Congrats on the purchase of some good tools, very awesome. At the moment I also mostly use the LN 4 and 5 which I think matches your choice.
Here are some extra thoughts based on some experience with Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, Stanley Bailey and others:
– If you’re starting with rough-sawn lumber needing significant truing, a true scrub plan is hard to do without. I use the Veritas Scrub Plane with PMV-11 blade, which holds its edge for a long time in harsh use. As you may know, Scrub planes are small and typically come with a very tight-radius camber. Try turning rough hardwood lumber into trued, refined boards, and you’ll know why. A wider blade with more shallow camber struggles where the true scrub thrives.
-If on the other hand you are starting with machine-dimensioned lumber off of your jointer and planer, I’d go straight to the Lie-Nielsen #4 plane without hesitation. It will bring back the nicer sheen of hand-planed wood very successfully.
If I had to get only two planes, I’d probably get the Lie-Nielsen 4 and 5. Or, the 4 or 5 and a Router Plane. I reach for the 5 constantly to true boards and planks of different lengths prior to joinery. The 4 on the other hand is an absolute gem for smoothing. I put a mild camber on both of these blades for these purposes. Without camber, these planes don’t work well for anything except running down the edge of a board. However, camber is good for edge joining too. Camber is good for almost everything and it takes time and practice to put this correctly into a new Lie-Nielsen blade since its a thick blade. But it must be done for most work…
As far as other planes I have worked with a lot, here are are a few:
– The Lie-Nielsen #62 Jack plane. I used this a lot before using the LN 4 and 5. It is good, however, I’ve always found that compared to the LN 4 or 5, it cannot work as long, and without tear-out, through gnarly hardwoods. It is totally appropriate for end-grain, however.
– The Veritas #4 with PMV-11 blade: I like the concept in theory, but it practice it is so difficult in the Norris fine-adjustment compared to the ease of the LN yoke adjusters, that I don’t gravitate toward it. The pros are that it is a rugged plane and has comfortable handles for bigger hands. And it has set screws to capture the blade. However, I never find this much of an issue with the LN planes that don’t have this…
– Small block planes: its sure nice to have one around for a multitude of tasks. Get a Lie-Nielsen and you won’t regret it. Its simple, well-designed, refined and will hold up forever without issue. This was my first plane many years ago and it still gets constant use in my shop. Mine is a high-angle block plane but if you have a smoothing plane, I recommend the low angle that they now sell.
– Router Plane. I have the LN. This tool is interesting. Actually, properly speaking, if I had to live with only two planes, again I might have to go with a 4 or 5 and a router plane. Its virtually indispensable for so many joinery processes. Paul Sellers really brings this to light in his work.
– #7 jointer plane: great, if one can afford it eventually. Useful for flattening very large surfaces such as a bench top, jointing long, wider boards and the like. Due to its length and weight. At the same time, I think that I can do almost the same with a #5 as long as I pay more attention to where I’m going with a surface, using straight edges. But those straight edges then have to be pretty long and accurate. I think of a #7 or 8 as a luxury for someone who either has the money, the strong desire to own one, or makes larger pieces for a living. Or all of the above lol.
With respect to high-angle frogs and low angle planes for shooting boards. I approve of both things since they will expand your range of capability, your options. But bear in mind that you’ll eventually likely covet a true shooting board plane with a skewed blade. So, I can advise waiting and saving up for that tool if you want to, rather than buying for example, a large low-angle jack-plane such as the LN 62.
As far as plane quality and types in general. I found that buying the nicest standard cast-design plane I could afford lowered the learning curve and helped me learn how to really sharpen and use hand planes. The Lie-Nielsen #4 in particular is just a very user-friendly plane to set up and use. As far as usability, I haven’t found anything that gives such easy on-the-fly adjustability as the Lie-Nielsen yoke adjuster system. This really speeds up planing compared to anything else I’ve used. I do have a Bailey plane but I think it needs a better blade, and I also think that it is not as precisely-manufactured as the LN planes. I’m pretty sure that there are little inconsistencies throughout that keep it from performing at the level of its LN counterpart. That said, it is far, far lighter. One thing I have learned from dimensioning hard chestnut oak for hours at a time is this – Lie-Nielsen planes work well in terms of their weight when working hardwoods. However, that said, I have to be really careful with how I handle them. I can handle a LN 5 for 4-6 hours almost non-stop planing – but – if I try to lift, hold or turn the plane with only one hand holding the main handle, my wrist tires and can even develop strain injuries. So basically, planing with two hands is fine, but any motion to lubricate the sole, brush dust out of the interior of the plane during work, etc, has to be done carefully so I don’t strain my wrists. Thats where the issue arises when using heavy planes, I find. In general, I find that slowing down and thinking about what I’m doing and how I’m working reduces injury from strain. Some of my joints are already getting worn down from manual labor so I’m being more and more careful to work smart rather than bulldoze my way through things. I suppose that’s all part of the natural process of learning to master something.
