No 62 as Primary Plane for Beginner?


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Howdy,

I'm getting into woodworking and was planning on getting vintage Stanley planes off eBay and restoring them. Based on recommended planes to own, I was considering:

  • No 18 Block
  • No 7 Jointer
  • No 4 Smooth
  • No 5 Jack

However, I ran across Marc's The Only Handplane You Need? article on Popular Woodworking which got me thinking...

Based on the fact that most No 7s on eBay are selling for $120+ (including shipping) you can easily spend ~250+ (including shipping) on vintage planes and then you have to put in unknown amount of hours into restoring them. Further searching the forums brings up many positive comments about either the Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen No 62 Low Angle Jack Plane.

It seems more practical to buy a new LV/LN No 62 and a spare blade (to set to 50 degree) -- about $300 total and much less space -- than it is to deal with hunting down vintage planes and restoring them. Another consideration is the Stanley No 62 for ~$125, but I've read many negative reviews about it.

What do you guys think? I may still end up picking up a No 18 because they seem handy to have, but would do all of my jointing/smoothing with the No 62. Am I missing something, or is it as good as it sounds?

EDIT: And before people ask, yes I've checked Craigslist; it's very rare to find woodworking stuff for sale and my local antique shops are asking ~3x eBay prices for Stanley planes.

Thanks,

-robodude666

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The quick and dirty answer is yes, the LAJ is a good all around plane if you get extra irons at different angles.  You'll still want a block plane.  If and when you begin to acquire the full array, the LAJ may become less useful and may get designated for end grain/shooting board use.

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16 minutes ago, robodude666 said:

I could see myself getting specialty planes for joinery (router, etc) down the line, however would I want to replace the LAJ with an actual smoothing or jointer plane? From Marc's example video it seemed the LAJ did a better job.

You could always swap the LAJ blade out for a higher angle blade and get away with using it as a smoother as well...Lots of guys prefer to have more planes already set up, but that's one way to keep your collection smaller (and less expensive).

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3 hours ago, robodude666 said:

Howdy,

I'm getting into woodworking and was planning on getting vintage Stanley planes off eBay and restoring them. Based on recommended planes to own, I was considering:

  • No 18 Block
  • No 7 Jointer
  • No 4 Smooth
  • No 5 Jack

However, I ran across Marc's The Only Handplane You Need? article on Popular Woodworking which got me thinking...

Based on the fact that most No 7s on eBay are selling for $120+ (including shipping) you can easily spend ~250+ (including shipping) on vintage planes and then you have to put in unknown amount of hours into restoring them. Further searching the forums brings up many positive comments about either the Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen No 62 Low Angle Jack Plane.

It seems more practical to buy a new LV/LN No 62 and a spare blade (to set to 50 degree) -- about $300 total and much less space -- than it is to deal with hunting down vintage planes and restoring them. Another consideration is the Stanley No 62 for ~$125, but I've read many negative reviews about it.

What do you guys think? I may still end up picking up a No 18 because they seem handy to have, but would do all of my jointing/smoothing with the No 62. Am I missing something, or is it as good as it sounds?

EDIT: And before people ask, yes I've checked Craigslist; it's very rare to find woodworking stuff for sale and my local antique shops are asking ~3x eBay prices for Stanley planes.

Thanks,

-robodude666

With respect - You posted before about getting into the power tool route.  Your budget is small and that's ok.  

This is not a cheap hobby.  Suggest deciding if you want to be a power tool person or a hand tool person and then spending the time and money to get into it.  There's no such thing as a cheap and quick way into it.

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I agree with Kev. Woodworking is not a cheap hobby and buying the LAJ is probably a short term fix. You won't be able to smooth as well as you will with a dedicated smoother (due to jacks longer length). You can joint but not as well as a dedicated jointer (due to the jacks shorter length). A jack is not a universal "fix all" plane. 

Also you will get fed up of constantly changing the blade for a different bevel angle and you will inevitably end up with an unsuitable blade in the plane resulting in tear out.

If you do go the route of purchasing a LAJ first then also budget for buying a #4 and #7 later on. It really is not difficult to refurbish an old plane and it takes 2-3 hours max (as long as you are not too fussy on getting it flat within a 10th of a thou - it really isn't necessary).

Whatever route you take make sure you invest in a decent sharpening method and stick to it. Diamond plates, waterstones, oilstones, wet grinders and honing guides can cost far more than a premium plane. You already have a good list of planes to buy.

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I should first qualify this with the statement that I am a hybrid woodworker.  I love my machines and my hand tools and would  loath to be without either.  Having set the tone  . . . .

