Lie Nielsen 4 1/2 Smoother - need advice

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Forum topic by lysdexic posted 07-19-2011 01:58 AM 4011 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5291 posts in 3165 days

07-19-2011 01:58 AM

For the first time my wife wants me to pick out my own birthday present. I will end up paying for it of course. I got my eye on a LN 4 1/2 but having a hard time pulling the trigger. For those more experienced or have read the Anarchist Tool Chest give me opinions or ideas. I am trying to flush out my “tool chest” This is what I have…...

Veritas block plane
WoodRiver #4
Veritas LA jack
Veritas LA jointer
Type 16 S-B #5
Veritas medium shoulder
Cabinet scrapers

I would like to have a good smoother and the woodriver is nice but I still need to Lap the sole (as well as the number five) and it does a pretty good job.

Maybe I should get another handsaw. I only have a Veritas dovetail saw. Or maybe I should get a different set of chisels. I have a full set of WoodRivers that were around $45 and the backs are concave along their length all the way to the edge. I know that there are other tools that I could use but the LN 4 1/2 is so seductive.

Any advice welcome. Before anyone asks… I don’t have a way I work yet but I plan on being a heavy hand tool user in a blended shop. I am not interested in anymore power tools.

Thanks in advance.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

27 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4639 days

#1 posted 07-19-2011 02:40 AM

Well, getting the Woodriver #4 and the LN 4 1/2 would be redundant. The BU jack might be reduntant with the smoothers depending on what your intending to use it for. Another option would be to get the BU Smoother and drop the #4 and 4 1/2. I am not real excited about using the woodriver #4. Think investment should be made in Smoother from a bang for the buck perspective. Better to put your money in a quality smoother over jack and jointer..

I assume your using the #5 for rough work and that it is an old Stanley?

So your plane’s would be

Low angle block plane for trimming, etc.
BU smoother for smoothing work (or sub in 4 1/2 or 4 )
BU jack for shooting board
BU jointer for straightening boards
Old #5 sharpened tuned for rough work
Medium Shoulder plane for tennon work, etc

I belive the BU planes have interchangeable blades. An extra blade or two could add some flexability. Perhaps a toothed blade to replace the #5 for rough work in the BU jack (not sure how well it actually works)
No real advise on the saws ATM unless your ready to ditch your miter saw/table saw and get rip and cross cut saws.
Would go with the chisels until you got frustrated with them (if at all)

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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5291 posts in 3165 days

#2 posted 07-19-2011 03:39 AM


Thanks for your time. I am not excited about the WoodRiver either. i dont know why maybe I am just being spoiled. I will say the the Veritas LA jointer leaves a nicer surface than the WoodRiver #4

The Veritas LA BU Smoother is really a easy fit because I do have different irons for the jack and jointer already. However, the LN 4 1/2 is REALLY tempting.

The #5 is older off Ebay and I am using it for rough work.

Your advice about the WoodRiver chisels is surprising. Welcome but surprising.

Another thought, is too improve my sharpening station with some Shapton water stones. right now a have a 1000/8000 stone, granite block and sandpaper. I dont have a grinding wheel either. But I do have the Veritas honing jig.

Maybe some spokeshaves. Maybe a Tite-Mark gauge. Maybe several EBay purchases. Maybe a vintage Brace….......I do need a real burnisher instead of my big screwdriver….....

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Woodowl's profile


19 posts in 3049 days

#3 posted 07-19-2011 03:47 AM

Why don’t you let your work dictate what tool you need next? That always so much fun.

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5291 posts in 3165 days

#4 posted 07-19-2011 03:55 AM

I try to keep that advice in the forefront but this is for a “special” occasion. That being said, I should buy a handsaw other that my dovetail saw. Maybe a rip cut and a cross cut saw but really don’t know which way to go with that.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4639 days

#5 posted 07-19-2011 03:55 AM

My comment one the chisels was to play with them for a while…

What about marking guages, rules, etc?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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5291 posts in 3165 days

#6 posted 07-19-2011 04:06 AM

I’ve got a Crown try square, a swanson 12” combo that is a little off depending on how you tighten it. A little 4” machinist square. A have 2 marking gauges that are rosewood but I don’t know the brand because it was written in Chinese or something. These were all bought a Lowe’s or WoodCraft

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4639 days

#7 posted 07-19-2011 04:08 AM

I was thinking a Tite-Mark or similar…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View lysdexic's profile


5291 posts in 3165 days

#8 posted 07-19-2011 04:13 AM

I find that when I cheap out and buy an OK tool. I wish I had bought a great tool and the money for for the OK tool is not well spent.

I have heard alot of good things about the Tite-Mark.

