Lie Nielsen vs older Stanley

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Forum topic by johndeereb posted 01-30-2015 08:16 PM 2023 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 1208 days

01-30-2015 08:16 PM

My Dad and I have older Stanley hand planes that are fixed up. My Dad has most numbers. Was wondering in what way (if any) would new lie nielsen planes be better than stanley ones. I’ve been reading around on this site and find that lots of people love the lie nielsen planes. Could anyone elaborate on why you love them so much? Do they just work better, feel better in your hands etc? I’m thinking of buying him a lie nielsen as a gift but wanted to make sure it would be worth it. thanks again!

24 replies so far

View pjr1's profile


26 posts in 1208 days

#1 posted 01-30-2015 08:27 PM

I have one Lie Nielsen plane and it’s so beautiful I hate to even touch it and leave fingerprints. Seriously, I need to get over that! Functionally they have noticeably more mass than comparably sized Stanley’s and I would think the thicker blade would be less prone to chatter though I don’t know that for certain.

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222 posts in 1208 days

#2 posted 01-30-2015 08:35 PM

There are some LN planes that have improved on their Stanley counterparts, lighter weight, or brass parts versus steel, that kind of thing. But if your dad has a variety of Stanley’s most of the counterparts would be pretty much a lateral movement, not that big of an improvement. Don’t get me wrong LN makes a fine tool and they are worth having, but they pretty much do the same as their stanley counterparts.

That said LN is making some tools that are really hard to find in useful condition made by stanley. Those specialty tools can be expensive for what they do, so they are best purchased with a specific need in mind.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

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Richard H

489 posts in 1674 days

#3 posted 01-30-2015 08:37 PM

As Pjr1 said the mass is the biggest difference in how they feel when in your hand. The thicker blade may make a bit of a difference but i have not noticed anything huge in how they handle. There is also a lot less play in the adjusting threads but I’m not sure that’s a big deal.

The Lie-Neilsen’s are the modern Bedrocks. They are beautiful planes to use but there is nothing wrong with the older Stanley’s either. It comes down to how much time and energy do you want to spend building a good set of used planes vs buying high quality new ones. If someone has already done the work for you than you are set. I personally tend to use Stanley’s for the standard size planes and Lie-Nielsen’s or Veritas’s for the collector planes as I don’t want to pay the same for a chance at a good low angle Stanley vs knowing I’m getting a high quality Lie-Nielsen model.

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1664 posts in 1983 days

#4 posted 01-30-2015 09:41 PM

LN’s might work a little better than a well tuned Stanley – the thicker blade and breaker will cut with a duller edge vs a Stanley, and they are pretty to look at. The LN bench planes pretty much have the same limitations as the Stanley’s – 45° cutting angle is a compromise, and if you deal with reversing, gnarly grain, you need more angle to prevent tear out. If you decide to go LN, get one with a high angle frog.

Another path (and a more flexible one) are the bevel up “bench” planes, which allow you to have about any cutting angle you want. I have blades ground at 25°, 37°, and 50°, and use them for shooting board/end grain, smoothing, and hi angle smoothing. Old Stanley BU planes are more expensive than LN or Veritas, and not as good. Scraping planes are another good method for dealing with tear out.

Personally, for premium planes, I go to Veritas. Though not nearly as pretty, the Veritas planes have design improvements that really do improve function and use, and are a bit cheaper than LN’s. Both companies have good quality and customer service. You might check into the new Veritas custom hand planes since this is a gift. You can choose the knob, tote, and frog angle.

I guess to sum up – get him a tool that addresses the shortcomings of his current tools, not just a prettier version of what he already has.

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Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#5 posted 01-30-2015 09:51 PM

This debate goes on and on, and at times gets pretty heated. I doubt you will find any real practical advantage. I have both LN and vintage. Dollar for Dollar the vintage is still the best bet in my opinion for standard bench planes. LN’s are well built and very nice planes, and only you can justify the cost.

There are times when buying an LN just makes more sense, like buying a #1, or a #62, or a #164, simply because the LN is usually cheaper, and in some of these cases are better users. For instance a vintage #62 has a habit of breaking behind the mouth. The LNs have fixed that.

