Great Small Plane - Like a #3

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Review by RickH posted 02-24-2008 02:44 AM 7373 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great Small Plane - Like a #3 Great Small Plane - Like a #3 No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

The tool I have owned for about a month is the Lee Valley-Veritas Low Angle Block plane, with optional rear vertical tote and wooden front knob.

I originally bought in order to have a really high quality block plane, and decided to order the optional rear handle and front wooden knob in case I wanted to use this plane that way.

On it’s own this LA plane is a fantastic tool:
> Has adjustable front mouth to fine tune / optimize shaving control in difficult woods.
> Very comfortable to hold and use. Has machined finger indents in the sides to improve your grip, and the standard front brass mouthpiece knob fits your thumb for planing control perfectly.
> Extremely well made. Very nicely machined, with perfectly vertical sides for shooting.
> I love the LA combined brass depth screw/iron angle control. Very easy to use – and it works great.
> Built as a Low Angle plane, which is the only way to go. Most standard planes, being bevel down, mount the iron on a 45 degree bed – and that’s the planing angle you are stuck with. But with this built as a low angle plane (as many other Veritas planes also are) you can easily change the planing angle by changing the iron. Since LA planes use bevel up irons, your planing angle is determined simply by the grinding angle on the iron. So for more difficult woods you can simply put in a higher angle iron. The plane comes with a 25 degree grind, but I also ordered the 38 degree blade as an option. Lee Valley also offers 50 degree and toothed irons for this plane as well.

To give you more power and control you can also install the rear vertical tote handle and a front wooden knob to replace the brass adjuster. I found this so useful that I leave these on – it makes this plane the equivalent of a #3 = and then bought another block plane to also have one in that configuration.

I love all the versatility I have with this plane given all the iron options, these extra handles, and a chamfer guide which is also available. Great, high quality tool!

Check out the manufacturer web site @

-- Rick - OC, CA

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18 posts in 4519 days

10 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4759 days

#1 posted 02-24-2008 02:47 AM

Nice review. Nothing like a quality plane!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4593 days

#2 posted 02-24-2008 06:04 AM

This is on my wish list. I have recently restored the Stanley #5 and #8 that belonged to my father. But I would like to add one of these as well. Veritas makes a nice plane.

Thanks for the review.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4847 days

#3 posted 02-24-2008 06:19 AM

I too have this plane on my wish list. I really like the idea of the set screws that hold the front of the blade in place. Thanks for the review, I might have to move this up in the purchasing priority list. So many tools, so little money ;)

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

View FloridaUFGator's profile


39 posts in 4784 days

#4 posted 02-24-2008 06:23 AM

I just ordered this. Your review helped. I was going between this one and the lie nielsen. I chose this because of the options (and your review). I snagged the additional vertical tote and handle and chamfer guide and 38-degree blade. I can’t wait for it to arrive. Anyone in the market for a cheap Stanley box store block plane – I have finally found its replacement.

-- ...and remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these — safety glasses - Norm Abram

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4645 days

#5 posted 02-24-2008 11:39 AM

Thanks for the review. I have a Veritas block plane and love it.

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 4659 days

#6 posted 02-24-2008 03:46 PM


I bought this plane for my kid (he just made 5 years at the time). Not only that he loves it, but I find myself reaching for it very often. Several times my kid reminded me that it is his plane and I had to make a deal with him to share our tools. Now he is freely looking for stuff in my workbench and there is nothing I can do since I really like that plane.


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View JLYoung's profile


32 posts in 4552 days

#7 posted 02-29-2008 04:24 AM

I was wondering why it is that Lie Nielsen makes both a low angle version and a standard Version of their Stanley type bedrock jointers such as the #7 and #8 but Veritas seems to only have the Low angle version of these planes. Would a Veritas Low angle jointer (12 degree frog?) used with say a 38 degree bevel to give an angle of attack of 50 degrees (york pitch) with only a 12 degree clearance angle work similar to a Lie Nielsen Jointer with a the bevel down (45-25=) 20 degree clearance angle?

I’m in the market for a #7 and being Canadian would like to but from Lee Valley but wonderedd why they only have the bevel up planes?

View RickH's profile


18 posts in 4519 days

#8 posted 02-29-2008 06:41 PM

TO JL Young -

Re your question on Low Angle Bevel Up planes vs. 45 degree bevel down planes -

The thing to remember is that it is only the “attack angle” of the iron to the wood that counts, also called the front angle. The is the angle of the blade facing the wood as you plane it. The back angle, or angle of the iron on the back side (meaning facing the rear of the plane), is almost meaningless.

In your analysis of the LA plane (bevel up) – you are correct that an iron with a 38 degree grind mounted on a LA 12 degree bed gives you a 50 degree angle of attack. Very simple, the front angle is: 38 +12 = 50. If using the std 25 degree blade in the same plane it gives you a front angle of 37 degrees: 25+12 = 37.

