Tool review – hand plane

Here is one tool that will not gather dust in even a heavily mechanized shop

By Michel Roy

hand plane

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When I first started woodworking, I was drawn to hand tools such as planes and chisels and the way they quietly shaved away wood rather than noisily turning out mounds of dust. But as my hobby became my profession, the economies of time and physical exertion offered by power tools took over.

So now my antique hand planes rarely come off the shelf. Despite this, the Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane is one hand tool that will not gather dust in even a heavily mechanized shop.

The Veritas plane is a terrific update of a type of plane that has been around for a while. The plane itself is very well manufactured, incorporating details such as set screws that move the blade side to side, to enable you to adjust properly (and repeatably) the extension of the blade on the side of the plane. I found the blade-depth adjustment to be very sensitive and accurate, and the blade itself was well shaped and ready for honing out of the box. It required only a brief period of lapping the back and a final honing before I was ready to adjust the blade and start trimming tenons. The instruction manual that came with the plane was comprehensive and easy to understand, so I was able to get the shavings flying within half an hour of opening the package.

And what shavings they were! The combination of a low bed angle, a sharp A2 tool steel blade and a tightly adjustable mouth performed flawlessly in trimming both shoulders and cheeks of tenons for some pine beds I was building for my sons, as well as a white oak, Mission-style bookcase. I found the weight and shape of the plane were nicely suited to my medium-size hands, and, more important, it was just as easy to grip when using it vertically as laying it on its side. There is an adjustable brass knob on the lever cap that you can move from side to side to help you get a better grip, although I found it convenient simply to leave it in the vertical position.

For years I used my trusty old Millers Falls rabbet plane to trim tenons, while keeping an eye out for a nice shoulder plane. I’ve found it in this well-made offering from Veritas. It costs about $179 and is available at, or call 800-267-8761.

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