Popular Woodworking 2004-08 № 142, страница 31

Popular Woodworking 2004-08 № 142, страница 31

Endurance Test

Veritas Low-Angle Smoother

A well-made, versatile plane that's a great value.

When Stanley manufactured the No. 164 low-angle smoothing plane from 1926 to 1943, it was intended mostly for working on end grain, butcher blocks and the like.

These planes didn't sell too well, so you might wonder why modern planemaker Veri-tas decided to introduce its own version in 2002. The truth of the matter is that the Veritas Low-Angle Smooth Plane is much better made than the vintage Stanley. The body castings are thicker, the blade is beefier and the blade-adjustment mechanism is simpler to operate and more versatile. On top of that, modern woodworkers have learned how to customize these tools easily to make them ideal for any smoothing task.

Unlike in a bench plane, the iron in a low-angle smoothing plane sits in the body with the cutting bevel facing up, similar to a block plane. With the iron factory-ground at 25°, the tool is ideal for planing end grain, trimming miters and smoothing face grain that's straight. Boards with tricky grain are a problem in this stock configuration, but if you simply grind the bevel of the iron to 38° or steeper, you can create a higher cutting angle that makes this tool ideal for smoothing the trickiest face grain out there.

In fact, you can make this tool do the work of several planes by purchasing a few replacement irons ($21.50 each from the manufacturer), grinding different cutting angles on them and swapping them out when your work demands it. (Lee Valley Tools now offers replacement irons for this tool ground at 38° so you don't have to do it yourself.)

ABOUT OUR ENDURANCE TESTS Every tool featured in our Endurance Test column has survived at least two years of heavy use in our shop here at Popular Woodworking.

Once I started experimenting with different grinding angles 20 months ago, the Veritas Low-Angle Smooth Plane became one of my favorite tools.

The plane's body is made using indestructible ductile iron, so the plane will survive a fall to a concrete floor. The sidewalls are ground square to the sole of the tool, which makes the plane ideal to use with a shooting board to trim the end grain of parts.

The rosewood handles are quite comfortable to hold for long periods of time. I especially like the fact that your fingers aren't jammed in behind a big frog assembly, as they are with a standard bench plane.

Another big plus with this tool is that the mouth of the plane can easily be closed up tight thanks to an adjustable toe piece similar to what you find on a block plane. You simply turn the front knob to loosen the toe piece, move it where you want it and turn the knob back to lock your setting. My only quibble with this system is it's almost too easy to move the toe. In the last couple of years I've had it slide back unexpectedly and strike my freshly sharpened iron. Officials with Veritas say they have a solution in the works for the next generation of this tool.


Veritas Low-Angle Smooth Plane Street price: $159

Nice features: Well-constructed hand plane can be configured for a variety of uses. An excellent value among premium planes.

Recommended modifications: I wish the toe piece didn't move so freely. The tapered sides of the iron make it difficult to sharpen in some honing guides.

Lee Valley Tools: 800-871 -8158 or leevalley.com

My only other gripe with the plane is that the sides of the A2 iron aren't parallel - they taper so the iron is narrower at the back. This makes it difficult (and sometimes impossible) to secure it in common side-clamp honing guides. The sides have to be tapered to allow you to laterally adjust the iron to get a perfectly square cut.

Those minor quibbles aside, the Veritas Low-Angle Smooth Plane is an impressive tool, and one I frequently recommend to woodworkers who are getting started in exploring hand planes. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better all-around premium hand plane for the price. PW

— Christopher Schwarz, executive editor



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