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Thread: Do I really want Lie Nielsen?

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus Ward View Post
    The thing I'm reacting to isn't this thread, it's a bunch of diverse situations where someone is pushing the bling tools for no reason than they're blingy.
    ....
    Part of it is more than once having my intelligence questioned because I don't think a LN is 10x better than a tuned vintage stanley.
    I know how you feel. I've been in a similar contrary position and had my intelligence called into question because I dared think that the less expensive planes are actually usable.

    I've got a diverse collection of planes from Groz, Anant, Veritas/Lee Valley, Lie-Nielsen, Stanley, Craftsman, and a quite a few wooden planes I've made myself. I'm able to do something useful with all of them. I'm not saying they all work equally well. In fact I really hate the Anant plow plane I've got. I really love the ones I've made myself and those made by Lie-Nielsen and Veritas.

    Lately, when someone asks me, "I'm interested in using hand planes, what should I start with?" I try and find out what sort of person they are, or have them ask themselves. If they've got plenty of disposable income and are looking for quick results--I will recommend they look into either Lie-Nielsen or Veritas and have a ball. Most of the time though, the person asking has a fixed/small budget, so it gets more complicated. This is where I try and find out how interested they really are. If the person has the personality to keep at it and not give up, then I'll suggest they look into a less expensive option like Groz and if they like that, then go look for some of the vintage stuff at flea markets, antique stores, or try their hand at making their own in the Krenov style. For the folks that have a small budget and no patience, I'll either suggest they probably won't like using hand planes or to save some money and then get something from Veritas.

    I also suspect, when the more experienced out there are answering the question about what to get, and immediately suggest Lie-Nielsen or Veritas it's because they've come to appreciate how well these tools work and the fact they're pretty much ready to go out of the box, thus eliminating all the work and potential frustration that comes with fettling a vintage plane or the plane kits that come from Stanley, Groz, Anant, etc. It may also be a case of ennui that comes from having answered that question a number of times before, so the easy answer is to just suggest the very best.

    So, to me, what to suggest a novice start with depends on who's asking and how much time and money they have to put into learning.

  2. #62
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    Thanks for that post Micheal. and Marcus, your posts were really informative for me as well.

    You guys have given me the perspective I was looking for, and all I had to do was be quiet, and pay attention!

    I am taking a class to teach me some techniques in sharpening this coming Monday. That is my first step. From there, I will move on to what plane I would feel good with.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Koepke View Post
    I am taking a class to teach me some techniques in sharpening this coming Monday. That is my first step. From there, I will move on to what plane I would feel good with.
    That sounds like a good start. Hopefully your class will cover, or at least touch on, several different methods.

    Try as many types/styles as your budget and time allow for. Use the ones that you like the most, allow you to quickly sharpen things and then get back to woodworking.

  4. #64
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    I will put my money where my mouth is. Anyone who feels like driving to my house, I will show everything I know about making planes work (probably take about 3 minutes hah!) and I'll provide the beer (if I've brewed any lately). If you've got a grotty old antique, come and sit while it soaks in the citric and we clean it up. I have no agenda other than to push you guys down the slope.


  5. #65
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    Not to jump on anyone's case.... I respect all that is said and the posts do have a lot of merit.

    I agree that you should not buy the bling tool for the sake of owning a bling tool. However, I think what it boils down to is how much time do you really want to spend tuning.

    Personally I started with older Stanleys that were working tools. All were in good shape and could do the job. When I wanted to invest in other tools that were not as easy to find on the market or required a lot of work to refurbish I opted for the LNs. They are expensive but relative to the amount of time and money you need to invest in an older plane it's not that much more money. I look at it as opportunity cost. Would I rather tune up an older Stanley or woodwork? I'd rather do woodworking.

    I do think beginners get turned off with hand tools because they are not tuned properly. So as a new hand tool user, maybe its not such a bad thing to invest in a $150 plane to see what a well tuned tool can do. That will peak their interest and remove the "mystic" of hand tools. As they become more experienced then they have enough knowledge to make an educated choice of tuning it themselves or paying for new well tuned plane.

    Recently I just replaced my #7 Stanley with a new LN. Again it was a choice of investing time and money to refurbish or get a tool that was in great working condition out of the box. All I can say is I love the way the new #7 cuts (not because its new and an LN). Much better than the older Stanley. But the LN is well tuned, has a nicer iron and chipbreaker and I can now adjust the mouth (something my older Stanley did not have). And yes I do keep my irons very sharp.

