I recently needed a router plane for some inlay work to clean up the groove bottoms cut on my router table. So I proceeded over to the local Woodcraft to see what they had. I discussed it with Steve Quehl, the owner of the store who is a big hand tool aficionado, and he suggested a Lie Nielson small router plane. Most anything LN makes seems to be hundreds of dollars, but this little baby was about $80. What the heck.
But which one should I get? He suggested the closed throat so that it could be used for a mortise on an edge. He also mentioned that he saw Will Neptune use a clear acrylic base on an open throat model to accomplish the same thing. That apparently did not register on me because I ended up buying the closed throat.
I got back to the shop and immediately tried it out. I dropped the blade to the bottom of the groove I had made on the router table, tightened the knurled knob, and gently pushed. It didn’t budge. I pushed harder and it started to take a sizably thicker shaving than I intended to take. What a bummer! Is this how it’s supposed to work? I’ve seen them used before to make the groove depth uniform, but this one was especially hungry.
On closer examination I realized, since the blade is angled down slightly, that when I tightened the locking knob it was pushing the shaft back and the blade down. How you say? Not sure, but assuming the opening the shaft moves in is wider at the bottom than the top, it would certainly be possible.
So I called up LN customer support. The acknowledged that it was possible and there could be a problem. We even discussed an new micro adjuster they were getting ready to produce similar to the adjuster on their larger router plane. That sounded good. Of course they were more than happy to replace mine, but since I had just bought it that same day I went back and explained the situation to Steve. Sure enough, it did the same thing in front of him. We tried another, the open throat model, and viola, it held the setting perfectly. Problem solved.
This just goes to show that the best of brands can have issues. That doesn’t make the brand bad at all, because most everything I’ve bought for my shop has had to be tweaked in one way or another to get it to work right. The proof in the pudding is how they stand behind it. With Lie Nielson and Woodcraft, that certainly is not a problem.
Here’s some pics of my new “little beauty: