No 62 Low Angle Jack – Worth the Weight

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I know many woodworkers may claim their small block plane or their adjustable mouth block plane is the most used plane in their shop but when it comes to bench planes it would have to be the No 62 Low Angle Jack or a No 5 bench plane. Both flatten, straighten, smooth, take thick aggressive shavings, just about everything when compared to a shorter smoothing plane or the longer jointer which are far more specialised.

When we first sampled our No 62 the main initial concept was our plan to increase the weight marginally in the sole which also lowers the centre of gravity. Why? Well, many years ago we had access to a range of Lie-Nielsen bench planes. The go to jack plane was the No 62, but, on occasion we used the No 5 which somehow seemed to plane with more authority, and track better. It just seemed to plane ‘better’. This was not about bevel up / bevel down comparison, we determined it was about the weight and the positioning of the weight. The LN No 62 weighed 2.1 kgs, the LN No 5 was 2.5 kgs. Of course, a No 5 has a heavier frog & a chipbreaker.

We re-cast, machined, experimented, and finally decided the Henry Eckert No 62 performed best weighing in at 2.37 kgs.

Again, many years ago, woodworkers (or pseudo woodworkers) at wood shows would often pick up any LN plane and say ‘it is heavy’. We guessed their experience was with old Stanley type planes which were much lighter, for example, an old No 5 Stanley weighs in at 1.98 kgs. Or, maybe no experience with hand planes. But, bench planes are not used in mid-air, they sit on wood to perform their magic, so why judge them bouncing them around from hand to hand?

We found the lower centre of gravity, and mass, improved stability. The plane seemed less likely to chatter or skip on the surface of the wood, resulting in a more consistent finish. It seemed to us the blade was more ‘engaged’ with the workpiece, if this is possible? but, it was what it felt like…

We also found the extra mass helped to maintain momentum, making it easier to push the plane through tougher sections of wood, especially when dealing with tear-out or harder woods.

So the most versatile bench plane, the No 62, due to its dimensions and not least, the variety of use changing blades in the tool gives, is today our go to plane…

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