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Thread: Which smoothing plane to buy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    Fort Worth, Texas
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    Which smoothing plane to buy

    UPDATE: I bought a #4 on ebay


    I currently have a #6 and a 5 & 1/2 in my hand plane arsenal. These tackle most tasks with ease, however, I still have issues planing figured wood and wood with grain direction changes. I've set the 5 &1/2 up to take very fine shavings, adjusted the frog to close the throat down, and set the chip-breaker as close to the edge of the blade as possible, however i still get tear-out in the walnut and African mahogany i'm planing.


    I now have the budget to buy one plane, from the wood river line, and i cant decide which to get. I want this plane to be my smoothing plane and to be able to smooth walnut and mahogany without tear-out.


    Should i Get the 4 & 1/2 or the 62 with a 40 degree bevel blade?


    ..on a side note, if i buy the 4 & 1/2 i'll have some extra money to buy a couple new chisels as well.. but don't let that influence your suggestion.


    Thanks!
    Last edited by Jared Hendrix; 07-26-2017 at 3:36 PM.

  2. #2
    Hold onto your hat, you are sure to get answers galore. Bevel Up and Bevel Down conversations aside, why not another iron for your 5-1/2? For example, I went the Veritas BU route. The irons are interchangeable between the jointer, the shooting plane, the low angle jack and the bevel up smoother (possibly others). The Veritas design also allows you to change blades quickly and with little fuss. With my combination of planes and irons I rarely find a task in their range of operation that I cannot accomplish with good result. I use irons from 25* through 50* in several of the bodies based on the material and the task. A second iron for your 5-1/2 could be the first step for you towards making fewer planes do more.
    Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Michiana
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    I use a low angle jack like the 62 along with a high angle blade for tough grain. I went with the Veritas version. It works well. I'd spend the extra $40 on the Lee Valley/Veritas over the Wood River.
    Last edited by Rob Luter; 07-25-2017 at 5:51 PM.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    Is it too late to pop the popcorn?

    Only "low angle" planes I have, have numbers....60-1/2....56B.....1455...
    Smoothers...well been using this one, lately
    no. 4c.jpg
    Stanley No.4c type 20? Made in England..battling Curly Maple
    shavings.jpg
    Doesn't do too bad of a job....
    IMG_0902 (640x480).jpg

    Now...salted, or un-salted....buttered, or non-buttered?
    Last edited by steven c newman; 07-25-2017 at 6:13 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    USA
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    You can buy the LN 4 1/2 in Bronze and solve that problem of having extra money in one fell swoop. See recent thread on that topic.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
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    If you can fettle a plane, go for the woodriver #4, and save even more money for chisels!
    You asked for woodriver, so I suggest a #4 (which I have, and with very little fettling it is an excellent plane), but if you are willing to try a different maker, the Veritas Bevel Up Smoother or a Custom 4 at a higher angle (50 or 55) would be my first choices. Since you are having issues with tearout, maybe a Custom 4 would be your best bet so you can use a chipbreaker. The quality is the same as a Lie Nielsen (but costs a bit less) and better than a Woodriver.

    Also, the interchangeability of blades only makes sense on bevel up planes, so I don't see how getting a new iron for your 5 1/2 would help at all.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    You'd might as well retitle this thread "which SMC flame war should I restart" and throw in a sharpening question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jared Hendrix View Post
    I currently have a #6 and a 5 & 1/2 in my hand plane arsenal. These tackle most tasks with ease, however, I still have issues planing figured wood and wood with grain direction changes. I've set the 5 &1/2 up to take very fine shavings, adjusted the frog to close the throat down, and set the chip-breaker as close to the edge of the blade as possible, however i still get tear-out in the walnut and African mahogany i'm planing.

    I now have the budget to buy one plane, from the wood river line, and i cant decide which to get. I want this plane to be my smoothing plane and to be able to smooth walnut and mahogany without tear-out.

    Should i Get the 4 & 1/2 or the 62 with a 40 degree bevel blade?
    I would get a 4 in your situation, possibly with a high-angle frog (which you can get with L-N or Veritas bench planes).

    Your existing planes both have 2-3/8" irons, so your logical next step is to get something shorter, narrower, and more maneuverable. The #4 is the quintessential Stanley smoother. Normally I'd also suggest a 3, but you obviously prefer to "go big" so I'll leave it at the 4.

    A 62 with a 40 deg blade is a 52 deg total angle. In my experience that won't do any better in terms of tearout on difficult woods than a close-set cap iron on a 45 deg BD plane. You'd probably want a 50 deg blade (62 deg total angle) if you go the BU route.

    With all of that said, how close are you getting the cap iron to the cutting edge? I used to think that 1/64" or so was "close", but I've since come to realize that that's actually too much to control tearout in difficult woods. You need to be at around half of that and sometimes less. A 45 deg bench plane with a truly sharp iron and tight chipbreaker set should be able to handle walnut and African mahogany. I have a 55 deg frog for my #4, but I don't use it much ever since I got serious about learning to use the chipbreaker.
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 07-25-2017 at 11:09 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    Hold onto your hat, you are sure to get answers galore. Bevel Up and Bevel Down conversations aside, why not another iron for your 5-1/2? For example, I went the Veritas BU route. The irons are interchangeable between the jointer, the shooting plane, the low angle jack and the bevel up smoother (possibly others). The Veritas design also allows you to change blades quickly and with little fuss. With my combination of planes and irons I rarely find a task in their range of operation that I cannot accomplish with good result. I use irons from 25* through 50* in several of the bodies based on the material and the task. A second iron for your 5-1/2 could be the first step for you towards making fewer planes do more.
    The 5-1/2 is BD. Unless you're talking about back-beveling (which is somewhat incompatible with a close-set cap iron) there is no option to change the angle with an iron. But as I noted in a previous reply, 45 deg should be adequate with a properly set cap iron.

