Reviews

Veritas Combination Plane

The Veritas Combination Plane is a tool that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time now, and it’s finally arrived!

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large plow plane

The Veritas Combination Plane and storage box(es)

The Veritas Combination Plane has been a long time coming (though not as long as another fabled combination plane…hehe) – the woodworking community first heard of it a few years ago on various forums, and was initially being called the Large Plow Plane.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plow Plane, Large Plough Plane, Stanley No. 45

The Veritas Combination Plane in it’s box

The plane was demonstrated at Handworks in Amana this year, where Veritas took pre-orders, and is being released in Lee Valley stores (and website sometime early September). Here’s Fine Woodworking’s first look at it.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Beautiful torrefied maple handles

Mine arrived at the local Lee Valley store for pickup earlier today (yes, I am one of the fortunate/unfortunate ones that have a local Lee Valley store), and despite having a very busy day, I had to go pick it up. It arrived with the plane box, and two blade boxes – fenced planes with lots of different blades can be a pain to store so this should help. The boxes are cnc machined out of baltic birch, and fit the blade, the extra fence rods and blade boxes.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Side view, showing the main body of the plane and torrefied maple fence

I haven’t had the opportunity to take this for a whirl yet, so this isn’t a review, but first impressions of the Veritas Combination Plane are fantastic – it sure looks to be made with the typical Veritas attention to detail and quality craftsmanship. The 17 brass knobs add some bling to otherwise sleek body, and while it has a heft to it, it doesn’t seem to be as heavy as a Stanley No. 45. A big factor in my decision to purchase this plane was the compatibility with Stanley combination plane blades, which I plan on testing out soon. It also came replete with a torrefied maple fence, a nice touch, as the fence matches the handle and torrefied maple is a very stable material.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Yes, it has a lot of knobs

Speaking of the Stanley No. 45, I never really liked them much, and in preparation for the arrival of the newcomer, I sold both of mine – and if first impressions are anything to go by, I won’t be looking back.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

The box is very well made, from baltic birch

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 0 comments
Ashley Iles MKII Chisels- First Impressions

Ashley Iles MKII Chisels- First Impressions

I spent a pretty large proportion of my time as a beginner woodworker looking for, and restoring old tools. Probably way too much time, and it took away from time I should have spent learning to saw, chisel and plane properly. In recent months I went through a bit of a philosophical change, sold off most of my extra tools (I had a lot) and for the most part, started replacing them with new, high quality tools. I’ll be writing about what brought about this change and the tools I forsook and what I replaced them with in another post. Nevertheless, it’s actually very easy to find an old plane and turn it into a stellar performer. Old chisels are actually a bit more finicky (and boring) to restore. Not to mention some people (myself included) find mismatched sets of chisels rather unattractive. I guess I’m just shallow like that. Anyways, it was time to look for a new set of bench chisels, and after a lot of research, I decided to go with the set of six Ashley Iles MKII Chisels.

Ashley Iles, MKII, Chisels, Alfie Shine, Marking Knife

My package from the UK – Ashley Iles MKII chisels, Alfie Shine and Marking Knife

When I first started woodworking, I bought my first ever chisels from Home Depot. It wasn’t long before I outgrew them. I’ve tried a variety of chisels up till now, the new Stanley Sweethearts, mismatched vintage chisels, Marples blue chips, the red Footprint equivalents and a set of vintage German chisels to name a few. Some of these were great, and some not so much. Add to that the fact that every single forum thread on chisels seems to include at least a few references to Ashley Iles MKII Chisels, Paul Sellers used to recommend them(not so much nowadays), my lack of self control and my newfound determination to replace my old tools with top quality tools that require no work, and I found myself ordering the set of six MKII chisels before I knew it.

Ashley Iles, MKII Bench Chisels

The MKII chisels in the tool roll they come in

There are no dealers for Ashley Iles tools in Canada, so I purchased mine from the Ashley Iles website. They were out of stock initially, so I had to wait a little before I could place my order. The set of six MKII chisels and shipping to Canada cost me around $220, a very decent price for a high quality set of chisels. The website warns that these tools are in high demand, and may take up to 21 days before they ship, and they aren’t joking. Mine took 22 days, and was shipped using Royal Mail Standard, so it was close to two months before I finally received mine. These chisels are handmade in Sheffield, and Ashley Iles are a small family run business, so the wait is well justified.

