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Thread: WoodRiver vs Lie Nielsen block plane

  1. #1
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    WoodRiver vs Lie Nielsen block plane

    I'll start by saying I have zero hand plane experience. I feel like I'd like to break the ice and try the basics.
    Doing research, I found the general consensus are woodriver planes are a pretty good bang for the buck.
    Only thing I notice is a ton of 2-3 star reviews on the block plane for the blade cap constantly popping open.
    My post is three fold I suppose-
    Do any of you have any input on the WoodRiver block plane?
    At a price point of $165 for the Lie Nielsen, is it really worth a 65% jump from the WoodRiver?
    And finally, any opinions on other options for beginners? I will say up front I don't think finding a bargain and restoring it is an option. I have pretty limited time to dedicate at this point, I'd rather spend the hours learning technique and whatnot (or, more than likely, being frustrated) than restoring.
    Any input is appreciated.

    I also just realized that there is a hand tool subforum. If this post needs moved, my apologies
    Last edited by Adam Grund; 12-25-2018 at 9:20 PM.

  2. #2
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    I have the Woodriver and have handled the L-N planes at their shows. I think you should also consider the Lee Valley Veritas planes too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Grund View Post
    I'll start by saying I have zero hand plane experience. I feel like I'd like to break the ice and try the basics.
    Doing research, I found the general consensus are woodriver planes are a pretty good bang for the buck.
    Only thing I notice is a ton of 2-3 star reviews on the block plane for the blade cap constantly popping open.
    My post is three fold I suppose-
    Do any of you have any input on the WoodRiver block plane?
    It is well enough made it merits consideration. I don't think it is as well made as LV & LN though. I expect you can get it to work well, but I also think it will be least aggravating for an experienced user. Any plane will require adjustment and maintenance, the WR a little more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Grund View Post
    ... At a price point of $165 for the Lie Nielsen, is it really worth a 65% jump from the WoodRiver?
    Your money, you need to make that call for yourself. Given made in China (to a fairly high spec) versus make exquisitely in Maine, an argument could be made only 65% more is impressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Grund View Post
    ... And finally, any opinions on other options for beginners? I will say up front I don't think finding a bargain and restoring it is an option. I have pretty limited time to dedicate at this point, I'd rather spend the hours learning technique and whatnot (or, more than likely, being frustrated) than restoring.
    Any input is appreciated.

    I also just realized that there is a hand tool subforum. If this post needs moved, my apologies
    Again, consider the LV offerings. They don't stick to traditional forms as closely as LN, but they also have superb quality and offer several models. One is similar to the ones you've considered. There are fancier, almost space age, models liked by many. (See Derek's review.) There is a smaller model, the Apron Plane, many of us like for it's simplicity and convenience. Plus, they just introduced an even smaller Pocket Plane. (Which I haven't seen in the flesh or seen reviews for, but is I'm sure also very well done if you need an even more nimble plane.)

  3. #3
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    I have a Lie-nielsen and a veritas apron plane. I also have a Stanley 60 1/2 low angle from Lee Valley that is made in England. The stanley has a replacement blade from Lee Valley . I use all three ,they all have their place and excel in different ways. If you are looking for your first block plane the Stanley (England) from Lee Valley is an excellent budget choice. It works as well as the other two after I replaced the original blade.

  4. #4
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    Hi Adam

    As a complete newbie to hand planes, I doubt that you will be able to discern what amounts to subtle differences between the various higher end block planes. You are comparing LN and WR, and either will serve you well.

    If you are asking which block plane is the better, I have read several reviews of the WR to realise that the quality control is not have a patch on LN and Veritas. WR make a pretty decent product, but the LN and Veritas have an extra 10-20% improvement in quality. Of course the law of diminishing returns applies. Is the extra quality worth the extra cost? That is a personal question. My memory is going from a UK-made Stanley #60 1/2 block plane 20-odd years ago to a LN #103 block plane, and falling deeply in love. It simply was a joy to use. It performed at a much higher level, and it looked amazing.

