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Veritas Bench Plane or Veritas Custom #4 Smoothing Plane

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Forum topic by Randy Woodworker posted 02-01-2021 12:30 AM 2487 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Randy Woodworker

71 posts in 3665 days


02-01-2021 12:30 AM

In the market for a premium smoothing plane.
Pretty much set on Veritas.
Which bevel down smoother would you get? The original one or their new line of Custom bench planes?

I have the Veritas LA Jack right now. Love it. Would I be better off to buy the LA Smoother instead? What am I giving up if I do so?

Thanks


22 replies so far

View Andre's profile

Andre

5007 posts in 3142 days


#1 posted 02-01-2021 12:36 AM

I have the L.A. smoother, wish I’d gone with the L.A.Jack, you do not need both? Look at a H.A. #4, the Plane I use more than the smoother. Mine is 55 degrees with a large tote.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Foghorn's profile

Foghorn

1416 posts in 723 days


#2 posted 02-01-2021 12:40 AM

I have the low angle smoother from Veritas. It’s pretty awesome. LN has some very nice planes of which I have a few, but this one is better on most if not all accounts. I haven’t tried the custom planes but would think they are every bit as good.

-- Darrel

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SMP

5072 posts in 1242 days


#3 posted 02-01-2021 12:45 AM

Can’t go wrong with LN or Veritas, but some are hard to get nowadays

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2940 posts in 3326 days


#4 posted 02-01-2021 07:15 PM

For bevel down, custom over the std Veritas, 4-1/2 size. For BU, the large BU smoother, it takes the same iron as the LA jack, so you can have irons at different angles for both planes, depending on the need. Get the PM-V11 iron whatever plane you buy.

BU vs BD – no loser here. If you really like the LA jack the BU probably makes sense so you have more irons which are interchangeable. I have the LA jack, BU smoother, and BU jointer, with 6 irons – 2 each at 25, 38, and 50 deg.

View Randy Woodworker's profile

Randy Woodworker

71 posts in 3665 days


#5 posted 02-01-2021 07:19 PM



For bevel down, custom over the std Veritas, 4-1/2 size. For BU, the large BU smoother, it takes the same iron as the LA jack, so you can have irons at different angles for both planes, depending on the need. Get the PM-V11 iron whatever plane you buy.

BU vs BD – no loser here. If you really like the LA jack the BU probably makes sense so you have more irons which are interchangeable. I have the LA jack, BU smoother, and BU jointer, with 6 irons – 2 each at 25, 38, and 50 deg.

- OSU55

That sounds like good advice. For smoothing, how much difference is there between using the dedicated smoother versus the LA Jack?

View Loren's profile

Loren

11370 posts in 4984 days


#6 posted 02-01-2021 07:23 PM

If the Veritas custom plane leaves a gap on the sole for the toe plate adjustment I would not buy it. The gap will clog with shavings. It’s a better design to have the front of the movable shoe protrude from the front of the plane imo. Why they avoid showing the bottoms of the planes to demonstrate the fancy feature beats me.

The reason I know this is the original iteration of the LN low angle jointer had this feature, which they later ditched.

Low angle planes are kind of meh for me, even though I have a couple. I guess if you want to avoid collecting planes they serve a purpose of letting one adjust the angle of the cutter but I find the irons awkward to sharpen with an appropriate camber. Dubbing off the corners works but I like a cambered traditional plane better for smoothing.

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OSU55

2940 posts in 3326 days


#7 posted 02-01-2021 09:50 PM


That sounds like good advice. For smoothing, how much difference is there between using the dedicated smoother versus the LA Jack?

- Randy Woodworker

Significant difference, but not surface finish etc – the irons cut the same. The length makes the difference. Planes are different lengths for a reason, and a smoother should be in the ~8-10” range. Shorter and smaller for small surfaces. Smoothers are only removing ~0.001” per pass. Not meant to change dimensions or flatten, but smooth the surface. Planes replace sandpaper except for a final swipe with 220-320 to even the surace texture for finish, if desired. The jack makes it flat, but is too long to work problem areas. The jack is too long and heavy.

As to BU blade camber – I use very little, only a few thou. The BU planes are not for rough work. I use Stanley Bailey planes for that. The LA jack is much better for the finer end of “jack” work, flattening glue ups, a short jointer, great on a shooting board, cleaning up machine marks. A #5 is much better for dimensioning lumber, a task I use power tools for. A smoother only needs a couple thou camber, created by finger pressure when honing, BU or BD.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

521 posts in 5305 days


#8 posted 02-02-2021 01:06 PM



In the market for a premium smoothing plane.
Pretty much set on Veritas.
Which bevel down smoother would you get? The original one or their new line of Custom bench planes?

I have the Veritas LA Jack right now. Love it. Would I be better off to buy the LA Smoother instead? What am I giving up if I do so?

Thanks

- Randy Woodworker

Randy, I wrote a lengthy, very detailed review of the Custom planes here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/VeritasCustomPlanes1.html

The Veritas LA Smoother is an excellent plane. The larger, BU is a better dedicated smoother than the LAS.

The BU smoothers are excellent and very reliable. The BD Custom #4 is ultimately better, but only if you are planing complex grain and know how to use it. It is all in my review/article.

