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Thread: WoodRiver Low Angle Block Plane

  1. #1
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    WoodRiver Low Angle Block Plane

    To make a short question long........

    I love working with hand tools. When I was in high school I had an opportunity to "apprentice" with a violin maker, and I bought my first hand tools. At that time the Record planes were still being made, and when I tried to tune my low angle block plane I managed to mess the sole up nicely. Since then I have learned how to properly flatten the sole of a plane, and I am finally at a point where I am looking at getting back into furniture making (my first love before the turning bug bit.)

    But my real question is what low angle block plane would y'all purchase if you could? Also, I work part time at the local Woodcraft store, and I am really impressed with their most recent generation of hand planes. Has anyone actually used one?

    Thanks!

    Hutch

  2. #2
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    I love my Lee Valley low angle block plane, DX60.....

    The "A" model
    I think it is the best one out there, $185 US

    I also like the Lie Nielsen 60 1/2...

    but it lacks a couple of features of the LV, but it is still one VERY good plane. $165

    Dunno about the made in China Wood River planes, it seems they are getting decent reviews, but they often need a bit of work, or some of the machining is off. For me, I'd rather buy my last block plane, and be done with it, I also like the idea of supporting a Canadian Company, maybe you could support an American company Yes I realize that either of these planes are about $100 more, than the Wood River plane, and if you do not have that $100, well you don't have it, but if you can squeeze the extra out of your budget, then I know you will be very satisfied with either the LV or the LN, mine puts a smile on my face each time I use it.

    YMMV
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    The current generation (3?) of WoodRiver looks pretty good. I have the #4, and it really works well - right out of the box.

    For a block plane, though, I really still like the Lee Valley.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  4. #4
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    I'll put my $.02 in with a couple of suggestions. If money is tight, get an old Stanley 60 1/2. It is a very nice utilitarian plane. Get someone to help you tune it up and you'll have a solid user. And you can probably do it for under $35.

    If you are flush and want to buy a really excellent plane, then go with the LV or the LN. IMNSHO [not so humble opinion] the WoodRiver, however nice it is, isn't a low priced but good user, nor is it the kind of fine tool that delights the user every time it goes in the hand. [Disclaimer:I haven't used a WR.] I am biased though, and I have a real affection for old well made tools, and new really nice tools especially those made in the US or our northerly neighbor. New stuff from China just doesn't do it for me. I am sure there are many folks who aren't afflicted with my preferences, and are very happy with their Wood Rivers.

  5. #5
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    I have a Woodriver smoothing plane and it is not bad. The sole was flat and the blade took minimal honing to get it flat, square, and sharp. The sides were not square with the sole though and I'm not going to take the time to do that. I'll never use it for shooting. I bought this while it was on sale.
    Would I buy another one? Nope. I am tired of buying stuff made in china. The quality is just not the same no matter how you look at it. Is it sufficient to get the job done? Absolutely. It just does not have the feel and the workings of a fine plane like a LN or LV. Many of the old planes are just a joy to use. That to me is what hand tools are all about. It is about the experience and the moments spent working with wonderfully crafted tools creating a memory in your works.

    If it is just about value and to have a plane to use for general use, you can pick up an old stanley and put a new IBEC(did I get that right?) blade in it and it will cut like a dream.

    Just my opinion...
    That's not even a smile! That's just a bunch of teeth playing with my mind!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    I love my Lee Valley low angle block plane, DX60.....
    Too bad you're so far from a store, as it makes it hard to try them out.

    Couple weeks ago LVT had a "plane event" at the store, where you could try out all the planes in their classroom, and talk to some knowledgeable folks.

    My point is that the "old" Lee Valley low angle block plane is 2" wide, whereas the new swoopy one that Stu mentioned above is 1-3/4" wide. They definitely feel different in the hands. I actually preferred the older one when I was trying it out. Best to get your hands on it and give it a go. (link to the LVT block planes)
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  7. #7
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    I have no gripes with having to do a little tune-up with a plane out of the box. That said, the first generation of WR planes were often in POOR shape out of the box. That's why I didn't get any when they first came out. These new ones are a world apart from the first ones.

    As for budget, the money is always tight. That's a big reason why I was looking at the WR. I will have to take another look at them when I work at the store next.

    Thanks all for the input!

    Hutch

    P.S. I have been quickly learning, however, that it's cheaper to buy good quality high end tools right off the bat.

  8. #8
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    Matt given your line of work I can only echo what Ken and others have said here.

    I have a LV block plane the old type Art refers to. I also bought the woodknob and the tote attachment.

    There are finer points that i dont think get mentioned enough.

