Sunday, September 22, 2013

Aww Shoot!

At HandWorks, Lee Valley displayed a 3-D printed prototype shoot plane. Rob Lee was there to chat and answer questions, incredible guy & company if you didn't already know (and no they haven't bribed me with anything than selling incredible tools at reasonable prices and great customer service through the years, though if they want to start providing more bribes...) Well when a LH (Southpaws love LV) version was advertised at a competitive introductory price and free shipping, I couldn't resist... It arrived before the promised introduction for left-hand planes. (With a few other goodies, whenever I buy from LV I can't resist filling my basket with odds-n-ends I've been thinking about)
 Despite a spiraling out of control bathroom project, a bad clutch slave cyl and other urgent matters, I had to give it a shot (sorry.) Here's a quick review, though to be for totally fair I have not used a shoot plane before, though I did play a fair bit with the Lie-Nielsen & Breese planes at HandWorks.
A Lot in common
Tote Connection

The design follows the same low angle plane design as the bevel up Jointer, Jack & Smoother; where most parts are interchangeable, including irons (PM-V11 is new to me) so it looks/works very similar to my jointer. Surprisingly, it shares other parts with the Veritas family, the front mouth adjusting knob is identical to the original LV block plane, which means if you're so inclined, you could remove the brass knob and replace it with the accessory wooden knob. I don't necessarily think it improves the ergonomics, it does kind of look slick. This shouldn't be surprising, given LV usually offers custom handles and totes. However, the rear tote is less customizable (if you care), the bracket mounted to the wood is epoxied and not user replaceable, today.
Family Resemblance
The rear tote is fine according to typical LV shapes & sizes. Further, when in the more upright handle position I like, an extended index finger grip (preferred) is possible with "pointer" resting on the lever cap tension screw which is usually much to low for this purpose on a BU bench plane. Another nice feature is the three adjustable set screws that allow you to easily set the angle of the iron perfectly square and to the angle of the adjustable mouth. Repeatability with zero fuss after honing. This allows you to get a tiny mouth opening if desired. A bonus "mystery" feature is the two holes that are on the bottom of the sole. I think that Lee Valley has some plan to release some other custom function for this this tool. Perhaps a plate to fit a shoot board or an angled fence to convert to a panel raising plane, mounting to make a tiny coopers jointer or some other opportunity that somebody will think of in the future.
The plane is styled in the modern Veritas ethos (which I like). Fit & finish is typical LV goodness. The only niggles I have are a couple tiny casting rough spots and a notch designed in the edge of the casting to clear the iron that could be visually cleaned up in the pattern design IMO. The plane is perfectly balanced along the length of its sole with the CG spot in the middle. However, in the ulnar rotation axis there's quite a bit of lean one way. Of course, this won't be a problem since we won't be using this like a bench plane, but this LH plane leans decidedly to the right when lifted (not surprising since it is heavy and only has one side wall.) I've only started to notice this roll in planes, after talking with the Old Street tool guys on their reasoning for RH & LH bench planes.
I don't currently have a shoot board, so I used my recently made bench hooks. Without even sharpening the blade, but straight out-of-the-box, I was able to effortlessly take paper thin shavings on end-grain in Walnut, Cherry, Pine and ancient oak.
Easy to Adjust

Bottom line, excellent plane. I'm sure I'll use this plane at every opportunity and it will excel at it's function (especially for us lefties). Another home run for the Canadians.
Mysterious Tapped Holes

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