    A question for the OP: What make is your 5-1/2? I'm asking because I'm wondering if there's an option to use a high-angle frog with that plane.
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 07-25-2017 at 6:47 PM.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2015
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    Dublin, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Barry View Post
    You can buy the LN 4 1/2 in Bronze and solve that problem of having extra money in one fell swoop. See recent thread on that topic.
    I'm still holding out for depleted Uranium.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Broadview Heights, OH
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    245
    Patrick,

    U238 is dense, but if you want the really dense stuff, hold out for Iridium. Nothing denser!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Darmstadt, Germany
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Taran View Post
    U238 is dense, but if you want the really dense stuff, hold out for Iridium. Nothing denser!
    ...except for Osmium.

  12. #12
    Messing with fettling planes is lost time on customer projects, so new and largely tweaked planes make economic sense for me. For bevel down stuff, Lie-Nielsen #4 with a 50 degree frog. The chipbreaker needs about two minutes of attention with a file to match the geometry on old Stanleys and all of my early Lie-Nielsens. I'm apparently old enough to have learned to use a plane before the use of a chipbreaker was lost to the mists of time, so even on guitar exotics which are highly figured (and anything but rosewoods and ebonies tends to be), the #4 gets things done.

    If your time is not billable (i.e., it's all for fun), and money is better spent on tuition, the light bill, or that cute blonde in accounting you finally got a date with, a nice prewar Stanley #4 would be a good place to start...watch the videos on tweaking things and take a stab at it. Plan on pestering someone that has some skills if it seems the plane is not working well...15 minutes with a subject matter expert (and this stuff is far from rocket science - lots of folks can cue you in) will address any fuzzy areas in setup, etc. I preferred the high knob because of big hands, but it's hard to get a bad #4 if it has a lateral adjuster and rosewood handles. Google 'Stanley Type Study' and look at the archives here for info and personal preferences...lots and lots of personal preferences.

    Not a fan of Veritas bench planes, but their low angle jack is easier to use for a tyro than the LN, and if there is money in the budget for just one plane and you have to have a bevel up tool, the Veritas Low Angle jack pretty decent (I have had the LN 62 since it first came out, but most of my students moving on do the Veritas if budget driven and bevel up).

    My personal favs are the 4-1/2, 5-1/2, and 7 - all with 50 deg frogs, but they take some commitment to getting comfortable with for a long session and I hesitate to recommend the extra weight and wider blade unless a) you are in decent shape (as in upper body strength and stamina), and b) like big planes. The flip side of that 'bigger is beefier' is the #3 and 5-1/4 combo, which work well for most of my students in the 132 lb and under class.
    Last edited by Todd Stock; 07-25-2017 at 8:07 PM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jared Hendrix View Post
    I currently have a #6 and a 5 & 1/2 in my hand plane arsenal. These tackle most tasks with ease, however, I still have issues planing figured wood and wood with grain direction changes. I've set the 5 &1/2 up to take very fine shavings, adjusted the frog to close the throat down, and set the chip-breaker as close to the edge of the blade as possible, however i still get tear-out in the walnut and African mahogany i'm planing.

    I think you should learn to adjust the planes you have before buying a new plane. If you are having trouble planing these woods, something is wrong with the way your plane is set up. Buying a shorter plane will not solve these problems.

  14. Have you considered the no. 80 cabinet scraper? That plane is a lifesaver on figured woods.

  15. #15
    I hesitate to throw a wrench in the works, but are you confident that you're getting truly sharp edges on your plane irons from your sharpening regimen?

    I have, among other bench planes, a no 5 1/2 and no 7 that I sometimes use for tasks other than what they are dedicated for. When they are freshly honed, I have no problem taking smoothing size passes, so it's not necessarily the size or no. of the plane but how sharp it is and how you use it.

    Fiddling with the chip breaker placement can certainly help with tear out in certain situations, but if the iron isn't truly sharp then you won't be able to take as fine a shaving as needed to control tear out in a smoothing pass.

    Before buying another plane, I would focus on a critical look at your sharpening process, if for no other reason than to confirm that you are doing the best job you possibly can to achieve truly sharp edges. Again, I have no idea your level of experience or what your sharpening process is and how confident you are with it. I just bring up the point because it doesn't seem that anyone else has spelled that out so far in this thread, and it's pretty critical.

    I would also look closely at the particular characteristics of the boards you're planing and getting tear out from. Is there reversing grain going on in the middle of a board, which may force you to approach from different directions to avoid tear out? Is the wood highly figured, which may mean using a card scraper instead of a hand plane?

    A high angle frog and/or back bevel on a bevel down smoothing plane may help with tear out in ornery boards, but that's more of a dedicated setup that isn't usually necessary for ordinary smoothing tasks.

    All this said, a smoothing plane is a wonderful and useful tool for dedicated smoothing tasks, and it may be that you want to add one to your arsenal. I guess what I'm getting at is this: don't expect a new plane to fix all the tear out problems without some careful examination of the specifics of each situation regarding tear out.
    Last edited by Phillip Mitchell; 07-25-2017 at 8:58 PM.

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