First on the Block to Get the New Plane

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Review by bobdurnell posted 02-18-2009 07:10 PM 21593 views 1 time favorited 45 comments Add to Favorites Watch
First on the Block to Get the New Plane No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

After seeing the advertisement in the latest Woodcraft magazine offering the new Wood River planes I couldn’t wait to see them. The article said that they resemble the LN planes and were more affordable. After calling my local Woodcraft store I was told that it would be a while before they would have the planes in the store. Yesterday 2/17/09 I went to check them out and I believe that they are what was said in the ad.
I have a no.5, no.2, no.1, and a low angle adjustable block by LN. So I think my review will be valid. I bought the no.5 and the block.

The low angle adjustable block is a spot on match to the LN. It wasn’t ready to use out of the box but I quickly gound my favorite bevel and honed it on my diamond plate and it was ready. While grinding the iron it felt and ground like the LN. It honed up real nice too. The throat was a little wider than the LN but that’s okay with me. The result- excellent.

The No.5 Jack plane has the same heft as the LN but has a few subtle differences. The rear tote is made of Bubinga and has a more slender profile than other totes. It is a Bed Rock style plane but the lateral adjusting lever is the only part that I noticed to be subpar. It is made of pressed steel but it still worked fine. The planes are sold exclusive to Woodcraft and the country of origin I was told was China not Taiwan. I highly reccomend these tools. The price for the block around $70 and the jack around $120. They come in a nice sliding lidded box and tightly packed in a sealed plastic bag and were coated with light machine oil not that terrible cosmoline stuff. The other planes offered are the no.4 and the no.6.

-- bobdurnell, Santa Ana California.

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45 comments so far

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652 posts in 4265 days

#1 posted 02-18-2009 07:40 PM

you could send me that old #5 if you want to … thanks for the review

-- Paul , Calfornia

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Chris Wright

541 posts in 4289 days

#2 posted 02-18-2009 08:39 PM

Thanks for the review. It’s nice to see there’s a less costly alternative to Lee Neilson that performs just as well.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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1591 posts in 4569 days

#3 posted 02-18-2009 09:21 PM

After seeing their ad, I called Woodcraft tech support. Yes, they are made in China. After being “burned” with Woodcraft’s Chinese tapered drills made out of soft steel, and a seven piece Forstner bit set, where the 3/8” bit wouldn’t even drill in soft wood, I’m not going to buy another Chinese tool whose purpose is cutting.

I’m not making a political statement here. Maybe you got tools that will cut satisfactorily, but I’m not going to spend my money on any more Chinese cutting tools, Woodcraft or otherwise.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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367 posts in 4435 days

#4 posted 02-18-2009 10:14 PM

Well, thanks for the review. I am not entirely thrilled by the line, but such is the way of the world these days. Unfortunately the state is self inflicted. This goes off topic quick, so I will quit here. I had a set of Groz planes, the irons appeared to be a low quality alloy, very prone to rust. I will be curious to see the longer term reviews of these bargain planes.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

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303 posts in 4206 days

#5 posted 02-18-2009 11:48 PM

I am new to hand planes, but I have a Lee Valley block plane and their bevel up smoother, and I can’t recommend them enough. They are about 2x the price of these Woodcraft planes, but they excellent tools. And, they’re made in Canada.

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48 posts in 4196 days

#6 posted 02-19-2009 12:09 AM

Thanks for the review…. Wood River IMHO isn’t a name that screams “lasting quality”... I have a few Wood River cutting tools – and I got them for one simple reason. Cheap. I needed something for a very limited use. So far I’ve been fairly pleased with the products I do own, however I do suspect the longevity is going to be limited.

Regardless – the Wood River planes you reviewed DID catch my eye when I saw them in the Woodcraft catalog. They looked too nice to be total trash – but hadn’t seen any reviews leaning one way or another. Glad to know that they seemed to have produced a pretty good little series of planes.

FWIW – I think your review was well written and of actual observations….. nice work!


