Veritas Small Shoulder Plane - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Put the router aside, and take hold of this beauty


Veritas Small Shoulder Plane

If you do any amount of hand work, then you're likely familiar with the shoulder plane. While widely used to true the shoulders of tenons, they are very handy to adjust tenon cheeks, rabbets, dados, half laps and the like. The shoulder plane is a precision tool, designed not to form these joints, but to refine them.
At 1/2" wide the new Veritas Small Shoulder Plane is middle sibling in the Veritas shoulder plane line-up (the large shoulder plane is 1-1/4" wide, the medium plane is 11/16" wide, and the baby is 1/4" wide). It's about half the weight of the medium plane and a full one-third the weight of the large plane.
This plane shares the same pedigree as other planes in the Veritas stable - you can be pretty well assured that you're getting the superb machining and innovative features that typify Veritas products.

One of the first things to notice with this plane is how precisely the body is machined. Forged from ductile cast iron, the sides are dead flat and exactly square, while the edges of the sides are gently rounded over. The handle, which also serves as the lever cap, has a long curved sweep that extends just over the back of the depth adjustment knob. I found it very comfortable to hold. Another very nice feature is the through-hole in body; it affords me a more sensitive grip on the plane using my thumb and ring finger, enabling me to exert a high degree of control. Unique, it seems, to Veritas planes, are the set screws on the sides of the plane. These enable you to quickly and easily position the blade, and help prevent the blade moving out of square when adjusting the depth of cut.

Dead flat
Sharp but needs honing
The plane can be ordered with an O1 (oil quenched) or A2 (air quenched) blade. The primary bevel is ground to 25°, while the plane bed is at a 15° angle - this gives an effective cutting angle of 40°. I find that this cutting angle works very well, particularly as I keep the mouth very narrow, and set the blade to remove the thinnest of shavings.
The back of the blade is dead flat. While the blade bevel is sharp, I felt it could do with some judicious honing. If you look carefully at the blade when it's installed you'll see that it is slightly wider than the body of the plane (about 1/32"). Use the set screws to position the blade to the working side of the plane. Otherwise, you can simply grind the blade so that it sits flush with the sides. This took me a few strokes on a succession of waterstones from 200 to 4000 grit. While your at the waterstone it's not a bad idea to grind a micro bevel.
To get the most out of this plane you want to take the thinnest of shavings, after all, you're refining rather than forming a groove or rabbet. Obtaining the optimal mouth adjustment is a two step process - adjust the mouth opening, and then position the blade. Fortunately, Veritas ships the plane with a fairly small mouth opening, so you may not have to adjust the mouth. However, if you do want to further close (or open) the mouth, the process is very easy. First, loosen the toe locking screw on the top of the plane, and then adjust the mouth by turning the toe adjustment screw on the front on the plane. A narrow mouth supports the wood ahead of the shaving, reducing the chances of tear-out.

Toe locking screw (A) and Toe adjustment screw (B)
Lever cap wheel (A) and Depth adjustment knob (B)
In tandem with adjusting the mouth you need to adjust the blade. The blade adjustment mechanism consists of a lever cap wheel that locks the plane blade securely in place, and a  depth adjustment knob that enables you to advance or retract the blade.

While obtaining precise depth settings is relatively easy, you'll want to experiment with the blade adjustment mechanism somewhat. Bear in mind that you don't need to exert a lot of force when tightening the lever cap wheel.
Tools like the Veritas Small Shoulder Plane are meant to be used on a daily basis. But, with proper care, use and storage, they will last several lifetimes. Best of all, they are heritage tools that you can enjoy today.


  • 1/2" x 6-1/4"
  • 1/8" x 1/2" blade ground to 25°
  • 15° bed
  • 2 set screws to align blade
  • Ductile cast iron body
  • 1 lb 2 oz

Manufacturer:Veritas Tools Inc.
Available From:Lee Valley Tools
Retail Price:$169.00
Model #:05P47.01 (A2 blade)
05P47.51 (O1 blade)
Made In:Canada
Carl Duguay, January 2011
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