What if Apple Computer made hand tools?

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Review by Rick Boyett posted 10-24-2010 04:11 AM 7550 views 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
What if Apple Computer made hand tools? What if Apple Computer made hand tools? No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

A few years ago, I worked for Microsoft. These days I work for HP. And while both companies have been good employers, I found that my personal computing preferences tend to drift towards Apple Computers. Why? Because they are innovative, have great design, and do a damn good job of taking care of their customers.

If I were to translate that to hand tools, I would have to say that Stanley is Microsoft and Veritas is Apple.

When you buy a PC running a Microsoft OS (even something as good as Windows 7) you have to do several things before you can actually start working with it. You have to install anti virus, you have to get applications to run on it. If you really know your stuff, you do a bit of fine tuning to get it running as smoothly as possible. If you buy from HP, Dell, or a number of other OEMs, you also have to uninstall a lot of crap.

When you buy an Apple, you take it out of the box, plug it in and start working. It comes with software (iLife) that lets you start working immediately. Other software for it isn’t even that expensive. I hate to quote Steve Jobs (because he can be a smug sonova-you know what) but “it just works”.

The same analogy can be applied to the Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane that I recently took delivery of. “It just works”, right out of the box. (go take a look at my blog for the un-boxing) Whereas a Stanley (even the new Sweethearts) almost always needs some effort put into them before you put them to work (see my previous review and blog entries)...

Some folks mistake this tool for a bench plane. Sure it looks like one. It can certainly be used as one. Lee Valley even lists it in their bench plane section. However it is not one. It is a block plane. A REALLY BIG Block Plane. The giveaways, of course, are the lack of a chip breaker and the fact that the iron is beveled up instead of down like a bench plane. Block planes are mainly meant for working with the end grain of wood stock. But because a low angle jack plane is so big, it can also be used for smoothing, planing, or shooting like a traditional bench plane.

But I digress, we were talking about how, “it just works”

Just to prove that point, I took my unaltered Veritas and immediately put it to work. The results were very thin wood shavings.

Just how good is this plane out of the box? One of the first things I did was to check the flatness of the iron. To do this I placed 2000grit wet sanding paper on my granite block and rubbed the back of the iron on it exactly 10 times to polish it. There was absolutely no indication of a low spot anywhere on the iron near the blades edge.

I also lapped the sole of the planes body with only 20 strokes on 2000grit wet sandpaper. Again, no indication of the sole being anything but flat. After this I also tested the body of the plane for squareness. As you’ve heard a million times from other reviewers, Veritas planes are DEAD ON square. I could use this thing to help me setup my jointer.

As with most high end planes, the Veritas has an adjustable mouth to makes it easier to control the thickness of cuttings. But Veritas differs in how you adjust the mouth. Most manufacturers (Stanley, Lie Nielsen, etc) have you loosen the knob on the toe of the plane and perform the adjustment with an adjustment lever. Veritas also loosens with a turn of the knob but the adjustment is done with a brass screw affixed to the body of the plane inside the throat. I found that this screw makes VERY VERY VERY fine adjustments of the mouth extremely easy. It is one of those ideas that makes you slap your forehead and wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself. Genius.

The Veritas also uses a Norris style adjuster for changing the lateral position of the blade in relation to the mouth as well as changing the depth of the cut. This adjuster is very well built with only about an 1/8th of a turn of back lash and no slop in the overall mechanism. It is really a joy to use.

Another great feature on the Veritas are two set screws on either side of the plane’s sole. These screws allow you to easily insure that your iron is centered in the mouth opening. They also act as pivot points for the blade when it is laterally adjusted with the Norris adjuster.

So what can this bad boy really do? How well can it perform? Well, after a little extra honing of the iron I put everything back together and put the Veritas through its paces. (it didn’t really need any more honing but I am addicted to sharp objects. I’m sure I’m on someone’s watch list).

The proof is in the puddin’. Check out that shaving.

But that shaving was with the grain, how about across the grain? The Veritas did not disappoint.

This shaving was 0.004 inches. I’m sure I could have gone thinner but I’m lazy.

This was the result of the end grain of my work piece.


The Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane is a joy to work with. ”It Just works” It even does a great job smoothing rough boards. This is my 2nd Veritas plane but it sure isn’t going to be my last.

This Veritas plane cost $219.00 plus $13.50 shipping from Surprisingly, its main competitor (from Lie Nielsen) cost $245 plus $6 shipping. That makes the LN cost only $18.50 more. The shipping for the LN cost even less if you get it from I haven’t used the LN but I’m pretty sure I prefer the mouth adjustment nut on the Veritas as well as the fact that it has more lateral adjustment. The later is a personal preference but that mouth adjustment is definitely an advantage.

Rating: 5 stars… (6 if Lumberjocks would let me)..

