I have to say that Richard's conclusions about the BU jack are spot on, 100%.
Does this mean I am recanting my endorsement of this tool? Absolutely not.
|This plane is really great at end grain.|
What about the rest?
|Can one joint with this plane?|
|This thing works great shooting end grain. Did I already say that?|
Well, I have to say that while those other planes do better at those tasks than this plane, the BU jack will indeed do them all.
|I almost always do all my jointing with this plane.|
I had noticed that many great woodworkers had recommended "beginner's tool sets" that required many thousands of dollars to fill out before a beginning student could feel like they could do "proper" woodworking.
I thought that was baloney then, and I think it is baloney now. A jack plane (whether BU or bevel down, new or vintage), is a great first tool to get because of the versatility.
Other tools work better for those everyday tasks, but one plane instead of four can be a deal maker for a beginner.
After my exclusive use of this plane for the time I used it, I found out that "plane monogamy" (as Christopher Schwarz puts it), is a wonder.
Face it, there are all kinds of situations where even the largest hand tool shops require making a plane do a bit more than what's in it's name.
To be able to do these amazing tricks with a plane, one really, REALLY needs to know their tool.
I learned that it really is true that you can't buy skill by purchasing a new tool. One should learn how far they can push (get it?) a tool they have before deciding if another is needed in their situation.
|Plus, using the same tool is faster: you already have it out.|
For rough work, I do my best to avoid having to thickness stock very much. My wooden jack plane with an eight inch camber on the blade hogs off wood like crazy and in no time flat. A BU plane is difficult to put a camber on the blade because of the angle of the bed. Taking 1/16" thick or thicker shavings isn't going to happen.
It will take medium sized shavings. If your wood is roughly the thickness you need it, and mostly flat to start with, it is a breeze to bring it to good working dimensions with this plane.
For fine smoothing, again, choose your wood wisely. This plane will easily achieve a finish quality surface without much work. Even without going crazy with steep sharpening angles. Make sure the blade is as sharp as you can get it, and you will be fine. At least until you try to plane against the grain. Even then, lighten the cut a little more and close the adjustable mouth as tight as you can.
For jointing, I find this plane to be long enough to joint nearly anything I can throw at it accurate enough for gluing up a panel. It does take some skill. One will get good at making edges flat eventually with this tool. Just keep checking with a good straight edge, and practice removing the parts that aren't flat. Follow that up with a fine shaving from one end to the other. I find it rare that I need to pull a jointer out for edge jointing anymore.