You know, I really would like to buy vintage and have been watching a long watch list on ebay for a month or so. But I don’t have the confidence yet.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 3884 days

#9 posted 07-19-2011 04:13 AM

Looks like you have the plane world covered. Based on what I see you have if you were to add a 4 1/2 I would get one with a high angle frog. This would be a good set up for gnarly woods and really all hardwoods.

Seems to me like you really could use a good sash or tenon saw. I purchased an awesome tenon saw from Bad Axe Tool Works and recommend any of their tools. Going to order a 14” sash saw here shortly. I can’t wait!

Every chisel I have ever purchased needed work. I have chisels from several manufacturers and era’s. They are all good as long as you keep them tuned, so spend some time lapping the backs of your and put a good edge no them and the chisels will due fine.

Honestly ,it seems you actually have made up you mind and are looking for someone to say go ahead, so, go a head, you will not be sorry.

-- Marc

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5291 posts in 3165 days

#10 posted 07-19-2011 04:33 AM

Actually I don’t have my mind made up. I thought I did but the 4 1/2 seemed superfluous. Thats why I posted. I actually tried to buy a Bad Axe from Chris Schwarz last week when he was selling off some tools but i was too late. I am going to hold off on the 4 1/2 and save up for a high end infill smoother :) Just kidding.

Does anyone have feedback on Bad Axe vs Lie Nielson vs vintage saws. I will have a look at the reviews here and I’ll look at Garrett Hack’s and Tolpins latest book on handtools.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

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5291 posts in 3165 days

#11 posted 07-19-2011 05:28 AM

I really appreciate the feedback everyone.

Marc – I have looked at the Bad Axe Saws. First let me say that Mark has a great introduction page. Do you think he knows me? I quickly narrowed my pick down to the 16” tenon saw and I saw in the reviews that this is the same one that you have. Did you get the hybrid cut? If not, why not?

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3196 days

#12 posted 07-19-2011 05:36 AM

I second the tite-mark if you are going to get serious about handwork (and it sounds like that’s where you are going) you need GREAT layout tools. Grab the whole set and try not to drop the think on the concrete floor.

The other nice bet I would go with in your current tool set would be a set of great chisels…Lie Nielsen makes real winners with flat backs and proper lands (japanese chisels are another way to go)

You can’t go wrong with a Bad AXE either, several craftsmen I know and trust have them and love them.

happy hunting.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

265 posts in 3139 days

#13 posted 07-19-2011 12:10 PM

Lysdexic: off the top of my head without too much scratching:- you have a lot of planes but no heavy smoother, so I say go for the LN #4&1/2 with high angle frog-you then have a wide heavyish smoother bevel down with cutting angle 55° . i bet you don’t touch that #4 Woodriver or any other #4 again since you also have that Veritas LA jack which also makes a good smoother….

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16239 posts in 3160 days

#14 posted 07-19-2011 03:07 PM

You will use the 4 1/2 a bunch if the work you’ll do involves smoothing larger panels. That’s where the tool has come into focus for me. Smoothing doesn’t appear to be the biggest hole in your arsenal, though. By the sound of the entries above, it’s not having a larger sash / tenon saw that’s got you bunged. And that’s kinda funny because we’re having a saw discussion on the Anarchist book review page too… I have a 14” Cincinnati Saw Company backsaw, sharpened by Mark Harrell before he starting making saws, that is my single ‘non-dovetail’ backsaw and I love it. It’s filed 14tpi and goes into just about anything up to about 2 1/2” before starting to complain, meaning for the work I do there’s not a need to get anything bigger yet. So I’d suggest a saw that fills that niche for you would fall in the ‘special’ gift category…

I think the only new thing I have in the way of handtools, besides a Stanley Gent’s Dovetail saw, are my SW 750 chisels so I can’t opine on Vertas saws over vintage. But with so many vintage saws out there, it made sense to me to get a good one sharpened by a pro and move forward. I did that and as a result know what sharp on a handsaw is. I can sharpen, still learning, but having a benchmark in the till meant a world of difference.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 3504 days

#15 posted 07-19-2011 05:22 PM

Well you are stuck in the middle and at this point you have to get moving. I have not used any of the new Stanley chisels, but I would not trade my LN chisels for them. I have a couple of other sets. They don’t compare.
You have a WR #4 plane, depending on which model it is lets you know how good it is. The LN #4 is a lot better than any of the WR planes. (My world) As far as the LN #4 1/2 plane, it is heaver than the #4, it also wider and these are the two big reasons I like this plane. It makes you work less when you are smoothing a surface. I hope this helps. I have very little knowledge about Bad ass Saws, but I enjoy my LN’s. I have two.

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