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     Audio slide show interview with Tom Lie-Nielsen.
     Tune up a new plane.


Anybody have any input on which planes to buy? I want two, a rough plane and a finish plane, maybe also a small scraper. I don't think I can afford two L-N, but one is possible. I am thinking of the record 9.5  and one of the L-N's. Any advice?  (Mark Bolan)

    I think a grooved #3 (or equivalent) for roughing and a Record 9 1/2 would do you well.  (Bob Maulucci)

    If I were to start over today I would buy 2  L-N 91/2's. One with a grooved sole and one flat. You can use the flat one for roughing, the grooved one for all but the last few thousands, and finish the last few swipes with the flat one again. The grooved one really saves on nicking the forms. Of course 2 L-N planes are expensive but you save in the long run.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I just picked up a Stanley #3 plane and really like it, you can find nice used ones for under $50, that and maybe a older 9 1/2 or Stanley #18 knuckle plane (my favorite) and some Hock blades and you'll be set.  (Tim Stoltz)


I was looking for a place to buy a Record 9 1/2 plane so did a search. Interestingly every web page that came up was linked to Have these guys got some kind of sole distributor agreement now for the US?  (Larry Puckett)

    Got mine from Jeff Wagner.  Nice folks and full of info.  They’ve got Hock blades, too.  (Jason Swan)

    Try Lee Valley Tools.  They have them cheaper than anywhere else.  (Don Anderson)

      If you are going to check out Lee Valley, check out Veritas Low Angle Block Plane P/N 05P22.01 Friend of mine has one and it is one sweet plane.  (Don Schneider)

    I got mine at Woodcraft.  (Bill Bixler)


What is the best way to restore the Japanned finish on an old plane?  (Ray Wallace)

    See this site.  (Larry Blan)

      That was a GREAT link you provided!  Thank you!

      However, I would be hard pressed to ruin a hundred years of honest wear and tear on a fine old plane.

      Oh sure...I throw my planes on the floor and kick them around and simulate a lot a wear in a mere five minutes, but only after screwing up a strip.

      I like to think that 'wear' is also honest...more beer please?  (Mike Shay)

        Well, I won't be stripping any of mine, especially the #3 that still has the decal on the tote. Not my place to judge, though, I just provided the info! :)  (Larry Blan)

          I have to agree.  I buy planes to use, not to look at, anyway.  I wouldn't consider stripping a  plane that  still had  as much  as 50% of the original finish.  If it isn't a showcase plane that was never used, then most collector's like to see honest wear.  As they say on the Antiques RoadShow, it adds "provenance".  (Paul Gruver)


I have been slowly finding tools but find it difficult to find others.. I am looking for a dial micrometer the 60 degree tip I believe is what it is called. I am building my own forms and I have found the metals and screws for it  I have the files to square up everything. But I need to find the  wood plane is really necessary to buy a Stanley or can use other ones. I am looking the plane blade jig so I can sharpen it correctly but none of the Lowes or other places know what I am talking about. so that is kind of a list I am sure that others will come as I look but If you have any Ideas where I can find these items it would be greatly appreciated.  (Craig Dinsdale)

    You could probably pick up the planes on ebay. I got three of four of them for a song and a dance maybe 25 dollars, they work beautifully.

    The point can be gotten at MSC tool supply, six dollars a piece. The dial micrometer can be a Chinese one, they work great and are cheap to boot and accurate.

    When you call make sure you ask for the 60 degree point, they’ll get you the right one.  (Ren Monllor)

      BTW here’s the sharpening jig web site.  (Ren Monllor)

    Micrometers, calipers, and dial indicators are available from Harbor Freight and other tool discounters. They aren't Starrett quality or price, but they work.

    The least cost solution to planes is Ebay. You can still get Stanley and clones by Craftsman and others for $15 including shipping. They blade may be serviceable if it isn't too badly pitted. I have a hock blade in my finish plane and it is nice, but my roughing planes have original blades in them and they also work well. Sharpening jigs are also available on Ebay or from a woodworking supply store like Lee Valley.

    When looking for tools or supplies I start at eBay, check Harbor Freight, then specialty tool companies, but as I've said, I'm cheap.

