LN Low Angle Jack


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How many of you guys use one?  I've seen a TONE of good reviews and I think it's LN's best seller, so it's been on my radar for a while.  Well, a friend of mine from Texas visited last week and he brought his.  I never could find my happy place with it, not that I used it for very long.  I tried it on a piece of Maple and it just wasn't great.  *Footnote- I didn't sharpen it.  He insisted is was sharp because they sharpened it at the LN Hand Tool event he was at the weekend before and he hadn't used it since.  I grabbed my standard ol regular LN#5 and my old Stanley #4 and had no trouble.  *Footnote- They were as sharp as a cat's claw, so it might not have been a fair fight.

 

Just curious if it's as much of a go-to plane if you already have traditional styles.  

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They don't sharpen it, they lap it.  The blade from the factory is not sharp enough to give acceptable results...it MUST be sharpened to perform the way it should.  Also note that it's a low angle plane and the blade that comes with it has a bevel suited for end grain.  You need an extra blade or to regrind the original one to a higher angle to tackle long grain.  Your poor experience with the plane boils down to your buddy's lack of knowledge and improper setup, to put it bluntly.

 

It's a great plane if you're trying to keep a very minimal tool set.  If you already have a number of planes it may be a redundant purchase.  I don't use mine as often as my bevel down planes, but it makes an appearance occasionally.

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Regarding the angle more specifically: it's bedded at a 12* angle and the stock blade is ground at 25*. So the angle of the cut is only 37*. Substantially lower than a typical bevel down plane at 45*. Now, you can put a secondary bevel on the blade at 35* and get a cut angle of 47*, which should perform similarly to a bevel down plane at the cut.

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I have one and I like it a lot.  I'm still a total noob when it comes to hand planes, but I'm learning.  Eric and Stobes are spot-on with their comments above.  When I got mine, I lapped and sharpened the blade before using it.  I kept the 25* bevel and was disappointed in the tear-out I was getting on some straight grained wood I had.  Then I thought about the angle (25+12=37* cutting angle), and sharpened it to a 35* bevel to make it comparable to my regular BD planes, and it works great.  I've done a good amount of planing on cherry, walnut and hard maple with it and I really like it.  I got a new blade as a gift and will sharpen that to at least 40* (for a 52* cut) for working figured wood.

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Had mine for about a year and wouldn't trade it. Great all round/jack-of-all-trades plane. So much easier to set up than a traditional chip breaker/frog/lateral adjuster set up. Easy to swap the blades so I like to keep a second one with a slight camber to it for more aggressive stock removal since I don't have a scrub plane. 

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Have one and like it but don't love it.

I like the quick blade change to make sharpening easier and for dropping in a different kind of blade....love the toothed blade.

I don't like the depth adjustment. I much prefer the 'normal' Bailey style that you can adjust on the fly. It also seems to lack a little mass and has a lower CG. Picky I know.

I am thinking heavily about trading the LA Jack for a #5....I probably would have done it if not for that toothing blade.

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So for highly figured wood you want a higher angle?  I always figured the low angle would "cut" the fibers better rather than tearing them at a higher angle.  (I have very little experience)  But I guess scrapers work well on figured stuff eh?  (don't own a scraper yet, but want one) 

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Yes. A higher angle is harder to push but less likely to tear out because it is less likely to lever under the wood fibers and split it out. A lower angle is easier to push but more likely to act as a lever and cause tear out. A low angle also works best for end grain. End grain doesn't tear out because the grain is oriented perpendicular to the sole of the plane instead of parallel. But that also makes it much harder to cut. Hence the lower angle.

Think of tear out likes micro version of splitting a log with a wedge. The wedge itself doesn't cut the wood. The split occurs down from the wedge along the grain as it splits out from the force pulling the log apart. The less force trying to rip the fibers apart the less likely it is to split out. That's why a really sharp blade helps so much: the blade severs the fibers instead of splitting them. And a tight mouth pushes down on the fibers immediately in front of the blade, making it harder for them to lift up.

It's also why you always want to cut with the grain instead of against it. If the grain is running up toward the face of the board then any splitting that does happen will immediately be cut away by the blade. But if you cut against the grain that splitting is running down into the board and will be left there after the blade passes over.

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Highly figured wood features interlocked or even reversing grain. Severing with a low angle is great for across end grain or downhill cuts. Uphill cuts against the grain will see that low angle start to lift and separate rather than severing. The higher angle will tend to push the fiber back in a way that compresses the zone that wants to lift.

I like my LAJ for the reasons mentioned. It is a great work horse that can move back and forth between different tasks a bit faster than standard planes. It is also cheaper to keep a few different iron grinds rather than purchasing a few different planes with various frog angles. I have a bedrock pattern I prefer for smoothing. I have old Bailey clones for rough work. For lots of in between stuff I like the LAJ. Having said all of that, I am still discovering the magic of the cap iron.

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I have this plane with the standard bevel plus a micro bevel and have used it for everything but end grain. It works great, you can adjust the mouth easily, and I really like to use it for flattening boards too wide for my jointer. Gets the PMV 11 blade, it's worth the extra money.

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