For years now, Lie-Nielsen has made 55° frogs for its No. 4-1/2 bench planes.
I’m a big fan of higher planing angles, but I’m not as big a fan of the No. 4-1/2. I prefer the smaller smoothing planes – give me anything from a No. 2 up to a No. 4 and I won’t gripe. Why do I like shorter planes? Because most of my commission work is for the Smurf-American community. Oh, also, smaller planes are faster. Here’s why.
So I am pleased to tell you that Lie-Nielsen is now making a 55° frog for the company’s No. 4 plane, and they tell me that 55° frogs for the No. 3 are not far behind.
I bought one for my No. 4 plane (the frogs are $75) and installed it this morning. And, just like geometry, it works just fine. I took it for a test drive on some reversing cherry on my bench and found it to feel exactly like my plane when it had a 50° frog and a 5° back bevel.
For smoothing planes, I like to use a 50° or 55° pitch, but I don’t care how I get there. Honing a back bevel on the iron is fine. Using a bevel-up plane is also fine. And having a 55° frog is nice. The sweet thing about the 55° frog is that it makes sharpening a wee-bit faster because I don’t have to sharpen the 5° bevel on the back.
The only downside to the 55° frog is it makes your plane a little taller, which could be a problem if your plane lives in a cubby designed like a Japanese capsule hotel.
The other odd thing about the frog is it makes your plane look quite different on the bench, like a friend who just got a new haircut or shaved off a beard. Of course, I should talk. I haven’t had a haircut since our Woodworking in America conference and am starting to attract amorous stares from the local Sasquatch community.
— Christopher Schwarz
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