    Get a book like "Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods" or Fundamentals Of Building A Bamboo Fly Rod" from Amazon or Ebay. They will have tool lists and suppliers, as well as how to build and use tools that aren't readily available.

    If you've never built a fishing rod, then a class is a good way to find out if you really want this as a hobby. If you have to wing it without the class, then ask the list if we think you need a particular tool before investing in it. There are a lot of ways to build a rod and some of them will save you big bucks. Start with step one in the book and build the tools as you go. that way if you decide this is a really dumb idea, you wont loose as much. While not a school, see if you can attend one of the rod maker gatherings. They generally have seminars on techniques and you'll meet other makers that will be a great help to you.  (Larry Lohkamp)

    No, a Stanley is not required. If you want one good to go out of the box, no tuning required, buy a Veritas or Lie-Nielsen. They both come with A2 blades and run about 150. A Stanley is a cheap alternative -- just throw the blade away and buy a hock blade. Total savings will be about 80 bucks. It can be purchased at Lowes. The G12-920 is the equivalent of the old 9 1/2.

    The honing guide can be purchased from Lee Valley for around 50 bones. The mark II guide is nice and easy to use.

    The dial indicator and point/base set can be made or purchased. JD Wagner sells them at the best price, but it certainly aint free!  Hope this helps and welcome aboard!  (Don Peet)

      Right!  And to add to Don's advice, Jeff Wagner and his wife, Cas,' are some of the most knowledgeable, straight-talking people you'll ever deal with. When I bought my dial indicator depth gauge from him, lo, these six years ago,  I asked whether that's the same depth gauge he uses to build his rods, and the answer was an immediate  'Yes!'  He was significantly less expensive than any other source (assuming you weren't prepared to make your own base), and his "standard" for the gauge is optically calibrated.  He knows what it takes to make good rods and he doesn't have time for lotsa horsepucky.  He's also pretty understanding where beginners are concerned, and I can recommend his rod-making class without hesitation.  As I used to say, "It's the most fun an aspiring rodmaker can have with their clothes on."

      'Course, I haven't been to Grayrock yet . . . .(Steve Yasgur)

      Now that's the best non beating around the bush answer to Craig's question yet. I will second that. I personally like the old tools (Stanley 9 1/2) but when you get right down to it and replace the blade, you really don't save that much money, and you have the time invested in tuning it up. I also believe that a class is more than worth the money.  (Joe Arguello)

        I have to agree with Joe about the class. Nothing can beat the experience. Having the right tools and toys is great. But before you invest in them take a class. Better still take a couple of classes and attend a rod makers' gathering too. Lastly try to align yourself with someone who is local and been at it for a while. I live in South Florida and the nearest experienced rod maker lives 3-5 hours away, not close enough to call and drop in on.

        Take a class.  (Phil Crangi)

        I have to take exception to the class route avenue unless the builder is only after one rod for himself. After the class you still have to build and collect all the tools for the next one. If this is going to be an ongoing activity and cost is an object, jumping in and flailing works. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to take a class from Harry and the great Nunley. I'd really like to see how they manage to get the finish on a rod in less than a week...  but I'd much rather replace my wood forms with steel ones, or build a binder that I like, or get several more books, or a bale or two of bamboo. If I was still working, I could do both, but being retired I have to squeeze each penny until it bleeds...

        Of course if I was still working I wouldn't have any time for building rods.  (Larry Lohkamp)

          I took a class from Stan Smartt in the Smoky Mountains when I first got interested in rodmaking.  It was a very good experience.  At the time I had a block plane.  Stan let me borrow a planing form that he had and I bought a few other tools, but mostly I just used what he had on hand.  It allowed me to learn not only the process, but also what I really needed and what I just wanted and how little you really need to build a bamboo fly rod.  It's a great way to get started and to see if you really enjoy doing this.  Many people buy all of the tools that they have been told that they need, invest a small fortune in tools, waste years getting ready and then find that they don't really enjoy rodmaking.  A class is an excellent way to bypass all of this and just get started.  Of course, this is just my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it.  (Hal Manas)

            I would have loved to take a class.  Two problems: 1) no classes close to me here in Ca. 2) that $$$$ thing.  I did a lot of research and finally said screw it and just dove in.  I am very fortunate to have a great mentor (Mike St.Clair of St.Clair & Hynes) that I was in constant PM/ e-mail/ phone contact with, thru a local fly fishing forum.  He gave me tons of advice and gave me the push I needed.  To paraphrase Mike "Quit over thinking everything and get going".  He also taught me to split bamboo with just a pocket knife and vise.   Saves on Boo and is super easy to do.

