Design Limited

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Review by OSU55 posted 10-12-2014 11:25 PM 4898 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Design Limited Design Limited Design Limited Click the pictures to enlarge them

I recently purchased this little jewel off Craigslist for $50 (retail $115). This is the low angle version 102, not the standard angle 103. The seller had been a product mgr for Woodcraft back in the ‘80’s, and had acquired the plane then. It had not seen much use – I don’t think it had even been honed. I don’t think it would have worked all that well as there were raised areas at the rear corners of the mouth, possibly from excessive force in use (dull blade?) or the blade clamped excessively. A few minutes with 120 grit sandpaper cleared up these areas and flattened the sole. Initially the sole had hi/low spots but they couldn’t have been more than a thou or 2 because they went away pretty quickly.

I made some test cuts, and the design problems started to show up. I noticed the lever cap pressure changed with blade projection. I figured out the end of lever cap was overhanging the top of the blade bevel with the blade slightly retracted, and would ride up to the top of the blade when the blade was extended, changing cap pressure. This was solved by grinding a bevel on the underside of the lever cap clamp area to change the point of contact with the blade (see pic 3).

I decided to hone the edge. While trying to set the plane up for test cuts, I noticed another design flaw. I had honed the edge a thousandth or 2 off perpendicular with the sides. Typically this is not an issue – a little blade skew and the shavings are even. However, this little baby is machined with just a few thousandths clearance for the blade to fit on the bed, leaving almost no lateral adjustment. Eventually I filed some material off the rear locators (pic 2, about an inch behind the blade bed) and now there is maybe a couple of thousandths of skew adjustment.

Another design limitation is that the sides of the plane are curved front to back, with the widest point at the crosspin. This makes the plane difficult and unstable for using to cut bevels with a side resting on a work surface and sole angled up on the work piece, and for use on a shooting board.

I also noticed the lever cap wheel has quite a bit of axial runout – it doesn’t effect functionality, but was not expected in an LN product.

After the described work, the plane works well. It fits my hand very well, and with the heft of the bronze and 1/8” blade it feels very solid making end grain or face grain cuts, and easily makes super thin shavings. The back of the blade is flat and didn’t require much work.

For the price, I’m very pleased. However, if I were paying retail, the LV apron plane is my choice. It’s about the same size and weight, but has lateral adjustment and straight sides for bevel and shooting board work, and it’s about 25% cheaper (it isn’t nearly as nice to look at, though). Now, this plane is ~30 years old, from the fairly early days of LN, and many or all of these issues may have been addressed. Some of you may have newer 102’s and could comment.

View OSU55's profile


2651 posts in 2795 days

7 comments so far

View Luke's profile


546 posts in 4100 days

#1 posted 10-13-2014 03:12 AM

If this tool was acquired back in the 80’s… things have come a long way from then for LN. I have quite a few tools from LN and can’t be more pleased.

-- LAS,

View Andre's profile


3626 posts in 2612 days

#2 posted 10-13-2014 04:30 AM

Bought the same LN102 last year, looks identical, did put in a Hock blade. Total prep time including the new blade was under an hour and is a great plane for what it was designed for.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View JohnChung's profile


421 posts in 2880 days

#3 posted 10-13-2014 06:04 PM

I own the same plane but it is a recent purchase. I do not need to adjust the plane as you have mentioned….. It works out from the box.

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 3159 days

#4 posted 10-13-2014 08:29 PM

It doesn’t seem fair to review a 30 year old tool as a current model. There is no way to know if the tool tweaked or not up to snuff when new.

-- Blog:

View poopiekat's profile


4776 posts in 4540 days

#5 posted 10-14-2014 03:29 PM

Does anybody use a block plane in a shooting board?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View JohnChung's profile


421 posts in 2880 days

#6 posted 10-14-2014 05:00 PM

Yes I have but not this tool. The sides are curved. Block plane can be pretty painful with end grain. Not enough grip and mass. But for thin stock it is bearable.

View OSU55's profile


2651 posts in 2795 days

#7 posted 10-15-2014 11:25 AM

I have a small shooting board just for a block plane for small parts – toys, dollhouses, intricate detail work.

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