    There are many Stanley #60 1/2 block planes around. The only ones to purchase are vintage (pre-WW2) USA-made versions. However, they need restoration and I never recommend that a newbie restore a plane before they have learned what to expect.

    Stanley and LN 60 1/2 ...



    The two best full size block planes on the market are the LN 60 1/2 and the Veritas DX60. I compared them when reviewing the Veritas here. After several years, I still give the nod to the Veritas (because it is much easier to set up and adjust, plus has better steel, PM-V11). The LN is marginally more comfortable in the hand.



    Left to Right: Premium Black, Premium SS, LN #60 , Veritas LABP.


    Veritas NX and DX60 ...



    LN 60 1/2 ...






    If you have a large hand, then I would recommend the Veritas Low Angle Block Plane (LABP). It is wider than the rest, as seen above. In the Stanley vintage planes, it is the same width as the #65 (that is not a recommendation, as these knuckle joint lever capped block planes are a pain to adjust, in spite of their collectability status). Ironically, the Wood River (Mk3) block plane sought to emulate the #65 by adding the knuckle joint lever cap ..




    As I mentioned, I really dislike this lever cap on the Stanley #65. It is finicky to adjust. The LN is a dream by comparison ... until you use the Veritas.

    There are also medium-small block planes available from LN and Veritas. Unlike the ones above, which have adjustable mouths, the following have fixed mouths. This is not a disadvantage. Rarely does one actually change the size of the mouth. The two I like are the LN #102 (the #103 is no longer available) and the Veritas Apron plane. The LN is my preferred of the two. I just like the extra heft of the brass construction.

    My LN #103 (same size as the #102) on the far right ...



    The advantage of the Veritas planes is that they can come with PM-V11 steel. This is a game changer for many. The powdered metal not only gets really sharp, but hold an edge longer than anything else out there. Plus it is not any more difficult to sharpen (outside O1 steel, which holds an edge the least of all).

    Lastly I will mention a recent small block plane from Veritas, the Pocket Plane ...

    This would not be my first choice, since it is so small, but is handy to own as it really can slip into a pocket.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  5. #5
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    Block planes are so useful, I think it will really improve your work. Wood River is a fine plane, and will serve you well. If you can sharpen it well, you will be fine.

    With that said, I think the Lie Nielsen low angle rabbet block plane is a great first plane. The versatility of that plane helps with tenons, end grain, etc. I would give that plane serious consideration.

  6. #6
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    I think the Lie Nielsen low angle rabbet block plane is a great first plane. The versatility of that plane helps with tenons, end grain, etc. I would give that plane serious consideration.
    (It is the middle plane in the three LN planes, above)

    Jacob, I must disagree. The rabbet block plane is quite hazardous as an everyday block plane. The side edges of the blade are constantly projecting, and you will cut yourself .. we all do. I have one of these, and it is a specialist plane, one that comes out on infrequent occasions. It is too wide for rabbets/rebates, and the fixed mouth is too open to take fine cuts in end grain. It is always tempting for some to consider this block plane as it seems to be a jack-of-all-trades. However, I would stick to a standard block plane.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  7. #7
    LN or Veritas.. if you don't want to be a fixer/restorer and it is your first plane...these two will work right out of the box. If you go with lesser planes you may find them so hArd to use, you will give up and lose the joy of hand tools.
    Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning, the devil says, "oh crap she's up!"


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  8. #8
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    Lots of good suggestions given above-I would suggest that perhaps the most important consideration is if you will be happy with the WoodRiver knuckle-joint lever cap. Some people like that feature, others not so much. It's probably worth the time to visit a Woodcraft to try it first. Whatever brand/model you decide on, the low angle blade options is what you want.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Mac View Post
    With that said, I think the Lie Nielsen low angle rabbet block plane is a great first plane. The versatility of that plane helps with tenons, end grain, etc. I would give that plane serious consideration.
    I have this and love it. I would not recommend it as my first/only plane, and would go with a standard traditional block plane instead.

