Wood River #5 Plane

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Richo B

Richo
Senior User
Wood River plane.jpg
Last weekend I attended a seminar on "Fakes, Forgeries & Reproductions" up in Hillsborough for work. While north of the Mason Dixon line (I-40) my wife and I made a weekend of enjoying the many shopping opportunities to be found in the Raleigh Durham area. I went to Woodcraft and bought a Wood River #5 Plane. I'd been thinking about getting a new Jack plane before I finished my dutch tool chest (to be sure it would fit) and after Mike Davis said my last Jack plane purchase was a piece of junk (perhaps not exact words). The Jack I bought back in December wasn't working out for me so I did need something new to replace it. It will remain a scrub plane. Anyone have or used a Wood River #5? It was more than I've paid for most of my tools but not as high priced as the Veritas and Lie Nielsons.

I also bought the Veritas 14 tpi dovetail saw I had been thinking about and asking others on the forum about, Veritas dovetail markers, a leather piece for sharpening and Festool hold downs for my bench. All in all a good haul for the weekend. Except for the dovetail saw and the plane the other items were acquired at Klingspor's. It had been a couple years since I had been in the Raleigh location.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I don't remember your other plane, but if it was not working for you then you did good to replace it.

The Woodriver looks nice but I haven't had the opportunity to use one. Please let us know what you think about it after you've had time to give it a good work out.
 

TENdriver

New User
TENdriver
Richo,
I have quite a few modern and vintage hand planes and I try to routinely use as many of them as possible.

I don't have a WR #5 but I do have the WR#5 1/2 which at the time I bought it, was slightly better than the #5 due to some design improvements to the adjuster mechanism. That WR #5 1/2 is one of my favorites to use.

Ignoring the politics and biases, I've found the WR planes to be excellent users at a reasonable price for a new plane.
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
Thanks for posting this Richo. I don't own any of the WR planes, but I've looked at them in the store. They seem to be of pretty decent quality. Just out of curiosity, I wonder who makes them for Woodcraft.
 

Richo B

Richo
Senior User
Jack & Bench plane.jpg
To give some perspective the above planes I bought at an antique/consignment shop here in New Bern. The plane at top is a Bailey style jack made by Bigelow with sheet metal frog (is that correct?). I think it is because the frog is of sheet metal and not cast iron that Mike suggested it might not hold up as well. I had one of my volunteers work on both planes to get them back up to speed. The smoother below he got into good working order and it is worth its place in the tool chest. The jack plane had issues not only with skipping or whatever the term is that regards how it doesn't evenly follow the wood, but it also has problems in that wood chips get caught in the space between the chip breaker and the blade. My volunteer spent time on adjusting the chip breaker in the blade grinder (not to be confused with the main grinder that sends sparks everywhere) to get the edge flat. It worked for some time but I think the issues are returning. Since I only paid about $60 for the jack I felt that for newer projects that really depended on a good planing I should get a new jack plane rather than buy another antique.
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
Richo-
I too am blessed with a plane with a stamped frog.
In my case a hand-me-down #5.
Got the same comment from Mike Davis at one of the sharpening workshops.
And similar results to yours.

Like you I quit messing with it and got a Bailey style.
Mine is a #6 for $45 on line. Sharpened the iron and that is all it needed

Here are the two planes side by side.
You can see the stamped frog and adjuster knob


The differences in the mouth are pretty dramatic as well.
The stamped plane has sentimental value and I'll keep it around.
I toy with schemes to make it more more usable, but given the price paid for the #6, it's hard to justify putting any time into it.

They say its a poor craftsman who blames his tools.
And I guess there's truth in the logic that much of the skill is in selecting the right tool for the job and making sure it is well maintained and properly adjusted.
I won't blame this tool, I'll just retire it.
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
The wood river brand is a very good tool you will be happy with.
I watched Rob tune-up a #6 for a guy that purchased it that day, he sharpened and honed the blade, and did a set-up on everything else and took a "Whisper-thin" shaving off a board as proof it was ready to go!