    My 2 cents....

  6. #66
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    Looks like you are willing to pay more for the convenience of not having to tune up a plane. I personally don't find that the hour or so I spend tuning up a plane is worth the 10 fold increase in cost associated with buying one of those but that's me. It's nice we all have options.


  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gabbay View Post
    However, I think what it boils down to is how much time do you really want to spend tuning.
    That, plus money and tenacity. For those with a similar disposition to my own--cheap but with the tenacity of a terrier that has a pant leg in its mouth--one can learn and do useful things with the less expensive planes out there.

    As I've gained more experience and have a bit of extra money, I really do appreciate how well the planes made by Lie-Nielsen and Veritas work.

    I look at it as opportunity cost. Would I rather tune up an older Stanley or woodwork? I'd rather do woodworking.
    That's an excellent point. Likewise, I would rather do woodwork than fettle a plane. When I first started though, I had more time and tenacity than I did money.

    I do think beginners get turned off with hand tools because they are not tuned properly. So as a new hand tool user, maybe its not such a bad thing to invest in a $150 plane to see what a well tuned tool can do. That will peak their interest and remove the "mystic" of hand tools. As they become more experienced then they have enough knowledge to make an educated choice of tuning it themselves or paying for new well tuned plane.
    That's why I think it's important for the novice and/or the person answering the question to figure out how much do they really want to do this. I remember a moment, not so long ago, when I was at a Woodcraft store browsing all the various tools and trying to figure out what I should get so I could do some jointing. I knew I could do it with a hand plane or a machine but I wasn't sure which way I wanted to go. I didn't own any planes at all, at this point in time, but I was very intrigued by them. So I took a look at the #7 Lie-Nielsen there and was immediately hit with sticker shock. I thought to myself, "Why would I want to spend $400 for a single plane, when I could get a machine that will do the job for less?" As you might guess, I went with a machine that did in fact cost less. But if there had been a less expensive #7 plane there like a Stanley, I probably would have started down the slippery slope a lot sooner.


    Recently I just replaced my #7 Stanley with a new LN. Again it was a choice of investing time and money to refurbish or get a tool that was in great working condition out of the box. All I can say is I love the way the new #7 cuts (not because its new and an LN). Much better than the older Stanley. But the LN is well tuned, has a nicer iron and chipbreaker and I can now adjust the mouth (something my older Stanley did not have). And yes I do keep my irons very sharp.
    These days, I'm basically of the same mind. I'm looking more at higher quality stuff, as my finances permit and replacing some of the less expensive things I got when I first started learning. But where there's a gap in my collection, I'd still consider a vintage plane that needs a little fettling if the price was right. For example, I still don't own a #7, but I really want that #7 Lie-Nielsen now. However, if you want to get rid of that #7 Stanley, I might be interested in buying it from you, and I'd give it a good home!

  8. #68
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    Marcus, I understand what you're saying. The vintage planes can be great, and some of them can be had for much less than a new LN or LV, but as someone who owns several LN planes as well as a couple old Stanleys (and some old woodies) it's kind of hard not to take exception to calling LN's "Bling tools". That term strongly implies that the purchase decision was based on style or vanity.

    There are perfectly valid reasons why people buy new LN or LV tools. It isn't all just vanity...although I'll be the first to admit that there is some pride of ownership involved.

    I like the idea of supporting a company like LN that takes pride in making fine tools and stands behind them, in turn they (and others) play a big part in keeping the knowledge and enthusiasm for hand tools alive.

    Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that we have some sort of duty to buy the new stuff... I personally find that despite the extra cost, LN provides a pretty good VALUE, all things considered. Your considerations are obviously different. That's the beauty of the free market. People should be free to pursue their own ends (within limits) with no interference or judgement from others.

    Who get's hurt if I buy, or convince someone else to buy a LN? There's no moral question here, just individuals weighing their priorities and hopefully making choices that make sense to them.
    "History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it." -Walter Bagehot

  9. #69
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    Another newbie chiming in here, but here's my thoughts. Woodworking is expensive. No matter how you cut it, you're going to pay a fair amount of money somewhere. However, why should I drop $300 just for one plane, when for that same amount, I can have a half dozen different planes, plus spokeshaves, brace, egg beater drill, a few saws, and a few other goodies?

