Lets talk smoothers...


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I've been looking at getting a new smoother. I am very tempted by the Lie-Nielsen 4 1/2 or the 4. I have also been interested in the Lie-Nielsen low angle smoother, and it looks cool. :)

 

I am really torn here! I am drawn to the 4 and 4 1/2 because I am most familiar with them, but the LA Smoother is tempting because I really love the Lie-Nielsen #62 LA Jack I have. It's my favorite plane by far. Just so versatile!

 

I am wondering if that low angle greatness translates into the smoother the way it does the Jack.

 

I am open to other suggestions as well. Thanks! 

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Mel, I know Paul Sellers is very positive about his Veritas LA smoother and I am sure the Lie-Nielsen version would be just as good. I must say I'm pleased with my vintage Record#4. I would like to tr

From recommendations of the plane guru, Graham, I love my Stanley #4. I bought it with several intentions in mind. I will never give up my power tools, like my jointer and planer, but if I can avoid s

You have now realized the magic and brilliance of the bailey design.  Prevents tearout at least equally well as a 55 degree angle of attack,leaves a surface with more sheen, and no harder to push.  Yo

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Mel, I know Paul Sellers is very positive about his Veritas LA smoother and I am sure the Lie-Nielsen version would be just as good. I must say I'm pleased with my vintage Record#4. I would like to try a bevel up plane one day, although having said that I have not had a problem with my bevel downs..........yet.......

 

Record-Plane1.jpg?resize=300%2C253

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Mel I have the LN#4 in bronze and that gives considerable heft to the plane. I have to say it is really good no chatter and I only have the 45 degree frog. With the addition of the high angle frog it can cope with difficult grain but is harder to push (so I've heard).

I also have a Veritas low angle smoother (the smaller one equivalent of a #3) with the regular blade giving 37.5 degrees and that is great for end grain and also regular smoothing. The advantage I can see of the bevel up planes is that you can buy a range of blades taking you all the way up to York pitch and they are easier and quicker to change than a frog. But there is a disadvantage - to buy all the blades would cost more than the LN high angle frog.

I love my LN #4 and also love the LV #3 bevel up. Difficult choice but if I had to choose again just one plane solely for smoothing  it would have to be the #4.

 

Marc also did a video recently on just using the LV bevel up jack plane for everything including smoothing - but you already have one of those.

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Thanks for the suggestions!

I have been using my LA Jack plane or smoothing and it certainly does a good job. I could realistically "get away" with just that one plane for quite some time. It does everything and does them well.

However, I'd like to get a dedicated smoother. And I'm torn. For me the "easy" choice would be to plunk down the cash for the #4 and live happily ever after. But I can't help myself. I keep thinking that the low angle smoother is the way to go. And for around $100 less. For that matter, the low angle jointer is also calling to me. But that's another thread! :)

I used only the plane shown in the pic, using only one blade. That blade never came out to change the effective angle either. I only adjusted the depth of cut and the mouth opening.

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I have a couple of smoothers and I'm very happy with both.

 

I have an Old Street coffin smoother that was actually the first plane I got.  It leaves a beautiful surface and is very comfortable to use.  Only drawback is that it fouls easily (probably me and not the plane).  The higher pitch I'm sure will come in handy if I get into more difficult woods.

 

My other smoother is an LV 4 1/2 and it is a joy to use.  I haven't found a drawback to it yet.  I plan to get the 4 sometime.

 

To be honest though, the smoothest surface I get is on Poplar with the little $30 Kanna I use as a block plane.

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From recommendations of the plane guru, Graham, I love my Stanley #4. I bought it with several intentions in mind. I will never give up my power tools, like my jointer and planer, but if I can avoid some dust whenever possible, you better believe I'm going to use the smoother!

It took some little bit of work to get the $40 plane into what I consider to be top shape. Since I didn't pay much, I'm not upset that I've honed away a lot of the blade in my initial sharpenings. I had to learn sometime :) when I say a lot, I mean probably about 3-4mm of blade. Not like I'm stuck with a nub now.

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From recommendations of the plane guru, Graham, I love my Stanley #4. I bought it with several intentions in mind. I will never give up my power tools, like my jointer and planer, but if I can avoid some dust whenever possible, you better believe I'm going to use the smoother!

It took some little bit of work to get the $40 plane into what I consider to be top shape. Since I didn't pay much, I'm not upset that I've honed away a lot of the blade in my initial sharpenings. I had to learn sometime :) when I say a lot, I mean probably about 3-4mm of blade. Not like I'm stuck with a nub now.

Hey Sam,

 

Thanks for the mention, I also like the new title....Plane Guru  B)  :lol:. Glad to hear Stanley is treating you well, I'm sure I would love a premium plane but I do like the vintage #4s

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There are so many different plane configurations and makes from which to choose. Some are definitely "better" than another. If you limit your wood choice to straight grain - with minimal threat of tearout - then you can go with just about anything. At this stage your choice is about desire and not need. So get what your heart wants. For most, a high performance smoother is probably overkill since they rarely need to plane complex wood.

