A Hotdog for the LV LAJ

Recently, Thomas Lie-Nielsen released a “hotdog” handle for the LN LA Jack. This looks to be a version of the handle that is in production for their #9, the mitre plane, and itself based on the original Stanley #9, which is long since out of production.

Although the round depressions in the side of the Veritas (Lee Valley) LAJ are designed as handholds, these are fatiguing if used over a long planing session. I had been toying with the idea of making a hotdog handle for the LA Jack for some time, and the timing was now right to get it done (well, what do you do when waiting for glue to dry?).

The only complication I could see would be that the LN has an advantage in that the hotdog’s mortice would fit over a symmetrical curved side, which is easier to make compared to the LV’s asymmetrical side. Then again, this could be an advantage if one went for a friction fit (the LN is held on with a screw).

Step one is to turn the basic hotdog shape on a lathe. I have a little Jet Mini that is perfect for these jobs. If you don’t have a lathe, pop around for a beer and a chat, and we’ll turn one out in no time (it is a 5 minute job). Oh what’s that, I’m in Perth, Australia …

The hotdog I turned came from a bit of Jarrah (sort of matches the Bubinga knob, and I already had a replacement Jarrah tote .. don’t ask). The final dimensions were 5” long and 1 ½” diameter at the center.

Step two was to cut the mortice to slide the hotdog onto the side of the plane. Now I am sure that I did this the hard way, that there must be more efficient methods – if so, I apologize. Step two began with marking out and sawing the outline of the mortice. I used a Japanese saw here as the action is gentler and cleaner than a Western saw (I would kill for a patternmaker’s vise!).

Step three is to chisel out the waste. This is where the fun begins! I used two mortice chisels, one was 1/8” wide (easier to dig out waste with this) and the other – the correct sizing for the slot – was 3/16” wide.


This process was basically done by eye… chisel a little, test fit, chisel some more.

Here is a test fit.

Finally the fit was close enough…

and the LAJ with hotdog was tested out on the shooting board.

How does it feel? Just perfect. Very comfortable indeed. A permanent addition.
The friction fit is tight and secure (I can lift the plane holding onto the hotdog). In part, the raised rear curve on the side wall of the LAJ provides a little something to push against.

I will see how it goes over the next month. It may work loose, and then I will need to add a set screw. So far so good.

Derek Cohen
Perth, Australia
December 2007