Reply by CaptainKlutz

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Posted on Please help me choose a low angle jack plane

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1776 posts in 1976 days

#1 posted 10-06-2018 11:56 PM

+1 Used Stanley bevel up LA market prices are absurd compared to Stanley bevel down planes.
Spending more than $150-$175 for antique Stanley LA jack is waste of money when you can buy a new Wood River for only a few dollars more (that is unless you collect antiques).

I own antique Stanley, new Stanley Sweetheart & Wood River LA Jack. New Stanley Sweetheart is junk compared to antique versions. The newer castings are sloppy and a general PIA to get tuned, doesn’t stay tuned between uses, and blade dulls quickly. Can not recommend new Stanley Sweetheart LA Jack to anyone serious about hand tools.

If you want to save a few dollars for 1st LA Jack plane, the Wood River LA Jack is nice tool for money. It required a little tuning and full blade sharpening when new, but it performs just as well as my Veritas LA smoother.

Must admit that when I got the Veritas smoother (or any of Veritas planes I own), it required nothing to get it working. Open box, set blade height, and start shaving wood. It worked even better with fresh edge on blade. The best part about Veritas is PM-11 blade has better longevity than A2 found on Wood River, but both get job done. So if you can afford it, but the Veritas and be happy. :)

IMHO – you do not need LA plane to build a typical hand tool bench.
When I am working on large wood slabs or my bench, the planes I use most are:

#5 with blade sharpened for scrub work (large chamfer on corners for deep cuts) [removes really high spots]

#6/7/8 for over all flatness [Which one depends on size of slab]

#4 smoother with either A2 or PM-11 blade to clean up any marks left behind by large planes.

If you are willing to spend time cleaning up and tuning older planes, you can get #4, #5, and #7 from Fleabay for less than a new Veritas LA jack (maybe even less than Wood River?). THEN after you finish the work bench and have developed a true love affair for hand planes; either update the planes with some PM-11 blades to have same blade life as newer planes, or buy new Veritas or LN planes to feed your tool lust. :)

PS – Bevel up .vs. Bevel down planes each have negatives that impact how I use them. My Veritas LA smoother usually has either 38/50 degree blade in it, or toothed blade for scrub work; both for figured wood. My Wood River LA Jack is principally used on a shooting board with 35 degree bevel for end trim work. I also use smaller bevel up planes for trimming rabbits or tenon cheeks. Bevel up planes are used for most everything else.
My view where LA planes are best (end grain & figured wood) may be skewed, but I there is another wood worker that posts similar thoughts [ ].

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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