Popular Woodworking 2002-04 № 127, страница 54
Though all the jack planes in this review look basically the same — they're all based on Leonard Bailey's 19 th-century designs — there are fundamental differences that separate a $40 plane from a $300 one.
Like all tools, it comes down to three things:
• The design of the tool
• The materials used
• The quality of the manufacturing process
Two of Bailey's patented ideas show up on most of these planes. The way you adjust the depth of the cut on all these planes has remained basically unchanged since Bailey patented his idea in 1867. All the planes but the Record also use Bailey's idea for securing the lever cap.
However, there are significant differences in design among these tools. Two of these planes — the Clifton and the Lie-Nielsen — have a superior way of securing the frog to the base. Commonly called "Bed Rock"-style frogs, these were patented in 1895 and were used on Stanley's premium bench planes. Unlike other Bailey-style planes, Bed Rock planes have a large machined area where the frog mates with the base. Depending on the brand, Bed Rock frogs have three to five times as much contact between the frog and base compared to standard Bailey planes. Without a doubt, this reduces chatter. The Bed Rock frogs also allow you to move the frog forward and back easily without disassembling the plane.
Materials: Not Just a Pretty Knob
More expensive planes are generally made using better materials. For example, the cutting iron will be thicker and properly heat-treated. Parts that are plastic on one plane will be brass or even bronze on another.
Except for the Lie-Nielsen, all of the plane bodies in this re-
view are cast using grey iron. There's nothing wrong with grey iron, but it is brittle and will crack or break when dropped from, oh, about bench height. Ductile iron, which is used by Lie-Nielsen only, is about as strong as cast steel. A Lie-Nielsen plane should be safe from even sledgehammers. That strength comes at a cost, however; Lie-Nielsen's jack plane is
the most expensive in our test.
Another important difference between Lie-Nielsen's planes and the others is the cutting iron. Lie-Nielsen's A-2 steel iron has been cryogenically treated, which means you will have to sharpen it less.
What really separates the inexpensive tools from the expensive
This India-manufactured tool has its followers, and it's no wonder.You can purchase a complete set of seven Anant planes for $4 more than a single Lie-Nielsen jack plane. Of course, the real question is: Should you? The sole was remarkably flat on the Anant, second only to the Lie-Nielsen. But the iron needed a lot of work to be serviceable. Fine-tuning the plane to take a nice smoothing cut proved tricky. The adjustment knob had to be spun more than three times before the iron would advance or retract — more than any other plane in our test.Also, the adjustment knob had sharp edges that needed to be sanded down before it would be comfortable. We give the Anant points for wooden handles, but they were lumpy and poorly finished. You can easily refinish the handles for a custom fit. In all, the Anant did better than expected, though we found the vintage and premium-priced planes outmatched it. Available from Woodworker's Supply at 800-645-9292.
The toughest skirmish in our test was when we pitted the Clifton against the Lie-Nielsen. Both are based on Stanley's long-discontinued Bed Rock model, and both excel on nearly every front.The biggest disappointment with the Clifton came with the sole. It needed a lot more work than the Lie-Nielsen's — in fact, the largest gap we could find between the sole and a straightedge was more than three times bigger than the gap we found on the Lie-Nielsen.That said, we've set up three other Clifton bench planes that had soles that were much flatter than this one. Once fettled, the Clifton is a real champ at the bench. It has excellent heft and feel, and the adjustment knob is responsive to your slightest whim.The Bubinga handles are comfortable in use and attractive when at rest. If you cannot quite swing the cash for a Lie-Nielsen, then you should definitely purchase a Clifton. For a list of dealers, contact Robert Larson at 800-356-2195 or www.rlarson.com.
At $300, you're probably wondering if this tool is intended for collectors or users.While I know of a few people who collect these tools, the Lie-Nielsen was designed for hard use and will earn its keep in your shop. Of all the planes in our test, the Lie-Nielsen required the least fettling.The sole was in exceptional shape out of the box (it took a lot of searching to find any gap between the sole and straightedge).The blade was in perfect shape and ready for a light honing.And all of the parts mated perfectly. In use, the Lie-Nielsen is at the top of the heap. Everything moved smoothly and the plane was taking long, wide and wispy shavings from a board with only slight adjustments. The cherry handles are beautiful and com-fortable.The Lie-Nielsen is a combination of excellent manufacturing and premium materials (including indestructible ductile iron and rustproof bronze). For these reasons, it is a lifetime tool. Available from Lie-Nielsen at 800-3272520 or www.lie-nielsen.com.
54 Popular Woodworking April 2002