What about wooden-body planes a-la James Krenov? I don’t have much experience with them. I did however get to try them at Colonial Williamsburg, VA. I liked what I felt. Honestly, I think my future lies towards wooden planes. Less oxidation of iron bodies, and lighter so less physical strain. They require more skill, experience and attention to run well. But for the master, they are to be preferred because they are a delight to use. And you can make them for specific tasks, to fit your personal ergonomics. You should always use the lightest tool that will get the job done for you… Which is partly why Paul uses the #4 Stanley Bailey so much. He can go all day on that.
As far as care: Heavy planing can be hard work and make your fingers and hands perspire enough to mess with iron-body planes. It may not be so much that one person has acidic hands more than another, if you’re perspiring while doing hard work! My LN planes tend to get very minor rust areas at the front near the knob, but on the raw iron sides where my hand contacts that area. No amount of faithful waxing or oiling has prevented this rust from accumulating albeit very lightly. But I’m getting ready to put a heavy duty clear finish on my plane sides to more permanently keep rust from happening. This will be a metal-adhering clear Polyurethane which is super hard and tough.
For the sole, rust has never proven to be a problem. I use candlewax or Jojoba oil while planing. For the area of tight contact between the chip-breaker and the blade where they are clamped together by the screw, I do find that some kind of oxidation can build up there if one doesn’t stay on it. I can recommend higher quality industrial metal protectants here rather than something like Jojoba Oil. I like Jojoba Oil but I would rank it low on being a rust preventative compared to high-quality industrial products designed to protect steel from rust.
Sharpening; I use a big Tormek stone wheel-in-water maching, leather stropping wheel as desired, plus water stones. The Tormek primarily keeps the main bevel angle of a blade under control, particularly the upper, obtuse-angled edge up from the cutting edge of a plane blade. I’d call this the back edge of the main bevel. Doing this then allows me to spend minimal time on the water stones setting the main bevel in 1,000 grit followed by a tiny secondary bevel in 3/6k, 4/8k and 10k if desired / (not necessary). I do use the “ruler trick” for plane blades, using a very, very thin steel 6″ ruler. This works very well. I use honing guides and again, the LN guide is excellent. Using guides speeds accurate sharpening and reduces premature waste on both chisel and plane blade lengths over the years. Believe me… Some folks love sharpening free-hand but its not for everyone. Don’t be ashamed to use honing guides and reduce the variables around your efforts to run a plane really, really well. Figuring out super-accurate free-hand sharpening at the same time as figuring out really, really good planing work is a tough go. Get good sharpening down to where it is very reliable and repeatable, and you are pretty much on your way to highly successful planing. At least this is how I go about it in the Lie-Nielsen oriented fashion my shop operates. These extremely-accurately sharpened, relatively heavy planes will perform at truly fine levels along the lines of what David Charlesworth looks for in plane performance. Oh, and if you are using a Lie-Nielsen, don’t hesitate to follow their sharpening videos on youtube. Their approach is very minimal and very, very refined… Do it and your blades will last a lifetime and be a joy to use. If you start to think of the “why” the way they sharpen, you’ll see that it makes sense on a smart level that is more complex than some of us think about sharpening. Learn that information. Speaking of which, the sharpening book by the founder of Veritas is pretty useful.
Finally, I don’t write here often. But I can share that Paul has really been a great teacher. He has played a huge role in making hand-tool woodworking more accessible to me. I haven’t found anyone better for this anywhere. I haven’t found that my experiences matches his exactly in the the shop, but his wisdom is a great base-line to work from as you learn about your tools and the material you’re working with. For example, I do like a big thick Roubo bench, no apron, with acres of trued, flat surface to work on for flattening boards. But then again, Paul’s approach with his bench and vice work very well for a lot of things and he does fine with it. And, for example, his approach of having a higher bench is a back-saver. My bench is very high and my back doesn’t hurt. Just like Paul. There’s no one way for everybody. Stanley, Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, wooden planes, and a host of others may all be a part of one’s journey along the way to what they prefer and enjoy using. The same as workbenches. Paul’s approach is enlightening, and his life inspiring, for anyone on that journey.
