Which plane?


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Looking for help again. :)

I have previously used an electric 6" planer to join wood.

It has worked okay but I think I could do with learning to do this by hand, at least the fine finishing anyway.

I have never used a hand plane before or even have access to try one and the prospect to be honest is daunting.

They seem so large and heavy and I really need advice for which to go for.

There is nothing much different in price to separate them and I also need to be able to tackle a cello but mainly just violin billets.

So which one should I go for and is there a reason why to choose one over the other?

Also I am in the UK.

I want one to work *straight out of the box* and don't want to have to *fettle* it by re-grinding and buying new blades, etc.

I have the Jet equivalent of the Tormek so hopefully sharpening won't be a problem, but that is about as far as I want to go.

The models I have looked at online are....

Veritas Bevel-Up Jointer Plane

The Veritas low-angle jointer is the largest member of the bevel-up bench plane family. At 560 x 73mm(22" x 2.7/8") and weighing 3.4kg (7.1/2 lb.), it is the answer for jointing edges and flattening large panels. The bevel-up blade configuration results in a plane that is versatile and straightforward to use. The 12° bed angle, coupled with the 25° blade bevel, creates an effective cutting angle of 37°. Simply increasing the blade bevel results in higher cutting angles for improved performance in more difficult-grained woods. An adjustable throat plate allows a wide range of mouth adjustment. A unique stop-screw retains mouth settings while preventing blade damage when removing and replacing blades. Supplied with a 57mm(2.1/4") wide lapped blade, 4.75mm(3/16") thick in A2 tool steel (other blades are available as optional extras).

Clifton No. 7 Try Plane

When only the best will do you will choose a Clifton No.7 because a plane this long has to be right without compromise. Clifton only gives you the best made from the finest materials by skilled and dedicated craftsmen, a strong long plane which will give you the flattest cut possible in woodwork and a lifetime of work. Fitted with Bubinga wood handles, 2 piece cap iron, 60mm Victor forged blade. Overall length 555mm / 22", weight 4.6kg.

Lie-Nielsen No. 7 1/2 Low Angle Jointer Plane

At 558mm(22") long with a 60mm(2.3/8") wide A2 cryogenically treated blade its dimensions are the same as a standard No. 7 plane. The blade is mounted at an angle of 12°) long with a wide A2 cryogenically treated blade its dimensions are the same as a standard No. 7 plane. The blade is mounted at an angle of 12° with the bevel up; this design gives as much support as possible to the cutting edge. It has a cast ductile iron body with bronze lever cap, smooth depth adjustment and cherry wood handles. The is an uncomplicated tool that will give great results on end grain and long grain in most situations. Weight 3.34kg(7 35lbs).

Lie-Nielsen No. 7 Try or Jointer Plane

At 558mm(22") long with a precisely ground ductile iron body, this plane is born to shoot accurate joints. The frog and lever cap are made in bronze. Fitted with an A2 cryogenically treated 60mm(2.3/8") wide blade to give a smooth chatter-free cut. Weight 3.75kg(8.1/4lbs).

If you know of any others I need to look at please tell me.

As I have said, I can't have a look at these anywhere near me, I will have to buy online.

I presume that some of you will have knowledge of these planes and may even use one.

I can't afford to make a mistake with the cost of these planes, so please help me.

Don't know what to do with it when I get it either......but heck there is time enough yet :)

Thanks.

Sharron

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I would go with the Lie-Nielsen No. 7 Try or Jointer Plane, but I don't know the Clifton "in person", it may be good also.

The plane may be Ok *straight out of the box* but your planing skills may be not.... the plane is a difficult tool to master. So, if possible, take it to a good woodworker to have a private class, or get a book about using the plane. Ciao!

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Can't see any benefit in using a low angle jack for jointing.

You can't alter depth of cut or lateral adjustment "on the fly" like you can on a normal bevel down plane. I would find that a nuisance.

