Veritas Router plane(s)

It’s like 2nd Christmas! Or first Christmas to myself…..

I’ve been a long time user of the Lie Neilsen (LN) router plane. For some reason that I cant explain that tool is one of my favorites. It’s simple, and despite what is often said, has a ton of applications. I use it on tenon shoulders, dados, inlays, etc etc etc. One of the downfalls of the tool is that the blade has a unique sharpening process. Because the blade is one solid bit of steel including the angled tooth you have to adopt a sort of different sharpening process. Once you pick it up – it’s not a huge deal and I’ve become quite proficient at it. That said – I’ve been aware for quite some time that the Veritas router plane had a removable blade that could be sharpened like any other blade in your tool chest. While that was cool and all – I already had a router plane so I didn’t consider buying one. However – recently I’ve started thinking about getting a smaller router plane for more detail work. I looked at the LN small router plane but was sort of thrown off when I started thinking about having different blades for it. Then I started thinking about how handy it might be to have different width blades in general for the router plane. That’s not something LN offers without the use of the adapter for the small blades into the larger plane.

Long story short – the Veritas large router plane blades fit into their medium router plane. Not only that, but I think my hands are just generally too large for the small router planes. So what started as me looking at getting a smaller router plane turned into me getting a new large router plane, all the blades, as well as the medium router plane from Veritas. I figured if it all was as amazing as people say it is – maybe it will become me new go to router plane. The planes arrived today and I immediately started testing them.

I started with the large plane anxious to sharpen the blade and test it out. This is where my impression of the plane started fading. The blade on the router plane attaches to the bottom of the holder with a single allen screw. The holder that comes with the plane for sharpening the blade has its own screw – which is a flat head. I know this is picky – but why not use the same type of screw so that I don’t need to get out multiple tools to work with the blade? Next up – it appears that the one thing I was most excited for with this plane, the ease of sharpening, actually isn’t easy at all. It’s almost like they came up with this great idea – and then just sort of gave up on implementation. I have a Veritas Mark 2 sharpening system so one would think that this should all just work together right? Nope. The screw on the blade holder extends to the other side of the holder meaning you can’t put the blade angle guide on the sharpener without it hitting. Even if you do manage to do that, the holder has no means to hold the blade square besides eye balling it and then tightening the crap out of the screw. Why doesn’t the tool holder have the same alignment and holding system that the router plane tool holder has? So even if you manage to get this far, the blade is offset from the holder meaning that 25 degrees isn’t 25 degrees…

Insert picture of disappointment

You can see above that it’s not even close to registering correctly at the right degree. So then I just eye balled it to where it looked flat on the stone and started sharpening. Because the means to hold the blade on the holder is a single screw and the holder itself is aluminum that’s slippery it just didn’t work very well. I had to keep adjusting and retightening the holder. After 15 minutes – I finally got an edge…

Insert another picture of me frowning while also being disappointed

You can see above all the weird bevels I had to sharpen through from the blade slipping. So after getting this far, I remounted it on the tool holder for the plane, and went to work. The plane just wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. I know Im coming from a different tool, but it just didn’t seem to be cutting well. After making sure I had all the adjustments set correctly I realized that the allen screw that holds the blade in place was slightly loose. I tightened that up and it started to at least cut correctly.

One thing I noticed immediately though in use was that I instinctively wanted to hold the router plane differently than my LN…

I usually hold the LN with a closed grip around the handle. Almost like grabbing a lever.
The Veritas Im inclined to place the handle in my palm and have my fingers extend over and touch the body of the frame

I think the planes just have different soles which means they register differently on the work piece. For some reason the the LN feels more centered whereas the Veritas feels like the handles are further back. It doesn’t really make sense when you compare them from a top down perspective. I think the LN is heavier so maybe it just feels more registered whereas the the Veritas is lighter and I feel like I need to hold the front down?

I know a lot of this is just me being used to the LN. Im going to use the Veritas more and see if I can get used to it. The Veritas gets raving reviews for its spring loaded blade removal mechanism. It seems to work well, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s necessary. The LN has a simple bolt that holds the blade at a certain level. Removing the blade means removing the the adjustment nut and letting the blade fall out the bottom. Just sort of feels like the Veritas system is perhaps an unnecessary complication. Im also not keen on the height limit setting on the Veritas as it appears to clamp directly onto the threads. Seems odd….

In any case, it was time to test out the medium router plane. So I decided to try and cut in some hinges on a piece of scrap wood…

A hinge inset cut with the LN

I started as I normally would. I knifed the lines, hit the lines with a chisel, and then used the LN router plane to scoop out the material. Easy peasy. I then wanted to see how easily I could deepen the inset using the medium router plane. I immediately realized that learning to use a router plane without a threaded height adjustment was going to be a learning process. I didn’t like it – and it felt generally clumsy to me. Just something I’ll have to get used to I guess.

One of the selling points of the medium router plane was that the blade could be flipped around and used in a backwards or bullnose kind of configuration. So I tried this first…

Making a mess

While this configuration seems handy, you have to be careful not to let the blade follow the grain. That is, it’s easy to just push the plane forward, let the blade bite in, and the back of the plane lifts off digging you into the work piece. Hard to see in the picture above, but that’s what happened. I sort of got the hang of working this way after a bit – you just have to be conscious of keeping pressure on the back of the plane. I then flipped the blade around and used it to clean up the inset again. I’ll admit that while I was initially “meh” about the medium plane, I started to see its applications. Specifically, it has a small opening or throat. That means that when I want to tackle something on a thing piece of stock I have more registration with the medium then I do the large for instance…

Lots of registration on the medium
Less registration on the large router planes because of the larger throat

So I think it will be useful in certain applications where the work piece might have different registration surfaces but only will tell.

So all in all – Im still on the fence about all of this. I’ll admit a total disappointment in the sharpening – that after all was a major reason for me to pick the Veritas. Im sure I can figure out a system to make it better – but why is that something that wasn’t done by the manufacturer? It appears Im not the only one who thought this strange but Im surprised that others haven’t complained about it (and that Veritas hasn’t fixed it). If Im being totally honest, I just generally like the look and feel of the LN more. But again, Im sure it’s just what Im used to. Im anxious to put both Veritas router planes to work and see how they perform.

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