Chris Schwarz's Blog

Falling Off the Wagon in Style

Those of you who follow my
personal woodworking blog know that I have been selling off a lot of my
excess tools and upgrading my shop at home.

Since August, I’ve
sold more than 100 tools that have been cramming up my home shop –
everything from a sliding compound miter saw to awls. I put all the
money into a wooden shop floor and materials so I could trim out the
shop like another room of the house.

But today I slipped. Badly.

I told myself I wasn’t going to purchase the Lie-Nielsen No. 51 Shoot Board Plane.
After all, I have a No. 8 that I use on my shooting board and am
pleased with the results. Heck, I got rid of the No. 9 plane I own,
which is ideal for shooting.

But something about the No. 51 bit
me badly. It started when Ron Herman loaned me one, and I got addicted
(and that’s the right word) to the way the plane rides in a track. When
you are shooting the ends of boards, you can’t miss – the tool will
never ride up out of the cut like it can on a traditional shooting
board.

I returned the No. 51 to Herman. With great reluctance.

So
here we are, several months later and I have this $500 Lie-Nielsen
sitting on my bench. I considered hiding it. But I’m done hiding. This
thing is crazy-good. It weighs more than 9 pounds and floats through
hardwoods. While the iron is sharpened straight across, the frog is
skewed, so you can take an even heavier bite with less effort thanks to
the skewed cut. And a straight iron is easy to sharpen.

I like this thing so much, I’m taking it home with me for the holiday.

— Christopher Schwarz

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22 thoughts on “Falling Off the Wagon in Style

  1. David

    Planes used for shooting boards (aka miter planes) is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve owned a LN No.9, but sold it because it can’t be used on the left side of the shooting board and it’s bedded at 45 degrees (not low enough in my opinion). Why is 45 degrees no good? Well, it’s more work to push the plane through the end grain, it dulls faster, and the quality of the surface left degrades rapidly. Forty degrees and under is ideal in my opinion. Also, I really don’t understand shooting on the right side only. If you have a single reference face and a single reference edge, you need to shoot on both the left and the right sides of the shooting board to get two ends square to both your reference face and your reference edge. I don’t used power tools, so maybe ripping a board with a table saw produces such a perfectly parallel edge that this isn’t necessary. I’m a little dubious that is the case, but it may be close enough. Just for an experiment try shooting the end of a board on the right side, then switch over to the left side and see if it’s the same. You should get a full length shaving on the left side on the first pass if it is.

    My preferred plane is a wooden miter plane by Philly Planes. He sells a skew miter, but that’s only good for one side of the shooting board (depending on the skew). Why is wood preferable over metal? Well it glides a lot easier. You can grip anywhere on the plane (so much more comfortable). Lastly, you can use it on both sides of the shooting board with no issue as there are no handles to get in the way. It does require some tuning, but that’s not really hard. You just need a surface plate and some sand paper. I use 40 micron 3M PSA sold by tools for working wood.

    Lastly, for all those out there using a Lee Valley low angle jack plane for shooting – that’s a great plane. It works really well and leaves a clean surface. It can be used on both sides of the shooting board with no fuss. It does have some short comings though. It’s a bit too long in my opinion, and it tends to rock a little bit when you really need to apply some muscle on denser woods like ash.

    Hope this helps someone.

  2. Bob Betker

    Chris: It looks like a terrific plane, it had caught my eye on Lie-Neilsen’s site. I’m just wondering how does it compare to the 9?
    Regards,
    Bob Betker

  3. Christopher Schwarz

    Lloyd,

    I am thrilled with my new floor.

    It is 3/4"-thick solid white oak joined with a tongue and groove. It was sanded up to #180. Then it was finished with only one coat of water-base polyurethane. This was on the recommendation of the flooring contractor.

    The single coat of water-base poly is not slick at all. In fact, it is very grippy on my shoes, even when covered with fine dust. And having one coat is enough protection against glue and minor spills. I could not be happier.

  4. Lloyd Parker

    Chris, could you tell me more about your new shop floor? From your Lost Art blog photos it looks like a oak strip floor. Is it sanded? What kind of finish? How slick is it with a coat of dust on it? The floor looks beautiful.
    Lloyd

  5. Tom Holloway

    Richard: Jeff Gorman, who has lots of good stuff at
    http://www.amgron.clara.net/
    has coined the term "lateral margin" for the edges of the plane sole on each side of the mouth–descriptive and succinct.

    As for this reincarnation of the #51 shooting plane, I can see that it could be a plus in a shop where there is a lot of repetition of what it is dedicated to doing, but for the occasional shooting of ends or mitered corners, the versatility of a #9, or one of the fore plane-sizes already mentioned, including use in either direction with either hand, will be adequate for a lot of us, I think.

  6. Manuel Cardoso-Lopes

    The Lie-Nielsen is 2 pounds heavier than the original Stanley 51, thats what convinced me, I will still keep the N.9, its paid for & doesnt eat any bread.
    Lie-Nielsen is shipping my 51 in the next few weeks & I can’t wait.
    From what I can gather, Lie-Nielsen has also tidied up the frog to body mating problem that Stanley had (on the Stanley this was a real Heath Robinson affiar with a serious weak area on the special frog, around 30% of which are found with broken/repaired frog, as this frog is unique to the Stanley 51, you cannot scavange from other planes and are stumped if its too damaged.)
    Lie-Nielsen found a way to accuratly machine the body to accept a standard Frog with all the strength and advantages of the "Bedrock" arrangement
    By the way, Stanley sold the plane alone as the No.51 & the plane and shooting board combination as the No.52.
    the Shooting board was not sold on its own as far as I can determine.

    Hope Lie-Nielsen dont take too long with the launch of the Shooting Board as the real advantage, apart from the planes weight are the tracks on the board as they avoid deflection.
    I agree with Chris, this Plane will make a big difference to shooting.

    Cheers,
    Manuel Cardoso-Lopes

  7. Derek Cohen

    I have the original Stanley #51/52 combination. The #51 on a shopmade shooting board is outstanding. Used on the #52 Chute Board it is sublime.

    I anticipate that the LN #51 will easily outpace the Stanley owing to the thicker blade. It will certainly not have the fragility issues of the Stanley (mine, like many, has a welded frog). It is on my list as an upgrade.

    Chris, do you tuck it in at bedtime? 🙂

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  8. Richard Dawson

    Lyle,

    I’m not a subject matter expert, but can usually make it sound like I know what I’m talking about, so I’ll give it a try.

    In theory, just about any plane could be used for shooting, as long as there is a bearing surface that can ride on the lower part of the base (sometimes called fence platform). The surface I refer to is that which is between the blade and the edge of the sole of the plane. (I am thinking of a term that I would use to describe this little surface; it would send everyone to the Urban Dictionary, so I’ll bypass that option.)

    Skew block planes, shoulder planes, and rabbet planes don’t qualify, as they don’t have the bearing surface. Edge trimming planes such as the 95 and 96 also won’t work.

    The big deal, as I see it, is that the mass of the plane contributes to is effectiveness. The L-N No. 8 is 10 pounds, which makes it a great choice. I suppose the width and thickness of the blade are also considerations, although there is some debate on the importance of blade thickness.

    Other bench planes, such as the 5 1/2, 6, and 7 — all with wide, thick blades and long soles — are often used for shooting. The 62 low angle jack is another favorite. L-N makes a hot dog for that plane.

    I suppose that when working with really small parts a block plane would be just fine for shooting. I like the idea of a big, heavy plane for this task. My current choice is a 5 1/2, pending the arrival of the beast.

    I hope this helps,

    Richard

  9. Ron Herman

    The plane looks pretty. For those of you who want a left hand version there is an irony. I originally loaned Patrick Jackson of L/N a #51 to see if he could make me a LEFT-handed plane! Hope springs eternal.–Ron Herman

  10. mike

    I can see how you would love that plane. I’ve been in love with my miter machine for twenty years. Pretty much the same type of technique although the miter machine has more limitations than a shoot board.

  11. Christopher Schwarz

    Gary,

    I have always been able to work around it and avoid left-handed shooting. So it’s not an issue that I can see.

  12. Gary

    When David Charlesworth demos the shooting board he makes a point of using it both left and right handed. Clearly not an option here. Chris what is your point of view on the value of shooting from both sides?

    G

  13. theloveofwood.blogspot.com

    Looks good Chris. I believe the metal stanely shooting board is the 52. I’m intereted to see the LN version of this when it comes out.
    The 51 looks like like a very nice plane, but I have a few more of the basics to get first.

  14. Lyle

    Okay, I will bite.

    Can the Veritas Skew Block Plane be used as its cheaper, lighter cousin? What caught my eye was the skewed blade and thin end grain shavings.

    Thanks

    Lyle

  15. Richard Dawson

    I was vacillating between the No. 9 and No. 51 and would probably have been perfectly happy with the 9. While Ron didn’t loan a No. 51 to me, he did make a couple of comments at WIA, the magic dust was sprinkled, I marched down stairs, and placed my order with Curtis Turner at the L-N booth.

    One point that Ron made, regarding saws, was that sometimes you need a BFS. Logically, sometimes you need a BFP. Chris, I understand why you will take it home for the holiday. My only concern is that, when it gets here — maybe by Christmas, but probably not — I think it a little big for me to sleep with it under my pillow. I guess I need a bigger pillow.

    Richard

  16. ben l

    over on Patrick’s Blood & Gore, he has this to say:

    "The tote is nearly impossible to grip with your left hand due to its position on the casting and its leaning to the right. It also can be tough to grip with your right hand, if you have hands that are the size of Sasquatch’s."

    Did Lie-Nielsen do anything to address that? I’m scratching my head looking at the thing, wondering how to hold it in use.

  17. Chris G

    I realize this is completely subjective, but can you comment on how it compares to the No.9 in use? And out of curiosity, why did you sell your No. 9 in favor of using a No.8 for shooting? Is is mainly a weight thing?"

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