I use a Lie Nielsen 5 1/2 for jointing. I recently tried a Clifton that I liked very much. Every bit as good as the L-N, quite a lot cheaper, and the blade is easier to sharpen.

I would get a Clifton No. 6 if I was buying again, although I'm perfectly happy with the L-N

Old USA-made Stanley planes are also great. You could buy a fully-fettled one from Ray Iles; it would work almost as well as one of these posh planes and would be quite a lot cheaper.

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I have both Lee Valley and Lie Nielsen planes and they perform extremely well.

There is a forum that has some of the best plane experts contributing to the discussions, and so posting this may help you with your choice.

It is at Saw Mill Creek and the forum is called Neanderthal Haven, since it is talk about tools that don't use electricity.

A search there will turn-up all sorts of interesting tips.

Neanderthal Haven

The longer the plane the better/easier it is to joint with, but having a 22" plane for a 16" violin plate may be a bit more plane than you want to handle.

What I like about the Lee Valley line of planes is that they have added more length to the toe/front end of the plane, so that it can register on the piece of wood well before the blade makes contact. This should make it more user friendly to a beginner.

The start of the cut is where a lot of mistakes are made, and the weight of the operator needs to be place down on the front of the plane at the very start of the cut! As the cut progresses the weight is gradually shifted backwards on the plane until the blade is almost ready to exit the cut, and then all the weight is on the rear of the plane as the stroke exits the wood. This starting of the cut is critical in jointing, and so the Lee Valley planes aid in this starting aspect.

What I personnally don't like about the Lee Valley planes is the handles, so that is just a feel preference, and nothing that will stop the plane from performing well.

Perhaps someone here will recommend the #6 planes, as they will do a good job on violin plates, and the occasional cello plate.

If I had future plans for two separate planes, one dedicated for each size plate, then a #7 or #8 for the cello, and #5 for the violin.

I like a bench plane for this job because they are heavier, and you can adjust the shaving thickness on the fly, so to speak, without having to take your hand off the handle of the plane, just your index finger to twirl the adjusting knob.

You set the plane so that you are not taking a shaving, and try it on the wood. Then you just give the knob a small slight forward advance, and try again until you are just taking a very very thin shaving. You may have to do this several times until you have the plane dialed in, and so a bench plane is more accommodating.

I put a little squiggle of paraffin across the bottom of the plane with say 4 or 5 "S" like marks on the sole. This will make the plane glide better, and you will hardly even notice the weight of it at all.

Bench planes also have more weight than their equivalent counterparts, which makes the job easier.

Just a word about corrugated bottoms. They do not reduce the drag on a plane, and so they are just an unnecessary expense, avoiding them will save money.

If you order from Lee Valley, you might want to get a very accurate straight edge at the same time. By holding the straight edge on the wood surface, and holding the plate up to the light behind the plate, you will be able to see the high and low spots. This way you can easily chase the bumps.

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I only make basses and use a secondhand Stanley #6, with which I manage very well, and have not needed to spend hours fettling or adjusting. just sharpen it. The price is usually right for these :-)

A #7 is a big heavy chunk of metal, and for a violin you might have more luck doing what some do and clamping the plane to a flat shooting board and moving the plate edge against the plane sole.

Although you might find a #6 or #7 difficult to manoeuvre at first, after a short while they become very natural to use and when you go back to a #4 they feel like a toy.

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Sharron,

I find a jointer plane easiest for cello, but difficult for smaller plates, so I use a jack plane for vln / vla.

The Lie Nielson's blades are pretty close to "ready to go", but I can't think of any plane or blade I've ever seen that didn't need some tweaking. In fact, I can't think of any violin making tool that is ready to go out of the box. I'm not sure about the others, but LN's are nice. I don't own one though. I can't afford that. I have older Stanley planes that I bought off Ebay for about 1/3 the price, with replaced Hock blades.

Sean

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Thanks for all the information.

I thought the bigger the better :) as that was the impression I was given.

