Smoothing Plane No. 4-1/2 - Fine Woodworking Tool Review
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Smoothing Plane No. 4-1/2

Veritas - Smoothing Plane No. 4-1/2

The Veritas No. 4-1/2 smoothing plane features an adjusting mechanism based on the traditional Norris design but with some enhancements.

$190 (As of 8/1/2001)

(4 user reviews) Write a Review

Editor's Review:

by Ernie Conover

review date: August 1, 2001

As an ardent plane collector and user, I’d have bet there was nothing new you could show me in a bench plane. That was until Veritas unveiled its new No. 4-1/2 smoothing plane, based on the venerable Norris adjusting mechanism.

With the Norris system, the lever provides two adjustments. A knob on the end of the lever adjusts the blade height. And the lever itself provides lateral adjustment. Veritas enhanced the mechanism by putting grub screws at both sides of the throat, so the blade can be perfectly centered in the mouth opening.

The body is made from a ductile-iron casting, which is superior to the gray iron castings used in most other planes. Also, Veritas has reinforced the wood handle by adding a cast-iron rib and extending it from the top of the frog to the top of the handle, with a steel pin in the handle.

The main innovation of the plane, however, is the frog. It extends to the bottom of the sole. And because the frog and the body of the plane are ground as a pair, the end of the frog is absolutely flush with the sole. Another neat thing about the frog is that it can be adjusted front to back without removing the iron or lever cap.

The plane also has a thick blade made of A2 tool steel, which holds an edge well and is less likely to chatter. I didn’t find any burrs or sharp edges on the blade or cap, giving the plane a look and feel of one that was previously owned. I like that. And the blade came sharp, right out of the box.

After making the proper adjustments, I took a few passes with the plane on a workpiece and was rewarded with beautiful shavings and a perfect surface.

Editor Test Results:

Sole Flatness N/A

Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturer Veritas
Manufacturer's Web Site
Manufacturer's Phone Number 800-871-8158
Adjustable Mouth N/A
Blade Size 1/8 in. thick, 2-3/8 in. wide
Materials Steel: A-2, Cast-iron body

This plane is awesome! It was ready to use immediately after I opened it, although I did hone the blade. However, the best feature of this plane is the adjustment mechanisms: I find that it is exceedingly easy to adjust the depth of cut, mouth opening, and lateral blade position. Having only very little experience with hand planes, in minutes I was able to produce a smooth, mirror-like surface with a lot of depth and clarity. This plane has opened my eyes, as my previous experience with trying to tune a much cheaper plane hand caused hours of frustrating work, and ended in nothing special.I highly recommend this tool!

This plane is easily my favorite tool in the workshop. It was ready to go right out of the box. The sole was perfectly flat and the blade was honed razor sharp. It is very easy to adjust.

Let me start out by saying I love Veritas tools and thank the man who engineers them. For Christmas one year my wife bought me a Lie Nielsen 4 1\2 rosewood handle, high angle frog, smoother. Cost about 400 dollars. I was working on some particularly nasty wood and thought this was the answer to my prayers. Sadly despite the beautiful aesthetics it performed no better than my highly tuned Stanley and my handmade woodies. So I called L.N. and asked if I could return it. They sounded shocked as if no one returned one of their tools before. I don't care who you are if your tool don't cut it you're outta here. So I decided to take the return money (minus shipping of course, thanks L.N.) and I bought a Veritas 4 1\2 and a spare blade. And a cabinet scraper, and two bar clamps, and a rasp, and a few other small things (get the idea?). Took the second blade and honed a 15 degree back bevel like the instructions tell you (Hmmm obviously the company that sells these must use planes themselves) and viola! Worked like a dream for about 210 dollars less. Sole, dead flat. Blade, ready out of the box (minus back bevel). The only somewhat negative I can say about the tool is the handle is a little clunky out of the box, but I prefer to shape them myself anyway. Best plane I've bought so far. Cant say enough nice things about it.

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