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Thread: Combination Plane and Lee Valley Tuition

  1. #1
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    Combination Plane and Lee Valley Tuition

    Lee Valley Bill.jpg

    Well I headed off to Lee Valley with various cutters sharpened to 8000 grit and a selection of woods (Maple, Pine and Black Walnut).

    This is Bill with my plane getting a work out! We tried various cutters and woods.
    The maple proved most difficult with the 7/16" bead. Firstly the cutters on each side differed in size. The nickers were a problem, one side was fine the other clogged with fibres and forced the nicker out widening the groove in a lopsided way which the rail tried to ride at an angle. We took the nickers off altogether they just don't work and the grub adjustment screw can only make things worse.
    Progress was very slow and very hard work due to friction of the rails. Applied wax to the rails made life much easier indeed but the wax will remain which would be a problem.
    After an hour with the first groove we achieved full round over at one end and we both had a work out!

    Holding the plane level is extremely difficult, as you cut the groove the fence slowly moves away from the work and needs to be moved in, the brass knobs needed periodic tightening. The friction of the rails was enormous and quite a shock.

    _MG_7388.jpg

    We tried a 3/8" flute in pine. It cut easily but you have to use only one rail so balance again proved very difficult. The end result was not too pretty (sorry no pic).

    Next was black walnut with the 1/4" two reed blade. This wider blade balanced well and the smaller radius cut well, a world of difference to the other two.

    _MG_7391.jpg

    We experimented for 4 hours altogether. The plane is hard to use, it's performance varies greatly in different woods and the nickers are useless. My guess is anything but perfectly straight grain will bunch up under one or other and push it out. The grub screw pushes the nickers out also so seems counter productive only making the fibre bunching worse.

    _MG_7390.jpg

    Here you can see the distorted side created by the nicker.

    We did use the supplied 1/4" groove blade also and had the same issues with balance and keeping the groove straight in maple.

    I left feeling this is a very difficult tool. I am extremely dexterous and mostly patient (now I'm older!). If it only works for wide blades and easier woods that's frustrating. Grooves for drawers are a must, as is a 1/4" single bead for me.

    Think of it as a narrow shoulder plane with ice skates for a base that has been drinking whiskey all day to drive the sober craftsman crazy.

    I am trying to think of a fix for the balance issue with narrow cutters, ideas anyone?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  2. #2
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    Seems to me that first picture tells the story. Its a very poor position structurally speaking. Those rods are not nearly capable of withstanding a tad bit of racking force that is undoubtedly going to happen the way you are doing it in that picture. The only way to overcome this to take very light cuts. Better would be to cut registering close to the intended cut (other side of the board).

  3. #3
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    Makes no difference really. It's not the racking force but the balance. The racking is trivial and when the fence comes off the work as it does it's non existent.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  4. #4
    I think if I had to do that operation, and was not having success, I would try a center support. Of course you/I would have to make one, but I think it would be worthwhile.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    Makes no difference really. It's not the racking force but the balance. The racking is trivial and when the fence comes off the work as it does it's non existent.
    It's a fairly simple matter of technique. Ask Jim, or Steven, or anybody else here who has a combo plane and they'll happily explain what you'll need to practice to be able to handle the balance issue. It's been described in several other threads for that matter.

    Everything worth learning looks hard when you're starting from zero.

  6. #6
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    cam rest.jpg
    Twould be rather nice to use one of these?
    groove 4.jpg
    Once you get this far away from an edge...

  7. #7
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    Good point, Steven.

    For those who don't recognize what they're seeing, Steven is pointing out that the Stanley #45's cam rest can be helpful when cutting with the fence way out on the ends of the long arms. See figure 6 on p. 4 of the #45 manual. I personally don't like to use it much on my 55, but that's just subjective preference on my part and I see how it would be helpful in keeping the rods level. The catch is of course that you have to keep adjusting it as you deepen the cut, which is why I don't use it.

    Unfortunately that's the one part of the 45 that LV didn't copy, though it's easy enough to make an equivalent out of wood.

    One other trick that sometimes helps me is to use the thumb of your fence hand as a depth stop on the surface of the workpiece, though to do that you have to use a "low grip" on the fence (you can't use the provided handhold on either Stanley or LV).
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 11-01-2017 at 5:22 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    Makes no difference really. It's not the racking force but the balance. The racking is trivial and when the fence comes off the work as it does it's non existent.
    On a Stanley #45, that's what the cam rest helps with.
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

  9. #9
    Are you using the knickers with the grain? I only use them across the grain with my plow planes

    From the Lee Valley manual:

    To prevent tear-out in cross-grain work, such as dadoes, adjustable scoring spurs on both the body and the sliding section define the edges of the cut ahead of the blade. These are typically withdrawn out of the way for most cuts.
    Last edited by John Gornall; 11-01-2017 at 6:43 PM.

  10. #10
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    The plane would be a lot easier to balance and cut if you didn't use it so far away from the edge. A cam rest would help with that if you absolutely needed to cut so far, but for a board that size, why not just flip it and cut closer? It's a perfectly easy cut that way. And as someone else pointed out, you shouldn't be needing the knickers for cuts along the grain.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by John Gornall View Post
    Are you using the knickers with the grain?
    Good question! And I sincerely hope not, because he was supposed to be doing all his cuts under the guidance of someone who was also supposed to know how to use the tool. Using the knickers with the grain can bring poor results depending on the grain.

    I am watching this thread with great interest as I have yet to pull the trigger...

    Simon

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Hasin Haroon View Post
    The plane would be a lot easier to balance and cut if you didn't use it so far away from the edge. A cam rest would help with that if you absolutely needed to cut so far, but for a board that size, why not just flip it and cut closer?.
    Because of grain direction?

    But I agree that the long distance from the edge is undesirable and I would rather cut against the grain with the fence close to the edge. There are various techniques to overcome the against-the-grain issues.

    Simon

  13. #13
    Also, how deep are you trying to cut with the knickers?

  14. #14
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    Hasin, doing what you suggest would have the plane cutting against the grain, thus the long rods.

  15. #15
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    Roy Underhill has a solution: Just have a bunch of 45's, each one preset for a particular operation.

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