Fair Woodworking

October 26, 2013

This post could have been avoided

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***

If you are reading this, I’ve finally worked up the nerve to post it.

I’ve been sitting here for over an hour hovering over the “publish” button.

After 6 years of using one of my bench planes, I’ve come to the conclusion that it needs to be replaced. In saying that, I suppose that if this was to be considered a review of this tool, I would not be giving it a passing grade.
I really can’t say that I am comfortable with finding fault in a product made by one of my favorite manufacturers, but I guess this really is a six year review of a very high quality tool that I have fallen out of love with.

There are a few nit picks I have with the plane, but these are not deal breakers. They are just things that if I were back in time and were aware of them, I may or may not have made a different choice in tools.

Beyond that there is one design issue that I have decided is a deal breaker, and if it were not for this one issue, this post could have been avoided.

So here we go.

As they say in monster trucks. “We sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge!”

Six years in review, the Veritas Bevel Up Jointer.

I feel dirty already, but I must continue.

As with all Veritas tools, this is an exquisitely, and perfectly manufactured tool. The body is flawless, as is the finish of the bubinga knob and tote.

You can always rely on the quality manufacture of these tools.

So what are the little issues I have found over the years? Anyone who follows this blog might easily guess the first one.

1. It’s a bevel up plane. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not convinced the bevel up design offers any useful advantage over a bevel down plane in most applications. But to find fault in a tool that I knowingly bought as a bevel up plane? That makes as much as sense as complaining that my Honda Civic is not a truck.

2. The lateral/depth adjustment mechanism.

Commonly known as a Norris Adjuster, is a feature that I have been out of love with for quite a while. I’m not a historian, but as I understand it, the Norris Adjuster is not an innovation over the Bailey adjuster. It was the only feasible innovation allowing both mechanical depth, and lateral adjustment on an infill plane. Similarly, when dealing with BU planes, the bailey design is not very practical. Stanley never made a bevel up jointer,but if you were to look at the #62 BU jack plane you would find a simple depth adjuster similar to what they use on many of their block planes.

It’s a simple mechanism that does not allow for lateral adjustment, and so requires a hammer to tap the blade either to the left or to the right.

The “Norris” like adjuster we see on Veritas BU planes most resembles that of the Sargent #514 Patent 1914. However with such a short lever that pivots on the blade near the middle of the blade results in a very rank lateral adjustment.

What I’m saying is, for medium or fine lateral adjustment, you still need a hammer. But, ya so whatever. The Veritas adjuster is a little over complicated, and under advantageous. Who cares?

More than a couple of “swear jar” worthy statements have been heard in my shop when the adjuster came out of the plane with the blade, and then fell off the blade while walking to the sharpening station on to a concrete floor.

4. Veritas handles

I don’t think I need to say much about this one. It’s already pretty well documented (do a search for “veritas handles” I dare you) of how uncomfortable the handles are. Sure I could reshape the handle myself, but why not just make it comfortable to begin with. Would I buy a new “premium” saw that I knew had a notoriously uncomfortable tote?

5. Location of adjuster

Ya, I’m back onto the adjuster. After you learn to sharpen, the next skill that can be difficult for new woodworkers is resetting the blade to make the same cut as it did before. This task, along with sharpening can cause beginners to avoid resharpening to the point of project ruining tear out, and also make the sharpening process take all the longer. In theory, since BU blades don’t need chipbreakers, when you replace the blade, very little adjustment should be necessary, but now that the adjuster has fallen out of my blade and bounced across the floor, I can assume that the depth it is set at will not be where I’d like it.  Either way, the ability to adjust the depth of cut while taking a shaving, is really, really handy.

With a Stanley/Bailey plane you can keep both hands on their handles and still be able to reach the depth adjustment knob.

With a Norris type adjuster, one hand pushes, the other adjusts. (but even if you could reach them, the threading is too coarse to turn while holding the tote, and you risk moving it laterally if you are not careful). I don’t think Norris adjusters are bad, but I do think they are an unnecessary compromise if they are not mated with another really great feature. For example you will never see me complain about them on an infill.

So there you go. These are my wine fest, nit pics, that I don’t consider deal breakers although I know some of them may be for others.

If these are not deal breakers, what are?

I see just one.

The partially milled sides.

And everyone in hand tool land said together, “Exactly! Without fully milled sides, you can’t use it for shooting”

And then I said, “Wrong”.

The unshootable-ness of this plane doesn’t matter to me much. Let’s call that nit pic #6.

At 22″ the BU jointer is really a BU version of the #7. It’s pretty long, and really, other than flattening my bench, I can only think of one or two other times I’ve used it on material that was longer than the plane. As a result I often use shorter planes as jointers. Recently I was working on a project that required the BU jointer, and I quickly became aware of the great deal breaker for me.

Recently (September) on Woodnet, there was a discussion regarding this BU jointer that had its sides fully milled. (oh, and also note the handles have been replaced for comfortable ones…)

BUJ 2

Most of the thread circles around the shooting issue, but I found the response that Rob Lee made had a little hole in it that applies to my concern.

Here is what he said in its entirety.

Klaus –

You are a bad man…. (in a good way!)….

Seriously – that’s a much more ambitious modification than most. We encourage people to change tools to suit their own preferences… but we’re usually thinking of the wood parts…

The bevel-up series was conceived as an integrated system of planes – where we optimised for a set functions, in each plane – so that each would complement the others functionally (and not be just diffreent sizes). As others have pointed out – we chose the jack as the shooting plane in the series.

I’m glad the modification worked out so well for you. That casting shape is not optimised for sidewall griding – so Wolfgang did a great job for you keeping everything flat and square!

Cheers –

Rob

The part that got me was this, “The bevel-up series was conceived as an integrated system of planes – where we optimised for a set functions, in each plane

But does this design optimize the function of jointing? Or for that matter flattening?

A while ago, I posted about how I flatten a board, and I think the pictures in that post say it all.

Here I show progress with the side of my Jack plane resting on the board. See how it shows the two ridges?

Later I move to final flattening with my BU Jointer, and here I show that I am very close to flat.

The difference is I’ve had to use my straight edge.

Why?

Because if I used the BU jointer it would have looked like this.

This is not optimal.

In fact I would rather that the entire side of the plane be unmilled rather than this.

So Veritas, Lee Valley, Rob?

I hope you do not take offense to my criticism.  I do still love you guys!

But as of now, my BU jointer has been retired from active duties. It will sit on the shelf until I get around to selling it. The money I get from it will then offset the cost of its replacement.

This has been a most unenjoyable, and unpleasant post…

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4 Comments

  1. Did you know that Tom Iovino shoots with his Veritas bevel-up jointer? There’s a video of it online somewhere.

    Chris

    Comment by ChrisHasFlair — October 26, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

    • Well ya, I guess you could. I’ve used my coffin shaped block plane to shoot before. I suppose it’s a matter of skill and the willingness to try.

      Comment by fairwoodworking — October 26, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

  2. I feel about the same. I have the smoother, jointer and jack. I rarely use any of them. They are not comfortable for me, but they work very well. I do occasionally break out the joiner or smoother when my bevel down planes fail to tame some nasty grain. I tried to sell the jack at the last club tool sawp, but no takers.

    Comment by Alaska Woodworker — October 28, 2013 @ 2:04 am

    • Hi Jonathan,
      Thanks for chiming in. I’ve been suffering from Bloggers remorse since I posted.

      Comment by fairwoodworking — October 28, 2013 @ 4:08 pm


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