Lie-Nielsen - #51 Shoot Board Plane (Rating: 5)

This is a second review on LJs for this plane. I am going to go through receiving the plane, unpacking it, setting it up, and putting it to use.

As a hand tool worker, I have become very dependent on my shooting board for many uses. It excels at cleaning up pieces that have been crosscut to get them square and smooth. I also use it for precise length sizing for multiple pieces. So it is in use on every project. That alone convinced me to purchase this plane.

I ordered the plane by phone on a Monday and received on Friday of the same week. When I called LN, they told me they didn't have it in stock, but would get one to me soon. Delivery on the fifth day is pretty darn good service.

It arrived packed in this box:

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Inside the box were the plane (it was held in the box with a piece of wood screwed to the inside of the box so it wouldn't move), a dessicant, and a package that had some LN instructions and data and a three page pamphlet explaning shooting boards and some appliances you can add (for making mitered cuts).

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The plane had a light coat of oil on it which was easily removed by wiping it down. It has a cast iron sole with a brass frog. The cap iron is LN's improved type, which is nice. The blade is an A2 blade and it was ground to a 25 degree bevel. It was partially lapped on the back and needed to be sharpened (which is fine, I have no issue with that). I finished lapping the back which was made easy by the fact that the back is flat. I started by using my extra coarse diamond lapping plate and then finished it on my water stones. Being flat already was a big help as A2 is not my favorite blade to flatten a back on. Here are a couple of pics from before and after.

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That is all that was required to put the plane into action. The frog was already set, everything else flat as it should be. So I put the blade in, adjusted it to the depth I wanted and gave it a quick test run. It works great.

Now, my shooting board needed a modification to use this plane. As the other review mentioned, this plane really shines for shooting because it can ride inside of track. Because I was using a Record T-5 on my shooting board previously, I needed to install an outside rail to keep the plane captured on the shooting board. Here is what it looked like before:

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You can see that the plane is free, but a rail will hold it in place and make the process easier. Here it is with the rail installed.

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I put a fresh coat of paste wax to all of the surfaces in the track and also to the plane. It slides effortlessly and is very easy to push when cutting.

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In summary, this is a very fine tool. It is every bit the quality item you would expect from LN. It is very close to a useable level right out of the box. This plane is a major upgrade from a standard plane such as a #5 or #6. This is due to the mass of the plane (just over nine lbs), the skewed blade, and the placement of the handle. After I got it up and running and set up the shooting board, I was taking a full length end grain shaving off a piece of maple with ease. I am surprised at how much easier it is to cut than the previous plane I was using. The downside is the cost; it is steep at $500. However, I consider this an investment and it will indeed be passed down to my son or grandchildren. I highly recommend this plane if a shooting board is something you use often.

Here are some shavings pics: The wood is an 8 1/2" wide piece of butternut.

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Those are full width end grain shavings.

Oh, and my shop cats showed up to hang out.

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