I run into the comment that the low angle jack becomes redundant here and there on the forums.  I still find it a frequently used plane although I have dedicated smoothers, jointers, a No 5 and all that.

This may be due to the fact that I chose the Veritas path and have a smoother, a LAJ, a jointer and a shooting plane that all take the same iron size.  This combined with the Veritas iron adjustment approach make changing irons stupid simple. 

This is probably amplified by the fact that I have irons at a few angles.  I do not hesitate to take the few moments required to swap irons and set the depth.

So, just as a contrary use-case; I find the BU smoother, the LAJ and the jointer to be a fair arsenal in the war on wood.  Of course I like my other planes too.  Its like picking a favorite child but, due to pre-planning on gathering the iron-sharing family, the LAJ is not the red-headed step-child in my shop.

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It's a good temporary solution. It does a lot of things okay but nothing great. If you're primarily a power tool user, you'll probably find a 62 and block plane adequate. As soon as you feel like getting stronger with hand tools, you'll want to purchase other planes that do specific tasks better than a LAJ. Marc made the point in the video that with a high enough angle it can cleanly plane curly maple, and while this is absolutely true, it still doesn't mean it's the ideal plane for smoothing. It's also not the ideal plane for jointing a board longer than two feet. It's not the ideal plane for anything except a budget.

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^^^ Agreed with Eric.  I had a LAJ and sold it.  A few thoughts:

1) I am primarily a machine woodworker, especially for milling lumber. 

2) Getting really sharp is more important than blade angle.   I think articles like Marc's (Chris Becksvoort wrote a similar article for FWW a few years before that) unintenionally do a disservice to hand tool newbs.   They make you feel like changing blade angles is some magic way to deal with different grain. Getting sharp is at least 90% of the battle (probably more) and most inexperienced woodworkers aren't sharp.   So they buy a LAJ thinking it will magically solve their problem.  

3) My most used bench plane is a veritas low angle smoother (the bigger of their two low angle smoothers).   

4) I recently added a Veritas bevel down #6 to the mix.  A 6 is not a popular size, but works perfect for my needs.  It is small enough to do some rough work, but long enough to fine tune or an edge or create a sprung joke.  

So I have two bench planes instead of one LAJ, but I have a wider range of capabilities and I don't need to memorize a bunch of blade angles and futz around swapping out blades    

My sharpening gear costs almost as much as the #6, maybe more.   Sharp is that important and scary sharp (sandpaper) seems like a false economy to me   

Honestly, I think those are the only two bench planes I will ever need.   I might add a veritas shooting plane, but that is pretty far down on my list.   

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13 hours ago, bleedinblue said:

.... the LAJ may become less useful and may get designated for end grain/shooting board use.

Would there be a better plane for end grain/shooting board use?

12 hours ago, TIODS said:

With respect - You posted before about getting into the power tool route.  Your budget is small and that's ok.  

This is not a cheap hobby.  Suggest deciding if you want to be a power tool person or a hand tool person and then spending the time and money to get into it.  There's no such thing as a cheap and quick way into it.

I had planned a hybrid approach, leaning towards hand tools for joinery and power tools for processing and dimensioning material. 

6 hours ago, TerryMcK said:

I agree with Kev. Woodworking is not a cheap hobby and buying the LAJ is probably a short term fix. You won't be able to smooth as well as you will with a dedicated smoother (due to jacks longer length). You can joint but not as well as a dedicated jointer (due to the jacks shorter length). A jack is not a universal "fix all" plane. 

Also you will get fed up of constantly changing the blade for a different bevel angle and you will inevitably end up with an unsuitable blade in the plane resulting in tear out.

If you do go the route of purchasing a LAJ first then also budget for buying a #4 and #7 later on. It really is not difficult to refurbish an old plane and it takes 2-3 hours max (as long as you are not too fussy on getting it flat within a 10th of a thou - it really isn't necessary).

Whatever route you take make sure you invest in a decent sharpening method and stick to it. Diamond plates, waterstones, oilstones, wet grinders and honing guides can cost far more than a premium plane. You already have a good list of planes to buy.

If the bed length on the LAJ ends up being a problem, I could certainly get a LA Smooth or LA Jointer for the various bed lengths (they're also cheaper than the non-LA versions) and still be able to use the blades from before; correct? From the versatility point of view of the bevel-up LA planes, I don't see a reason why one may want a No 4 over a No 164. Am I missing something?

If I do get the LAJ, I will keep an eye on eBay/Craigslist for low cost Stanley planes, however at this point in time I'm not sure I want to commit $120+ for a 100-year old plane in questionable condition; I'd be more comfortable gambling ~$50-60.

