Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New tools

No, not my new tools - but new offerings from That Man in Maine, recently spotted at the LN Hand Tools Event in Philadelphia, US of A. Hope Michael won't mind me swiping the pics from his post on WoodNet. Go there for the Horse's Mouth report instead of my mutterings.

Now iirc, the chamfer plane has been on the promised list at LN since, well probably since folks first signed up for the infill smoother. The latter, I think, is unlikely to see the light of day, but here's the chamfer plane. Apparently it'll take the beader's cutters for mouldings-onna-chamfer happiness too. That's, er, good. But, please, why would most people need one? This is right up there with the perishing edge-trimming planes that seem to flourish like fruit flies on a rotten apple at LV. I dare say there are a limited number of woodworkers who's work can absolutely justify such a tool and good on them - but 90% of buyers are going to buy it and then try and work out how to get their money's worth of use from the darn thing, aren't they? Viz: folks who've worked out then can eke out some extra versatility from an edge-trimmer by using it as pseudo-side rebate. Erm, why not buy a side rebate plane and learn how to joint edges? (Sheesh, I'm in curmudgeonly mode today - consider yourself warned)

So the chamfer plane then. So successful at its job that according to Mr Leach, users found it helpful to drill holes in the Stanley original in order to fit a sole to make it useable on narrow edges. And it won't do stopped chamfers either. Aargh... So what do you get? A perfectly planed (through) chamfer that'll look, presumably, just like it was laid off with a machine. Hmm, and the point of that is...? Sorry, as far as need goes I'm utterly at a loss on this one. If you were doing large chamfers on straight stock all day long, then yep, mebbe. But otherwise we're just going to get a fresh rash of folks thinking they need a special plane and missing the basics of how to hold a hand tool to make it do what you want. Sigh.

As far as "want" goes though, well that's up to you. ;-)

So what do we also see to enflame our desires? Match planes?! Oh no, please... I gather these swing fence types are very effective and efficient, and owners of old Stanleys and the like love them dearly, and the wooden tote and one-piece blade are nice improvements. But. Perhaps it's just me, but I have more options on making T&G than I can shake a big stick at - and have never yet felt the need to use any of them in anger. For strength and neatness I'd sooner use two grooves and a loose tongue every time. Surely, but surely, efforts put into a dedicated grooving plane would have been so much better spent? Or a decent rebate plane? Dado planes? And for heaven's sakes, it's ugly! Again. Swap the cherry for Bubinga and it could be you-know-who's... I just don't think I can take any more ugly LN planes without breaking down in tears...

So with hope in my heart I turned to the news on Larry Williams' dvd on wooden moulders. Rumours have circulated that there'd be one on actually using them, and that I'd be sticking down the cash for without hesitation, despite Larry being an irksome oik in the extreme and one of the principle reasons why reviewing became more painful than it was worth. Hey, maybe a positive review of his dvd will cause him to suddenly like reviewers...? But I digress into personal animosity and airing old wounds, which is a Bad Thing. But woe is me - it appears to be about Making the bally things! I don't want to make them; there are too many of the darn things chez Alf already. Dammit.

It's a Black Day when you find yourself underwhelmed by what's new from LN. It's like going to Santa's Workshop and finding the amusing "You don't have to be an elf to work here, but it helps" notices on the walls more exciting than what's going in the sacks. C'mon, Thomas, I'm relying on you to get me drooling after a pretty plane again - I can't just keep seeing the utility in everything! A Record 043 in bronze would tick all the boxes... ;-)

P.S. My rant about edge-trimming planes is, I'm sure, irrational and there are a 1001 uses for these joyous articles. They just annoy the heck out of me for some reason. I think partially because many people seem to buy them as a way out of having to learn a fundamental hand tool skill, which saddens me.


  1. Wise words, Alf. I'm with you - learn how to use hand tools properly. Also the two grooves and loose tongue is invariably the better option.

    Still, the new offerings will keep the collectors happy, I suppose....


    Paul Chapman

  2. So Mr Lee hasn't sent you an edge trimming plane then...

  3. Well let's see - he hasn't sent me a scraper plane either, but I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who asks. On the other hand he did send a jointer (and even offered another) but I've yet to recommend it to anyone. So your point...?

    Oh wait, your point is like your name - non-existant.

    My point is that people are buying very specialist tools as crutches in lieu of basic skills and that seems to me to be a shame. Your point is that you judge others by your own poor standards. If you thought it was a charming character trait you wouldn't be hiding behind anonymity, so at least we agree on that point.

  4. I thought I was the only one who didnt see the point of the edge trimming doodads. I was greeted by a stony silence last time I raised the question. I feel better now knowing that there's at least two of us in the camp.
    Cheers MikeR.

  5. Atta girl, you tell 'em.

    I'm still waiting for either LN or LV to do a compass plane, with a preference for LV just to see the improvements they come up with over the standard models.

  6. Nice call on the Record 043 in bronze. I'll second that!

  7. I agree, Nick, a compass plane would be a welcome addition. Hope Rob Lee is reading this....


    Paul Chapman

  8. Have to agree with you on the chamfering plane Alf. I actually got the LV attachment as a gift (my own damn fault, I asked for it), and after I used it some I realized how superfluous it is. Not really sure why I asked for it. Good thing that it is an attachment, and much cheaper than I'm sure the LN plane will be :)

    mark (msweig)

  9. Don't want to dampen your hopes, gents, but unless he's changed his mind, I believe RL has described making a compass plane as his worst nightmare and he wouldn't touch it with a 10ft hockey stick - or words to that effect.

    The VC - I confess I did stoop so low as to try and sell the idea of the 043 to TLN by pointing out that every SWMBO who saw it would fall in love with it and insist on getting one for their woodworking other half. Although I may have muddied the sales pitch by diverting into the advantages of the Lewin at which point he probably fell asleep...

  10. Michael (mpphoto)10/17/2007 12:50:00 pm

    Woo-hoo, my pics are on the other side of the pond! Oddly they seem to be travelling down the wrong side of my monitor :) Help yourself anytime Alf.

    As for the usefulness of these instruments... can't help you there. I'd love a match plane but I'm more interested in the thinner version #49 set to follow this one next year. A chamfer plane... Well I'd find some use for it at $100 but much less use for it at $300. All in all though I'm glad people like Tom and Rob are making these planes. It's obvious no one's going to get rich making chamfer planes.

    In the meantime I'll wait patiently for the announcement of a LV stainless steel apron plane...


  11. Nope- I don't follow stuff like this.... ;)

    Cheers -

    Rob Lee
    (Posting from his new iTouch...)

  12. First of all, I'm with Nick W. Bring on the compass planes.

    On the topic of chamfer planes and attachments that make a block plane act like a chamfer plane, I don't have one and I have never used one. I therefore don't really have an appreciation for the benefits they provide, or don't provide as the case may be.

    I agree that a chamfer plane is just a fancy tool that does nothing you can't already achieve with either a standard block plane or bench plane. But, if it makes the chamfering task easier, which I assume it must, then isn't it a legitimate handtool. Couldn't someone with the best basic planing skills in the world still find a chamfer plane beneficial to their work? Or, would someone with the best basic planing skills in the world just find that the set-up time for a chamfer plane slows things down?

    Ian S.
    (Not posting from my new iTouch.... What's an iTouch....?)


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