So school's going well, I'm really enjoying it. I'm challenged, and it's fun. I unfortunately don't have much time for the woodshop, but I have been able to make a few shavings.
It turns out that John Economaki is a friend of a friend of mine. Through a tool trade he made, I was able to test drive the Bridge City Tool Works VP-60 Variable Pitch Plane.
This is the Limited Edition Tool for 2005, number 391 of 400.
The frog is adjustable from to 30° to 60°, and the iron is mounted either bevel down or bevel up, giving an attack angle range of 30° to 90°. Lateral adjustments are made by the side wheels.
The iron is impressive, 1/4" thick, 2 1/8" wide, and optically ground on both faces. Lapping only worsens the finish, the only time the back is stoned is when removing a honing burr.
The sides and sole are held together with double dovetails. The sole has adjustable mouths, both before and after the iron.
The adjustments are made with dovetailed gibs, and held with screws.
Cocobolo knob and tote, infilled lever cap and depth adjustment screws.
Rather than a chipbreaker the VP-60 has a articulated lever cap and a pressure bar. The bar clamps down on the iron close to the edge to hold it and dampen vibration.
This plane performs as promised, and does it while looking good. I was able to take fine shavings in several different situations at their appropriate angle of attack. However, I found making transitions and setting up the plane difficult and time consuming. The lever cap screw requires a setting I would consider quite loose, overtightening causes the sole to lift off the workpiece. It worked fine once I understood this, but it was very frustrating before I did. The articulated lever cap and the pressure bar take some getting used to, and are difficult to dial in when you're inexperienced to the plane. I almost gave up on several occasions. I would've preferred a Norris or Bailey style lateral adjuster over the side wheels, but once accustomed to them they work well.
The VP-60 works well in all types of cutting situations. However, I feel that the switch between angles takes too long to want to do it often. Several dedicated planes could be purchased for the same money. This plane isn't a rational or justifiable purchase by any means, however, that doesn't kill my lust for it. It's beautiful, appreciated by both my wood and metal working friends. I'm fortunate to have been able to try it out. You should see what it can do to birds eye maple.
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