 

Note on the budget: While I would prefer to spend $750 to get into woodworking instead of spending $7500, I'm okay with spending extra to get quality and peace of mind. If a $245 LN LAJ plane is really as great as it is, I'm okay with splurging for a tool that will last a life time; and I'm okay with buying another plane in a year's time if I see the need for a dedicated plane, but I can't afford to buy three new LN planes today.

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I don't think the low angle is as necessary as the marketing wizards would make you believe.  Paul Sellars shows this pretty well on his Youtube channel.  He uses a no 4 or 4.5 for almost everything.  I don't have a low angle plane but a sharp no 4 does just fine on a shooting board for me.  I'd really like a rabbeting block plane and a no 4.5 plane.  I think both would be a good start for cleaning up joinery with hand tools along with a good set of chisels a crosscut and a rip saw. 

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21 minutes ago, robodude666 said:

 

Would there be a better plane for end grain/shooting board use?

 

Well a low angle #7 would be better, but with that you're getting REAL expensive.  The LAJ works very well as a shooter as long as it's sharp.

I have had a LN LAJ for a few months.  It's the only nice plane I have, I have an old Stanley #4 and a block plane that I haven't been able to tune up to their capabilities.  The LN is very nice, but with only one blade, I was quickly wishing for a quality smoother.  I get some pretty nasty tear out when trying to smooth the faces of boards with the LN.

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8 minutes ago, Llama said:

It won't do you any good unless you have the other things in place first. 

Are you referring to sharpening? I have DMT DuoSharp Coarse/Extra-Coarse and Fine/Extra-Fine on order. If not, what other things are you referring to?

6 minutes ago, xxdabroxx said:

I don't think the low angle is as necessary as the marketing wizards would make you believe.  Paul Sellars shows this pretty well on his Youtube channel.  He uses a no 4 or 4.5 for almost everything.  I don't have a low angle plane but a sharp no 4 does just fine on a shooting board for me.  I'd really like a rabbeting block plane and a no 4.5 plane.  I think both would be a good start for cleaning up joinery with hand tools along with a good set of chisels a crosscut and a rip saw. 

I saw Paul's video, which definitely does show that a bevel-down No 4 is as good as a LAJ in his test. But it also suggests that a LAJ can be used as a temporary plane instead of a smooth, jack, and jointer plane... Or the marketing folks at LN, Chris' article on FWW and Marc's article may be very persuasive... or I'm easily persuadable to buy shiny toys.

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I agee with Kev, Eric and Llama on the same post. Should buy a lottery ticket - LOL.  All of the repsonses are on point. However, let me add that no matter which direction you go, it's just your initial foray down the rabbit hole. I started out a power tool only guy but years later would fight you to the death over my hand tools. I subscribe to the hybrid approach like gee-dubb (and hope to turn out great work like he does too).  I like my power tools for doing the grunt work. Fine tuning and joinery are done with hand tools. No matter where you start, things will change as you better define your goals. 

Now for the comment that might get me banned from the Neanderthal village. I have a LN 102 block plane and a Veritas #4 bevel down smoother. On the dresser project I am finishing I used both, not only for their intended uses but as I needed them. I did some flattening with my #4 as I don't have a jack or joiner plane yet. I used my block plane to do a little smoothing. I used my shoulder plane to trim wood drawer slides inside the case.  Not the tasks they were made for or are best at, but they did a passing job in a pinch. My next purchase will be a jack plane but I haven't decided whether to go bevel up or down yet. I plan to buy a dedicated joiner plane too. Not giving up my power tools but adjusting my tool choices as I improve my abilities and change my expectations. 

Start building stuff and the approach you prefer will become apparent to you. I have learned more actually building furniture than talking about building furniture.  Tools and techniques should be driven by your building approach rather the other way around.  

Now, it's time to go sharpen my planes and put on my new Forrest table saw blade. 

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Just now, robodude666 said:

Are you referring to sharpening?

No. Contrary to what the internet says, a hand plane is worthless without a sturdy bench. It doesn't have to be a roubo, but you have to have a bench. And you don't need that hand plane to build a bench. You are much better off buying a normal Stanley #5 on eBay for around $40 than spending money you don't have on something shiny.

Stop with the lists, get a tablesaw, jointer and planer. Then start making things and building your collection as time goes on. 

8 minutes ago, xxdabroxx said:

Have you seen bridge city tools?  :ph34r:

Don't even look. Your entire budget would be blown on a shoulder plane.

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1 hour ago, xxdabroxx said:

Have you seen bridge city tools?  :ph34r:

They look nice. Maybe for a mid-life crisis in 15-20 years?

