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View GBSteve's profile

Smoothing Plane options

by GBSteve
posted 07-02-2019 12:32 PM


20 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

6312 posts in 2752 days


#1 posted 07-02-2019 01:46 PM

I cannot speak to the pull style planes, as I’ve never used them. I will say that based on your stated needs I would drop the 164 from consideration. I’ve not had or seen consistently good results in tear out prone woods like your rift sawn oak with bevel up planes of any kind. A higher angle frog &/or closely set cap iron does help with tearout, though sharp trumps everything, as you know.

The smoothers I make have 50, 52.5 and 55 degree bed angles and I haven’t found a wood yet I can’t plane well with a sharp edge, even if they are a single iron. They also all work fine in softwoods, with the 50 degree being the best for a wide range of usage.

If you are used to pull style planes, I don’t know any reason to switch to western planes, unless you just want to. If that’s the case, the LN #4 with a higher angle frog would work well. If you want to stay with pull style, either you list would have reasons to buy. The Mujingfang isn’t a very large investment if it doesn’t work out and HNT Gordon has a tremendous reputation, so I personally wouldn’t hesitate to buy one of their products if it fit my needs.

Just my 2 cents worth. No refunds given. :-)

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View GBSteve's profile

GBSteve

11 posts in 312 days


#2 posted 07-02-2019 02:22 PM

Thanks for the input. I included the LN #164 as an option not knowing exactly how it would work with the wood species I use. I’ve read tearout is an problem with LA planes, but I also wonder how they are so popular if they’re also not so good.

Side note, I had a look at your website…you make some wonderful planes! Works of art (and I’m sure they function even better than they look).

Yes, sharp trumps everything. It took me some time to learn how to tune a Japanese plane, but it was like a revelation when all the pieces came together. I would imagine the Mujingfang plane would also require some tuning, but to what extent I am not sure. I’ve never worked with that exact style, so the lower cost would be beneficial in that case. But like comparing Lie-Nielsen to a lower priced competitor, I would imagine the HNT Gordon smoother would be 99% set right out of the box.

I’m not married to the idea of a push-style plane, more of a curiosity thing than anything. I’ve had decent results using a sharp Japanese plane to finish smooth walnut and white oak (38º bed angle), but I know it could be better. I know my ability to make a dai for Japanese blades is beyond me right now, hence my interest in alternatives.

The HNT Gordon website is a dangerous place…every time my wife sees me on the page, she comments on the “tool porn” aesthetic, but she’s also the devil’s advocate and asks me if the prices are worth it…

View Robert's profile

Robert

3558 posts in 2022 days


#3 posted 07-02-2019 02:44 PM

You can’t go wrong with LN.

IMO you don’t need different planes for hard vs. soft wood. I think its more about maintaing a well honed edge.

LN does offer high angle frogs quite reasonably.

I do keep a couple irons, one flat and one with a very slight camber.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Andre's profile

Andre

2834 posts in 2347 days


#4 posted 07-02-2019 02:59 PM

There is a reason they make so many different planes, IMHO unless you have access to and only use Perfect straight grained woods all the time you will most likely use a couple of planes on most projects. Or depend on Sand paper for final finish? LOL!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View SMP's profile

SMP

1426 posts in 447 days


#5 posted 07-02-2019 04:45 PM

I’ve always wanted the LN bronze 4 and may some day get one. I just can’t realistically justify the cost since my old Stanley works perfectly. It seems no matter what I have tried I still need to use a scraper afterwards though, especially on certain grain. So I would say most important is pick whatever smoother you want, keep it super sharp, and get a good cabinet scraper or card scraper and keep that sharp as well. Here is Paul Sellers’ thoughts on various frogs, York pitch and scrapers, worth the read for your scenario: https://paulsellers.com/2012/08/on-the-frog-in-your-throat/

View tywalt's profile

tywalt

83 posts in 705 days


#6 posted 07-02-2019 10:12 PM

If you don’t already own a #4 hand plane, then you should definitely get one. I have a #3 and for me, it is rarely used. Not to over complicate your decision making process but the Wood River line from Woodcraft is decently nice. I bought a #4 1/2 on a whim when they were on sale and was impressed with the quality. I am one of those guys that enjoys restoring old planes and did notice that the sole needed some flattening but YMMV.

