Tool Test – Lie-Nielsen Medium Shoulder Plane
From August 2006 Popular Woodworking
I’ve long been a fan of large shoulder planes and have many miles on my Lie-Nielsen 073, which I bought the first day it was available. So I wasn’t sure I needed the company’s new 3/4″ shoulder plane when I ordered it. Surprisingly, the medium shoulder plane gets as much use as the bigger tool. The 3/4″ width gets this tool into the bottoms of dados to clean out the unevenness or junk left by coarser tools. At 2.3 pounds, it weighs almost two pounds less than its bigger brother, which makes it a bit easier to wield when working narrow stock and small rabbets.
And, of course, it excels at its primary job , trimming tenon shoulders and cheeks.
Like all Lie-Nielsen tools, the medium shoulder plane is made to high standards. I placed a straightedge on the sole and it revealed that it was perfect. Then I placed a machinist’s square on the sidewalls to check their orientation to the sole. If the sidewalls aren’t perfect to the sole the tool will never work quite right. Both sidewalls were dead-on perfect all along the tool’s body.
The real surprise was the iron. With most tools, I’ve come to expect some serious work to flatten and polish the unbeveled face of the iron. Lately, I’ve found Lie-Nielsen (and its competitor, Veritas) to have irons that require almost no work. This one took a scant five minutes to sharpen and go. That’s worth something in my book.
Which brings me to the price: $175. You might be able to buy a vintage Preston, Record or Stanley shoulder plane for a bit less, but I ask you: How will you true up the sole or sidewalls if they’re not perfect? With the modern tools, you can send back the ones that aren’t perfect. And for those of us who prefer woodworking to metalworking (a show of hands, please) the price is incidental. Especially when you take into account this is the last one you’ll ever have to buy.
More information on the Medium Shoulder Plane from Lie-Nielsen
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