I named my son Paul Thomas due to both Paul Sellers and another Paul. He has been more than a teacher of woodworking to me. He is also an exemplary person in many ways although I’ve never met him personally.
Best wishes with the hand-tool working and new hand planes!
I appreciate your reply it is very informative and very helpful thank you.
A true scrub plane will be in my future I am sure, for now the scrub/roughing blade and extra chip breaker to keep those together, I got will suffice for now. A #5 with a extra 55° frog and Low angle jack was my original game plan. Might still get the 55° frog time will tell . Game plan is #4, #5, router, shoulder and plow
I have watched a few different videos on how to do a chamfer on a blade I like Matt Estlea version. Do 5 points of contact do 30 strokes on both the left and right 20 on the inner left and right and 10 in the center then 5 straight back. It seems to work for him so ill give it a go. I get why you would want it so the corners don’t dig in and leave streaks/tracks.
As for as type of wood I will be getting will probably be a mix of some dimensioned and rough cut.
As for as other style of planes, I know just by looking at it I wouldn’t care for Veritas norris style adjustment. That just looks like a nightmare having your depth and skew all on the same lever. I could be wrong but to me it would seem a hassle to deal with. I Would love to try a Japanese wooden plane as I love their knives, saws and chisels. Their saws just feel like a extension to my arm, I know Paul isn’t fond of them as 99% of the ones we get here in NA are the disposable blade style not the ones you can re-sharpen. The Chisels I like well I think its because of the steel that I love about them (Shirogami – #1, # 2 and Aogami – super, #1 and #2 steel) pure joy to deal with gets razor sharp very quick. I know the Japanese use those type of steel in their planes and if you want to go extremely top of the line can get Tamahagane the steel they make their swords out of.
As far as rust prevention I had my Paul Seller’s rag in a can made before I even received the plane. It is just like fire arms the salt and sweat will cause rust on the barrel of a rifle, Even the humidity in the air can cause steel to rust if not careful so all my chisels and knifes(I only have carbon steel knives no stainless can’t stand the dull things) get wiped with pure Camellia Oil. I know Paul and Rex Krueger use 3-1 oil on their planes. I might be new to hand planes but I am far from new to the world of carbon steel items, Pots, pans, knives, guns, chisels. I am just a sucker for all things carbon steel I guess lol.
Sharping I don’t have a Tormek or any other dedicated sharping machine I do however have a full set of shapton Kuromaku ceramic stones 120-30K plus glass diamond lapping plate to keep the stones flat and clean. I am going to try free hand at first, Like you said to do the ruler trick I watched Jonathan Katz-Moses on how to do it. I Have heard the Veritas honing guide is the best on the market at the moment at least all the people on Youtube prefer it over the L-N one. part of me says it would be a good choice to get but then I look at my chisels and they are square or at least square to my Starrett square so I am kind of on the fence about it at the moment. all of them say as long as you are within 1-3° each time you sharpen you will be fine it doesn’t have to be a exact science.
Again I very much thank you for your thought out and helpful response it is greatly appreciated.
John M. Carey 2nd
Be careful with the notions of “true scrub plane.” To some, that means a Stanley #40. I find the #40, which I bought early on, good for edge work, but it is too narrow to be efficient on a surface- it requires too many passes. I try not to buy the kind of rough sawn that is so twisted that I’d want to take off what a #40 takes off per pass. On the other hand, I use a scrub made from an old #4 quite a bit. I have less of a camber on it (but still strong) so that I can work on rough sawn rapidly, but wider cuts per pass. Paul has a nice video here ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1r1LIkJcOg&t=7s ).
I lost track of why Paul switched from using a #4 as a scrub plane to using a #78 rebate. Can someone point me to where he discusses this? I remember a blog or video showing “hey, this can be done as an option,” but I never understood why he prefers it. It is narrower and the tote and (lack of) knob make it much less comfortable, at least for me. The 78 is about the same width as the #40 scrub, so maybe he liked the narrower width? Some of the 78 style rebate planes have a depth adjustment lever, and maybe he wanted a narrower scrub but with a depth adjuster that the #40 lacks?
