Over the last couple of weeks I had to make two trips for business in the downtown T.O. area. Figured I'd take the opprotunity on the way back home to Barrie and swing by the Lee Valley West location on Steeles. Being a complete newb in the world of handtools, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that during my first quick visit, I was intimidated by the place. Although I honestly expected it to be more focused towards woodworking in general, there was still an overwhelming amount of tools on display. I only had a few moments to spare before I had to hit the road again, so I didn't bother trying to talk to anyone.
Fast forward to this last Tuesday. This time around, I was going with a purpose. I had spent a good amount of time reading various threads here on CWW and determined that I was going to make my first new plane purchase a Veritas apron plane. I was torn between it and the LA block., but figured I had come to a solid decision.
While staring at the hand plane display case, I was fortunate enough to have "Ron", a member of the Toronto West's store staff come into my view. I asked him if he could spare a few moments, and it ended up being much closer to half an hour, if not 45mins. I gave him my very short background, and explained why I thought the apron plane was going to be my best bet. He then went on to explain both the apron and block planes to me, their intended usage, and what would best fit my needs. He also spent a very good amount of time detailing the ins and outs of sharpening, and what methods would be best for someone with the amount of experience I have. He was even kind enough to give me some advice on the old Stanley planes I've been collecting for the past while.
All in all, I came away with the LA block with an O1 blade, rather than the apron plane. Also in the bag was the diamond paste 3 pack for honing my blades. I never had any doubt that I would end up with both planes at some point, but Ron felt that for my use the block would serve better as my first Veritas product, and after his lengthy explaination I had to agree.
I really just wanted to take the time to thank Ron and of course the Toronto West Lee Valley location. I will without a doubt, be making the trip to their location without heistation again in the near future. If anyone feels like I did, and is concerned about making the right decisions in regards to Lee Valley purchases. Please don't give a second thought to leaning on the Lee valley staff for assistance. I simply can't speak highly enough of the help I received while there.