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

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1797 posts in 2311 days

#6 posted 01-31-2015 06:53 AM

I use both. Though I’m no plane guru, I’ve not noticed an appreciable difference in performance between a well-tuned, older model Stanley and a Lie Nielsen. The Lie Nielsen is better eye-candy, feels better in the hand and has nice heft but both make identical shavings.

-- See my work at and

View Dan658's profile


93 posts in 1264 days

#7 posted 01-31-2015 07:46 AM

If he already has a bunch of vintage Stanleys, you could buy him the Veritas cap iron and blade upgrades.

Blades –,41182,43698,42607

Cap Iron/Cap Iron with Blade –,230,41182

View JohnChung's profile


408 posts in 2068 days

#8 posted 01-31-2015 12:28 PM

Comparing LN and Stanley is kind of moot. A more subjective approach is which model to compare…...
I own Stanley,LN and Veritas. Each has it’s advantages and weaknesses.

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Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#9 posted 01-31-2015 12:34 PM

Comparing LN and Stanley is kind of moot. A more subjective approach is which model to compare…...
I own Stanley,LN and Veritas. Each has it s advantages and weaknesses.

- JohnChung

Isn’t that why we compare? To distinguish the advantages and disadvantages of each?

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

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408 posts in 2068 days

#10 posted 01-31-2015 02:56 PM

@Don :) Here is my lengthy explanation. Most of these discussion generally covers Stanley vs LN or Veritas. It generally omits out which model to compare with. If this discussion was more narrow like Stanley #4 vs LN #4 then we could be more detailed.

The title was “Lie Nielsen vs older Stanley” so it was pretty vague. I do like my Stanley #4 compared to my Veritas #4 in most cases but smoothing Only smoothing veritas performs better due to it’s weight and on tough woods. If I could I would use the Stanley #4 as it is lighter. But please note that is my preference here.

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Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#11 posted 01-31-2015 03:05 PM

Got it. And I guess you and I said the same thing in different ways. I agree it depends.

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

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408 posts in 2068 days

#12 posted 01-31-2015 03:43 PM


View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#13 posted 01-31-2015 04:09 PM

Unbob I believes has a rather dim opinion of old jointers
due to sole warparge. The stress relived ductile iron
of premium jointers may be preferable unless one wants
to go to some effort to get an old jointer really flat.

That said, for most work with planes other than jointers,
perfect flatness is, imo, not that relevant. With real hard
and figured exotics it can be a different story and there
are people making planes that can work these woods
flawlessly with price tags in the thousands.

You get some more mass with a L-N plane, which helps
with getting pressure in smoothing cuts.

The argument that thicker irons are better is not convincing
to me. They are easy to sharpen freehand though if
no micro bevel is used. A finely set iron with a honed
and polished chipbreaker performs quite well in a $20
Bailey smoother. A L-N smoother has an enjoyable help
and feeling of quality all ‘round and it is perhaps easier
to learn to get fine results with such a well manufactured
plane, but in the end it’s that edge of the iron that does
the cutting and the set of the mouth and setup of the
chipbreaker that controls tearout in a standard bench
plane, no matter who made it or what it cost to buy.

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1275 posts in 2884 days

#14 posted 01-31-2015 05:30 PM

Iron——Edge— the answer.
They’ll all get you there.
Its the craftsman in between that that makes the difference.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1897 days

#15 posted 01-31-2015 06:04 PM

Loren nailed the major problems I am dealing with on wood where the grain reverses, or soft punky areas on burls. My old Bailey planes will make the thin chip on straight grain woods like many like to show, but, how they do going against the grain, or riding over hard and soft areas on wood is where I find some work better then others.
I was able to borrow a LN #7 for a few days. I found it worked better going against the grain then the Bailey #7 I was using at the time. I had the sole on the Bailey flat enough, looking at other reasons the Bailey was not performing as good. It came to be it was the mouth area of the Bailey that needed work as Loren said, to get a little less tear out.
I think Loren is also right about more weight being helpful, I am working on a Bailey #8 type 11, that is heavier then the Bailey #8 type 7. It seems it has less problem riding up and glossing over hard spots, that seems to also dull the blade quickly.
Maybe some one that has a LN plane can post a photo of the mouth area?

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