issues with some Lee Valley products

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Forum topic by Miniderub posted 11-12-2014 02:25 PM 1086 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 842 days

11-12-2014 02:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hello all, I’m here looking for some opinions on some issues I’m having with some products from lee valley. Not really sure if its me over exaggerating or if there real issues that I should be getting addressed. Let me add that I purchased these planes about a year ago (never thinking that I had to verify that the soles were in fact flat and true) and I only just acquired my granite surface plate about 2 weeks ago. since then I’ve been truing up all my straight edges and THAT led me to check everything in my shop. So returning my planes to lee valley under the 3 month return rule is not really an option.

1st—-> veritas honing guide. seems like it makes a slanted bevel. wouldn’t this eventually lead to an edge thats is not square.

2nd—-> plow plane. the wide kit conversion seems to be not milled right. the part of the blade that is supposed to rest on the skid plate, is not touching. You can see the light in the gap between the left of the blade and the wide blade conversion skid plate. this would introduce chatter wouldn’t it?

3rd—-> All my LV planes. they seem to not be perfectly flat. When I check the soles with my straight edge I see that it is concave. that is the same for my LA jack, block, and smoother. I just recently got a grade A surface plate
and trued my straight edge ruler on it, so I know its not my ruler. And also, I have 2 Lie nielsen planes that I checked with the same straight edge and they were almost perfectly flat. I called LV and asked them if it was normal to have the soles concave and they responded that its within tolerance if its no worse than .003”. Is it just me, or, for the price they charge for these planes we should be getting perfectly flat soles.

Thanks in advance for any opinions and feedback
Marco D

13 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


7119 posts in 1996 days

#1 posted 11-12-2014 03:21 PM

The folks at Lee Valley are great. You can send it back and they’ll give you
a new one or exchange it, and I think they give you 3 months to figure it out.

I purchased an edge plane that had issues and Lee Valley was very responsive.

I went to a machine shop and had them mill the proper angle. However, I agree
the final product should be up to a higher standard as we’re willing to pay
for a premium product.

View Miniderub's profile


27 posts in 842 days

#2 posted 11-12-2014 03:46 PM

sorry Waho609, after reading your reply I realized that I left out very important piece of information out of the original post, which I just corrected. I bought these about a year ago, so unfortunately for me, too late to return.

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


7119 posts in 1996 days

#3 posted 11-12-2014 03:58 PM

I betcha Lee Valley will work with you on that, their customer

service is top notch.

View JayT's profile


4673 posts in 1631 days

#4 posted 11-12-2014 04:09 PM

Disclaimer: I don’t own any Veritas or LN planes, all mine are restored vintage.

I doubt that very many, if any, of my planes are within .003 front to back and they all work just fine. There are a couple critical areas and you definitely do not want a convex sole, but a little concavity isn’t an issue. You were using the planes for a year and didn’t see enough issue to talk to LV about them then, so how does getting a new reference surface change the way the planes were performing?

Personally, I just don’t understand the whole machinist’s tolerance expectations when working with wood. Wood moves more than the tolerances due to temperature and humidity changes. Even if you flatten a piece of wood to within .001”, it won’t stay that way if the temperature changes 10 degrees or the relative humidity changes.

Additionally, consider that the iron plane sole will actually wear a bit as the planes are used. Even if it is perfectly flat when shipped, it will start getting a little bit out due to the abrasive action of the wood. Don’t know if you’ve used them that much in the past year, but it’s just another reality of woodworking. I’ve restored several vintage planes where there was a worn track down the plane sole from jointing edges of boards. The previous owner kept using it in that state, so it must not have been an issue to him. I’ll flatten them to the best of my ability, but using sandpaper on granite never gets the sole completely flat. It will, however, get flat enough to be a good user.

Not trying to be negative here, just trying to temper expectations. If you are truly unhappy with your LV planes, contact them. Everything I’ve ever heard about their customer service is excellent. Before doing so, however, please stop and think if it’s really that big of an issue to your woodworking now, when it hasn’t been for the last 12 months.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Redoak49's profile


1819 posts in 1408 days

#5 posted 11-12-2014 04:09 PM

Some of your pictures are a bit difficult to see the problem. In the one picture you show the straight edge on the plane but do not really say how far out of flat that it is. Do you have some feeler gauges so that you can measure it.

IMHO, it is important when you make an investment in something that is as expensive as the planes, that you carefully look at them when you get them. I think that it is part of getting to know a new tool and learning how to use it. I have bought planes from Lee Valley and never had a problem.

View JADobson's profile


656 posts in 1531 days

#6 posted 11-12-2014 05:45 PM

LV just replaced a roughing gouge for me because they determined that the tool failed due to a problem with a tool and not with how I was using it. I’d get in touch with them. If there is a problem with the tool you should be able to count on them to make it right even if you’ve had the tool for a while.

