042 Medium Shoulder Plane - Fine Woodworking Tool Review
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042 Medium Shoulder Plane

Lie-Nielsen - 042 Medium Shoulder Plane

Lie-Nielsen's all-metal 3/4-in. shoulder plane is based on the Record 042 and the classic shoulder plane design of Edward Preston.

$195 (As of 5/1/2007)

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Editor's Review: Tune Up a Shoulder Plane

by Chris Gochnour

review date: May 1, 2007

I use shoulder planes for many jobs, from trimming tenons, to refining dadoes and rabbets, to cleaning up machine marks. Lie-Nielsen has introduced a midsize shoulder plane called the 042 that traces its roots back over a century to the classic shoulder plane design of Edward Preston, and more recently, Record. Though the lineage is clear, Lie-Nielsen has made some improvements.

The bronze cap, which also serves as a palm rest, is a bit higher, making the tool more comfortable to hold and giving more hand clearance. The foot of the cap extends closer to the blade's bevel, improving its dampening abilities. The premium A2 steel blade is thick (0.150 in.). And the mouth is more precise and easier to adjust.

The plane is 7-3/4 in. long, 3/4 in. wide, and weighs 2.35 lb. At its highest point, it stands 3-3/4 in. tall. It fits the hand well and has heft, but is not so heavy that it's tiring to use.

The plane was perfect out of the box. After just a few minutes honing the blade, the tool's performance was first-rate. It sells for $175 at www.lie-nielsen.com.

Photo: Thomas McKenna

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Editor Test Results:

Sole Flatness Excellent

Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturer Lie-Nielsen
Manufacturer's Web Site www.lie-nielsen.com
Manufacturer's Phone Number 800-327-2520
Adjustable Mouth Yes
Blade Size 3/4 in. wide by .150 in. thick
Materials A2 steel blade, Iron, Bronze

As has been amply mentioned, fit and finish on this tool are excellent. Lie-Nielsen tools are truly a joy to behold. As I have used the plane to fit tenons into mortises, I have noticed that the blade's lateral adjustment is "knocked-out" fairly easily through normal use. I find myself having to push the blade back into position fairly frequently. Not a big deal, but the lateral adjusting set-screws on the Veritas are sounding like a pretty good idea now. I was also surprised at how little adjustment there is in the throat opening. I had visions of closing down the throat to submicron width and cutting near invisible shavings from the most difficult hardwoods... Not so. I can only close down to around an eighth of an inch. It still takes wonderfully fine shavings, but I had such high hopes! Despite those two gripes, I love this plane. You won't go wrong with any of Lie-Nielsen's products (in my opinion), however the Veritas tool also deserves some consideration.

I have used the Lie-Nielsen 042 plane to work tenons,rabbets, etc. It is an excellent tools and comes ready to use right out of the box.

Comfortable,sharp and effective. What else could you ask for?!

It kills me to pay the price. Once I use Lie-Nielsen products I'm glad I paid extra for the best. This plane produces the finest shaving that you can imagine. It is easy to adjust and a pleasure to use.

Picked up one to trim and fit tenons in white oak. Did a quick hone of the blade before starting, only needed to knock off the burr. Zip, zip, zip, tenons are done!

Used it almost right out of the box to tidy up some stub tenons. Easy to use, just the right size. Perfect for the job. Weebs

Fit and finish of this plane are exceptional! Yes - it costs more than other planes but the investment is definitely worth it! It was ready to use right out of the box with a bit of honing. It is a bit big but does a great job in trimming tenons on medium to large pieces. Like other Lie-Nielsen planes, they are definitely heirloom-quality and will outlast me!!! The blade can be easily adjusted to remove razor-thin shavings - very impressive. This was my first Lie-Nielsen plane that prompted me to purchase more of their planes. If you're looking for a shoulder plane - look no further.


i thought the plane was a little large and awkward to hold. i liked the feel of the small version. it seemed to fit my hand better and got my hand closer to the work -- which seemed to give me more control. the small version is only 1/8. (i'm 6' 2'' tall so i'm not a real small guy)i think either plane will be a great addition.



