Lie Nielsen Tool Event - Heaven is the back room of a Woodworking School

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Blog entry by bbasiaga posted 01-30-2018 04:04 AM 4988 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Made it out to the LN tool event at the Chicago School of Woodworking this weekend. Oh my, it was like a dream.

Remember that scene in The Matrix where those endless racks of guns show up? This was pretty much that, but the racks were smaller and filled with only LN tools. One of every one, there just for you to try. Oh and there were three full time furniture makers there to answer all your questions too.

This was a real learning experience for me. I was kind of on a mission shopping for my 40th b-day gift. That isn’t till August, but I wanted to try out the various bedding angles available on their frogs, and see the difference between the No 4 and 4 1/2 planes. That, and my other impressions below.

1. They had 3 No. 4 1/2 planes, one each with the 45, 50 and 55 frogs. I tried them all on curly maple, and I could not tell much of a difference. The 55 was slightly harder to push but I guess I didn’t notice it too much. I also saw their guy sharpen a blade and plane the curliest maple ever with a regular 45 degree bedded frog. It worked great. He did say he thinks 50 is a good compromise, but has not seen the need for a 55. I suppose I may go for the 50 when the time is right.

2. The bronze No 4 is so beautiful. It is not quite as heavy as a No 4 1/2, but noticeably heavier than an iron No 4. You can tell all this from the stats on the catalog, but feeling them is meaningful. I still think I like the No 4 in bronze the best. No 4 in bronze with a 50degree frog, I think that will be my b-day ask.

3. I tried their side rabbet planes. They are awesome. If all goes well I will get to compare the Veritas one next weekend at another woodworking show in Indianapolis. I like that they have a regular iron that can be tapped for depth, unlike the Veritas which is set by hand. We’ll see. They are a matched pair and almost twice as much as the Veritas, and 3x the cost of the woodriver veritas knock-off. There have been a few times I wished I had something like this. Not sure if they are worth the cost.

4. I tried a No 8 jointer. Its like the hand plane equivalent of an aircraft carrier. I have an old stanley No 7. Its enough for me. But that No. 8 was something. Maybe if I find a vintage….

5. Another on that caught my eye was the No 5 1/2. I have the LN No 62, which is always the first plane I reach for. I love it. That 5 1/2 is much more authoritative. I could see how it would be better for working a large table top. Not sure if it is worth adding one of these to the stable in the future. (Maybe if I build a large table I could talk the wife in to it?) Perhaps the Woodriver version at half the cost would be the one to try. I can definitely see why so many people like this plane though. Big, heavy, lots of inertia.

6. Their stuff is all so awesome in fit and function. And their people were very willing to share their thoughts and advice. It was really a cool place. If there is one near you, check it out. Its worth it to handle the tools. Youtube videos and posts online help, but not in the same way seeing and feeling the tools does. It answers a lot of questions.

7. All I need is about $10k to buy the rest of the stuff I saw there that I liked. I am taking a collection if any of you are so inclined… :) In the end I got only a new sharpening stone. A 1k/8K combo. I am sold on trying the splash and go, to get out of the soaking pot I have. We will see how this works.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my ramble. Bottom line…go to one of these if you get the chance. If nothing else, its like an afternoon in the candy shop. More likely, you’ll learn something about what you like and why, and what you really would like to use.

Veritas has a similar set up at the wood shows they go to. So you could check that out too.

Now…about that collection…..


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

5 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


4729 posts in 2759 days

#1 posted 01-30-2018 11:59 AM

I am glad I did not go….too much temptation.

I have the 45 degree 4-1/2 and love it. I use it as a shooting plane as well as other uses and works great. I am not a big hand tool user but the 4-1/2 get used most.

View TheNJ's profile


10 posts in 1971 days

#2 posted 01-30-2018 10:05 PM

Love my Woodriver 5 1/2. Its my go-to for general purpose use. I feel like I can abuse it and not feel too bad afterward. My LN 4 1/2 is a dream for smoothing large surfaces. It gets babied. Definitely recommend. Wish I could justify a bronze #4 though.

View 489tad's profile


3837 posts in 3782 days

#3 posted 01-31-2018 06:03 AM

I’m glad you had a good time. I had planned on going and try the strong inlay tools but had to work. Maybe next year.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View JRAP's profile


112 posts in 2720 days

#4 posted 01-31-2018 07:47 AM

No pics?

-- -- Jim, Cumberland,RI -- Life is all the other stuff you do when you're not in the shop. -

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2765 days

#5 posted 01-31-2018 02:51 PM

Sorry, no pics. I had to give my phone to my daughter to keep her from going crazy.

TheNJ, I wish they had a bronze 4 1/2….best of both worlds. I am just so enamoured with the bronze look, and for the price they ask I can only have one. So no. 4 it will be.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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