel on BDPs does not affect the performance of the plane (other than back bevels) you can sharpen them all at the same angle, generally 25 degrees, without thinking about it. Whereas on BUPs the angle varies. Definitely not a big deal, although if you freehand sharpen it might mean more.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

457 posts in 1067 days


#7 posted 12-21-2013 03:56 PM

Very good feedback, thanks guys, exactly what I was looking for. I think personally I will eventually buy both. As of right now I don’t work with exotics but I do plan on doing so eventually (I have some very nice tiger, spalted, and birds eye maple in my shop). For starters I will probably purchase the BU version so that I can change blades with the other BU planes I have from them but I can see myself still getting the #4 down the line. I think the case is made for owning both and I’m already addicted to buying them (and I haven’t even started using them :)

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

View Tim's profile

Tim

1290 posts in 650 days


#8 posted 12-21-2013 06:44 PM

The rep’s reply said: “The #4 has machined sides which means the sides are 90 degrees to sole so the plane can have a fence attached or used for shooting. The bevel up smoother cannot because the sides are not machined.”

But they do have another plane, the Low angle smooth plane which does appear to have machined sides. Not sure why they have the two barely different planes or why the rep didn’t mention that one. Worth asking about. The low angle smooth plane uses 2” blades instead of the 2-1/4” that the bevel up smoother does, so there is a little difference there too.

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

457 posts in 1067 days


#9 posted 12-21-2013 06:56 PM

@Tim: He did actually point me in the direction of the low angle smooth plane in a separate email prior to this one but mentioned that the blades aren’t interchangeable with the ones I already have so it was kind of left out of the discussion after that.

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

View Tim's profile

Tim

1290 posts in 650 days


#10 posted 12-22-2013 01:08 AM

Right, makes sense. I just think it’s weird the BU smoother doesn’t have machined sides.

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

457 posts in 1067 days


#11 posted 12-22-2013 01:28 AM

Agreed, that is slightly odd, but it is what it is I suppose :\

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10051 posts in 1307 days


#12 posted 12-22-2013 07:27 PM

As an example to control the amount of cut you adjust the opening. With a bevel down plane this means you must move the frog.

I don’t believe that is an accurate statement. Mouth opening on either has nothing to do with ‘amount of cut.’

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Don W's profile

Don W

15240 posts in 1256 days


#13 posted 12-22-2013 07:34 PM

I don’t believe that is an accurate statement. Mouth opening on either has nothing to do with ‘amount of cut.’

i also believe this is true, but a tight mouth will help keep the cutter from following or pulling the grain causing tear out or scalloping.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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