Pretty nice plane, but not as refined as the premium planes

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Review by funchuck posted 08-06-2011 02:31 PM 4446 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Pretty nice plane, but not as refined as the premium planes No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

When I first bought this plane, I was pretty impressed with it. I think it looks nice, and it’s built very well.

Out of the box, the blade was not sharp at all. The back was pretty flat, and it didn’t take long to flatten the back and hone the bevel (probably 15 minutes on my oilstones).

I checked to see if the sides were square, but they were slightly off. I also checked to see if the sole was flat, but it was slightly concave.

But most importantly, how did it work? I was worried about the sole, but tried it out anyways. It produced nice thin shavings, so I was glad to see that the slightly concave sole didn’t really affect it.

I also have the Veritas BU Jointer and LA Jack. Compared to these, the WoodRiver is definitely not in their league when it comes to ease of use and adjustments. When I put a smoothing blade into my LA Jack, it does not take much time to adjust it to produce nice shavings. With the WoodRiver, it takes a little longer to get there. The depth adjustment works well, but I found the lateral adjust to be a little “jumpy”. For some reason, I kept overshooting and kept having to move it left, then right, then left, etc. It took a few tries to get the right setting.

I also find that the WoodRiver tote is a little cramped. I think I have average sized hands, so a person with big hands probably will feel very uncomfortable with this tote.

But, if all you’re looking for are good results, the WoodRiver can get you there. It’ll just take more time.

-- Charles from California

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119 posts in 3905 days

9 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16286 posts in 5066 days

#1 posted 08-06-2011 03:29 PM

Thanks for the review, Charles. I’ve found most of the Wood River stuff to be pretty good quality and a good value, and these planes are very nice looking.

The problem is, if you have to spend time flattening and sharpening anyway, I’d just as soon clean up an old Stanley. For $30 or less you can pick up one that will look and perform as well or better than this one, once you put a little elbow grease into cleaning and tuning it.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View lysdexic's profile


5348 posts in 3470 days

#2 posted 08-06-2011 08:47 PM

I have these same 3 planes and agree on every point.

-The iron was easy to sharpening but did need to be lapped.
-My sole is also concave and I’ve not lapped it.
-The sides are off just a tad.
-It does take nice shavings but I prefer the Veritas LA BU jack with a 50 degree iron.
-I haven’t really had a problem with the lateral adjustment but the backlash on the depth knob is excessive.
-The handle is my biggest gripe. I find it painful to use. The Veritas handles are more comfortable.
-The only old Stanley I have is type 16 No. 5 and much prefer the weight of the WooodRiver (which is based on the Bedrock design) over the Stanley.

Overall I like the WR No. 4 and it is a solid, good value. But in the end I am considering a LN 4 1/2 to replace it. I wish Bedrock or Stanley 4 1/2’s were more common. Thanks for the review.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

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11859 posts in 4536 days

#3 posted 08-07-2011 01:41 AM

Nothing worse than a cramped tote !
I was considering one of these , as they do look nice , but ,after making the trip to the store for a “hands on” moment , I found it to be cramped as well. I bought an old Millers Falls unit off of CraigsList for $20.
Nice review : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3502 days

#4 posted 08-07-2011 04:13 PM

I own a no 6 and experienced a different issue. The sole was flat (thank god) but the blade and hipbreaker were ground way out of square. This took some tweaking, overall its a whole lot faster than cleaning up a vintage Stanley. I classify these planes as the cheapest you can buy and get away with, any lower and they are not even tools any more.

I love my 6 though, I have put a lot of miles on it.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3906 days

#5 posted 08-09-2011 10:10 PM

I tend to agree with Charlie M. For the trouble to set up these new planes, for less that $50 you could have gotten a used Stanley, Millers Falls or any of a number of other old classic planes and spent close to the same time to put it to use. My personal preference is for the Millers Falls planes because I like the frog and the lever cap desig they had. They are also a little heavier than the the equivalent Stanley Bailey planes. On the other hand, the real measure of a plane is the old Stanley Bedrock planes on which the Wood Rivers are based. These are the real gems to find next only maybe to the old english infill planes. Of course the Bed Rocks are becoming kind of rare and will often bring a pretty good price. In my opinion, the Millers Falls are a close second to the Bed Rock, but superior to the Bailey planes. There is one thing that I do like about the Wood River planes. They have one seriously massive and thick cutter/blade/iron. I don’t know about the quality of steel they use, but it definitely has mass. To get anything similar to that, you would have to buy a Hock, Pinnacle or some other aftermarket iron for a vintage plane. I’m not aware of any of the old planes that came with an iron quite as thick as the Wood River planes come with.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3541 days

#6 posted 08-09-2011 10:31 PM

Thanks for this nice review. As a Stanley guy, I won’t be buying any WoodRiver planes in this lifetime but it’s nice to know that there are some inexpensive planes available that can be tuned to perform adequately. Thanks again for the objective review.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 3398 days

#7 posted 09-27-2011 01:32 AM

Are you saying lie-Nielsen has a larger tolerance on their sole than woodriver?

-- . @NANeanderthal on twitter

View marcbousquet's profile


18 posts in 3263 days

#8 posted 10-16-2011 03:32 AM

I bought a couple woodriver planes and while they needed a litte work to get nice but right now I cannot in anyway justify a LN plane in my budget. I do have a Miller Falls plane that came in really poor shape that I rehabed into okay condition, though I need to get a new set of oil stones to really get the blade honed perfect. My next project may be working on some old wooden planes I inherited. The miller plane was my grandfathers while the wooden ones are somewhere at my parents house still as they were my great grandfathers. Going to need to see what condition they are in.

View goethert's profile


20 posts in 3055 days

#9 posted 05-10-2012 09:13 PM

The plane is made in China. They just put the ‘woodriver’ sticks on it.

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