Regarding bevel angles, JayT nailed it. Sharp is the key. I’ve never really noticed a significant difference in bevel angles… But a sharp edge will change your life.

Regarding soft/hard wood, I have too many planes… Like waaay too many. That being said, I do not have any “for hardwood.” All my planes are fettled and sharp and ready to go for any project. Hard, soft or ply (hold for gasps).

If you can afford the LN #4 Bronze body, I recommend it. You’ll hand that tank down to your grand kids. It may sound silly, but the biggest downside to it for me is the weight. It is significantly heavier than a stanley.

-- Tyler - Central TX

View sansoo22's profile

sansoo22

152 posts in 196 days


#7 posted 07-03-2019 12:58 AM


Hard, soft or ply (hold for gasps).

This part made me laugh. I have an ugly and a pretty version of my most used planes. I’ve grabbed a pretty plane and went to use it on ply and thought to myself…nah…you’ve got an ugly cousin for this job.

Now on to more serious things. I might be the weirdo in the group. I would prefer, if buying new, to go with the Wood River series even if i have to flatten and true it up a bit. Out of the box they are still solid users and I saved some coin. If you want to really learn how to make these things work then you can learn to flatten and tune it yourself. Too me that is half the fun of using planes. Same logic goes for table saws. Just about anyone can buy one and cut wood or fingers with it. But if you really want to learn how to be accurate you have to learn to tune it.

All that being said if i could justify the LN #4 Bronze I would have one. Then again I’m a weirdo who owns a Stanley No 2 with an original orange frog…because reasons.

View OleGrump's profile

OleGrump

507 posts in 886 days


#8 posted 07-03-2019 11:58 AM

What’s wrong with a good old Stanley? Again, SHARP is the key, not any “Brand Name”. My grandfather worked in Black walnut, regular walnut, cherry and a host of other woods constantly, and he used ONLY Stanley planes. (“Never buy anything but Stanley hand tools, Boy!” I was often told back then) Those same planes still see duty in the shop.

-- OleGrump

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2445 posts in 2531 days


#9 posted 07-03-2019 12:10 PM

My bevel up planes work wonderfully for whatever type of wood, as long as I use the appropriate bevel angle. I have irons at 27, 38, and 50 deg, just depends on the need.

Too bad you have written off LV. Their custom #4 would be my recommendation, with multiple frogs for different jobs. If you havent looked at their custom line you should do so.

I have a 63 deg Mujingfang 2” smoother that works great, but I only use it when required (gnarly grain) because its a workout. I use a lower angle if possible, easier to move through the cut.

View Andre's profile

Andre

2834 posts in 2347 days


#10 posted 07-03-2019 12:24 PM


I ve always wanted the LN bronze 4 and may some day get one. I just can t realistically justify the cost since my old Stanley works perfectly. It seems no matter what I have tried I still need to use a scraper afterwards though, especially on certain grain. So I would say most important is pick whatever smoother you want, keep it super sharp, and get a good cabinet scraper or card scraper and keep that sharp as well. Here is Paul Sellers thoughts on various frogs, York pitch and scrapers, worth the read for your scenario: https://paulsellers.com/2012/08/on-the-frog-in-your-throat/

- SMP
</blockquote

While I love the look of the LN went with the Veritas L.A. then the H.A then a scrapper plane all in PMV-11,
funny how often the old Stanley #4(PMV-11 iron) still gets used as well as a #61 cabinet scrapper!
Also did pick up a bronze 212 LN which actually is quite nice ?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

674 posts in 1290 days


#11 posted 07-03-2019 01:33 PM

I’m lucky enough to have a bronze LN #4, and I like it a lot. That said, I prefer using my LV bevel up #4 on Walnut, Cherry, Pine, and Oak. I’ve never tried either plane on more difficult woods. Other planes I get some use out of are an old Stanley 4 1/2 and a new (5 years old) Stanley #4, and my Grandfather’s old #3. They all work fine once set up properly, and I consider a proper setup to include a new Hock blade and a good sharpening.

So, the big question might be “will the Stanley plane (with the Hock blade) work as well as the bronze LN or the LV bevel up”. The answer is “close, but not quite as well”. But that’s just my opinion. I think a fellow could buy a new Stanley, put a sharp Hock blade in it, and be perfectly happy using it.

