The Veritas Combination Plane - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Shop Tools: The Veritas combination plane is a groove demon, also capable of cutting rabbets, dados, tongues, flutes, beads and reeds. We give you some tips on getting the most from this wonder plane.

Veritas Combination Plane

The Veritas Combination Plane



Photos by Carl Duguay; Lead Photo by Rob Brown
 
Combination planes aren’t new – Stanley introduced its first combo plane (the #45) in the late 19th century, and followed up with the #55 around the turn of the 20th century. Before the advent of these all-metal planes woodworkers would have dozens of wooden planes for each specialized task. With the introduction of the Stanley 45, a single hand plane equipped with a set of specialized blades was all a woodworker would need. However, these early combination hand planes were temperamental in use, which had the effect of limiting their widespread adoption.
 
While Lee Valley might owe some fealty to Stanley, the Veritas combination plane (VCP) is a marked advancement in design, construction, and functionality. Plus, it’s a lot easier to use.
 

Three main parts

The VCP is made up of three parts (or ‘skates’) – a main body that holds the cutter, a middle sliding section that supports the cutter, and an outer sliding fence. When assembled, the VCP looks pretty awesome, if somewhat intimidating with those 17 brass knobs, along with the posts, scoring spurs, depth stops, adjustment screws and a multitude of cutters.
 
Fortunately, the user manual does a good job of explaining how the plane works for each of its six main functions. Be forewarned – you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration if you actually read the manual before you begin to use the VCP.
 
You will need to spend some time practicing with this plane before committing to a first project. The VCP requires a slight modification of your hand planing technique to ensure optimum results. Essentially this involves pushing the plane forward in small increments using one hand, while applying constant pressure on the fence with the other hand, all the while maintaining the plane in a vertical orientation. Once you get this controlled stroke down pat you’ll be flying.
 
The VCP comes with a single 1/4" grooving blade. You might also want to purchase one of each of the other five blades (tonguecutting, fluting, beading and reeding) in a width that you often use in your projects, to practice with.
 
veritas-combination-plane-impressive-looking
Impressive Looking – The Veritas combination plane is a versatile and well thought-out hand tool that will create many different joints and details.
 
veritas-combination-plane-learn
A Lot to Learn – With all sorts of functionality built into this one tool it can be easy to not completely understand it. Read the well-written owner’s manual before making any shavings.
 
veritas-combination-plane-start-end
Start at the End – Once the plane is set up properly, make your first partial at the far end of the board, then make successively longer cuts, eventually ending up with a full-length pass as shown in the above photo.
 
veritas-combination-plane-cutter-collection
A Collection of Cutters – It’s very handy to have as wide a selection of cutters on hand as you can afford. The wide selection of cutters is one of the reasons why the Veritas combination plane is so helpful around the shop.

7 Tips for Using Your Veritas Combination Plane

To help you enjoy using, rather than struggling with, your combination plane we’ve listed some tips that you may want to consider.
• Choose stock that is fairly straight grained, avoiding highly figured grain and stock with rising and reversing grain.
• Keep the blades sharp – when they stop slicing, start sharpening.
• Set the blades to take shallow cuts, gradually increasing the depth of cut, rather than hogging off too much in a single pass.
• Set the stock at a comfortable work height so that your forearm and upper arm are nearly at 90°.
• With one hand maintain lateral pressure on the fence throughout the cut, and with the other hand push the plane forward, avoiding downward pressure on the plane handle.
• Take short strokes beginning at the end of your stock, progressively re-starting the plane five or six inches back from each initial starting point.
• Make sure you keep the plane vertical throughout the cut.

Sharp and straight

Sharp blades and straight stock are two key points to keep in mind if you want to master this tool. I suggest you practice on a low- or medium-density wood with as straight grain as you can find. Butternut, walnut, mahogany and soft maple are good choices. Stick with planing long grain until you’re comfortable using the VCP, then go on to cross-grain planing, when you’ll use the two scoring spurs on the main body and middle skate.
 
veritas-combination-plane-sharp
Keep it Sharp – Like any hand tool, if the blade isn’t sharp you’re going to get frustrated and produce poor results.
 
veritas-combination-plane-rabbets
Big or Small – Even tiny rabbets are a breeze while using this new plane.
 
A combination plane isn’t just for those folks who’ve forsaken power tools altogether. You’ll find it a welcome alternative to the router for cutting occasional grooves and rabbet or when doing edge treatment on one-off projects. For production runs you’ll still likely want to revert to the ‘scream machine’.
  












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Dryburgh Pattern Maker’s Planes (Aug/Sept 2015)
Metal Hand Plane Tune Up (Feb/Mar 2010)

 
 

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