Veritas Large Shoulder Plane

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Review by TheGravedigger posted 01-24-2008 02:16 AM 10167 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Veritas Large Shoulder Plane No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Every now and then you stumble upon a tool that makes you wonder how you ever got by without it. For me, that was the shoulder plane. My present workbench base project was going to require 28 large mortise and tenon joints, and practice joints showed me that fitting was going to be difficult. I had tried a combination of block plane and chisel to clean up the tenon cheeks and shoulders, but the intersection of the shoulder and cheek kept causing me problems. The shoulder plane seemed like the best solution. After considerable deliberation, I settled on the Veritas large shoulder plane from Lee Valley. I wasn’t disappointed.

Except for final honing, mine was really ready to go right out of the box. The sole was flat, the sides were square, and they even lap the back of the blade! I chose the O1 blade instead of the A2 since I use oilstones to sharpen and didn’t want to work myself to death. I DO have to sharpen more often, but that’s no big deal with this plane—more on that in a minute.

It’s a strange looking contraption compared to a Preston-style like the Lie-Nielson or Clifton, but there’s method in their madness. The boxy blade lever nestles right into your palm in the perfect position, and my middle finger drops automatically into the round hole when holding the plane vertically for cheek cuts:

Shoulder plane in action

By the way, be sure to remove your finger from the hole when making shoulder cuts with the hand-side up, or you’ll get a nasty pinch when your digit collides with the cheek!

The front knob can be repositioned into a threaded hole on either side of the body, where it projects at an angle. This has its uses, but I found repositioning to be more trouble than it was worth when switching back and forth between cheek and shoulder. Besides, the front of the plane is easy to hold as is when laying on its side. The rear knob pivots from side to side, and is locked in place by screwing it down. This feature really shows Veritas’ quality machining. When the knob is loosened, it doesn’t flop. Instead, some sort of internal friction bushing partially resists the motion, giving repositioning a solid “wiping” feel. My favorite way to use this is to not tighten the knob down completely, but leave a little play. This way, the knob can “self-adjust” slightly as my hand position changes during use.

The plane weighs almost four pounds, but I prefer the mass of a heavier plane. To me, this improves authority with end-grain cuts, and reduces effort on cross-grain. The 1 1/4” wide cutter is almost a match for most low-angle block planes. The iron is bedded at 15 degrees which, with the 25 degree blade bevel, gives an effective cutting angle of 40 degrees. The mouth adjustment consists of an adjustment screw and a separate locking screw. This allows the nose to be removed and replaced without losing the mouth setting, giving you a quick chisel plane option if needed.

The depth adjustment mechanism is smooth, but with some backlash. Veritas points out in their well-written manual that you should take up the slack after blade retraction by making you final turn forward (just like almost every other metal plane). They also give you a neat tip for fine depth adjustment: Changing tension on the cap lever will cause a minor deflection of the plane body, giving you a small degree depth adjustment. This is particularly handy when you run into those minor variations in the wood, or want to lighten up for one last pass—a slight tweak of the locking knob generally does the trick.

These are all neat features, but I saved the best for last. The real deal-cincher for me was the set screws on either side of the body. These can be seen in the first picture above on either side of the finger hole. The screws allow you to accurately set the position of the blade relative to the side of the plane. It took a bit of fiddling to get this right, as the rear screw will change the angle of the blade, knocking it out of square with the body. The two must be adjusted in concert to correctly set the angle and reveal of the blade. Once you’ve got it right, the two screws on the other side are brought into contact and then backed off just a hair (“Yoost a har,” as an old Swedish carpenter I knew used to say). This allows enough slack for depth adjustment, but maintains blade alignment.

Yes, I know you can align any plane, but how many keep alignment when you take the blade out? With this one, you can remove the blade, sharpen, and drop it back into place while keeping that perfect setup you had to start with. I can’t count the number of times in the past where I kept on planing with a dulling blade rather than lose my settings. As for durability of the O1 blade, I trimmed all 56 of the short tenon cheeks for my workbench base without needing to sharpen. I then popped the blade out, touched up the micro-bevel, and was ready to go on the side cheeks with exactly the same set-up. Sweet!

All in all, I’ve been very pleased with this plane. In fact, if I ever decide I need a smaller one, I’ll definitely buy its little brother, the medium shoulder plane. Veritas is really on to something with these tools.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4798 days

13 comments so far

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 4560 days

#1 posted 01-24-2008 03:16 AM

I have been drooling over one, too. Your review may have just pushed me over the edge. Concerning the blades, I read somewhere that the O1 blade will take a keener edge than the A2 due to the metal grain geometry. Have you found this to be true or is it so minimal that in practice it is a moot point?

-- Go

View gizmodyne's profile


1784 posts in 4863 days

#2 posted 01-24-2008 04:40 AM

Great review. I have the medium and love it.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Karson's profile


35223 posts in 5174 days

#3 posted 01-24-2008 04:44 AM

Great looking plane. I was wondering how I could get help on the tenons.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4061 posts in 4837 days

#4 posted 01-24-2008 06:22 AM

Yup, I love my medium too. Good to hear from you again, Digger.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4762 days

#5 posted 01-24-2008 06:28 AM

Great review. Got me thinking.

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

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4648 days

#6 posted 01-24-2008 11:41 AM

Thanks for the thorough review.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4934 days

#7 posted 01-24-2008 02:49 PM

excellent review!!!

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

View Critterman's profile


601 posts in 4584 days

#8 posted 01-24-2008 03:28 PM

I got one from Santa this year and it’s great. Very smooth and easy to set up. Used it the other day in a crunch and it made the job effortless. I love mine.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

View schwingding's profile


133 posts in 4599 days

#9 posted 01-24-2008 03:33 PM

Thanks for the review. I have the medium one and the additional features of the large one sound great.

-- Just another woodworker

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4798 days

#10 posted 01-25-2008 02:32 AM

Gofor, I don’t have any A2 blades, so I can’t comment on the differences. I’m sure someone else has experience there. I DO know that high-carbon provides the keenest edge of all, but has poor durability compared to the harder steels. Past that all are something of a trade-off.

In real practice, I don’t think it matters that much. Sharp enough is sharp enough, and I believe any good-quality steel will give you what you need. The primary reason I went with O1 is that it is supposed to be (according to Lee Valley) easier to SHARPEN. For me, the ability to take the blade out, slap it in my MKII, touch up the edge, quickly drop it back into place and get back to work was paramount. This is also the deciding factor in purchasing the Veritas plane with the set-screws in the first place. As I’m fond of saying:

“The easier something is to do, the more likely you are to do it.”

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 4661 days

#11 posted 01-27-2008 02:39 PM

I have the medium plane (like most people that commented) and I love it. The large one is definitely on my list, though.

About A2 blades, I have this steel on all my Veritas hanplanes and I have no trouble sharpening it either with the MkII or just by and on a black stone. The A2 blades keep the edge for a long time and are much better than the regular carbon steel. I do not have any O1 blades though and I cannot comment on how they compare.

Thanks for the thorough review,

-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View JerrySats's profile


237 posts in 4384 days

#12 posted 08-14-2008 02:27 AM

Thanks for the excellent review , you help make my choice easier . My only decision is the large or medium plane . Do you think the larger version was to big for the job or just right ? Like yourself my first project with it will be the building of my new bench.

Thanks Jerry

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4770 days

#13 posted 08-14-2008 07:52 PM

If you’re building a bench, you’ll definitely want the large one. I bought the medium, which is a great tool, but wish I had gotten the large as the first shoulder plane (even for small work). With the medium, you don’t have as wide of a reference surface for planing large work, and it just takes more passes to do the job…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

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