New Grips for My Veritas #5-1/4 Bench Plane

Of all the bench planes (bevel-down) I have acquired, the Veritas ones have been by far the easiest to adjust and for that, I love them.  Blade adjustments have always been responsive and predictable; I could set the mouth to let through only a sliver of light quicker than you can read the upcoming quote, all without using any tools.

However, I never found their bubinga totes very comfortable.  To me, they felt too flat, too upright, too narrow, and the sharp horn made it uncomfortable to brace against my stomach (as I do when drawing small pieces of wood across the plane’s sole).  Rob Lee, president of Lee Valley Tools Ltd. (Veritas is the manufacturing arm of Lee Valley Tools Ltd.), once made this comment:

“You all should be modifying all of your tool handles to suit your own handle preferences in the first place.  Any single design will only suit a part or the population in the first place.”

(Find this quote, among many others, on my page titled Quotables.)

I have made custom totes and matching knobs for most of my tools but a few have only seen minor modifications such as a touch with a rasp or the removal of the shiny plastic finish with a spokeshave or coarse sandpaper.  Shiny handles suck!

Suck:No Suck

Three years ago, I made a new tote and knob for my Veritas #4 which is my favourite bench plane.  I used some really unique dogwood and the result was not only comfortable and non-fatiguing, but also beautiful.

#4 Bench Plane

Last Sunday, I had some free time in the afternoon so I decided to make a better tote and knob for my newest Veritas bench plane, the #5-1/4.  For Veritas bench plane totes, the recesses and bores were a little more complicated to make than with others, but all it took was some careful layout and a little creative jigging.

Drilling Veritas Tote

Making the knob was simple in comparison.

IMG1949

I tried to find cherry with some character but was disappointed, especially so for the tote.  Once I was done, I noticed that the light-coloured grips reminded me of Lie-Nielsen planes.  Does anybody else agree with me?

IMG1953

I documented my progress live on Twitter using hashtag #FlairWW (follow me @FlairWoodworks) which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  I compiled the photos and Tweets into a video (duration – 5:50).

8 thoughts on “New Grips for My Veritas #5-1/4 Bench Plane

  1. Nice Chris. The tote angle effects the pressure onto the wood to maintain firm contact. The bench height and worker height would make a difference as well.

    • Morgan,

      As usual, you’re absolutely right. Would you believe that I’m still working on that tall workbench I built last year? I do everything on that bench despite its height. It’s an interesting experiment and so far I’m liking it. Long planing sessions are tiresome and on the uncomfortable side, though.

      Chris

  2. I agree with the comments about the plane looking like a LN with the lighter coloured wood. My first thought as I was skimming and scrolling, was why you threw in a LN plane into the post at the end…

    I’m looking to get a #4 to add to my veritas Low-angle block plane and low-angle jack. I’m stuck between looking for a good Stanley user and just going with the Veritas…

    (I already own a number of Veritas – LA jack, block, small plow, large router, and pull-shave. I suppose my mind is already made up, but I would be interested in hearing how you would compare the Veritas #4 with an old Stanley #4 if you have the experience of both)

    -Nate

    • Hi Nate,

      Yes, I own a few Stanley Bailey-type planes and Veritas bench planes. I also have a Woodriver bench plane which is a copy of the Lie-Nielsens which are based on the Stanley Bedrocks.

      All the planes are capable of very fine or coarse work, but the Veritas planes shine in their ease of adjustment. The Veritas #4 is my favourite plane so I use it the most for a variety of tasks requiring different blade/mouth settings.

      The mouths of the other planes are more awkward and slow to adjust so they remain fixed in one place.

      I think the Stanley #4 is a bit shorter in length than the Veritas as well, but I could be wrong.

      So you want to know whether I would suggest the Stanley or Veritas #4. I will give you what seems to be my standard response these days: for what purpose do you want it?

      Chris

      • I suppose I am looking for a general “go-to” plane. It would mostly be used for final smoothing. The jack I have is very nice, but a smaller, lighter plane would be great.

        I have been going through Paul Sellers’ stuff lately in an attempt to brush up my skills and he seems to use the #4 quite a bit, as do many other people. I am also interested in trying a bevel-down plane as compared to the bevel up block and jack I own.

        -Nate

  3. Nice, i haven’t uses my veritas LAJ long enough to determine what modification would make it better. but i won’t be afraid to modify.

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