|The Veritas low angle smoother is about the same
size as their 4 ½ smooth plane. It lacks the unique adjustable frog of the 4 ½ and the
blade width is smaller; the plane is also understandably lighter. The plane does have an
adjustable mouth opening that is controlled by the front handle.
I received my plane in good condition, the sole and side were flat as well as square. I put it to test straight away against by bevy of similar sized planes as well as the Veritas low angle block plane thrown in just for comparison purposes.
|I like to try a plane straight out of the box just
to evaluate the state it is delivered in. While this plane was able to make shavings as
thin as 0.004" right out of the box it left what I thought was an unacceptable or at
least surprising "rough" feel to the stock, not nearly as smooth as the Veritas 4 ½ for example.
I inspected the blade which seemed plenty sharp and could find no reason for this. Because
it is so easy to do, I brought out the Tormek
and went to work on what seemed to be a perfectly sharp blade, I also increased the grind
angle a degree or two as is my practice with this sharpener. After reinstalling the blade
the transformation was like night and day! The plane was now producing shavings in the
0.002" range with a silky smooth finish as one would expect of a low angle tool. I
mention this just in case a buyer also finds themselves with a similar performing tool. I
don't consider this a fault since it was easily solved by normal sharpening.
In use I've found the tool to be easy to use, actually a pleasure; I find that I like it better than their 4 ½ although in many cases the 4 ½ leaves an equally smooth finish on the stock. Being lighter with a narrower blade makes it a little easier to push (not as easy as my Primus planes though) and I think a little more maneuverable as well. Unlike the 4 ½ my hand does not inhibit the flow of shavings from the mouth either.
The blade adjustment mechanism allows for both lateral and depth changes. Changing either is very precise with minimal backlash in the depth adjustment. Like most Veritas planes it has two small set screws in the body which constrain the blade laterally. I think these screws improve the stability of the blade. The blade is held in place by a very thick cap which supports the blade up almost to where the bevel starts.
The handles (on mine at least) are treated differently than those on my 4 ½ (purchased earlier). The handle on the 4 ½ almost look painted by comparison, these are probably naturally finished. It doesn't make it work better but I prefer it. I have found that I have had to tighten down the tote handle screws more than one, a little loc-tite would probably fix that.
Lee Valley (Veritas) has recently established at least a decent reputation as a maker of fine hand planes, this low angle smoother is I feel one of their better offerings both from a performance and value standpoint.