1 hour ago, Llama said:

No. Contrary to what the internet says, a hand plane is worthless without a sturdy bench. It doesn't have to be a roubo, but you have to have a bench. And you don't need that hand plane to build a bench. You are much better off buying a normal Stanley #5 on eBay for around $40 than spending money you don't have on something shiny.

I have a "bench" (plywood sitting on kitchen cabinets in the garage), though I'll be building a better bench in December.

 

I do have a Stanley No 5. that I bought off eBay 7 years ago but won't I need a smooth plane and jointer plane as well? While reading the responses in this thread I've considered tuning my No 5 and holding off on any plane purchases for the time being unless I find a good deal on a vintage stanley online.

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1 hour ago, Llama said:

No. Contrary to what the internet says, a hand plane is worthless without a sturdy bench. It doesn't have to be a roubo, but you have to have a bench. 

(Cough, cough...)<grinning sheepishly> No bench, but good knees! Good knees...and a glide! 

OP, shoot me your address by PM. I will tune a non-premium 4 or 5 and send it your way. Use it for a while. Make it dull. Try to hone it. See if it is for you. 

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Regarding iron angles...they absolutely do matter.  I don't care how sharp you get a low angle blade, it's gonna tear out curly maple long grain.  Period.

Now you can plane end grain with a bench plane...the sharper the better.  But it's gonna be much harder to push through the fibers than a low angle plane.

In short, I'd much rather use a bench plane on end grain than a low angle plane on long grain...if tearout is something you'd like to avoid.

As usual, it boils down to having the right tool for the job.  Since there are many jobs in woodworking, there are many tools to fill them.  The deeper your bench, the better your team.  Break out the wallet or expect frustration and mediocrity.  That doesn't mean you have to have every tool available or the absolute best of everything...but you do need a fairly comprehensive collection to tackle intermediate to advanced furniture projects.  If you don't like spending money, this hobby is not for you.  Pick another.  Harsh reality.

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11 minutes ago, Eric. said:

Regarding iron angles...they absolutely do matter.  I don't care how sharp you get a low angle blade, it's gonna tear out curly maple long grain.  Period.

 

Marc's video, as well as a few other reviews on YouTube, showed tiger/curly maple; in fact, the LAJ w/ a 50 degree micro-bevel did better than the dedicated bevel-down plane.

11 minutes ago, Eric. said:

That doesn't mean you have to have every tool available or the absolute best of everything...but you do need a fairly comprehensive collection to tackle intermediate to advanced furniture projects.  If you don't like spending money, this hobby is not for you.  Pick another.  Harsh reality.

Understandable, and I'm not against spending money; I quite enjoy buying new toys. However, I don't want to spend $750 on planes for making a simple box. I'm not against buying a dedicated plane if the job calls for it. When I'm ready to build a dining room table, I'll certainly pickup a dedicated jointer plane or a power planer.

I simply saw the LAJ as a potentially good plane to start off with as you can swap the blades out with blades of different micro-bevels for a fraction of the price of a new plane (~$45 blades vs $200+ planes) without the frustration of having to find well-priced used planes on eBay and spending hours restoring them.

21 minutes ago, C Shaffer said:

OP, shoot me your address by PM. I will tune a non-premium 4 or 5 and send it your way. Use it for a while. Make it dull. Try to hone it. See if it is for you. 

Thank you for the offer, but I have a Stanley No 5 already.

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I have a "bench" (plywood sitting on kitchen cabinets in the garage), though I'll be building a better bench in December.

 

I do have a Stanley No 5. that I bought off eBay 7 years ago but won't I need a smooth plane and jointer plane as well? While reading the responses in this thread I've considered tuning my No 5 and holding off on any plane purchases for the time being unless I find a good deal on a vintage stanley online.

People forget that the low angle jack is still a jack plane. And you do not need to spend a lot on a jack plane. It's meant for rougher work. A smoother plane is where your money is well spent. A low angle jack is not a smoother. Don't waste your money on the low angle jack, yet. I have one and love it. I treat it as a jack. I also have low angle smoother and low angle jointer, as well as several block planes.

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8 minutes ago, robodude666 said:

Marc's video, as well as a few other reviews on YouTube, showed tiger/curly maple; in fact, the LAJ w/ a 50 degree micro-bevel did better than the dedicated bevel-down plane.

That's no longer a low angle plane.  It's a bevel up with a 62* cutting angle, which is a higher effective angle than a standard bench plane.

I was just arguing against those who claimed blade angles don't matter.  In my experience, that's not correct.

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