The Clifton No 5½ heavy jack plane is a slightly longer, wider and heavier version of the Clifton No 5 and used for the same wide range of applications.
The Clifton range of bench planes retain the full sweeping curve of the side rails from the original Bedrocks; the strengthening webs however were a later addition and although probably superfluous on a casting this thick they certainly make the castings of Clifton planes a global benchmark for stiffness.
Please note: This is the new Clifton version which no longer has a polished lever cap.
3 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
As with the other reviews for this plane, I have found this a wonderful bit of kit. Great for flattening boards, beautifully made, lovely rosewood handles and a very good iron. I also have several other Clifton planes including the block plane. All of them are great. I think they have incorporated a number of design improvements in their latest models although I personally liked their stay-set cap iron on previous models too. The new cap iron works very well. The machining is as good as one could get and everything just clicks together perfectly.
As with the other reviewer, I was in two minds about which premium jack plane to get. Lie Nielsen love is so pervasive (deservedly so) and Clifton's online presence so small and out of date that I was finding it hard to look past the LN 5 1/2. Fortunately I got in touch with Workshop Heaven to ask a few questions about Clifton planes and their detailed response and great customer service really swung it for me. The Clifton 5 1/2 is a wonderful premium plane. Aesthetically it's a thing of beauty, far better in real life than in the photos. The fit and finish on the plane is as good as you can get and there was very little needed to get it working perfectly . The weight is perfect, heavier than old Stanley's and similar to the LN. This weight gives a real feeling of quality and helps keep the plane registered in use. The o1 steel takes a wicked edge and is a better choice than A2 any day of the week. I was never a fan of David Charlesworth's 'super smoother' approach but with this on board I'm a convertee. I just need to buy another iron to put a big camber on for waste removal and then I think the Clifton 5 1/2 will be the plane I reach for for most of my planing needs. I can't recommend Clifton, and their 5 1/2 specifically, highly enough.
So I was going to buy a Custom Veritas or a Lie Nielsen 5 1/2 instead of the Clifton, The Custom Veritas was cheaper and I liked the way you could open and close the mouth of the plane but I loved the traditional Lie Nielsen and Clifton but thought they were a bit too expensive. I watched a couple of video's on the Clifton and its Bedrock design (and because of the poor exchange rate now) I realised the Clifton would be the best choice and OMG is it amazing. Completely flat base that doesn't need any truing just hone the blade using your favourite method and you have the most beautiful plane that takes the finest shavings with ease. Everything about this plane is perfect which is what I want, I just want to sharpen it and use it and now they have replaced the two part chip-breaker to the more modern single part(or at least on the 5 1/2) so its even easier to use. I do try and buy British when possible its just that premium British can be expensive, is it VFM?, well compared to the competition I think it is. I am so glad I bought the Clifton and I will be buying more including their lovely block plane. The only problem I have now is I dont have anyone to pass on my plane to as this plane is built to last several generations.