Note that I’d have bought PMV-11 irons over Hock, but they weren’t an option at that time.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

470 posts in 4510 days


#12 posted 07-03-2019 04:43 PM

GB, you have three choices when it comes to smoothers:

1. Bailey style bevel down, common angle (45 degrees): forget the high angle frogs. They will feel like a dog in this type of plane. If you like the LN, then get only the common angle frog … and learn to use the chipbreaker to control tear out. If you do not know about this, do a little research. A Stanley #3 or #4 can perform just as well with a closed chipbreaker. And this format will totally outperform a LN with a high angle frog.

Incidentally, I prefer the Veritas Custom #4, which I use with a 42 degree frog and closed chipbreaker. The low cutting angle leaves a cleaner surface.

2. High Angle on a BD woodie, such as the HNT Gordon smoother (the one without the adjuster). The high angle Mujingfang also has a 60 degree bed. These are superb planes. (I am speaking from experience here – I have all these planes and have used them for a very long time). The only downside of the Gordon is that you need to learn to set the blade with a hammer. That should take … oh … 60 seconds.

3. High cutting angle on a bevel up plane. The absolute best BU smoother – and an absolute bargain – is the Veritas BU Smoother. Use with a 50 degree blade (no, not the one sold by Veritas with 50 degrees, but a 25 degree primary bevel with a 50 degree secondary. Ask me why if you want to go down this path). The advantage of this plane is that it will plane everything you throw at it. And it is so simple to set up. Highly reliable.

Get Veritas PM-V11 steel where you can. It is worth it. I also use it in a LN #3.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View MrWolfe's profile (online now)

MrWolfe

433 posts in 665 days


#13 posted 07-03-2019 04:57 PM

Hello Everyone,
I’m following this thread with some interest.

Derek,
I’ve been reading your posts all over the internet and have visited your site a few times. Thanks for all the info you have shared.

Can you explain this a bit more?

”Use with a 50 degree blade (no, not the one sold by Veritas with 50 degrees, but a 25 degree primary bevel with a 50 degree secondary. Ask me why if you want to go down this path).”

Since I am new to planes and have the L.V. BU smoother I’m very curious about that 50 degree secondary bevel.
Why not the 50 degree blade that L.V. sells?

Thanks
Jon

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

470 posts in 4510 days


#14 posted 07-03-2019 11:29 PM

Jon, I warn everyone NOT to buy the 50 degree blades. The reason is that these cannot be cambered, and every blade (especially smoothers) need to be cambered. The camber in a smoother is just enough to prevent track lines. A blade with a 50 degree bevel is very thick, and there is too much steel to remove to camber it … and the camber for BU blade needs to be about double that of a BD blade. I recommend only getting 25 degree bevels and adding the 50 degree angle as a secondary bevel, and the camber at the same time. This is done with a honing guide. The bevel is then thin and easy to camber. If you have an existing 50 degree blade, I would grind it to 25 degrees, and start again

Article: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/WoodworkTechniques/TheSecretToCamberinBUPlaneBlades.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View GBSteve's profile

GBSteve

11 posts in 312 days


#15 posted 07-05-2019 03:35 PM


2. High Angle on a BD woodie, such as the HNT Gordon smoother (the one without the adjuster). The high angle Mujingfang also has a 60 degree bed. These are superb planes. (I am speaking from experience here – I have all these planes and have used them for a very long time). The only downside of the Gordon is that you need to learn to set the blade with a hammer. That should take … oh … 60 seconds.

3. High cutting angle on a bevel up plane. The absolute best BU smoother – and an absolute bargain – is the Veritas BU Smoother. Use with a 50 degree blade (no, not the one sold by Veritas with 50 degrees, but a 25 degree primary bevel with a 50 degree secondary. Ask me why if you want to go down this path). The advantage of this plane is that it will plane everything you throw at it. And it is so simple to set up. Highly reliable.

Get Veritas PM-V11 steel where you can. It is worth it. I also use it in a LN #3.

Sorry for the late reply, holiday festivities this week curtail any free time…

No worries on setting a plane with a hammer…I’ve been using Japanese planes for a while. Terry Gordon has some good videos also on using their planes, or at least I assume they are good without having that plane in front of me to follow along.

Between the HNT Gordon and Mujingfang smoothers, do you feel one is overall better than the other? Any strengths or weaknesses one has over the other? As they have wooden bodies, do they require ongoing tuning of the sole, like Japanese planes?

