Here’s something I’ve learned. Disregard 90% of the information you read on most online forums and 100% of the attitudes.
When I was first looking into purchasing a shoulder plane a year ago I had three pieces of information swirling around in my head. The first was the fact that I had just purchased my first few Lie Nielsen planes and I loved them. The second was that almost everyone with an opinion on online forums said that they preferred the feel of the Veritas version and the third was this opinion by Shannon Rogers that maybe I didn’t need one at all.
At the time I was using an old skew rabbet plane as a shoulder plane and I have to admit I found it helpful. That encouraged me to disregard Shannon (no disrespect Renaissance man) and blaze my own path, but all of that rebellious spirit was cut short by the forum dwellers and the seed of ergonomics they had planted in my brain. Besides, I had (and have) other Veritas planes too, so maybe they were right.
And they were. Sort of.
Let me first say that the Veritas shoulder planes are all exquisite tools. There is no difference in quality in my mind between them and their Lie-Nielsen counterparts. When it comes to bench planes I tend to favor LN and with joinery planes I favor Veritas.
Let me also say I get where people are coming from with the Veritas plane. The design is smart for most people, but it was never quite right for me. In my (admittedly larger) hands, the Veritas plane always felt cramped. A few weeks ago I finally decided to do what I always should have done and listed my Veritas medium shoulder plane for sale. If you’ve followed along thus far, this is where the story actually starts.
That sale ad sparked a cross-country conversation between Marilyn Guthrie (of She Works Wood blog fame) and myself about the differences between the two. As it turns out, she had the Lie-Nielsen version and wished she had purchased the Veritas. The rest of the story can really be summed up in two words: “let’s trade”. In short order we both packed up our shoulder planes and sent them from Atlantic to Pacific (and vise versa) and I have to say that as soon as I felt the swoop of the bronze Lie-Nielsen cap in my palm I knew this was the right plane for me. No money exchanged hands, just tools and good will.
I’m not sure exactly why I felt the need to tell this story. It certainly wasn’t to compare the two planes. Maybe it was just to say thank you to Marilyn and an online community that still has a good spirit about it.
Maybe it’s because the idea seemed simultaneously obvious and revolutionary. Trading? Isn’t that what you do with baseball cards and well, whatever kids are artificially inflating the value of these days? How will commerce survive?
Maybe it’s just a reminder to trust your instincts every once in a while above the chatter.
They’re both exceptional tools. Now, they’re just in the right hands.