I think you will be happy with it.

I prefer to take the "good-bones" approach and "revive" something like an old Stanley.
A lower $$ investment, but more sweat equity.
I know I invest more time in my tools than woodworking, but I enjoy both!
 

cyclopentadiene

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I purchased a two Woodriver planes when the Woodcraft in Greensboro was closing. I picked them up at 50% off. I also have a couple of the new Stanley Sweetheart, a couple of Lie Nielsen and some older Stanley's. I also made the mistake of purchasing some of the really low price made in India at woodcraft ( cannot remember the brand, but not worth the scrap metal used to make them).

Nothing compares to the LN planes. They are ready out of,the box and the blade holds an edge for a long time. I would rate the Woodriver and the new Stanley Sweetheart as comparable to one another. They both need some tuning out of the box and the blade must be sharpened before use. The sole is not completely flat but can be flattened with minimal effort. They hold an edge although not as long as the LN planes.

in regards to the older Stanley planes that I have, both are block planes. I use one as a beater plane generally for a quick look when purchasing rough sawn lumber. The other one I keep tuned and it works extremely well but it is not fair to compare as my skills with hand tools are far from acceptable and a block plane is easier to use in my hands.

I also have an Arnant spoke shave, new Stanley and the set of Veritas spokeshaves. The Veritas spokeshave said are amazing. In my hands they are comparable to the LN in terms of quality and work excellent. The Arnant is OK but it has to be resharpened quite often. The new Stanley one is a piece of junk and not worth the $30 that it costs.
 

Richo B

Richo
Senior User
cyclopentadiene - is the cheaper Woodcraft brand you couldn't remember possibly Shop Fox? I saw a bullnose shoulder plane made by them on Amazon and one other location. I was interested in it but like Wood River had never heard of it. I appreciate your run down of your tools especially the different spoke shaves.
 

TENdriver

New User
TENdriver
If you go to Cosman's you tube and look at his review of the WR #4 1/2, you'll see the improvements they've made in that (and the #5 1/2) version. I found those changes to be definite improvements.

I think Cosman starts discussing them at 13 min, 29 secs into the #4 1/2 review.

I was fortunate enough to get a LN #4 1/2 and the WR #5 1/2 on the same day. I had low expectations for the WR plane but discovered they're significantly improved and that depth adjustment ( which Cosman describes in the video ) may be one of the better ones out there. It's way better than you'd imagine.

BTW, I've used the Stanley #5 totes for over 30 years and they are ideal for my hands. I've actually found the tote on the WR #5 1/2 fits me even better. I can't use the tote on the WR #5 and WR #6. They're too small for my hands and would not be comfortable for me during long sessions.

Before anyone suspects me of being just another Cosman or WR "fan boy" I have to say, I expect I'll likely be buying another 4 to 6 Veritas and LN planes in the next 12-months. I don't know that I'll buy another WR. But that's not because of their performance.
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
I own several WR planes extremely happy with them. The adjustments, thicker blade, better cap iron and heavier weight make them a better performer than the Stanleys -- hold on -- just my opinion for those who haven't tried one. Not trying to flame the thread the vintage Stanley's are great performers, too.

On the 5 if you're planning on cambering the blade much you will have to file open the mouth. There is a demo somewhere about doing this.
 

cyclopentadiene

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The low cost handplanes from Woodcraft were Groz brand and the name fits well (Gross). I purchased a #4 and a block plane. I was able to tune the block plane somewhat but the #4 would never made a good cut. It took about 2 hours on 60 grit sandpaper to flatten the sole. The blades would keep an edge for about three passes along a softer wood like cherry.

In regards to spokeshaves, I am very pleased with the Veritas flat back spoke shave and the curved blade spokeshave for rounded pieces. I am however not sure how to sharpen that one. The rounded sole spokeshave seems to be an art. Sometimes I can get a good cut and just when I think I have the hang of it, I use the wrong angle and get a large area or tear out.

