Do I need a dedicated shooting plane?
Assuming I ever put plane to timber ever agin, obviously. But exercising our vivid imaginations and dwelling in a rich and varied fantasy life, let's pretend that's a faint possibility.
This is a question I've tussled with many times, even before the current onslaught of 51-a-like shininess from The Man From Maine and El Presidente, which is, naturally, why the question has come up again.
There was the fleeting possibility of ownership of a Rodgers Patent Miter Planer, of course, which is more a whole separate category of "Do I need a dedicated shooting appliance of epic proportions and humungous weight?"
The answer to that was "no". Somewhat surprisingly.
Then there's the very lovey Philly Planes Skew Miter (or mitre, as I'd like it to be, being a Brit an' all, but the market dictates I s'pose). Something about the sheer simplicity of the thing alone is appealing, but toss in the low angle, the skew, and it being made by a thoroughly nice fellow, and gosh, how tempted was I?
So then why the "no"? 'Tis two-fold, and really answers the question in relation to the 51-a-likes.
Firstly, how much shooting do I really do? And even more, how much shooting do I really need to do? (Assuming I'm actually making something...)
Actually, not much. I suffer as much as the next modern hand tool user in being influenced by the results power tools give us. A powered mitre saw will give you a glassy smooth finish on end grain, so we come to expect it and think that's what we need. Most of the time it's not, and just a by-product of the cut which is what we actually want. But you get used to it, and marking from it, and so forth, so you find yourself shooting a perfectly acceptable hand sawn bit of end grain just so it's like wot the tailed devils create. On the basis of need, honestly I doubt the majority of us really need a dedicated shooting plane. Want, that's a different kettle of poisson, and a perfectly acceptable as a reason. I have several tools that can testify to my supporting want as sufficient justification. Mainly chisels...
But let's assume I have need for really accurate shooting, because, y'know, it's not impossible. Perhaps the vague urge to add more moulding to my arsenal might actually bear fruit one day. But really, just any reason where, like a good little woodworker, I want to work religiously with the edge and face marks against the shooting board fence for maximum accuracy and find I have need to shoot the left hand end of the work.
Kids! These planes are handed. Skew is a wonderful thing on end grain and most desirable and I see no point in a dedicated shooting plane that doesn't provide it, but it is totally limiting in which side you can shoot on. Now I gather the LV will be appearing in a lefthand configuration as well, but hey, that's starting to get seriously spendy in both money and space. (Haven't checked the L-N. To be honest I haven't lingered on the LV site either - there keeping being more chisels, so I'm forced to run away and hand my wallet to strangers to hold for safety.)
Okay, you say, what are the odds you'll need to work the other side? Have you thus far?
Well, nope. But.
Firstly, the gods being the fickle blighters they are, will inevitably dictate that the very first shooting task I have after purchasing a dedicated plane for the job will require it. Secondly, I bitterly resent being dictated to by the tool that's there to aid me in the task. It's one of the reasons I dislike the tailed devices; too often the project is dictated to by what the machine can do, and frankly that sucks. So if I want to shooting something exactly so, and have stumped up the cash to do so, it better be able to do the job and not make me work round it.
Thus it is that I keep answering the "Do I need a dedicated shooting plane?" with an somewhat infuriating "no". More infuriating still, I seem to have managed to argue myself round to answering "no" to the alternative "Do I want a dedicated shooting plane?" Which is frankly unacceptable. What's to become of a tool junky who isn't jonesing for the latest thing?
Someone clunk me over the head with something heavy and put me out of my misery. Or, no, wait. Tell you what.