-- James

View JADobson's profile


656 posts in 1531 days

#7 posted 11-12-2014 05:53 PM

I should also add that with the MKII honing guide it is easy to tighten one side of the clamp more than the other side which allows the blade to slip a little and give you that slanted bevel. It works better if you screw down each side a little at a time so it can clamp easily across the blade. Check this out around the 2:15 mark:

-- James

View Ripthorn's profile


1402 posts in 2405 days

#8 posted 11-12-2014 05:58 PM

I do some metal working in addition to woodworking and have to constantly remind myself that I have to have different mindsets when it comes to tolerance. I have micrometers that will measure to tenths of a thousandth, but woodworking to that tolerance is just plain dumb. Let me just give a couple of thoughts:

- Instead of using your flattened straight edge, use the surface plate directly. Put a little bit of very fine grit paper on there, and run your plane sole directly on that. You could easily be propagating errors from your straight edge to the plane sole. When sanding something in a flat surface, the end result is rarely perfectly flat.

- Keep in mind that the human eye can see light through a gap of about .0001” (one ten thousandth of an inch), which is 30 TIMES less than the machining tolerance of the plane.

- Even though these are very nice planes, .003” does not seem outrageous to me, especially for something that can be as difficult to fixture in a surface grinder as a plane.

- .003” could be lapped out on your very fine surface plate with relatively little effort

I don’t understand the mechanics of the plow plane parts from your pictures, so I will forbear any commenting on that. Hope this helps.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

3538 posts in 1981 days

#9 posted 11-12-2014 06:11 PM


I know Rob Lee very well. Just call them with ANY question or problem and it will get fixed. That is why I deal with them.

-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Rick's profile


8287 posts in 2452 days

#10 posted 11-12-2014 07:19 PM

Rob Lee is also a Member of LJ’s and a “Buddy” if you want to try that route.

Yes! They will no doubt help you out!

But as others have said the .003 is not really that much of a problem and could be easily fixed with a little effort.

Also, One year is a Long Time to find something that you consider to be a problem with your Plane Purchase.

ANY Equipment I buy is thoroughly checked over as soon as it comes out of the box.

Anyway. Best of luck on resolving your Problem.

-- Hope Everyone Is Doing Well! .... Best Regards: Rick

View Miniderub's profile


27 posts in 842 days

#11 posted 11-12-2014 11:34 PM

OK so concerning the gap in the soles of the planes, I understand that .003 is not that big of a deal. BTW I never said it doesn’t work well. I was just under the impression that someone spending $300 on a premium plane should get something that is dead FLAT (like my Lie Nielsens) If I wanted something flat enough that would just do the job, I would’ve spent $30 on an old Stanley on eBay.
Anyways, they work great. don’t fix what aint broke, right?

Thank you JADobson for the response and the link for my issue with the honing guide. I will pay more attention to how equal I tension the knurled knobs next time I have to sharpen anything and hopefully that will resolve the issue.

As for the plow plane, Im sorry I’m not really sure how to explain this well but ill give it a go. You can see light where I circled it. the wide blade is only being supported on the side of the plane body not the skid plate. I was hoping someone would check to see if they had the same issue with their plow plane. If I’m alone with this issue I would then call lee valley.

View knockknock's profile


332 posts in 1593 days

#12 posted 11-13-2014 12:04 AM

I have used my wide skate for making tongues and rabbets and know mine works, so I am not worried.

Anyway, I put the wide skate on mine with the 3/4” blade. I can see light between the back of the blade and the wide skate, for about 1/3 of machined portion of the wide skate. After that my eyes can’t really tell.

I was hoping you were going to call LV, because only they can give you the truth. I can only guess, and this is my guess. The wide skate is machined separately from the main body skate of the plane (LV wasn’t even making them when I got my plane). So they cannot be machined along with the plane, so I wouldn’t expect them to match. Where as the fence holes in the main plane body have to match the holes in the fence (a separate piece), so are probably drilled to some spec, and that is why those holes can be drilled to match in the wide skate. Also, the wide skate clamps the blade on the side when you tighten the “clamping knob”. On my wide skate, where it contacts the side of the blade, it is machined and concave. So there are two solid contact points clamping the blade, which will stiffen things up some.

View JADobson's profile


656 posts in 1531 days

#13 posted 11-13-2014 12:21 AM

Thank you JADobson for the response and the link for my issue with the honing guide. I will pay more attention to how equal I tension the knurled knobs next time I have to sharpen anything and hopefully that will resolve the issue.

- Miniderub

No problem, hope it works for you.

It works better if you screw down each side a little at a time so it can clamp easily across the blade.

That is suppose to say “evenly” not “easily”. That’s why you don’t rely on spell check.

-- James

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