    It's like my wife said to me when I started getting the older tools, at the very worst, I have some cool antique tools to show off. Somehow, I doubt she'd be so supportive of all that money being dropped on just one tool.

    Now, is a "to each, their own" sort of thing? Sure. However, I figure folks should look at all the angles.

    A vintage tool costs a great deal less, but requires some work to make it function properly. A new tool works great right out of the box, but you pay for that convenience. Personally, if I had an aversion to working on something, I'd have taken up video games as a hobby

    Just my $.02, so take it for what it's worth.

    Tom
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  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don C Peterson View Post
    Marcus, I understand what you're saying. The vintage planes can be great, and some of them can be had for much less than a new LN or LV, but as someone who owns several LN planes as well as a couple old Stanleys (and some old woodies) it's kind of hard not to take exception to calling LN's "Bling tools". That term strongly implies that the purchase decision was based on style or vanity.
    You don't think there are hordes of guys who own these who don't really do any woodworking? I bet there are. Any boutique item like that attracts people who love the idea of something but don't actually use it. Look at the boutique amplifier market.

    I like the idea of supporting a company like LN that takes pride in making fine tools and stands behind them, in turn they (and others) play a big part in keeping the knowledge and enthusiasm for hand tools alive.
    I do too. I think it's great they make these tools. There is a tradition here that needs to be kept alive and they're doing great stuff.

    Who get's hurt if I buy, or convince someone else to buy a LN? There's no moral question here, just individuals weighing their priorities and hopefully making choices that make sense to them.
    The problem is if you look through the last 10 "I want a plane" posts there are hordes of people who say buy LN or LV and nobody pushing the vintage iron, which is just as good, and far far cheaper. For a guy new to hand tools the cost of entry on the high end tools is outrageous. I suppose I feel I've got a duty to the casual browser, anyone who finds these threads from a search engine, people who read this in a few years, and anyone else who doesn't have the finances or guts to plunk down 3 bills for a plane when they're not sure they're a hand tool guy to present the other side, the cheap seats as it were. Is the baseball game any less interesting from the bleachers than from the skybox? Nope. It's just more comfortable up there. It's still a lot of fun down in the bleachers. Sometimes my responses aren't necessarily for the original poster but for those watching in the wings and those who will come after.


  11. #71
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    In the big scheme of things the LN is a low-end plane.

    No you don’t want an LN, or a LV, plane. You want something much nicer. I saw that our own Derek Cohen did a review on this Philip Marcou plane; Chris Schwartz did a review on one as well. http://www.marcouplanes.com/reviews/S15BU-review/index.asp They have high praise for the quality of the tool. This plane is based on the Lee Valley Veritas design, but has some nice improvements. Is it worth 10x the price of a LV? Sure is! You’ll love the feel of it in your hand. It is so well made you can pass it on to your children and grandchildren. I’m not saying this to mock anybody that has posted—this is testimony from people who use the plane.
    "... It is a plane to visit, take down and make a few gossamer shavings before retiring for the night. It is a plane about which to say to the progeny “someday this will be yours”. It is a plane which, when acquired, will demonstrate once again that men are as romantic as women, and for that reason alone it was a bargain."
    Peter Byrne
    The people who are willing to lay out over 2 grand of their money for a nice plane use the same reasoning to justify the purchase as those who buy a LN or a LV. I can imagine someone who bought the LN defending his purchase of a low-end user to someone who owns a plane as nice as the Marcou. What would you say? And would you sound like Marcus when you said it? Each of us has to pick our own poison, so to speak. If you want it and can afford it, go for it! On the other hand, if Marcus and I decide that we can fettle an old Stanley and it works well, then that is an option too. Obviously the old Stanley planes are made well enough to hand down to future generations—that is why they are still here for us to use. Your grandchildren will have to fettle granddad’s old LN. If they decide it just isn’t worth their time to tune up, then maybe my grandson can buy it in an online auction for under $50!

  12. #72

    Congratulations John!

    Congratulations John!

    Let the person who gave you the gift certificate know that you decided on the Lie Nielsen 60 1/2 adjustable mouth block plan. Once you get it and use it tell that generous person how wonderful the plane is. (Give back the joy!)

