Nielsen No. 9 Miter Jack

With the french polish on the wedge completed – it was time to get off the pot and decide how to finish the top edges of the sidewalls. The advantage of a #51 shooting plane over the #9 is that the former has a skewed blade. Perhaps if a few more people will take their miter planes off the shelf and into the shop then some of the tool’s other mysteries might be revealed. This is due largely to the fact that each component is carefully detailed by a human being, and each bench plane is inspected at multiple points of production before it is packaged for shipment.

Now I am not at all arguing the benefit of a fine mouth on a plane, and on a smoothing plane a very fine mouth. But the cross pin for the lever cap is threaded into one side, like Thorested or Brandt’s mitre planes. Interesting article, I had never really thought of the adjustable mouth of a metal plane being a cost-saving strategy. This combination of functionality and aesthetic sensibility is one rarely found in tool making, and it is what sets Lie Nielsen apart from the rest of the crowd. The miter plane came out earlier this year, and the shooting plane was several years ago. When used flat on the bench, you grip the toe like you would a wooden-stock plane.

I’ve never had a proper shooting plane-my Stanleys aren’t square enough, and my wooden planes are all 50° or higher, so not ideal for a dedicated end grain plane. Its conceivable that this plane could have been used for piano work, as it has likely been in the U.S. for much of the 19th century, and there were a limited number of applications in cabinet work and related applications then, and piano work was one of them. The cutting iron is a full 1/8″ thick, and it is flattened and honed to perfection out of the box.

This was a cast iron model with a finger hole to balance the weight as well as to give another way to help grasp the plane while working. I’ve seen a Brandt rabbet plane with a virtually identical shaped escapement that was photographed in Wells’ December 2011 EAIA article on N.Y. pianomaker’s planes. It has a square blade and like the Lie-Nielsen No. 51, it presents the blade’s cutting angle at a skew of 20 degrees. I have been extremely busy at work since I received the plane – so much so that I just (in the past few days) managed to get the plane out of the box, honed up and tested out.

In comparison, most old wooden smooth planes that were made in the days when you could buy them with different bed angles (18th to early 19th century) had irons in the 1-1/2″ to 1-3/4″ width, and were much shorter in length as well (6 to 7½”, compared to the 9 to 10″ of the #4 & #4½ respectively). When it comes to materials, Lie-Nielsen employs manganese bronze and ductile iron castings, with cryogenically treated A-2 steel.

Of course, what collectors and users are wondering is if Lie-Nielsen will manufacture the No. 52 , which is the No. 51 chute-board plane plus a heavy metal shooting board with a quadrant and a hold-down. For some reason WP didn’t notify me this was in my moderation panel… I’ll try to get some photos of the kumiko plane shot this week. They are both extremely well made; the fit and finish on both the Lee Valley ands the Lie-Nielsen are excellent.

Manganese bronze is a strong, hard alloy that won’t rust, and is even less prone to cracking than ductile iron (both options are superior to traditional cast iron plane bodies, which are notoriously prone to cracking and oxidation), which you will appreciate if you ever drop it on a concrete shop floor. As a user, if it makes the plane less expensive to me, (IF, they pass the savings to me, great), but the point you completely fail to address, is that SOMETIMES, we want to take thicker shavings, yes, even with our smoothing planes and shoulder planes.


The mouth of the tool is made in two pieces, like an infill miter plane, which ensured that the plane’s throat aperture is just slightly bigger than the shavings. It is actually a very large block plane, and Leonard Bailey/Stanley introduced the #9 (their version of a mitre plane) before the production of their other block planes. And the pad on the iron is huge, with a large cutout for the neck of the lever cap, which is shortened compared to other Erlandsens. I have used just about every bench plane I have on the shooting board with good success.

Of course you can also reduce the effective width of a wide blade just by turning the plane slightly. I am going to be in Oakland CA next weekend attending the Lie Nielsen show at the Crucible and will have this mitre plane with me for anyone who wants to try it out. This searchable pdf (more that 2,800 pages of scanned documents) is his attempt to catalog all known US patents pertaining to hand-powered miter boxes.

Part of the brilliance of Leonard Bailey’s bench plane design was that it was made of easily reproduced cast iron parts that each only needed a little machining in a couple of places. I saved over twenty-five thousand of those pennies, and got a very serviceable miter plane. Given the workmanship and high quality materials, however I cannot debate that the plane is priced fairly at $350.

I personally use a L-N #9 and a British infill miter plane, but I would not recommend either for someone that has a very limited plane selection and/or limited funds, because these aren’t ideal for other uses. The plane I have in mind is a low angle plane, primarily meant for use with a shooting board, but also for planing end grain freehand, with the work held in a vise. After seeing his work in person, I placed an order for an improved miter with an ebony infill. So next, I put the plane through a few simple tests that I apply to any hand plane that I have tuned. Once again, I am reminded of why it is so important to prototype” a plane first.

It is clearly superior in quality, and surpasses in performance, every classic hand plane in my collection. The illustration also shows the triangular step-down on the front toe extension instead of the earlier version below this one, where the step-down follows the rounded contour of the plane body. As I was building this plane it started to feel a little big” and I was concerned about it. Joe Steiner stopped in the other night to keep working on his XSNo.4, and brought a wonderful Moon mitre plane with him (at my request). Welcome to the world of Lie-Nielsen hand planes, Japanese miter squares and Calvo brass-headed mallets.

I know this if off the topic of the original question, however since this was addressed in one of the replies I thought I would address the effect plane pitch has to iron width and how that relates. This plane could be separated at the seam in the middle and the bottom portion could be used as a chisel plane. Doesn’t this guy ever shut up?) Lie-Nielsen’s miter plane is of unsurpassed quality; but it’s not so much better to justify its price. Considering other bevel-up planes, the fabulous Lie-Nielsen #9 iron miter plane,” which I use for shooting end grain as well as long grain, has a 20 degree bed.

Iron width to plane mass ratios is a much overlooked area of plane design and is not often considered by persons buying planes. The best cutting action is when I use my #51 shooting plane on my wooden ramped shooting board (further emphasizing the advantage of a skewed cut). My point is simply that a 20 degree bed makes more sense than a 12 degree bed for a low-angle, bevel-up bench plane. And, again, I don’t think 12 degree beds are justified for a LA-BU BENCH PLANE by their supposed advantage in planing end grain.

Since the board is built and size is fixed, I’m likely limited to planes available to use on it. I’m mostly asking because I find the whole setup rather uncomfortable on my hand when holding the plane and I’m thinking I’m probably not choosing the best plane for the job and my own comfort. Antique chisel plane, user made razee style: mahogany body, oak tote, with brass sole and Sorby iron. Thomas Lie-Nielsen, 44, its founder, has a narrow, angular nose that looks planed by a wood plane.

Mr. Lie-Nielsen started making planes in an unheated woodshed on the 200-year-old Maine property he was subsistence-farming on. He taught himself how to make a wood plane by hand, from forging the iron for the casting, on up. His mother, Margaret, was his bookkeeper. I have seen several of the older bronze & wood versions for quite a bit more ($700 to $900), and I wanted the steel one anyhow, and didnt want to pay that kind of $$ anyhow (for the bronze one). The next test was to plane at an angle across a glued-up panel, which is a common function for a smooth plane.