            My advice: Be like Nike "JUST DO IT".  If you wait until everything is just right, you'll never do it.  Built my metal forms in a weekend with a file, drill press, tap and hours of hand filing.  Started planing the next day.  First rod was complete a couple of weeks later.  Man, I love that first Bamboo build. (Pete Emmel)

            OK, so here is my opinion on this;

            1)  You do not need to take a class.  The cost of the class will get you all your tools & then some.

            2)  You do not need to take the blade out of your Stanley Plane that came with it & put in a Hock blade.  I have made all my rods without a Hock.

            3)  You do not need every tool to get started.  You do not need a lathe right away.  I built rods for years without one.  I turned my grips using a drill clamped in a vice using jigs to hold the blank.  You do not need a froe, heat gun (alcohol lamp works fine), no need for an expensive scraper plane (razor blades work fine), no need for a dip tube either & you can build your own oven like many others have.   (Bret Reiter)

              I have to agree with Bret on this.  Get a book that walks you through the process step by step, get some bamboo, and start in.  Each step of the way, you can buy or make the tools you need for the next step.

              I started with Wayne's book and a kitchen knife.  By the time I finished my first rod, I had purchased a Stanley plane, a heat gun, a drill press, a dial caliper, a dial indicator with 60 degree point.  I had also made my own roughing and final planing forms, and a PVC dip tube.  That first rod took me about 3 months of evenings and weekends (including making the forms) and I had less than $300 invested in tools.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that rod; it's still a joy to fish.  (Robert Kope)

              I agree with Bret. A class is not necessary. When I started, I read everything about rodmaking I could find, including the archives, and made a lot of my own equipment.

              I love to learn new stuff and if the learning curve is not steep, it will not hold my interest. I think that the learning phase is one of the most important and enjoyable parts of any hobby/pastime. I don't like to pick people's brains and don't like people to pick my brain unless I can see that they have put a lot of thought and effort into getting started themselves and have done some homework. Maybe it's a hardass attitude, but that's my position in life.  (Steve Weiss)

                Maybe not a class, but at least a beginner's worshop is a must. I got to set in on a beginner's workshop at the '98 SRG and Wayne answered questions I didn't know I had yet!! Watching and  listening will helps me learn more, faster than reading a book.  (David Dziadosz)

                  Speaking of Wayne, I highly recommend his DVD set. You can find it on eBay exclusively. The content is excellent and the price is hard to beat. The nearest rodmakers gathering to Craig  is the one coming up in Bridgeport, Ca. I would highly recommend making the trip.  (Scott Bearden)


I wondering if anyone has used a L-N 103SP plane for finish work and can give me any feed back on it.  (Jack Leary)

    I think that is just the non adjustable mouth version of the block plane??  It might be a little tougher to avoid tear out if you can't narrow up the mouth.  (David Van Burgel)

    I have used one for about two years now. I think it is great for taking off the last few thousandths. Lie-Nielsen quality is of course unquestioned.

    The “special” designation indicates that it is somewhat adjustable. It has an area in front of the  mouth milled  out and L-N supplies inserts that mount with screws into the sole to fill the milled area. Mine came with three or four inserts only one of which had been filed (milled) back to allow a small throat. The others completely fill the throat and are designed to allow the user to file to throat dimension desired. The pre cut insert that came with mine works fine for my finish cuts, no lifts or tear outs experienced so far. My 103sp use is following a grooved L-N 9 1/2, so I am only taking maybe two thousandth with the 103. I have it adjusted to just shave the forms.  (Larry Tucker)


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