Regarding the Shapton stones- I’ve freehanded on water stones, but when I do that, I know that I am risking the stone. Invariably, the edge will dig in and gouge the stone. It just happens. That cannot happen on a diamond plate (you just sort of “trip” over your sharpening, dub the edge, but don’t hurt the plate) or on an oil stone, but on a water stone, when you trip you gouge. It doesn’t stop me, but if I had a super fancy, precious water stone, like some of the Japanese natural stones, it would be heinous. Are the Shapton’s the same? Will they gouge if you stick an edge? I’ve been sharpening freehand for more than 10 years now, and this just happens now and then. The mind wanders just as the honing reaches the edge or when you are lengthening the stroke and go a bit too far.
Hi Ed and John,
I agree with everything you wrote. I think Paul used the #78 rebate as a scrub partly due to its heft in his hand but I’m not sure…
As far as buying better lumber, I totally agree Ed. Or use a massive power jointer and planer. Then turn off all the machines, do a little perfecting and smoothing with hand planes and do the joinery however you like. 🙂
On sharpening, honing guides and digging into stones when going freehand: I use Lie-Nielsen with different jaw attachments so I can do mortise chisels, etc. I also have a cheap record pattern honing guide from years ago. Its annoying compared to the LN. The Veritas honing guide looks nice and versatile but also complicated / slower to use but as I’ve never used one I can’t really say. I work free hand for a lot of my specialty blades. I have the Tormek and some DMT diamond plates and credit cards for this and other items… However, the Lie-Nielsen guide does the bulk of my regular chisel and plane bade sharpening simply and efficiently. Matt Estlea’s cambering method works with the plane blade clamped in the honing guide, that’s how I do it as well. Mileage may vary on exact count of strokes, etc…
As far as “digging in” freehand on diamond / versus Shapton synthetic / versus true Japanese water stones, Diamond stones don’t cause digging in, Shapton, I think not much, water stones do, particularly going up into the higher grits. I use pull stroke only on higher grits such as 4,000 grit and up when doing secondary bevel on a plane blade in the honing guide. The Tormek leather wheel with their honing compound always seems to put a keener polished edge when used. I think it cleans residual junk off a sharpened edge as it polishes. But I’m cautious with it if I don’t want a rounded edge particularly with chisel backs. I generally want RC 60-62 chisels that are precision machined on all surfaces from the maker. That tends toward Veritas PMV-11 chisels and Lie-Nielsen A2 Steel chisels. I do have some Japanese chisels and saws but I made the decision at some point to work on mastering all the cutting tools of traditional woodworking like Paul Sellers, basically European and pre-industrial American. I went this route because I found the sharpening of these tools , particularly the saws, more within reach and I kind of wanted to learn a whole system of tools that I could understand and maybe master. I also found that Japanese joinery sometimes works with different wood than what I use in North America. This complicates the question of whether different Japanese tools are really meant for what I do. I think I kind of have this respect that Japanese joinery and the tools that go with it are a highly sophisticated integral system that won’t necessarily work if I pull a few tools from their toolbox and use them in my Western shop. But many other woodworkers’ experiences don’t prove this entirely true. And, Western tool makers and woodworkers teach sharpening on Japanese water stones all the time. So they have become an integral part of Western traditional woodworking.
Its interesting how there are different approaches to sharpening that will get you very sharp. Master woodworkers like Rob Cosman and Paul Sellers all seem to emphasize the speed and simplicity of their sharpening so they don’t waste time. I like that. If you can get scary sharp, wicked fast, you’re doing something right!
I’ve thought for several years now that truly the basis or foundation for everything in my shop is in fact, my DMT truing plate. Because from the flatness of that surface comes all other precision. That, and the hunk of granite, sized and machined for flattening plane soles. Without this foundation for the tools, nothing else would proceed well. With a true foundation, all else may proceed.
“I also found that Japanese joinery sometimes works with different wood than what I use in North America. ” I believe this to be critical, too, and am surprised how often it goes unrecognized. As you, I think that the tool steel, wood, and workbench all work together. Japanese work I think is often in softwoods. The super sharp edge needed for pine end grain isn’t needed in oak, yet may fracture in oak end grain. At least, that’s my fear / theory and it is interesting to hear you echo similar thoughts.
I have the Veritas jig. It will hold anything…and it is fussy and fiddly as you suggest. When I use a jig, I’m more likely to reach for an old Eclipse. I’ve never tried the L-N.