At the other end of the scale, if you work with or plan to work with heavily interlocked grain (wood that has much reversing grain), then you need something that can handle this. The choice will be working the chipbreaker in a BD plane, a BD smoother with a high cutting angle, or a BU smoother set for a high cutting angle. In my experience, which is backed up by a great deal of testing as well, the easiest and most reliable performance on highly interlocked grain come from a BU smoother set with a high cutting angle.

The choice is not black-and-white, and there are many reasons to choose either the BU or the BD. I use both equally.

What is more relevant is that the smoother is shortish, not long. For example, a Stanley #4 is moderately short, while a LA Jack is definitely long. For smoothing all you want to do is remove the final layer of wood without altering the dimension too much. It is a finishing tool, not a dimensioning tool. A longer plane will not be able to follow the undulations of the surface as easily as a short plane, and will need to flatten as well as smooth. Traditional coffin smoothers were only 6 1/2" - 7" long (where the LA Jack is 15"). One of my favourite smoothers is the Veritas Small BU Smoother.

Length becomes less of an issue as the board is flatter to start with. If you are just removing chatter from boards off a power jointer, then you can use a longer smoother. David Charlesworth made his "Super Smoother" Stanley #5 1/2 famous for this reason.

Regards from Perth

Derek

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Derek,

If I'm understanding correctly...

If my work is flat and straight grained, I can use whatever I want within reason.

And if my work has some dips and still straight grain, a shorter plane is better.

And a high angle is needed for tricky grain.

So a short high angle smoother may be best for all situations?

What are the advantages of the bevel up vs the traditional plane?

Thank you!

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Derek,

If I'm understanding correctly...

If my work is flat and straight grained, I can use whatever I want within reason.

And if my work has some dips and still straight grain, a shorter plane is better.

And a high angle is needed for tricky grain.

So a short high angle smoother may be best for all situations?

What are the advantages of the bevel up vs the traditional plane?

Thank you!

 

Hi Mel

 

There will always be those who prefer a BU or a BD plane. There are advantages for both. However, the advantage of a BU plane is that, firstly, you can use one plane over a wide range of cutting angles, for example, from 37 degrees (low cutting angle, ideal for shooting end grain) to 60+ degrees (high cutting angle, ideal for interlocked grain). The BD plane has limitations here, specifically, cannot plane below 45 degrees (which is the "common" cutting angle).

 

Secondly, a BU plane has a low centre of effort, which makes planing more efficient and less of an effort than a BD equivalent. This becomes increasing apparent as the cutting angles goes higher. (Incidentally, this is another reason to choose a smaller smoother over a larger one - the smaller plane will have a narrower blade, which will be less effort to push).

 

In recent tests I conducted, the blade on a BU plane will significantly outlast the blade on a BD plane when used on a shooting board (due to the angle at which the blade strikes the wood).

 

There is a lot more but for another time.

 

Regards from Perth

 

Derek

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Since I think I know which smoother I want, I wanted to complicate things a bit.

How about those infill smoothers? I keep reading great reviews about them, but I haven't gotten my mits on one...yet :)

Are they worth the extra cash? Which ones should I stay away from? Which ones are good deals?

Thanks for any (further) help!

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And a high angle is needed for tricky grain.

 

 

A high bed angle is one way to deal with tricky grain. There are others: getting your plane blade sharper, taking a thinner shaving, and using a chipbreaker. All of these strategies have advantages and disadvantages.

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Hey Mel, did you ever pull the trigger on the low angle smoother? I've been wondering the same thing between #4 vs #4.5 vs LA!

Thanks

Yep! My wife bought it for my birthday. I love the smoother! It's awesome.

I am a low angle guy for sure. I have the low angle jack and jointer planes from LN too.

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I am a low angle guy for sure.

 

Be honest Mel!!!

 

It's not that you love low angle planes...its just that you already had one low angle plane, and your borderline OCD wouldn't allow you to get BD planes that didn't "match" as well as more LA/BU planes.  :)

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Be honest Mel!!!

 

It's not that you love low angle planes...its just that you already had one low angle plane, and your borderline OCD wouldn't allow you to get BD planes that didn't "match" as well as more LA/BU planes.  :)

 

My OCD usually has alot to do with my tool buying decision making. I will say that I fell in love with the low angle jack from Lie-Nielsen. So much so that I wanted to try the smoother, and the jointer. I could not be happier with my choices. Now I have to wait for Lie-Nielsen to make more low angle planes. I have been eyeing up the jack rabbet plane, just so my OCD can rest knowing that I have all they have to offer. :)

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