I have the small and the large Veritas Router planes. These are awesome! and easy to sharpen. I have a shop fox router plane that seemed to work well but the blade is not two piece like the Veritas so it is difficult to sharpen.

Another one I recommend that works well and is moderately priced is the new Stanley sweetheart shoulder plane. I sharpened it when it was new and have only touched up once. it cuts well and seems to be machined well.
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
I'm sorry about your experience maybe that was an earlier version plane? I wouldn't be so quick to condemn the current version. I believe they are actually Quangsheng, but I could be corrected on that. I suggest you try a V3 plane.

Every WR plane I've bought (4, 6, 7, 2 blocks) have been dead flat, square sides and well machined. Maybe a little more than expected flattening the backs of irons. The irons hold up quite well. I've built two oak projects with a lot of planing and was quite satisfied with edge retention.
 

Richo B

Richo
Senior User
I do have the Veritas large router plane and agree that it is an amazing tool.

Sounds like decent reviews for the WR plane so I'll stay with it. Haven't actually used it quite yet. I watched the video that Rob Crossman does of the #6 out of the box and will watch that again when I go to start my pre-work steps with my #5. Been busy working on finishing my Dutch chest in the meantime.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
The low cost handplanes from Woodcraft were Groz brand and the name fits well (Gross).
You are dead on about the Groz planes, I have never seen one that would make a clean shaving. They are probably the worst hand plane ever sold. I spent a couple hours on one trying to help a guy out. Finally threw his in the trash and gave him one of my Stanleys.
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
You are dead on about the Groz planes, I have never seen one that would make a clean shaving. They are probably the worst hand plane ever sold. I spent a couple hours on one trying to help a guy out. Finally threw his in the trash and gave him one of my Stanleys.
I started woodworking about 2006 and bought a block plane from Rockler...yep, it was a Groz and I didn't know any better but I flattened the sole and tuned it up as a newbie should do. After I got better at blade sharpening and the adjustments it worked a lot better, and still does, so I can't say that it's a piece of junk, but it's only a block plane.

 

Richo B

Richo
Senior User
Do the Groz planes have that name actually on them? Or is there some other distinguishing mark?
 

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Secretary
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
I believe the Groz planes are marked with that name - they are generally red and green I think if I remember correctly. Stay far away from them. It is not worth the trouble to get them to almost work.

I have a WR #4 - unfortunately I bought it before they made the improvements to them. It is an OK plane, but I understand the newer models are much better. I'd use one of the new ones in a pinch, but probably prefer an old Stanley Bailey or especially a Veritas or Lie Nelson. Although, unlike Hank, I buy most of my Bailey's from Ed in Pittsboro already set up, sharpened and ready to go. I pay him to do the sweat equity stuff since he does it very well.

Chris Schwarz did a review and evaluation of the WR planes and basically did not like the original but gave the new models high marks. Not perfect, but a decent plane after all.

Bottom line, you've got a very good plane there my friend. There are better ones, but this one will do just fine.
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
keys to a good bench plane based on my (limited) experience:
1) small/tight mouth
2) sole needs to be parallel at toe, around the mouth, and heel. nothing else really matters (of course the mentioned areas must be the high points). Personally, I think folks make too much of a big deal on this so be careful. Just as easy to ruin a plane than "fix" it. there's a lot more to technique than folks realize.
3) well-seated frog
4) well-supported blade (via frog)
5) good blade -easily replaceable if it won't hold a good edge. Sharp blade accounts for about 90% of cut quality IMO.
6) solid contact between the cap iron and blade (do not underestimate this contribution). If set properly you take clean shavings against the grain w/ a 45 degree bedded blade.

Brand/make doesn't really matter except some fit more of these criteria better than others.
Just my $0.02
 
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