Hock Blade in a Lie-Nielsen Plane?

The Cut-Away View -- the blue thing is the breaker
The Cut-Away View — the blue thing is the breaker

We are often asked if our blades will fit in a Lie-Nielsen plane. The answer is… usually. Hock blades will drop in to many Lie-Nielsen bench planes but there can be a problem with the breaker fit. And, no, Hock breakers don’t fit Lie-Nielsen bench planes so the solution is a bit more complicated than that.

Breakers are part of the plane while blades are temporary visitors. A blade will move a couple inches through the plane over the course of its life while a breaker will move back and forth a mere fraction of an inch while adjusting the depth-of-cut. Therefore, the distance from the sharp end of the breaker to the small rectangular slot is critical. And the Lie-Nielsen breakers’ hole pattern does not match the Stanley’s that Hock breakers are designed to replace.

So, what’s the problem? Hock blades are 3/32″ (.094″)  thick while Lie-Nielsen’s are 1/8″ (.125″), 9/64″ (.140″), or 11/64″ (.170″). When you install a Hock blade into a Lie-Nielsen plane the thinner blade moves the breaker down lower onto the adjuster lever (the yellow thing in the cut-away photo). That lever is tapered so it’s not uncommon for the breaker to jam partway onto it, making it inoperative.

However, and this is the “a bit more complicated” part, many times there is no problem and the Hock blade will simply drop in and require no modification. A frog adjustment may be needed as the thinner blade will make for a wider mouth and you may wish to close it a bit by moving the frog forward. But, it the breaker jams down onto the adjuster lever, read on.

Okay, what to do? There is still considerable demand for O1 blades, which Lie-Nielsen no longer offers. (O1 still outsells A2 here at Hock Tools, BTW.) If you want a Hock Tools O1 blade for your Lie-Nielsen plane, and encounter the fitment problem described above, you could file the adjuster lever to allow the breaker to seat properly, or you could file the little rectangular slot just a little to achieve the same effect. I strongly recommend the latter course of action because if you ever wanted to return your plane to “stock” condition, you’d only have to replace the breaker (and maybe not even that) to do so. Your LN plane will hold its value forever and if you (or your estate) ever wanted to sell it that value will be higher if the adjuster lever is unmodified.

File the slot at an angle to open it up to receive the adjuster lever
File the slot at an angle to open it up to receive the adjuster lever

Use a file small enough to get into that little slot and file it at an angle so that it tapers up from the underside to allow it to fit over the adjuster lever. You shouldn’t have to remove much metal. File slowly and carefully and check the fit often.

Linda and I have become good friends with the Lie-Nielsen gang over the years. They often recommend us to their customers who ask for O1 blades. And I had Deneb vet this post in case he had anything to add. We all want our customers to have the best tools possible and are happy to work together to that end.

WIA Report

Konrad Sauer and Linda Rosengarten with me at WIA 2016.
Konrad Sauer and Linda Rosengarten with me at WIA 2016.

We had a great time at Woodworking in America! I offered a brief Q&A about sharpening that a number of woodworkers actually attended (you never know…) I hope everyone who did learned something new about sharpening. Otherwise, at least during conference hours, I spent most of the time at the Hock Tools booth. Customers new and old came by to say hi, to upgrade their planes, maybe even pick up a plane- or kitchen-knife kit, and to chat a bit about current projects, and of course, tools.

And, we’re not alone – not by a long shot. WIA’s Marketplace gathers many other small, independent tool makers. Most of us have become good friends over the years, in spite of the infrequency of our contact. We share something special in this field, and I find the company of my fellow toolmakers especially satisfying. (That’s Konrad Sauer in the photo — taking the woodworking world by storm, one legendary plane at a time.)

Once again we got to spend quality time with Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce Tookworks. Dave is one of our most enjoyable, low-key tool-making friends. A fine craftsman and high quality toolmaker. Seeing, talking and sharing meals with Dave is one of the things Linda and I look forward to at WIA.

Not to mention seeing Don Williams, Lee Marshall and Brian Meek of Knew Concepts, the Veritas and Lie-Nielsen gangs, including minimalist woodworker Vic Tesolin, and – oh, I can’t remember them all, but a lot, including a few newbies such as Brendan Gaffney and his rulers of the ancient world!

Crucible Tool’s launch party was the offsite event of the season. John Hoffman, Raney Nelson and Chris Schwarz have managed to organize themselves into a tool-making company (are three cats considered a herd?) Their first offerings — cast iron holdfasts and a set of very sexy dividers — were premiered at the launch party. It was a noisy, crowded, overheated mob-scene in spite of the 100-tickets rule. Seemed like more than a hundred to me as we spilled out onto the sidewalk. There goes that neighborhood! It was truly a night to remember, what with woodworking’s masters, gurus, (glitterati?) friends and family all milling about enjoying the camaraderie.

We also got a chance met with folks from Popular Woodworking, had fun eating and drinking outdoors way into the evening, talking about woodworking tools, and who-knows what else. So, all-in-all we enjoyed a great weekend in Cincinnati (really, Covington, Kentucky).

Our thanks to Megan Fitzpatrick and all those who make it happen every year. I can only imagine a fraction of the work it takes to facilitate something as huge as WIA.

You know that Linda and I will look forward to next time.