Interesting thought on using a BU smoother with 50º secondary bevel. I wasn’t aware the Veritas PM-V11 irons fit in a LN plane. The BU designs have my interest, mostly because my LN 60 1/2 block plane is “old reliable”...it just always works. I’ve fiddled around with a friend’s BD #4 smoothers before (Stanley and Wood River) and never felt I was getting the hang of it. They worked well enough, I suppose, but I know I didn’t have them set as best as possible, plus the multitude of settings and adjustments seemed overkill (especially considering I primarily use Japanese planes).

After reading some comments, I’ll say I won’t totally write off the LV #4 BD smoother. I appreciate their custom line, allowing me to build exactly what I want. Given the modular assembly and minimal work involved, it seems like LN could do better in offering a similar service…

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

470 posts in 4510 days


#16 posted 07-05-2019 03:50 PM

GB, if you have the time, read this article I wrote on the Custom Planes. It is really about plane design, and how to get the best from them: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/VeritasCustomPlanes1.html

The HNT Gordon planes are finished better than Mujingfang. Different class. It is like comparing a LN and a Stanley.

The PM-V11 #4 blade can be used in the LN – the chipbreaker is the limiting factor. Only the LN chipbreaker works in the LN. There are Stanley-replacement PM-V11 blades. I use a #3 in my LN #3. These are thinner, but that is not an issue – simply move the frog forward a smidgeon.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2445 posts in 2531 days


#17 posted 07-06-2019 05:16 AM

Regarding the Mujingfang smoother, mine required tuning – smoothing the blade bed and wedge to stop chatter, trimming for chip discharge, sole flattening, works great once tuned. Does require a little sole flattening every once in a while, but just a few strokes on sandpaper.

View GBSteve's profile

GBSteve

11 posts in 312 days


#18 posted 07-11-2019 02:18 PM



Regarding the Mujingfang smoother, mine required tuning – smoothing the blade bed and wedge to stop chatter, trimming for chip discharge, sole flattening, works great once tuned. Does require a little sole flattening every once in a while, but just a few strokes on sandpaper.

- OSU55

Thanks for the info. On a side note, related to Mujingfang, I picked up the 3/4” rebate plane from Woodcraft on clearance. First time owning a full size plane from them (I have a few miniature ebony detail planes). Haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but I’m pretty impressed with what I see, especially for $49… I’m sure it will need some tuning, but it looks good out of the box. I’ve read the HSS blades they use are tough, so I’ll give it a go on the Sigma Power waterstones later and see how it turns out.

View GBSteve's profile

GBSteve

11 posts in 312 days


#19 posted 07-11-2019 02:46 PM



GB, if you have the time, read this article I wrote on the Custom Planes. It is really about plane design, and how to get the best from them: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/VeritasCustomPlanes1.html

Derek – I spent the last two mornings reading your write up with my morning coffee. Quite impressive! Very interesting reading your findings on the totes, Veritas new style vs traditional. Like many, the aesthetics of the Veritas standard handle isn’t my cup of tea, but I appreciate the ergonomic benefits of the design. It was also nice to read about the BU Jointer. I’ve never used one, but the physics of the lower centre of gravity offering more stability seems accurate.

I’d put the Veritas #4 Custom BD smoother with 42º frog on my list after reading your article. As my wonderful (and un-biased) wife said, it doesn’t matter if something looks odd, as long as it functions better than others…and if I totally do not like it, it would sell easily enough on eBay. That said, I do appreciate the research and design LV seems to put into their products. The feeling I get from LN sometimes is that we should be happy and privileged to own their products…

I’d also put the Veritas BU Smoother on my consideration list as well. When it comes to smoothing flat sawn and quartersawn teak, do you feel one would give better results than the other? This is assuming PM-V11 irons in both models. I say teak as it’s probably the most abrasive/difficult work I work with, though I could be overthinking this and in reality it would be no different than walnut or white oak.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

470 posts in 4510 days


#20 posted 07-11-2019 04:28 PM

I’d also put the Veritas BU Smoother on my consideration list as well. When it comes to smoothing flat sawn and quartersawn teak, do you feel one would give better results than the other?

The Veritas BU Smoother is a superb plane. On interlocked grain I use a 50 degree bevel for a 62 degree cutting angle. It is reliable and easy to set up.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

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