I just recieved one for a birthday present. Like all my Lie-Nielsen tools it was perfect and ready to work. Just hone the blade and it is ready to go. All the L-N tools are a real pleasure to use. Tools the way they should be, you get what you pay for.

Excellent tool, like all Lie-Nielsen tools, the shoulder plan has excellent fit and finish.

After trying this and Veritas' version, I opted for Veritas. MUCH easier to use, adjust, handle; and, it cut better. LOVE the adjustable handle on the Veritas. Usually I only opt for Lie-Nielsen, but for this one, they just didn't make it "user-friendly" like the Veritas

Having only been into woodworking for a couple of years, I don't have alot to add that hasn't already been said...I do use handplanes alot and this is one of my favorites....don't think you'll regret this purchase...very well made.

I received my Lie Nielsen medium shoulder plane last night and all I can say is 'wow'. The machining, finishing and heft all exceeded my expectations. After spending a few minutes on my 8000 stone honing the back & bevel of the blade and setting the mouth a bit tighter I took some very nice long and end grain shavings from a piece of pine. Then I tried it out on a piece of red oak. Those shavings would do one of my smoothers proud. The LN 042 feels like it's made of a solid piece of cast iron -- most impressive. It's almost impossible to see the joint between the sliding mouthpiece and the body of the plane.Regarding RBGill's negative comments about the alignment of the sides and the lever cap not being captive all I can say is 'huh?' What plane were you looking at?After adjusting the 042 to my liking and using it for an hour or so its price is an absolute bargain. If you need a shoulder plane, this one is highly highly recommended.

I use this tool all the time, mostly for tenons and deepening rabbits and dadoes. It is perfectly square, easy to adjust and simple to hold. It is very well made machine as are all Lee Nelson tools. If you are thinking of purchasing a shoulder plane, consider this one and with minor care, you will have it a life time.


I was very disappointed with the alignment of the sides to the sole of the plane and the very poor fit of the brass lever into the sides where it should be captured to allow the entire piece to pivot. I haven't decided weather to try to fix it myself or just send it back. This the third LN plane that has arrived in this kind of shape. The 072 plane was a better tool.

I honed the blade, and set the plane to work. It performed better than imagined, cutting nice whispy shavings across the grain of a tenon cheek. I plane trimmed a very accurate, straight tenon shoulder. It was worth every penny.Rick Barnes

A very convenient size. That's what the Lie-Nielsen Medium Shoulder Plane offers.Like nearly everything bearing Thomas Lie-Nielsen's name, the medium shoulder plane was perfect right out of the box. The casting was good; the machining was flawless and perfectly flat and square. The blade was ready to go, but a couple of honing passes gave me a feeling that I had improved upon the impeccable as-shipped quality.Put to the task of cleaning and refining joinery surfaces, the Lie-Nielsen Medium Shoulder Plane shines and brings a smile to the user's face. The size seems to be just right for this task. Squaring up Mortise and Tenon joints prior to assembly does not require the mass of a Jointer Plane, and that is how the Large Shoulder Plane can feel sometimes. The Medium Shoulder Plane allows the focus to be directed on the cut without the distraction of unneeded mass wanting to flail about.The shape feels very good in the hand, where the perfect 90 degree functional corners of the business end are complimented by gentle, comfortable radii where the hand makes its contact.Finally, the appearance accentuates the display when the tool is not in use. What Display? Well, naturally one builds a display rack to show off his planes. And among the bronze, ductile iron, cherry, rosewood, cocobolo and infilled ebony, the distinctive shape of a shoulder plane is a welcome sight. Like a row of chess pieces, with each assigned its unique role, the shoulder plane is unmistakable in its appearance and secure in its position of marked utility when called upon.Shoulder planes refine joinery and bigger does not always mean better. The Lie-Nielsen Medium Shoulder Plane goes places its big brother cannot, and does so with a feel that your hand says is "just right."

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