Popular Woodworking 2005-06 № 148, страница 63

Popular Woodworking 2005-06 № 148, страница 63

Lie-Nielsen low-angle jack planes being readied for shipment from the factory in Maine. Both companies hand-assemble each tool.

"Generally, in hand tools there has been little or no development over the last 50 years. Look at routers and drills. There's a new one every year. They're just like cars. " — Robm Lee

rally. His father recently turned over the reins of Lee Valley to Robin. Now Leonard Lee focuses his efforts on designing and producing new surgical instruments and procedures for Canica Design, including a scalpel that sprung from the Veritas Carver's Knife.

And the Lee family tradition is likely to continue. Both Robin's son and daughter - now college age - have grown up working in every department. "They started with the manual labor - the landscaping," he says.

And they are both refining one of the most important traits of the Lee family. His daughter is now doing product management work for the company.

"She really enjoys the research," Lee says, with obvious pride, "and listens well."

Comparing the Brands

The tools that spring from the labor of these two companies are indeed different, from their price tag to how they feel in use.

But you should know that any comparison of two planes is troublesome - planes are personal tools. So the following opinions should be taken as only one person's experiences. But for what it's worth, I have worked with both brands for years. And I have a long history with many of the tools.

On the topic of price, the Veritas planes are almost universally less expensive than the Lie-Nielsens. There are 12 styles of planes made by both companies. Ifyou bought all 12 from Lie-Nielsen, you'd spend $2,580. From Veritas, that same line-up would cost $1,799 - 30 percent less.

Price is only one factor. Unlike a router or drill, planes are lifetime tools. So I personally don't focus as much on price as I do on the tools' working characteristics, how it behaves during use. Does it fight me or work for me?

Veritas Bench Planes

The overall design of Veritas's four bench planes is quite different than a Stanley plane. Many of the Veritas's features have appeared on other tools, but the Veritas combines them in a new way.

The frog - the metal casting that supports the iron - is the most unusual part of the design. The rear handle is actually screwed to the frog. And the bottom of the frog is incorporated into the sole of the plane. This unusual frog allows you to close up the plane's throat without changing the depth of cut.

I've never had problems with the stability of this frog - functionally, it's a success. It does have two aspects that annoy me slightly. Having the frog visible on the sole make s it trickier to sight down the sole when setting the blade - the back of the frog creates a black line that looks like the black line created by your blade. Also, you have to navigate a screwdriver through holes in the lever cap, chipbreaker and iron to reach the screw that allows you to open or close the throat. That takes fiddling.

To adjust the depth of cut, Veritas planes use a Norris-style adjuster. This adjuster, made popular on English smoothing

planes, allows you to change both the depth of cut and to center the blade in the mouth with one mechanism. (Stanley planes use two separate mechanisms.)

Veritas's Norris-style adjuster is precise and robust, with a respectable half-turn of slop in its mechanism. Even better, the Veritas designers have avoided a common problem with Norris

adjusters: When used in an infill plane, it's easy to cinch down the lever cap so tight that when you turn the Norris adjuster it commits suicide by stripping out. With the Veritas plane you can tighten the lever cap as much as you please and the worst that can happen is that you'll push the chipbreaker out of position. I cannot destroy this adjuster - and I've tried.

I don't like the position of the adjuster above the tote, however. This is personal preference, but I like the adjustment mechanism directly in front of the tote.

The sidewalls of the Veritas hold two small set screws. These finely center the cutter in the mouth and prevent the cutter from slipping out of position. I'm of the opinion that lateral adjustment levers on all planes are too coarse for high-tolerance smoothing. I usually end up tapping the iron with a small hammer for my final adjustments. The set screws are slower than tapping the cutter with a hammer, but beginners will

The Veritas bullnose plane shown with a vintage Preston version of the same tool. The Veritas plane has features and a shape that favors ergonomics and function over the classical form.

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