Regards from Perth

Derek

-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at http://www.inthewoodshop.com

View Thorbjorn88's profile

Thorbjorn88

230 posts in 1478 days


#9 posted 02-02-2021 04:43 PM

I got the Bevel Up Smoother last year and really love it. I chose it over the bevel down options because I think it’s not too hard to get a vintage no 4 working well enough for 80% of my work but the bevel up plane works for fine smoothing and can be fit with a high angle blade for really tricky wood. If you already have the LA jack I would go that way. I have three blades between my BU smoother and LA jack so I can choose between 25, 38, and 50 for any task. I’m also thinking of selling my no 7 and replacing it with the bevel up jointer.

If you haven’t be sure to check out Derek’s sharpening guides to bevel up blades those have really helped me get the most out of these planes.

-- Dave

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

743 posts in 2085 days


#10 posted 02-02-2021 05:15 PM

I have a LN #4 smoother, an old Stanley 4 1/2, and a Veritas BU #4. I always reach for the Veritas first.

View Vuddha29's profile

Vuddha29

31 posts in 294 days


#11 posted 12-06-2021 03:00 AM

I’m not an experienced woodworker, but i am familiar with planes.

I just got a Veritas Custom No.7 and to be honest I really dislike the “blade carrier”. The carrier itself seems to interfere with the Lever Cap so I’m unable to use it as a single-iron plane.

But mainly, i find it really annoying. The tiny screws are asking to be lost and I just don’t see the advantage over a typical cap iron.

All of my existing planes are Veritas and i was really wanting to like the Custom line because i wanted to get more bevel down planes due to the different geometry (the ease of cambering the iron).

I actually bought a Custom No.4 at the same time.

I’ve decided to return both of them (never even opened the Custom No. 4).

I ended up getting a set of fully-tuned and restored Stanleys on EBay instead. I hope they work well.

My advice to the OP is get Veritas’s normal no.4 bench plane.

View DevinT's profile

DevinT

2398 posts in 303 days


#12 posted 12-09-2021 07:16 PM

I have a normal No 4 and it works great. It keeps pace with my restored Stanley No 8. I decided against the custom for a few key reasons. The custom line has a lot of bells and whistles, but the normal line does really well. For example, the Norris rod on a normal No 4 is twice the length of the rod on a custom, and in my experience the longer the rod, the easier it is to get the lateral just right (a shorter rod will equate to less distance traveled for the same adjustment and I find the longer rod provides a finer adjustment as the sweep is larger).

Also, those short blades on the custom line, I just don’t get it. I also don’t like the position of the adjuster (regardless of how long the rod is) on the customs.

Many times I have thought it would be great to have the slow adjuster, but the normal bench plane does fine.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View Vuddha29's profile

Vuddha29

31 posts in 294 days


#13 posted 12-10-2021 12:58 AM



I have a normal No 4 and it works great. It keeps pace with my restored Stanley No 8. I decided against the custom for a few key reasons. The custom line has a lot of bells and whistles, but the normal line does really well. For example, the Norris rod on a normal No 4 is twice the length of the rod on a custom, and in my experience the longer the rod, the easier it is to get the lateral just right (a shorter rod will equate to less distance traveled for the same adjustment and I find the longer rod provides a finer adjustment as the sweep is larger).

Also, those short blades on the custom line, I just don t get it. I also don t like the position of the adjuster (regardless of how long the rod is) on the customs.

Many times I have thought it would be great to have the slow adjuster, but the normal bench plane does fine.

- DevinT

Yeah, I totally agree Devin. I don’t like the short blade either and you make a really good point about the lateral adjustment lever.

I have the Veritas Fore Plane and honestly everything about their “normal” plane is better. The longer blade is easier to sharpen in a jig or freehand; the tote has an arch connecting it to the frog, so it’s way more comfortable to hold. The sides are wide. The cap iron and lever cap are simple, reliable and parsimonious.

The thing that boggles my mind is why Veritas doesn’t make the “normal” line in more “common” sizes (no.5 and no.7).

I really don’t see any practical advantage of the Custom line except the ease of opening the mouth, and that’s really a minor thing anyway.

View DevinT's profile

DevinT

2398 posts in 303 days


#14 posted 12-10-2021 03:28 AM

I like the way they made it easy to adjust the frog on the normal planes. No need to remove anything. Stick a long screw driver through the lever cap, loosen one screw, loosen a thumb screw under the tote, and adjust the frog forward and back with another thumb screw. It’s a very good design.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View Vuddha29's profile

Vuddha29

31 posts in 294 days


#15 posted 12-10-2021 03:48 AM



I like the way they made it easy to adjust the frog on the normal planes. No need to remove anything. Stick a long screw driver through the lever cap, loosen one screw, loosen a thumb screw under the tote, and adjust the frog forward and back with another thumb screw. It’s a very good design.

- DevinT

Are you referring to the Bailey design? I didn’t realize that’s how the frog could be adjusted. Thanks for describing it. I haven’t had a chance to use one in-depth yet, just a cursory assembly of the cutter and lever cap.

It’s interesting because the first time i picked up a Bailey-style plane i much preferred the feel and the depth adjustment. I never really liked the Norris style planes but didn’t realize how much more natural the Bailey mechanism feels.

That’s what prompted me to just get a bunch of vintage Stanleys and a Lie Nielsen (still waiting for them to arrive). I’m sure I’ll like using them more (despite the Lie Nielsen bedrock design).

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