My sharpening in recent months is basically Paul’s, but with influences from Richard Maguire and my chip carving teacher, Wayne Barton. I use a 120 grit DMT plate to hog off the heel and to flatten my Norton oil stone, which isn’t needed very often. I find the Norton seems to have more cutting speed than my DMT or EZE lap diamond plates. Since I use old steel, not A2, it cuts the steel quickly and I can go directly to the strop from it. Nevertheless, I often jump over to a little “polishing stone” from Wayne that is meant to mimic old hard Arkansas oil stones. I cannot do Paul’s trick of a “quick pull” to push the bur over. I don’t know why. I have to work the back and often go back and forth a couple of times to get the bur off. I use Wayne’s stone for that and, for chisels and sometimes even plane blades, will go directly to Wayne’s stone (even though it is a bit too small) to touch up an edge a couple of times. If you look at one of my tools, you will see horrible 120 grit scratches at the heel transitioning to a polish at the edge. The heel is down around 15 degrees and the edge is 25 to 35 depending upon what I am doing. It is one continuous curve using Paul’s method. My Clifton’s are slower to sharpen because the blade, while O1, is thick. Feh. But, if I keep the heel down it isn’t too bad. A couple special tools, like small plow, are A2 because I had no choice. My unfortunate purchase of A2 chisels from L-N stay in the drawer. I don’t like them and should sell them.
Regarding camber side-to-side, I suggest, John, that you not worry about it right now. There are many ways to do that and it is easy to get hung up, slowed down, and spend a lot of time putting on and taking off camber. I suggest you just convince yourself you can get the edge sharp, as delivered and let the iron make tracks in the wood. Doesn’t matter, you are just convincing yourself you can get a bur and get good shavings and deal with figure. You won’t be able to use the camber to true and edge, but that’s okay, you can use pressure like Paul does instead of the camber like David Charlesworth, or you can use the multiple pass trick. Get the straight edge sharp, play with it, read about the zillion opinions on side-to-side camber, then come back to it. I suggest that, whatever you do for the #4, make it subtle. It took me a long time to realize I had to much camber so all my shavings were little ribbons instead of wide, so all the work took much, much longer to do.
- This reply was modified 10 months, 3 weeks ago by Ed.
What I mean about a true scrub plane, Is a modified #4 with a roughing/scrub blade. Who knows in the future once I have a set a 4,5,6 or 7, router, shoulder and a plow I might get a true scrub.
As far as a edge digging into the Shapton stones. Yes it can happen if your mind wonders and lose track of what your doing. Me I love sharping my steel items, I get lost in the moment while doing it. Almost like I am becoming one with the steel getting sharper more refined. Am I a master at sharping? no, I actually don’t believe there is a master in any thing as we are always learning. Once you stop learning you become complacent.
Just a thought around properties of different kind of woods:
Latitude is perhaps a significant variable. With increasing latitude, conifers (like pine) become more dense in a homogenous manner, with both early wood and late wood parts of growth being narrow (crosscut view) The upper half of the photo below will hopefully explain what I’m trying to say.
In climates characterised of the early growth part being shorter than the late part, and in particular if the latter is also dry and hot, “soft” early wood will be followed by dominating “hard” (rich in silicates) late wood, as supposed to be shown in the lower part of the photo.
Could these geographical differences growth locations be of relevance for the properties of Japanese wood?
The inverse to pine is clearly the case for ring porous deciduous tree species, such as white oak and ash. The closer to the Equator (within limits) the more prominent late wood and richer in silicate extractives these woods become, and hard to work. The white oak in the photo below is a very different beast compared to the European oak grown in my own rainy little forest at 57° N.
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I apologize not trying to spam the site but it did not want to cooperate and let me post it all in one post for some reason. Kept saying it was a duplicate.
Well I am not positive if I have it set up correctly the shavings taper at the ends. Also was not trying to flatten the board just wanted to see what kind of shavings I could make. all the shavings aside from the first two-three came out like the one in the video.
What was it about the Lie-Nielsen chisels that led you to move along to something else?
I’ve used my original Lie-Nielsen 3/4″ wide chisel in particular for about 12yrs alongside a rather average variety of chisels and I’m interested in what you found.
Its likely that you and John, like Paul Sellers, may be more in touch with some of this.
Just off to work but watched your videos of the new plane performing. Nice work getting the plane going!
Those are about the width of the shavings I take with my #4 at the moment as well.
I see that your shavings are thin, but in time can get thinner when you wish to do final smoothing.
I vary both shaving width and shaving thickness based on the work.
You see Paul increasing his blade protrusion to hog off material, then dialing it back to smooth out.
Well done, and what a satisfying thing to be able to accomplish. You are off to the races with a fine Heirloom quality #4.
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