Is it worth $500?

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Review by Jorge G. posted 08-23-2011 07:03 PM 7794 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Is it worth $500? Is it worth $500? Is it worth $500? Click the pictures to enlarge them

It all depends. Here is my philosophy for buying tools, if I say to myself “Gee it would be nice to have XXXXX tool so I could make this operation easier” 3 times, then I buy the tool. I do it this way because I know that I will be using the tool, and it makes my woodworking easier.

Shooting a board is one of those operations that seem simple enough, just make a shooting board and shave the end grain with a plane. THe problems comes with the execution. At least for me. I tried it with a jack plane, I then bought a Nº 9 shooting plane and with both I found out I had to have a gorilla grip on both the piece of wood and the plane, with the concurrent problems this causes, the piece of wood shifts, the plane tilts, etc, etc.

So how does the Nº 51 makes this process easier? 3 reasons, the handle, the skewed blade and being able to put a “track” on the shooting board.

The handle and track work together so that you can concentrate on pushing the plane with minimal effort, and the skewed blade goes through end grain with a lot less effort than a straight blade. The Nº 9 plane solves the grip solution, but the blade mechanism is too close to the side of the plane, making very difficult to make a “track” for the shooting board, and since the blade is straight it requires a lot more force to go through the end grain.

Lets tackle the price issue, yes, $500 is a lot for a “working” plane, after all you can do the same even with a block plane. First, there is a lot of metal in this plane, it is a heavy plane, another aid in making go through the end grain, second as always, there is the Lie Nielsen quality. The plane has a perfect fit and it is sent to you in a wooden box.

So the next obvious question is, why would you need such an expensive plane just to shoot boards? In my case for my furniture design I use a lot of end grain to end grain joints reinforced with dowels. I want those joints to be invisible. In the example pictures I posted above I am using a few pieces of flooring to show the quality of the joint after shooting the board, obviously for this any miter saw would yield a straight cut. Now imagine you are making the sides of a night stand where you want the walls curved concave side out. You make 3º or 4º cuts on the sides and your saw blade has a little flex and does not give you a perfectly straight cut. Here is where the shooting board operation is invaluable. With this plane you can make perfectly end grain cuts at any angle that will result in invisible joints.

Hope this review helps.


-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

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Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3248 days

14 comments so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3771 days

#1 posted 08-23-2011 09:07 PM

Thanks for taking the time to write up. I would like a #51 and everyone I have ever heard that has one loves it. I just can’t bring myself to spend that much for that plane. Not that it isn’t a contender but I already have a pretty big list in the $500 range. :)

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3466 days

#2 posted 08-23-2011 09:13 PM

As long as the jointer is in front of it, I won’t have this plane for a while. That doesn’t stop me from wanting it real bad.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View vernonator's profile


75 posts in 3424 days

#3 posted 08-23-2011 11:51 PM

Glad you are happy with it but I cannot imagine paying that much for a hand tool…...I know Lie-Nielsen makes good stuff (their shoulder planes are on my list to aquire) but really? $500 for a hand plane? Thank you for taking time to post a review…..

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4538 days

#4 posted 08-24-2011 01:51 AM

Sorry, but it sounds crazy to me.

Whatever floats your boat…......

- JJ

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 4425 days

#5 posted 08-24-2011 01:55 AM

I am shooting with a #6 from lee valley and it works perfectly. I would not spend $500.00 on such a specialized tool but then again, some people may find it a good idea.

-- Yves

View Don W's profile

Don W

19618 posts in 3341 days

#6 posted 08-24-2011 02:26 AM

yea, $500 is a bit more than I typically spend on a hand plane. But then you never know.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View dustyal's profile


1319 posts in 4248 days

#7 posted 08-24-2011 03:42 AM

Thanks for the review… interesting thoughts… buy the best that you can afford. And, what is its intended use? Hobbyist may not pay $500, but a professional might. There is something intrinsic about using the highest quality. So, if you can, go for it.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 4806 days

#8 posted 08-24-2011 04:57 AM

Got it, love it. Don’t knock it till you tried it. Very expensive, but so is the sting of blown out end grain on time consuming projects.
I’ll agree it is an acquired taste, a pricy pill to swallow.

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3248 days

#9 posted 08-24-2011 05:32 AM

IMO, The purpose of a well made tool is to disappear in your hands so that you can concentrate on the task being done NOT on the tool being used. Ask any musician why they would pay thousands more for an instrument.

In addition, Marco made a good point, although he was explicit. With a skewed blade you are less likely to tear the end of the board than with a straight blade.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4043 days

#10 posted 08-24-2011 05:58 PM

Wow….pricey…but somethings are worth the extra. LN tools are certainly high quality…and their planes need very little adjustment out of the box. When you have little time like me…the additional costs is also worth it as the convenience and time savings of a good tool save me time to devote to the project not on the tool. We certainly could get into a Festool argument over these…to me, unless you are wasting your money buying a commemorative item with gold leafing and holo image, sometimes the extra charge for a quality tool makes a big difference.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View woodwiz's profile


5 posts in 3240 days

#11 posted 08-24-2011 08:44 PM

Well there is no doubt that Lie-Nielsen makes some quality tools and I would like to have some of them. That being said if I could do the job with a little more time and less tool then I would spend my $500. on other tools that may help me get a number of jobs done. Of course I’m just a newbi and still have a lot to learn.

Peace, love and woodchips

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3832 days

#12 posted 08-25-2011 02:26 PM

Cool. I definitely like the idea of a skewed blade or a low angle blade for shooting end grain. I have known some folks to have good luck with some of the low angle/bevel up planes for similar use. For smaller things, I have an old Millers Falls 07 skewed block plane that I use for similar reasons. I’ve never thought of the idea of making a track for the plane, but I suppose that is exactly what some of the older miter/shooting mechanisms did (in iron no less with ability to adjust the angle). It makes me think that one could add a piece of hardwood to the side of a jack plane that would ride in a track, but still doesn’t solve the problem of the straight blade. Nice review.


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

View Steve Erwin's profile

Steve Erwin

132 posts in 2825 days

#13 posted 10-23-2012 02:57 PM

While I agree that the $500 price tag seems painful, so does my sprained deltoid.

I’ve injured my 32 year old shoulder twice now from the repetitive motions of hand sharpening all my chisels and plane irons and am currently going through physical therapy for it. I’ve been using my Veritas Bevel-Up Jack Plane and Veritas Low Angle Block Plane for shooting lately, and having to provide lateral, vertical, and forward pressure repeatedly seems to be exacerbating the problem.

I’ve already invested $300 into a bench grinder and tool rest so I can minimize the repetitive motion of hand sharpening as much as possible, and now I’m considering purchasing this plane so that I’d only have to provide forward momentum to the plane. It’s heavy enough that it will stay down, and the track means I don’t have to provide lateral pressure. $500 to prevent a pain that has twice lasted over 10 months? Where do I sign up? :)

-- I've been creating problems to solve since I was born. -

View OSU55's profile


2647 posts in 2762 days

#14 posted 10-12-2014 01:45 PM

While I would love to have one of these or the Veritas shooting plane, it’s a tremendous amount of cash for something my LV BUJ does an excellent job with, and has numerous other uses. A slanted sooting board accomplishes almost the same as the skewed blade, plenty of heft, and with the “hotdog” style grip I made the ergonomics are good. Many other acquisitions can be made for $500.

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