    And I am not 100% sure about not purchasing used. My favorite block plane is an old millers falls. Yes, there is learning involved but to be honest it is not that hard to setup a block plane. And by doing so you do not have to worry about nicking it or damaging it when using (since it didnt cost much, and pretty much any damage you do you now know how to fix). And sooner or later you are going to need to sharpen it, even if a shiney new one. Some of my nicer planes, at first, I was 'afraid' to use... defeats the purpose.

    I would either 1) look on CL locally or 2) place an add on this site and you likely end up with one already tuned up for you by a member or 3) purchase one of the WR/LV/LN planes, all good.

    I would suggest any of these routes are low downside risk. Given you state you dont want to mess with 'restoring', option 2 works (there are people here that LOVE to restore and block planes collect like tribbles...). Or for this reason I might give the edge to the LV/LN brand over the WR since those two will certainly arrive already setup for use.

    Just one perspective...

  10. #10
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    Adam,
    I use a 60 1/2 Stanley I picked up on ebay. I don't see a block plane as something that can do much whatever it's quality. I put my money in a Record #7 and # 4 1/2 and sharpening equipment. Until I could get a hair-shaving edge quickly and easily the only things planes were good for was to pound on something when I misplaced my hammer. Mass produced equipment frequently needs careful adjusting and tuning before it works at it's best. That is not limited to turning the wheel on the back. Inspecting, filing, flattening, lubricating. (The #7 had to go to a machine shop to have the warped sole flattened). If the cap flies off once it's the manufacturer's fault. If it does it again, it's mine. It's a toggle, it's not rocket science, file something.

    A Stanley 73 and Record 93 rabbet planes complete my collection.

  11. #11
    +1 on the WR cap popping open. That said, I've found it you tighten is just a bit, its ok. Still a good choice for your first block plane, IMO.

    If you're mindset is "buy the best, buy it once" then the obvious choices are LN or LV.

    If you can find an old Stanley good, but where to find one at a good price/how long you want to look is the issue there.

    That's my answer but IMO the first plane a ww'er should buy is a #4.

  12. #12
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    I have six LN planes, they’re pretty good. They’re very well made and adjust nicely. I hate the blades so I’ve replaced mine with Hitachi blue paper steel and O1 steel in my more commonly used planes.

    LN is a good company, they stand behind their products. As example they replaced the lever cap on my plane when it started failing after years of use.

    I’ve owned almost all of their products, the planes, spokeshaves, floats, screwdrivers and saws are really good.

    I dont know wood river, never handled one of their products.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  13. #13
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    Another option in between trying to restore one and buying a new premium is to buy an already restored plane from someone like Don W (timetestedtools.com). I bought a Craftsman (Stanley copy) from him a couple of years ago and it worked perfect right out of the box.

  14. #14
    Buy once cry once! LN works for my likes, LV is a great plane as well. I find that good tools demand good work from me and they have driven my craft further! Either way learn everything you can about sharpening and plane set up and enjoy the versatility they bring to your shop!

  15. #15
    Since you are looking for your first plane, here's my "best-value" recommendation: Get two planes, not one, for the price of one (plus):

    Veritas low angle plane http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/pag...82,45204,47881 $155

    Veritas extra plane at 38* - $26

    Now, you have a low angle block (12*+25* at 37*) AND a standard block (switch the blade to 38* so the cutting angle becomes 12+38=50*). My standard block is not cutting at 45* after I put a micro bevel on the iron. So 50* is fine for all intents and purposes.

    If you insist, reground your optional blade to 33* to make the cutting angle at 45*. If Santa was kind to you this year, get the PMV11 blades. (Edit: Just a thought: If you don't have the equipment or know-how to alter the angle, check with Lee Valley if they could help you on that. No harm asking....)

    I am using Veritas as an example (free shipping), but you can pick other brands. The Veritas has an optional chamfer guide, if that matters to you.

    Veritas's apron plane is the one that i'd recommend if in future, you want a smaller addition for edge & inlay work.


    Simon
    Last edited by Simon MacGowen; 12-26-2018 at 12:25 PM.

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