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Which Shoulder Plane?

frankfive's picture

I am in the market for a first quality shoulder plane and think I have narrowed it down to the Lie-Nielsen Medium Shoulder Plane and the Veritas Medium Shoulder Plane.

I suspect this is one of those decisions where you can't go too wrong either way. And, as luck would have it, both Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen will be represented at the NJ Woodworking Show this weekend, so I'll get both in my hands up close and personal to see and feel.

Since this is mostly a matter of nuance and preference, I'd love to know how those of you who have one or the other like it and came to your conclusion. (And I got a dollar says at least one person out there owns one of each!)



There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.       - Steven Wright

captainkidd's picture

(post #104202, reply #1 of 16)

I've been kicking around getting one also, I know I can work around not having one it's just one of those nice to have things. I keep flopping back and forth between the LV and LN (I am a big LN fan with all my planes being LN). I know FWW's review named the LV one as being best overall but either way I think you probably couldn't go wrong. Unfortunately I wasn't exactly in the Shoulder plane mode when the wood working show was here back in August (or was it Oct?) anyway so dummy me didn't really mess around and compare how they feel. Woodcraft here has a LN one in stock so I can sort of mess with that but would like to have a side by side comparison.


TampaTom's picture

(post #104202, reply #2 of 16)

eeenie, meeenie, miney, moe...

How can you go wrong with either one? Both are premium tools... very pretty!

Tom Iovino
Tom's Workbench
Tom Iovino Tom's Workbench
ctsjr82's picture

(post #104202, reply #3 of 16)


I have the LV medium shoulder plane and am very happy with it. It is easy to tune and adjust. It fits comfortably in my hand. The blade holds an edge very well, and the entire plane is very high quality. It's also less expensive than the LN, also a very nice shoulder plane. I personally think the LN is a better looking plane with the bronze cap iron. Either one will be great. If I had it to do again, I'd stick with the LV. Hope that helps. Tom

"Notice that at no time do my fingers leave my hand"
"Notice that at no time do my fingers leave my hand"
Troys's picture

(post #104202, reply #4 of 16)

Both are nice, I would see which one feels best in you hands if that is possible. On a side note I have LNs small shoulder plane (the bronze one)and it is a neat little tool.


Paul_M's picture

(post #104202, reply #5 of 16)

Hey Frank

I bought the Large LN shoulder plane last year and loved it, but it's too big for my hands for fine work but is fantastic for trimming tenons and bigger projects overall.

Last week I bought the Small LN shoulder plane and have fallen in love with it immediately. It's so perfect for doing small finer work, the right weight and great size.

Both LN shoulder planes have adjustable throats so I leave the large one set for a big shaving and the small one quite fine for cleaning up moldings.

Its a luxury to have both, and if I had my time over I wouldn't get the large Shoulder plane but would go for the LN Rabbet block plane and the small LN shoulder plane. A great combo for all tasks - big and small.

Both LN's are beautiful tools that I really like the look of. Its hard to put them back in the toolbox once they come out.

Have had no exposure to the Veritas model, but can vouch for every aspect of the LN's.

gdblake's picture

(post #104202, reply #6 of 16)

The quality of both tools are essentially the same.  Try each one out as much as possible at the show and buy the one that is most comfortable to you.  When I went shoulder plane shopping a couple of years ago I tried out several brands and ended up buying an H.T. Gordon 1" ironwood shoulder plane.  It is a simple tool and I preferred the ergonomics of it to all of the metal ones. 

As a side note, I also have a Stanley 92 I bought about 5 years ago.  When I bought it I checked four or five before settling on the one I bought.  The problems had more to do with stripped threads in the planes' bodies than the planes being out of square.  I spent about two hours getting the sides square to the sole, straightening the mouth and flattening the bed.  The plane works well, both as a shoulder plane and as a chisel plane and is very comfortable to use.  The only real problem with the plane is that all of the adjustments are sloppy and I worry about stripping the threads on them.  I really wish some company would make a quality version of this tool and the other Stanley shoulder plane sizes.

We're all here because we're not all there.

derekcohen's picture

(post #104202, reply #8 of 16)

GD. good reply.

I have not used the LN so cannot say what it is like. What I have heard is that it is not as comfortable to use as the LV. However, I think that the LN has not had a fair shake in this regard since it very much depends on how you hold and use these planes. If you speak with Joel (Tools for Working Wood), he will explain that shoulder planes ideally need to be pulled and not pushed. This requires a different grip. So done, many are happy with the LN. It is certainly the prettier of the two brands. So try out the LN and LV, if you can, and be sure to also do so with different grips.

I have used the LV Medium extensively. A lot of thought has gone into its design. Where the LN builds on but remains within a traditional design, the LV goes further. Among shouldedr planes, the LV is a superior plane. This is in use and in the ergonomic and construction areas. I also have the HNT Gordon 3/4", and this is both beautiful and a solid user. I dislike the Stanley #92, not because it cannot cut as well as the others, but because it is not as ergonomic. I do like the larger #93 however.

Go here for a comparitive review I wrote on the above 3/4" shoulder planes:

Regards from Perth


Edited 2/15/2008 9:19 pm ET by derekcohen

frankfive's picture

(post #104202, reply #10 of 16)


Thanks to you and all the others who replied. It's unanimous: the LN is the better looking plane :-)

Your link to the very thorough review you wrote on the LV was impressive and informative. All the respondants who use the LV really speak highly of it. So far the only LN users are working with the large or small - no direct feedback on the medium.

I'm looking forward to getting both in my hand tomorrow. Taking in mind all you and the others have offered, I'll make the call and respond to this thread with my decision.