I hope you find this review useful

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Rick Boyett

167 posts in 3980 days

22 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4345 days

#1 posted 10-24-2010 04:15 AM

View Rick Boyett's profile

Rick Boyett

167 posts in 3980 days

#2 posted 10-24-2010 04:15 AM

BTW, you can see high resolution versions of my photos here if you want..

View lew's profile


13114 posts in 4523 days

#3 posted 10-24-2010 06:00 AM

If Apple made hand tools, you could only buy them at one store ;^)

Nice review, BTW

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Fallon's profile


96 posts in 3896 days

#4 posted 10-24-2010 07:35 AM

And you could only use them on the 2 or 3 approved species of wood that Apple approved. :-p

View JasonIndy's profile


189 posts in 4203 days

#5 posted 10-24-2010 08:24 AM

LOL, I can picture Steve Jobs dressed all in black onstage holding this thing out in his hand like it just fell out of space. Great review though, thanks for putting in all that effort, pics, etc.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3877 days

#6 posted 10-24-2010 02:26 PM

Great review Rick. I admired this item since you posted your unveiling out of the box :) I am rather new to whole hand plane thing and have spent much time reading and tinkering with the set I now have. From what I understand, the lower the blade angle, the easier it is to push the plane and deal with some of the more trickier grains such as end grain. Thus, the reason why a low angle block plane exists.

However, on edge and face grain, you run the potential risk of tear out because the angle is low. On face and edge grain, the higher the angle, the more difficult to push, but the less risk of tear out. I am not trying to lecture :) just state what is going through my head. So I see this as more of a specialty plane and a really good purchase if you do not already have a low angle block plane. You can use it for the end grain (instead of buying a low angle block plane) and use it on tricky grain when a low angle might be necessary. But I do not see this as the main “go to” for most flattening and smoothing needs.

It is a beautiful tool, looks great in design and build and can see where it will be a godsend in a few situations.

Thanks for posting,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1130 posts in 3742 days

#7 posted 10-24-2010 06:36 PM

Great review, thanks for taking the time for photos.
I find myself picking up hand tools more often rather than the noisy power tools.
I have a Veritas smoother and a L-N block plane and cabinet scrapers..all are absolute superstars and I love using them.
You cannot go wrong with either company.
It is good to see two North America companies make something well with such pride and customer service.
ps I am mac/apple fan also

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Rick Boyett's profile

Rick Boyett

167 posts in 3980 days

#8 posted 10-24-2010 09:05 PM

Lew said:

If Apple made hand tools, you could only buy them at one store ;^)

Wouldn’t that make Veritas exactly like them since you can only buy Veritas planes at Lee Valley? BTW, you can buy Apple stuff at Best Buy and Frys.. :-)

View Rileysdad's profile


110 posts in 4047 days

#9 posted 10-24-2010 09:32 PM

OK you sold me. I’m ordering one today.

I’ve been working on Macs for years. It’s time I quit fooling with my vintage Stanelys and get something that “just works.”

-- Measure twice, cut once, buy extra stock.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3842 days

#10 posted 10-24-2010 09:35 PM

Great review for the Veritas plane and Apple. I’m a big time Apple fan. As you and Steve Jobs says, “It just works”. I use both an I-Mac and an I-pad.

I don’t have any real experience with Veritas but I take you at your word. I would probably wager that Lie-Nielsen is just as good, but at significantly more money.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3827 days

#11 posted 10-25-2010 02:35 PM

One day, I intend to give one of these planes a try. I just can’t seem to bring myself to part with my old vintage tools. One thing you didn’t mention is that you can purchase extra irons for this plane and grind them at different angles to create different net cutting angles. You can’t do this with a traditional bevel down design. You can have a 37 degree cutting angle with a standard 25 degree bevel and then hone another at a 45 degree angle for a 52 degree cutting angle to use on swirly grain. It makes this plane even more versativle. Also, the blade is much better supported, almost to the very cutting edge, on a bevel up plane as opposed to the bevel down design. This feature plus the adjustable mouth is one of the reasons that a chip breaker is not needed. Also, you get much less chatter with this type of design than occurs with a bevel down plane. I love my old Stanleys (at least partly because I bought most of them for almost nothing at flea markets and yard sales), but if I ever do spend this kind of money for a plane, this is the style of plane that I will purchase.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4929 days

#12 posted 10-25-2010 03:01 PM

now THAT’s a review! Well written; informative and a + on entertainment value as well.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4163 days

#13 posted 10-25-2010 05:28 PM

Just one small comment from an old (really old) PC technician:

If Apple made this very nice plane it would cost $600.00 or more.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4163 days

#14 posted 10-25-2010 09:41 PM


I’m sorry to give you the news, . . . .

the war is over!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View dbray45's profile


3388 posts in 3545 days

#15 posted 10-26-2010 02:35 PM

This plane may be on my shopping list. That means that I will have to make another tool cabinet. Darn mouse will get a big cookie.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

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