MKII, Ashley Iles, Bench Chisels

Glue squeeze out from the ferrules

The chisels arrived in a rolled up jean tool roll. I don’t travel with my chisels, so the tool roll is extraneous to my requirements, but it’s still I nice touch. I believe they used to come with a leather roll before, but that’s just how these things go. This was the first tool I ordered from the UK, and something about it had me super excited. Upon unravelling the tool roll and taking out the chisels, I was…rather disappointed. The brass ferrules on most of the chisels were loose and coming off, which was expected, coming from humid England to dry, cold northern Alberta. However, the underneath the ferrules was a healthy amount of glue squeeze out, that was clearly not wiped off during manufacturing. The manufacturer’s mark on the chisels was stamped on without much care as to the orientation, making the overall fit and finish of the tools rather sloppy. This might seem nit-picky, but given that most premium, small tool manufacturers go over and above what is expected these days, this aesthetic lack of care was rather disappointing. Other than these issues the chisels have an understated beauty about them – the Bubinga handles are hand turned, in classic and simple pattern that is easy to hold and is hefty enough to be able to withstand striking.

Ashley Iles MKII, Bench Chisel

The manufacturer’s marks were stamped on without much care for the orientation

Anyways, given the disappointing first impressions, I was really worried about the flatness of the chisel backs. The chisels are slightly hollow ground, and this is supposed to make the backs easier to flatten. I decided to skip the 1200 grit diamond stone and head straight to my 4000 and 8000 grit Bester Imanishi ceramic stones to flatten and hone the chisels. Once I started I realised immediately that I needn’t have worried about the quality of the steel – the backs flattened to a polish in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. Honing the edges was similarly quick. The steel was befitting of a premium chisel, and ultimately that’s what counts the most.

Hollow grind, Ashley Iles, MKII Chisels

The flattened backs on all the chisels, showing the hollow grind

I used the chisels to build a dovetailed coffee box for a friend’s birthday, and they really excelled at chopping and cleaning out the corners of the pins and tails. The lands are ground down very fine at the tip, making them very well suited to the dovetailing tasks. In use the chisels felt balanced, hefty and well made.

Overall I wouldn’t list these chisels as premium offerings – they don’t have the fit and finish required to be considered in the same league as the Veritas, Lie Nielsen or Blue Spruce bench chisels. That being said, the set of six Ashley Iles MKII chisels were considerably cheaper – less than half the price of the set of five Veritas PMV11 chisels, and less than a third the cost of Blue Spruce chisels, so maybe it’s not a fair comparison. It should be noted that the price has gone up quite a bit since I ordered them. They’re currently around 40% more expensive than they were a few months ago. For the price I paid, I don’t regret the purchase at all – it’s still early days, but it appears other than the minor issues with fit and finish, the Ashley Iles MKII chisels are lifetime tools that are premium where it counts.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Reviews, Tools, 0 comments
Veritas Custom Bench Planes: New Shop Additions

Veritas Custom Bench Planes: New Shop Additions

Anyone who knows me or has visited my instagram knows I’m a big fan of Veritas tools. Part of the reason why is the commitment to quality and customer service that they’re known for, but there’s more to it than that – I won’t bore you with all of it, but I’ll mention a few. Veritas still manufactures their tools right here in Canada, and they have one of the lowest CEO:ground level employee pay ratios around. They are also the only high quality mainstream woodworking tool manufacturer (there really are only two of those right now, but anyways) who innovate with their tools, adding features that make their tools easier to use or work better. In 2014, Veritas released a new line of bevel down bench planes, the Custom Bench Planes.

Veritas Custom Bench Planes

Veritas No. 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 Custom Bench Planes

 

As the name implies, these can be customised with a variety of frog angles, two different choices of blade steel, and 6 different totes and knobs to choose from. I recently treated myself to two of the custom bench planes, a No. 4 1/2 with a 55 degree frog and a No. 5 1/2 with a 45 degree frog. I pondered getting a Lie Nielsen 4 1/2 for a while but decided to go with the Veritas instead. I plan on writing a little review on the planes soon, and I’ll go over why I chose the Veritas then.

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Wispy transparent shavings

For now, heres a few images that’ll show you why I’m pretty delighted with the performance of these two new additions so far. These were the first shavings I got out of these planes on some Bubinga and Pine with only a bit of honing on the blades.

Fine shavings less than a thousandth of an inch.

Wispy thin shavings less than a 0.001″ thick.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 1 comment