Veritas DX60 and NX60 Block Planes

So you think el Presidente has been teasing you about upcoming tools for agonisingly long periods of time? Counting the weeks? Months even? I got the first inkling of these babies over two years ago. No input mind, just tantalising glimpses of computer renderings and, eventually, a photo. Enough to drive a tool junkie to knocking back the meths...

Anyway, what's the deal? I can do no better than copy and paste Rob Lee's explanation to the UK Workshop forum in October 2008:

"The basic idea here is that I've asked our designers to design some planes without giving them any cost restrictions, nor any restictions on other design choices. Some of our earlier designs (notably the bevel down planes) are a tad "utilitarian" in the area of aesthetics (so I'm told). We have always been conscious that we are really spending your money, in a way, when we design a tool - and so are somewhat averse to spending it on elements that contribute nothing to the performance of a tool. It's not that we can't go further than we have, we just choose not to..."

Okay, so they've chosen to do so now, but it's not all just about the "bling". LV being LV, Rob then put the screws on the poor old designers and made them get the cost down and got them to justify every non-functional element. Then, just to give themselves a real challenge, they've only opted to make it in a new-to-woodworking-tools material that takes twice as long to machine as well. Honestly, the way some people take the easy option is just sickening, isn't it?

There are two planes; the Premium NX60 and it's less-shiny brother, the DX60. If function is your thing, they're identical; the difference is largely all about level of finish and looks. And I can't believe I've just written that about a tool from Veritas...

By the time you're reading this, you'll almost certainly have already had the first look, but let's do the thing properly and have a goof at the presentation. Even just the boxes show a very definite difference between the two; the prosaically photographed DX in comparison to the back-lit, luxury car style of the NX.
The DX has the standard rust inhibiting paper and plain black and white instructions familiar to anyone who's purchased a Veritas plane before. Whereas the NX has a glossy-covered instruction booklet, silver tissue paper no less (and some nicely contrasting black to provide additional padding) and one of those oh-so-amusing velvet bags, sporting the new Premium Vee logo. In short, it comes with its own fanfare of packaging to announce it. And yes, it works; you really do feel you're getting something.
But let's start with the DX. With its black painted finish and set screws it's recognisably from the Veritas stable. But there isn't a piece of brass to be found, and rather than the somewhat angular lines so often found in Veritas planes, there's a rounded, organic feel to the thing.
No circular milled depressions in the sides either, but instead a rather subtle sort of elongated drop shape. Dammit, when the crystal ball told me I'd be meeting a dark, handsome stranger, this wasn't exactly what I expected...
For the NX, probably best to open the bag in a darkened room so as to avoid damage to your eyes; this thing is seriously shiny. Almost identical to the DX, but polished where the DX is painted.
In addition there are three "go-faster" grooves milled in the sides and the standard "Veritas®" logo is replaced with the new Vee radiator grille badge. I swear when I opened the bag a rich, velvety voice-over whispered that this was the safest luxury car in its class... As far as the gorgeousness of this plane is concerned, the gratuitous photos will better convey it than I can. Let's just say the fanfare of packaging barely does justice to the plane within. It's a beauty.
Both planes have stainless steel adjusters, and having whined about aggressive knurling in the past, I have to say these are very, very nice. The knurling reminds me a little of rope work, and the subtle shapes of the various knobs are most pleasing to see and use.
But enough of looks; let's get serious and speak of specifications. Weighing in at approximately 1 3/4lbs, the body is 6 3/4" long and 1 3/4" wide.
To compare, the regular low angle block is almost an ounce heavier, 6 3/8" long and 2" wide; the LN is around an ounce lighter, 6 1/4" long and 1 3/4" wide. So proportionally the DX/NX is a longer, slimmer plane.
The fundamental difference between them is the difference in body material. The DX uses our old favourite, ductile cast iron. So far, so unremarkable.
It's the NX that gets clever (and explains the N prefix I assume) - it uses Nickel-resist ductile cast iron. Wassat den? I hear you ask. According to the words of wisdom: "the addition of nickel to the alloy gives the material the same rust-resistant properties as stainless steel". I had a bit of a Google and found the patent for it, wherein it speaks of "especially applicable for use in the waterworks industry for underground applications". So yeah, rust resistant seems likely...
Anxious owners of existing stainless steel planes may worry that it won't match, but really you wouldn't know the difference.

On a practical note, the sole and sides of both were "flat" (you know what I mean, pedantic ones) and the sides square to the sole.
The iron also differs in being 9/64" thick A2 as opposed to 1/8", and 1 3/8" wide. It comes with two bevel angles; the so-called primary at 25° and a "relief bevel" of 23° to "reduce the amount of metal that needs to be removed when resharpening the blade." One of these days I really must buy a copy of Leonard Lee's sharpening book and see if it helps that make sense, 'cos the "relief bevel" sounds like a primary bevel to me. As it stands it strikes me as a) confusing, and b) a bit Charlesworth. 23° forsooth? Good grief... As ever, the irons are lapped to a ridiculous level of loveliness on LV's magic machine so it was a 30 second job to hone them ready to go.

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