    1) On either side of the LV block plane there are two small grub screws that can be adjusted to keep the blade tracking in the left to right direction within the plane body.

    2) The adjuster on the LV allows for fine settings that stay put.

    3) The throat on the LV also adjusts so you can close it up.

    Having just done a whole excercise on sharpening and playing with my old user planes and sharpening my block plane, i think woodworkers underestimate why these features were put in these planes and why they were very definitely missing from others.

    In my view its the ability to set it and work with it and come back to its and set it again.

    On ones without it that becomes a fiddle excercise and more frustration than its worth. Its the same as a decent spokeshave.

    I have 4 now. Two are ww2 versions that have a tang, I am about to modify them as per Glenns suggestion, but without a mod you have to tap and retap and fiddle with them to get theblade set just right. Then it lasts all as long as it takes to jam em up with shavings and you then have the whole saga repeat.

    In my view i think the old story of "the bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the cheap price" is very applicable to cutting edge hand tools.

    I would further argue that I would prefer to go without in other areas of my life and have a fine tool i appreciate and enjoy in its entirety than a cheap one.

    There is also my strong feelings that if we dont support these companies that have given us the opportunity to purchase a properly well made tool, soon our whole world will be value engineered to mediocrity.

    My last parting shot is to the likes of Woodcraft, Rockler and their other cousins out there.

    These stores are merely marketing houses. Franchises and brands that serve to distribute wares. The current trend is towards having tools made in a factory and private labeled trading off the brand perception and loyalty accumulated due to marketing dollars and cheap price of asian goods. They are not committed to the art of fine tool making such a Lie Neilson or the Lee family has been. When you take a guy like Ron Hock, Mr Leonard Lee, or Lie Neilson and there are many more, these people have devoted their lives towards producing implements that support our ability as hobbiests and professionals to achieve a quality and enjoyment of woodworking and tool ownership our grandparents would be proud of. Just take the number and amount of variances of cutting edge tools they have made and continue to introduce. Its easy to just go knock off the mass volume items. But lets not complain then when we go into a Home depot and they only got the fast moving lines and ripping us off for them.

    What about resale value. Just look at the value still left in them old Stanleys. But consider if you would buy a current version today in 80 years time.

    A time has to come when we decide as a generation whether that means something and whether we are gonna support real people with real commitment or complain for the rest of our lives about corporations with no soul and yet support them.

    I dont see a newsletter coming from Woodcraft that has an ounce of touch on what Lee Valley puts out. I dont see an antique tool collection or the study of patents of old tool makers and the education that goes with it.

    Ok i will stop i am getting carried away with ranting, I apologize it just gets to me that we support these fresh air johnny come lately ride on the back of others copy cat vapor ware brands. Was a time when we all had an ethic of supporting the good guy for the right reason.

    My apologies if i have offended anyone. I am just a simple guy.

    There is way more to this choice than just $$$$$$$
    cheers

  9. #9
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    OK, I have tried to stay out of this, but this is just too tempting and is a perfect seque for Wilbur Pans cartoon. Warning it has bad language near the end.

    << Link Deleted by Request >>
    Last edited by Bill Satko; 02-10-2011 at 05:12 AM. Reason: PM me for the link
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  10. #10
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    Rob, I am glad you brought up how the LV works in practical situations. That's the kind of info that I find very helpful. Cuz you're right, I have no desire to spend all my time fiddling with settings. And I absolutely agree that I would rather buy one great tool than 3 mediocre tools.

    I was waiting for someone to give "the rant."

    I have to agree with a lot of what you expressed. But there is something to be said for decent quality planes priced within reach of the hobbyist woodworker. Yes, for you and for me, we may look to better quality, and along with that support the engineering and improvements of Canadian and US manufacturers, but people are cheap and times are tough.

    For example: 24" industrial planers from Grizzly or other imports can run a mere $4,000 to 5,000. 45 years ago Oliver 24" planers cost as much as a sports car, and they still do: around $25,000. The cost of American made quality is the same in relation to other costs, but people no longer have a memory of tools and machinery B.A. (Before Asianmade) Most would go with the Grizzly. (I don't mean that people actually don't remember, but the consumer mindset is different as a whole.)

    BUT....I appreciate what you're saying. If I had a little more money I wouldn't even be considering the WR. You get what you pay for. Shoot, I may still spring for the LV. Problem is that I am a starving artist, sort of.

    AND...you might be surprised to know that in the case of their handplanes, Woodcraft did consult with Rob Cosman on how to make their planes better......though they may not have actually heeded all of his recommendations.

    Thanks!

    Hutch

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