I have always admired the Lie Nielsen hand tools. They seemed to me to be the Cadillac of the trade. When I saw them demonstrated at Hearne Hardwoods this fall I decided that the low angle block plane would make a fine Christmas present. Sure enough Santa put one under the tree for me.
So what is so special about a Lie Nielsen (LN) hand tool, or especially a block plane. I had built a number of boats using a Stanley block plane and they came out just fine. Well when I took my new LN for a spin I realized what an incredible tool it is. First, let’s recount the difficulties with using my old Stanley. When it needed sharpening it came apart easily enough but went back together kicking and screaming. Adjusting the blade so that you got the same depth of cut you had originally was a trial and error sort of endeavor. You also had to worry about the blade being square (there is an adjustment toggle thing on the old Stanley that squares it up). The mouth was adjustable but not easily. Minor adjustments on the fly are frustrating.
Here is the new and the old.
To sharpen the blade of the Lie Nielsen is so easy. You rotate the spin wheel holding the blade down, remove the bronze cap iron and out she comes. I gave the iron a modest honing with my water stone and plopped it back in place. There was no need to square the iron and it went right back to its original depth setting thanks to a groove on the iron that mated with the blade adjusting nut.
Mouth opening was an easy adjustment too. It was so easy that there is now no barrier to adjusting to the right setting while in the midst of a delicate job.
Here are two views of the Lie Nielsen low angle block plane.
It is great to see such a quality tool made in the US. The Lie Nielsen motto is “Heirloom Quality Tools.”. Sure enough.
I can’t wait to really engage this fine tool.
Next time I start my next guideboat.