The size of the thing really makes me wonder about handling it, but I never thought about smaller or secondhand.

Lie Nielson seem to have a good thumbs up so far.

I have one of their smaller planes and it is lovely to handle and *worked* straight out of the box.

D Burns, thanks for the link which threw this pdf file up which may be useful to anyone looking at and using planes.

http://www.tjmahaffey.com/workshop/downloads/PlaneInfo.pdf

Sharron

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...

I thought the bigger the better :) as that was the impression I was given.

...Sharron

As they say in the classics, it's not size that matters, but how you use it. A bit of a plane freak myself, I still cannot help but think what Tony used, and he seemed to do OK.

Regards,

Tim

PS - Varnish trivia 1: Sandarac is the national tree of Malta - where it is an endangered species.

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As they say in the classics, it's not size that matters, but how you use it. A bit of a plane freak myself, I still cannot help but think what Tony used, and he seemed to do OK.

Regards,

Tim

PS - Varnish trivia 1: Sandarac is the national tree of Malta - where it is an endangered species.

A bit like the saying *many a good tune played on an old fiddle* :)

I have just been reading in the link I posted above about wooden planes.

Sharron

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I think ultimately it is very personal what you find best size-wise…..I’m not a big person so I find the number seven pretty hefty ….and also worth remembering that the bigger the plane the more critical it becomes that the sole is perfectly flat, and remains so.

I used for years a number six (firstly a very cheap one with plastic handles and then a lei Neilson).

A year or two ago I bought a number 5 ½ size plane that I personally find the perfect size, I find the shorter length makes it far easier to control and create a very slight hollow along the length of a violin joint….even for cello joints it knocks the socks off my number six.

I don’t believe there is a best plane for making centre joints, I like the traditional bevel down style bench planes..I find them more versatile…..But you’ll find strong and valid arguments for a wide variety of planes; ultimately the best one will be the one that works best for you.

So if you can get the chance to get hands on experience with several types from friends/colleagues before you commit yourself you can save yourself from descending the slippery slope of buying far more planes then you’ll ever need …..Then again is it possible to have too many plane? :-)

neil

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I think ultimately it is very personal what you find best size-wise…..I’m not a big person so I find the number seven pretty hefty ….and also worth remembering that the bigger the plane the more critical it becomes that the sole is perfectly flat, and remains so.

I used for years a number six (firstly a very cheap one with plastic handles and then a lei Neilson).

A year or two ago I bought a number 5 ½ size plane that I personally find the perfect size, I find the shorter length makes it far easier to control and create a very slight hollow along the length of a violin joint….even for cello joints it knocks the socks off my number six.

I don’t believe there is a best plane for making centre joints, I like the traditional bevel down style bench planes..I find them more versatile…..But you’ll find strong and valid arguments for a wide variety of planes; ultimately the best one will be the one that works best for you.

So if you can get the chance to get hands on experience with several types from friends/colleagues before you commit yourself you can save yourself from descending the slippery slope of buying far more planes then you’ll ever need …..Then again is it possible to have too many plane? :-)

neil

I knew you wouldn't be able to resist... :)

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I have a Veritas bevel up jack plane. It's about the same size as a 5 1/2 plane (so a bit larger than a number 5). I just love this plane! I used it to join violin planes and it worked like a charm :)

Veritas planes work straight out of the box and are a quite bit cheaper than Lie Nielsen (at least in Germany). The soles and blades are very flat! I'm sure it is large enough to join cello planes.

The great thing about bevel up planes is that you can vary the effective cutting angle easily. I sharpened the blade with a micro bevel at 45°. With a bedding angle of 12° this yields an effective cutting angle of 57° which is great for figured wood - I didn't have any tear out problems with maple... Moreover, you don't have to deal with a chip breaker.

That said, I'm sure any Lie Nielsen or Veritas plane will be a great choice! Some time ago Clifton planes didn't work straight out of the box. I do not know if that has changed.

