Tool review: Veritas Combination Plane, from Popular Woodworking

Tool Review: Veritas Combination Plane

 In Chisels, Tool Reviews, Tools, Woodworking Hand Tools

Veritas combination planeA plow plane is a joinery powerhouse in the hand-tool shop. Not only can you plow grooves with it – you can, if necessary, use it for rabbets and tongues, though it’s a laborious tonguing process. Enter the combination plane – a plane that excels at grooves and has changeable cutters for not only other as well.

Hunting down a vintage Stanley No. 45 or Record #405 in good condition can be a challenge, though, and they’re often pricey. But there’s a new option: the Combination Plane from Veritas.

It’s heavier than the company’s Small Plow Plane (natch), but light enough to not tire me out. I weighed it on our postal scale against a Stanley No. 45, both with a 14” plow blade inserted. At 3.68 pounds, the Veritas is more than a pound lighter than the Stanley (4.72 pounds) – but still heavy enough to stay easily in the cut.

I tested it mostly with the 14” plow blade that it comes with; that’s what I’d use it for most often and it’s where this tool excels. Additional blades (for rabbets up to 1″ wide, and tongues, beads, reeds and flutes in various widths) are sold separately, as are straight plow blades from 18” to 38“. (Blades are also available in sets and in metric sizes.)

combination plane blades

Veritas offers a range of blade profiles and sizes – plus, the combination plane accepts blades from the Stanley Nos. 45 and 55, and Record 405.

Perhaps most notable on this new tool is that Veritas has rethought the split-collet system used on some of its older fenced planes. Instead, this tool uses knurled thumbscrews that lock directly to the fence rods, the depth stops and other parts of the castings. And they lock tight. I tried mightily (applying far more force than typical) to overcome the depth stops and fence. I couldn’t do it.

Also notable is the blade guide knob. This clever improvement over the Stanley and Record combination planes snugs against the blade – any size blade – as you move the sliding section into position to set it in the correct location without much fussing at all. (If you’ve ever used the No. 45, you know it’s a matter of eyeballing the correct location of the sliding casting, locking it, testing it, adjusting it…repeat.)

The combination plane ships with two sets of rods (5″ and 8″), which allow you to use the fence and sliding section on either side of the body.

Shavings shoot nicely from the escapement. My only niggle is that the adjustable scoring spur on the body (there’s a second one on the sliding section) clogged a bit in softwoods, even though I had it raised completely. The engineers at Veritas suggested backing it off slightly by turning the set screw behind it, but that didn’t quite do it. However, these little blades aren’t used that often (they’re for scoring cross-grain work), so it’s simple to remove them when they’re not needed.

Compare the price ($399) with a new wooden plow (upward of $1,000) and this tool is a no-brainer as a plow alone. And, of course, if you don’t have dedicated planes for its other operations, it’s right handy for those, too.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 6 comments
  • JonathanHawkins

    I purchased one of these bad boy planers earlier this year and have fell in love with it. I also have the combination plane version. The price is a little steep but you can’t put a price on perfection in the woodworking industry!

  • stumpynubs

    “My only niggle”- There’s one you don’t hear (read) often! 🙂 At $400 it’s not any more expensive than a nice, complete Stanley #45 (if you can find one) on eBay.

    • Awethor

      At $400 it’s ALSO not COMPLETE like the Stanley; it only comes with one 1/4″ blade. A full set of imperial blades plus the requisite boxes (face it, you’re not going to throw this plane and blades into an orange HD bucket) cost about $650 more. As for the $1000 wooden plow plane mentioned by Ms. Fitz’ in the article: HUH? (kind of like positioning a Mercedes S550 as a bargain, at north of $100k, by comparing its price to that of a Bugatti Veyron – not exactly a daily driver.)

      Hey, listen, I LOVE Veritas products, but how far are you guys going to bend over backward to make this quite expensive tool of theirs sound like a bargain? I’m starting to appreciate why Paul Sellers is so critical of what he refers to as sales hype or propaganda, as presented by magazines and online woodworking information sources. He used to sound whiny to me, but now I see his point. I’m gonna go fire off an apology to him right now. He’s not sounding quite a preachy as he used to.

  • Shawn Nichols

    If anyone is taking suggestions: I’d love to see a video of it converting from it’s standard configuration to tongue and groove (tongue really) configuration. Thanks for sharing Megan. This just shot to the top of my list.

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      I’m going to be posting a video on it soon – I’ll make sure to cover that 🙂

      • Pooch64

        Looking forward to it. Recently purchased the plane. I was actually going to purchase their plow plane and did but returned it the following day. Love it so far. Still getting used to its nuances. Although it is pricey I believe it is still a bargain considering the costs of R&D, production and the the risk they undertook to make something nobody may want. I appreciate that they reduced the price by not including the box as many woodworkers may want to make their own. I purchased the box also and consider it a bargain when you consider the cost of material and the time and effort to make it. The Stanley 45 can pretty much do everything this plane can do but this plane has the advantage of modern engineering and hindsight. It works well. A previous commenter mentioned Paul Sellers and I believe he would like it. Once again a 45 works just as well (if you have the patience to make it work and not throw it into the nearest lake). This is my first post of any kind and I was impelled to write it dup to a previous negative comment. I think this article was well written and nowhere in it did I think you were suckling up in some way to Veritas. Thank you.

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