    The first "good" plane I bought several years back was the same one you just picked - it's a quality tool that I use all the time. Worth the high cost.

    I now have 10 planes: 3 Lie Nielsen, 5 Veritas (Lee Valley), a Stanley, and a Record. The Lie Nielsen and Veritas are more expensive but they are quality tools that work well out of the box (still do minor honing). I have found that you can save some $$ if you can find Veritas planes used (3 of mine were "used"). Used Lie Nielsen tools sell for 85% - 90% of the cost of new.

    Cheers . . . . .

    Billbo

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus Ward View Post
    I do not own a LN, I have used a few and am impressed with the fit and finish. I do not think they are worth the current amount of hype that floats around this particular section of sawmill creek and want to tell new guys to avoid the expensive stuff because it's not necessary.
    You have sound advice, except that to go the vintage Stanley route assumes that the person asking for advice:

    1. Has some idea of what a well tuned plane can do
    2. Knows how to set up and tune up a used plane, and
    3. Knows what fatal flaws to avoid when purchasing a used plane.

    My guess is that in almost every case, the person asking "What should I get for my first plane?" doesn't fit any of the above three items. That's why my usual answer to "What's the first plane I should get?" is "Take a class on using hand planes and sharpening, or find a local woodworking club and look for the hand tool guy." This is the sort of thing that I've found makes a much larger impact in person than on the internet.

    For those people who don't have access to either classes or a hand tool maven, a Lie-Nielsen or Lee Valley plane may be the only hope they have of seeing what a well tuned plane can do.

    My first woodworking purchase was a class. Since then, I've only bought used planes. But I also know I needed that hands on instruction experience, or I would have been lost.

    If you really want to have people thinking about vintage/used planes, you might want to take this into consideration.

  14. #74
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    Just the thoughts of a newbie here, but how does buying a $300 plane that works great right out of the box help me fiddle with vintage planes? Sure, I would know what a well tuned plane can do. Honestly, all I currently have to go on is what shavings should look like and that it shouldn't jump around while I'm trying to plane with it.

    I just can't see a plane that is pretty well tuned right out of the box teaching anyone how to tune up an old vintage plane. After all, it's ready to go right out of the box! You take it out of the box, and go to work...and it will work fine. Sure, now I know what a good plane should feel like, but if one knows how things should work, they can figure it out for themselves. Less than ideal, sure, but another avenue for a new woodworker, or new hand tool user, to consider.

    However, in messing with these older planes, I feel I'm getting an education in hand planes. There is no local woodworking club here. I haven't even found another woodworker less than an hour and a half drive from my house, much less a hand tool guy. Haven't found any nearby classes either, though I could plan on spending a weekend three hours north of my family, but then the class becomes even more costly. An option, sure, but not a lot of opportunities around my parts for some odd reason.

    Honestly, if I had no other option besides a $300 plane, I might have gotten frustrated about hand tools. Especially when a $300 plane is far from the last plane purchase you will need to make.

    I have darn near all the minimum planes I'll need to tackle almost any project for far, far less than $300. So far, my 95 year old low angle adjustable block plane makes nice, pretty shavings. Paper thing? Nah, but that's OK. There's zero tear out, and that's "right out of the box" with just enough adjustment to get the blade to come out of the mouth...no sharpening just yet. Also, my 50 year old #5 does about the same quality shavings.

    However, I will admit that it's possible to get better results than I'm getting out of these two planes (only one of which have I don't anything with), but I'm pretty happy with the results
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  15. #75
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    Given the mountain of advice online I don't think it'd be a total mess. If someone is smart enough to come ask about which plane to get they're probably smart enough to google vintage planes and find Leach's site, this one, and a few others, they'll be fine. Anyone doing woodworking is probably handy enough to figure it out from online material. You guys who push this "they should own a 300$ plane so they know how they work" always ignore the fact that there is a ton of advice available.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wilbur Pan View Post
    You have sound advice, except that to go the vintage Stanley route assumes that the person asking for advice:

    1. Has some idea of what a well tuned plane can do
    2. Knows how to set up and tune up a used plane, and
    3. Knows what fatal flaws to avoid when purchasing a used plane.

    My guess is that in almost every case, the person asking "What should I get for my first plane?" doesn't fit any of the above three items.


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