Best regards,


PS: There is a LN Medium Shoulder Plane bid up on Ebay right now to $175.01. A brand new one retails on the LN site for $175.00. Now that's a tool with good resale value!


There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.       - Steven Wright

elenzwood's picture

(post #104202, reply #11 of 16)

Frank I have a LN med shoulder plane and I find I use it much more than I thought. Great tool but can't comment on the LV. Was able to get a discount at our NWA show .(Northeastern Woodworkers Assoc.) Held here in Saratoga Spgs in the spring. I believe either one would be great Let us know which you choose

Anderson's picture

(post #104202, reply #7 of 16)

Frank ... Both the LV and LN are great tools and you would probably be happy with either. When I bought my shoulder plane, I went to one of the wood working shows, locally. I tried out the LN and the LV. I ended up with the LV for 2 reasons.

First, it fit my hand better ... much better and I have a large hand.

Second, the quality was there and price was less.

LV has been building planes and improving on the original build. LN has been reproducing the old designs. The LV's also have an adjustable throat. I like the way that they nestle between my thumb and index finger when holding them.


Barry in WV

Edited 2/15/2008 1:23 pm ET by Anderson

BobSmalser's picture

(post #104202, reply #9 of 16)

I still much prefer the Stanleys.  Compact, are pulled as easily as pushed, and all easily convert to handy chisel planes.  There are plenty of older #93's out there with no abuse or cracks, and the #93 is the most-used size.

“Perhaps then, you will say, ‘But where can one have a boat like that built today?’  And I will tell you that there are still some honest men who are not scared to use hand tools, who can sharpen a saw, plane, or adze:  there are still some who know that a little healthy exercise will not do them any lasting harm.  To be sure, most of these honest men live and work in rather out of the way places, but that is lucky, for in most cases they can acquire the provided boatbuilding materials for perhaps one third of city prices.  But, best of all, some of these gentlemen’s boatshops are in places where nothing but the occasional honk of a wild goose will distract them from their work.” -- L Francis Herreshoff ,  The Common Sense of Yacht Design

frankfive's picture

(post #104202, reply #12 of 16)

Thanks again to all who weighed in on this subject.

Today I got to demo both the LV and LN Medium Shoulder planes at the woodworking show in NJ.

The two have more similarities than differences. Both have the heft to move through the cut with ease but are nimble and comfortable to maneuver.  Where the business takes place, these planes are very much the same.

The quality, fit and finish on both is top shelf. Adjustments/settings on each are sure and precise.

The difference came in the grip. The LV has an adjustable knob for the back hand; the LN has a curved bronze cap that serves as the hand piece. The LV does give you a little more purchase in the grip, the LN has a smoother feel.

I believe the difference in feel is solely a personal decision. I selected the LN. I liked the way my hand felt on the bronze cap. I felt like I was engaging more of the tool and guiding the whole of the mass through the work.

And (Thank you to Joel in Brooklyn via Derek) I used the plane both pushing and pulling to get a good feel for it. They were both a joy to use. The gentle curve and feel of the bronze cap made the only difference for me.

LN was offering 10% off at the show if you purchased $300 or more. Obviously I had to get a Cabinet Maker's Scraping Plane to add to my collection. That's 10% off, no tax and free shipping. Not a bad deal!


There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.       - Steven Wright

Tony Z's picture

(post #104202, reply #13 of 16)

You would be satisfied with either!  I have the medium LV and the large LN.  It seems I use both about the same.  Initially I liked the feel of the LV better, but after learning how to hold the LN that became a moot point.  I like the traditional look of the LN far better than the modernistic look of the LV. 

Both are top notch tools that do their job equally well.


9619's picture

(post #104202, reply #14 of 16)

In your last message you hit the nail on the head. There isn't much difference in quality between the LN and LV. But there is one thing that ALL LNs have over the LVs -- for some reason, they sell on EBAY for close to, and sometimes more than their retail price. There have been a number of threads on Knots about that phenomenon. It is not "fair" to LV, but that's business.

You can buy just about any LN plane or chisels, etc and use them for a week, month, year, five years or ten years and essentially get your money back whenever you want. That is a very nice factor in favor of the LN, which just blows the LVs out of the water.

I have no ties to either company, or any company. That is something you need to think about in evaluating responses on Knots.

The ability to get "liquid" tools, that is, tools that you can sell without a big loss at any time is VERY VERY nice. If you decide you don't want the mediom LV shoulder plane, sell it and get the little or the big one, etc etc etc. You just can't beat that advantage with a stick, even if you plan to keep the tools forever.

Have fun.

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

frankfive's picture

(post #104202, reply #15 of 16)

The resale is amazing. And LV doesn't do too badly either.

Two recent Ebay auctions I was watching:

LN Med Shoulder Plane sold for $184.49
LV Med Shoulder Plane sold for $175.16

Both sell brand new from the manufacturer for $175 or so.

I suspect it is the way the endorphines start popping when folks get to bidding and competing and trying to "win."


There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.       - Steven Wright

9619's picture

(post #104202, reply #16 of 16)

While LV planes can go high on EBay as you found, LN is almost a sure thing.

The reason seems to be two-fold. In Europe and other places with VAT (Value Added Tax), it is cheaper to pay full price on EBAY than to buy it locally.

I have contacted some folks who have bought LN high on EBAY and in those cases, the people had never checked on the retail cost of the plane. To me that is nearly insane, but apparently it happens.

Have fun. But remember what I said about people's affiliations, which are rarely openly stated, and sometimes they are complex or subtle. Evaluating advice on Knots is an ART, not a science

One of my favorite cartoons is of one dog, typing at a computer, talking to another dog who is standing alongside the desk, and saying, "The really nice thing about the internet is that nobody knows that I am a dog."

Have fun with you shoulder plane.

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot.