With the release of the new Veritas Small Scraping Plane last week, lots of people are saying: Cool! I want one! Do I need one?
Good question. Scraping planes are curious birds. The large scraping planes are typically used to dress tabletops and large panels that have unruly grain. Scraping planes can ignore grain direction, work large surfaces and leave a relatively flat surface , especially compared to a card scraper.
The small scraper planes work the same way, but I wouldn’t want to use one for a banquet hall table. So they get used in other ways. You can use them like a block plane for dressing edges , this is how bodger Don Weber uses his Lie-Nielsen No. 212. If you have trouble bending a card scraper, the small planes are a good substitute as they are easy on your hands. And they can be used for evicting localized tear-out on a larger surface.
Veritas officials loaned us one of their new Small Scraping Planes last week. I was involved in testing a pre-production model of the tool, so I’m already quite familiar with the way it works. It is very clever and easier to set up than the No. 212 model made by Stanley and Lie-Nielsen (I’ve owned the Lie-Nielsen No. 212 for many years). The Veritas also costs less money (It’s $119 and on sale now for $99. The Lie-Nielsen costs $160 to $175.)
Both tools, I found, have plusses and minuses. Let’s take a look.
Veritas: Easy to Set But Can Clog
What makes the Veritas different is its blade system. Unlike the Lie-Nielsen, the Veritas uses a thin blade (.039″ thick vs. .120″). The thin blade allows you to camber it gently by turning a small straight screw at the rear of the tool. This is much like the system on the venerable Stanley No. 80 cabinet scraper and the excellent Veritas Large Scraping Plane.
The net result of this system is that the Veritas scraping plane is easier to set up than the Lie-Nielsen. You insert the blade, tighten the clamp and give the cambering screw a turn. Then you scrape to your heart’s content.
The other new twist with the Veritas is the adjustable palm rest that gives the plane its Beetle-esque shape. It’s impossibly clever , you simply move the rest until the plane fits your hand, then lock it in place with a hex-head wrench (included). Once locked, it’s quite stable. You can force it out of position, but you have to work at it.
In addition to that ergonomic touch, the toe of the tool has a nice lip for your thumb.
My only complaint with the tool is the same one I had with the pre-production version. I think the tool clogs with shavings more easily than the Lie-Nielsen. I suspect , but could be wrong , that the cause of the clogging is that the blade-clamping mechanism is bigger and lower on the blade. And the tool’s mouth is fairly wide open. What tends to happen is that you take a stroke with the tool, and on the return the last shaving drops below the sole. As you push forward for your next stroke, the stray shaving fouls the mouth.
If you pull the shavings out regularly, you won’t have this problem.
Lie-Nielsen: Won’t Clog, But Trickier to Set Up
The Lie-Nielsen uses a variable-pitch frog that allows you to set it for a wide range of pitches. This is handy for experienced users but sometimes frustrating for beginners. If you want a camber on your blade, you are going to have to add it while sharpening , there’s no cambering screw on the tool.
This makes setting the tool a little trickier. You have to tap the iron left and right to get the camber in the center. Then you sometimes have to fine-tune the frog to get the shaving you want. After a while you get the hang of it, but I wouldn’t want to learn to use the tool on live stock.
On the plus side, I can’t recall this tool ever clogging. The mouth is tighter and the blade-clamping mechanism is fairly high. Shavings fall out and don’t get pulled back into the mouth.
As to ergonomics, I think it’s a draw. The Lie-Nielsen, while odd looking, is remarkably comfortable to my hand. And the Veritas is exactly whatever I want it to be.
– Christopher Schwarz
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