-- "Start with ten.....end with ten"

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790 posts in 5003 days

#7 posted 02-19-2009 02:41 AM

Thanks for the review. Well done. I love hand planes, old & new. Every time I see something like this, I’m tempted to try one, but then I go to my shop & pick up one of my old Stanleys, and remember that, on balance, they’re relatively cheap in the used market, and have always done as good a job as I’ve ever asked of them. So I go spend my money on other tools.- SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

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177 posts in 4743 days

#8 posted 02-19-2009 03:03 AM

Isn’t it nice that you ‘jocks in the States/Canada now have more to choose from? Here in the Philippines it’s going to be a Stanley(UK) or the totally crap one from China. And the only models I’ve seen available from Stanley so far, are the no. 3, 4 and two models of their low angle blocks.

-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

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1591 posts in 4569 days

#9 posted 02-19-2009 03:45 AM

I splurged for my first hand plane, a Clifton #5, made in England. This is simply a beautiful precision tool, ready to go right out of the box. My second plane was an Anant #4 (India). I worked on it for several hours and it now works OK – nothing to brag about. since then I have acquired #’s 4, 5 and 6 vintage Stanley/Bailey planes. After removing rust, cleaning them up, polishing the soles, and sharpening the blades, they work superbly. there are still many Stanley/Baileys “out there” at garage sales, antique stores and flea markets.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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177 posts in 4743 days

#10 posted 02-19-2009 11:43 AM


Mail order from the US to halfway around the world? Hehehe. Postage could probably buy me a ticket to the US. It will be more cost effective to learn to make my own plane and probably a lot more enjoyable, rewarding, meaningful and gratifying to boot.

Isn’t it funny how sane we rationalize whenever we don’t have the money to buy the tools we like? Hehehe


-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

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1079 posts in 4607 days

#11 posted 02-20-2009 06:43 AM

Good review. But isn’t buying from China kind of like petting a bad dog on the head for not eating your child?

I can’t abide buying ANYTHING from China knowingly. It took me over an hour at the shoe store to find a pair that I liked, fit and was not made in China. Americans are moaning the loss of our manufacturing base while buying whatever at the WalMart where the ONLY reason to shop is for price. Quality is a foreign word to the Chinese and I for one try to shun the products born of a repressive regime and passed off to those whose only concern is saving a buck for the sake of expedience.

Call me crazy but I’d rather spend an afternoon tuning up a type 11 Stanley and installing an American made Hock iron than spend a dime on Chinese crap. There. I said it. CRAP!!! As far as I’m concerned they can go straight to the fiery depths of Dante’s Infeno and take their cheap junk with them.

Or should I just get over it and say, “Nice doggie.”


P.S. And they can take that garbage passed off as plywood with them too!

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

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177 posts in 4743 days

#12 posted 02-20-2009 07:23 AM

Well jcees this time I am going against you ;-)

Almost all my tools are made in China. It has served me well. The point is if they break down, buy a new one. The more expensive ones are gonna die on you sooner or later. For the cost one, you may be able to get two or three different tools. The trick is learning to use them within their limits. Any tool is going to fail when abused.


-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

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608 posts in 4250 days

#13 posted 02-20-2009 09:50 AM

I,ve said this before but i will say it again, you americans don,t realize how good you have it, you have choices that others don,t and one of those is to NOT buy chinese crap ( i,m with you on this on jcees). In this part of the world we just have to make do with the chinese crap or make it ourselves. No one imports the good stuff simply because no one here can afford it. A 300US dollar handplane works out to about 13500 peso,s and given the hourly rate of a furniture factory worker is 48peso,s you start to see why the chinese have a hold on the market. It,s fine if you,re an expat living here on US dollars or British pounds from a pension or investments, but if your like me and manilaboy earning peso,s then the reality is very different.
Of course you don,t NEED a 300 dollar handplane, but it would be nice to have a choice.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

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177 posts in 4743 days

#14 posted 02-20-2009 10:32 AM

Attaboy kiwi!

By the way, a number of very successful furniture companies in the Philippines are based in Cebu and they are very well known worldwide. Do you happen to work for Dedon? Probably not. They specialize in wicker/woven furniture.



-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

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608 posts in 4250 days

#15 posted 02-20-2009 01:00 PM

manilaboy, check your messages

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

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