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I have a Veritas bevel up jack plane. It's about the same size as a 5 1/2 plane (so a bit larger than a number 5). I just love this plane! I used it to join violin planes and it worked like a charm :)

Veritas planes work straight out of the box and are a quite bit cheaper than Lie Nielsen (at least in Germany). The soles and blades are very flat! I'm sure it is large enough to join cello planes.

The great thing about bevel up planes is that you can vary the effective cutting angle easily. I sharpened the blade with a micro bevel at 45°. With a bedding angle of 12° this yields an effective cutting angle of 57° which is great for figured wood - I didn't have any tear out problems with maple... Moreover, you don't have to deal with a chip breaker.

That said, I'm sure any Lie Nielsen or Veritas plane will be a great choice! Some time ago Clifton planes didn't work straight out of the box. I do not know if that has changed.

Clifton had a few QA problems a few years ago, which I understand are now completely sorted out.

You can increase the cutting angle on a conventional bevel down plane by putting a back bevel on the blade. OK, you need a spare blade to do this, but in practice you would also keep a separate high angle blade for your bevel up plane, rather than continually regrinding a single blade, unless you're a glutton for punishment :)

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I also use the L-N Jack plane to do center joints on violins but prefer a #7 joiner plane for cello center joints. Unfortunately I own an old Stanley #7 that I've souped up over many years and it works great- I wish I could justify buying an L-N jointer :) The #7 is also good for flattening a board before doing the center joint. A Jack plane may be a bit short for that particular job. You could do it with the Jack plane but would need two long, accurate stiff, straight edge rulers (or comparable) to flatten stock.

If you're short on money but have the time, look into purchasing a Bedrock plane and taking the time and effort to fine tune it, buy high quality blades for it etc. You would end up with an excellent plane for less money. It would take several days of work to get it fully tuned up, assuming it was in reasonable condition to begin with.

Oded

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Sharron and others,

I used a Milliers Falls #14 (I believe that's the correct #) for years. A bear of a plane to use, thin blade, not machined well, just not a very good plane. I use a shooting board for joints, I just never trusted my skill at holding the thing straight and true. Every time I used the plane I'd think I've got to get a new one. I'd get the plates jointed and put it on the shelf and forget about all the aggravation until next time. Little bit like a hole in your roof, only time it leaks is when it's raining and you can't work in the rain.

I've recently started building violins in batches of eight at a time. Dealing with the aggravation for one set of plates is one thing but eight is more than I could handle. I had been in contact with a MN member who's opinion I value. He told me what he used and I thought that's good enough for me. I was just ready to pull the trigger on the purchase when I thought about an old wooden body fore plane I had. I thought I'd try it before I spent $250.00 on a new plane. I have a modest collection of old cabinet makers planes (twenty five molding and bench planes). This plane is seventeen inches long and like new. It has a very thick laminated iron. I tuned it, sharpened it, and tried it on a top. I did have a problem in the beginning with the tuning of the bottom (not flat). Once I got that fixed I was ready to go. It was amazing, four or five passes and the joint was perfect. I did a couple more tops and they were just as easy. I couldn't believe it, I thought I must be cheating or just lucky. I thought the real test will be maple. Maple was just as easy. I know these types of planes aren't for everyone but it's perfect for me. They're easy to adjust and set, easy to tune, have a heavy iron so no chatter, heavy enough so once started with the cut the inertia helps make a smooth even cut. I found my perfect plane and I couldn't be happier with it.

I love great tools and I'm certainly not opposed to buying one. I have an Automach power carver, I thought I had to have, used it twice. Now it just lays in a drawer.

In the end it's the joint we're after not the tool.

Berl

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I have a LN 7 1/2 which I use and love as well. The extra length helps with truing although it *is* a heavy beast. I'm 6ft 1" and weigh around 250 lbs, do a bit of light weight-lifting now and again. But a session with that plane on a large lump of wood sure gets the sweat running.

Steady on, or we'll have Sharron demanding pictures.......

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