But this is because we are talking about bevel up, low angle planes. In a traditional plane, built with a 45 degree bed, the iron is usually mounted bevel down. In this case the degree grind of the iron is almost meaningless because it is not facing the wood as you plane. Instead, the back side, or flat side, of the iron determines the angle of attack, and that is strictly determined by the bedding angle, in this plane = 45 degrees. Traditional planes have a 45 degree front angle, or angle of attack. You cannot change that without machining the bed itself OR without grinding a back angle into the blade (effectively ruining it for any other purpose). In your commentary – the error is in subtracting the 25 degree grind angle from the bedding angle. You cannot do this because the iron is mounted bevel down. Only the facing angle of 45 degrees counts.

This is one of the huge advantages of Low Angle planes – that you can control the attack angle simply by changing the iron to one with a different grind. That is one reason I like the LA Block plane so much. Being a LA plane – it comes with a 25 degree iron to give me a 37 degree planing angle – good for some tough woods and end grain. For a more standard planing angle I can insert the 38 degree iron I bought for it to give me a 50 degree planing angle (York pitch), better for tougher grain patterns. For really tough grains I could also buy the 50 degree grind iron, and using that would give me a 62 degreee angle of attack, giving much more scraping action than planing.

To answer your question exactly –
The Veritas LA Jointer gives you a 50 degree front angle when used with a 38 degree blade.
The LN Jointer, using a 45 degree bedded bevel down iron gives you a 45 degree front angle.
For most work the 5 degree difference is very subtle, and both would likely perform very much the same on the same piece of wood.

I am not sure why all planes are not made as low angle. They give you the flexibility of quickly changing plane angles to your piece of wood. However – it does require that the plane be made with an adjustable mouth to not only allow you control in the cut, but to adjust to the subtle differences in the grind angle of the different irons you can potentially use. Personally – I would not buy another bench or block plane except in an LA version.

For more explanation please refer to this Veritas iron grind angle article, showing how front angles cut wood differently – -

To add to the confusion – the Lee Lielsen site calls all it’s low angle planes “Block Planes”, I guess because traditionally those were the only ones made bevel up. And because in planing butcher blocks you were dealing with a lot of end grain, so a low front angle worked better. But to me, a low angle plane can be either a block or bench plane – it’s more the overall size that counts. Certainly a 22” jointer – Low angle or not – I would always consider to be a bench plane. Guess I am breaking with tradition, along with Veritas who seem to define it the same way as I do.

Here is an exerpt from the Veritas site about their #4 Bench Plane (traditional bevel down):

“In a bench plane, the blade is used bevel down, so the bevel angle has no bearing on the cutting angle. This is determined by the angle of the bed which, in this case, is 45°. In the past when steeper cutting angles were desired, particularly for smoothing, special planes were produced with bed angles of 50° or 55°. However, the same net effect of altering the cutting angle can be achieved by introducing a back bevel on the face of the blade. In this way, a 5° back bevel will yield an effective cutting angle of 50° (commonly known as a York pitch). A back bevel of 15° will yield a cutting angle of 60° (see Figure 5); this will result in an entirely different cutting action from the standard 45°, producing what is known as a Type II chip (or shaving) as opposed to a Type I (reference: The Complete Guide to Sharpening). With this type of chip the wood shaving fails right at the cutting edge, eliminating tear-out and enabling the working of difficult grain patterns. This type of cutting action is similar to that produced by a scraper. The higher cutting angle increases the force necessary to propel the plane and is not required when working with the grain. However, when you have to work wood with widely varying grain (e.g., bird?s-eye maple) it’s handy to have a back bevelled blade at hand. Changing blades has the same effect as using a high-pitch plane. “

Recommendation – go with low angle planes and buy a few irons for them with different grind angles. That will give you the upmost flexibility in your work.
Hope this helps to clarify.

-- Rick - OC, CA

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32 posts in 4552 days

#9 posted 03-01-2008 05:35 AM

Thank you very much Rick for the thorough explanation. What you are saying makes perfect sense and you have to praise Veritas for breaking with tradition and offering such a flexible system. With the four LA planes they offer, block, smoother, jack and jointer, along with a set of 3 diferent blade angles (they’re interchageable amongst the three large planes) you’ve got all your bases covered as far I’m concerned. The next decision is which to buy first and whether owning a smoother and a jointer makes more sense or if having just the jack would be a good jack of all tradess plane. There’s no question though that the LA block plane is a necessity.

View RickH's profile


18 posts in 4519 days

#10 posted 03-01-2008 10:52 PM

To JL -

I faced the same decision as you when I got started. I went with the Veritas LA Jack and an extra 38 degree blade. I also got their magnetic right angle fence. This plane is fairly large – though not as big as a full size jointer plane – so it can perform some of the same functions. While Lee-Nielsen makes some fine planes, in general I find that I prefer the Veritas line because they have more useful accecssories and blade options, with build quality just as good. I went with the LA Block plane & accessories next, and then with their Apron plane because I found that for many jobs smaller was better. However – what I would like to get as my next plane is the Vertas LA jointer – though I do not yet have a strong need for it yet. But like you point out – since it uses the same blades as my Jack plane I’m ready to go with bade options for it.

Good luck!

-- Rick - OC, CA

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