WoodRiver V3 Handplane Review

G S Haydon

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As most of you have seen in the main I’m a user of vintage planes although a few new ones have also passed through my hands. As much as I enjoy the planes I have if presented with the opportunity to try and review something new I’ll gladly share my thoughts.

A cabinet maker in the UK called Peter Sefton offered the WoodRiver plane around for anyone to try via a UK woodworking forum I post in. Once you've had a go you send it to the next person. I'm kinda surprised I have not seen more of this type of thing (or perhaps I've missed it) on other forums. Just to be clear I don't get paid to do this, in fact it costs me money as I have to post the plane but as woodworking shows are not always easy to get to it's the next best thing. I've contrasted it with the planes I normally use to give it some kind of context.








I sharpened all the irons in my normal way so they all started at an equal standard. I'm sure most of you know already but the plane is made in the very familiar “Bedrock” pattern. The quality of the casting and general finish is very good. Although the neat black, brass and crisp surfaces don’t guarantee good performance when combined here the aesthetic for me at least is pleasing. The position of the tote is just right with no stretching of the finger to reach the adjustment wheel. For my medium sized hands there was plenty of room and I felt no issue with comfort at all. In fact I found it a little more comfortable than my Bailey. One of the most pleasing aspects of the tool for me is the cutting Iron. UK WoodRiver planes have high carbon water hardened steel that is quite sublime and hones very readily to a very sharp edge (I think North America is A2 but perhaps someone could confirm that). For those who like spec sheet comparisons it’s a T10 steel hardened to RC 63 but I’m not that kind of person and the bottom line is T10 is excellent and perhaps deserving of more widespread praise. The cap iron is also good but I did add a secondary bevel to the front edge to enable the best results when the cap iron is set very fine. The only issue with the whole blade/cap iron set up is the screw. With the cutting iron done so well by WoodRiver it was a shame not to have serrations on the cap iron retention screw. Perhaps it’s just what I’m used to but Bailey style planes have this feature and it makes it easier and more comfortable on the fingers when setting the cap iron close. Although my wooden planes do not have serrations the screw head is deeper allowing more grip. It’s a small issue and not prohibitive to good work and could be improved by the user or perhaps even better by WoodRiver in the future.




The Bedrock platform works just as it should allowing the user to open and close the mouth as required with the cutting iron remaining in place.

The most pressing issue though is what happens when the iron meets the wood? Well all I can say is its a very good plane. Adjustment of the blade feels very smooth and there is a very pleasing amount of backlash in the adjuster, about a quarter turn. My vintage Bailey has much more and I can forgive it that as it does not really make much odds but it’s nice to see a modern plane with this attention to detail. The size of the adjustment wheel allows one finger to advance or retract the cutting iron while in use allowing very precise setting to be achieved easily. I don’t feel limited by my planes or indeed feel the need to change them but I have to be honest and say it was easier to get fine settings with the WoodRiver when compared with the Bailey versions that I own. The lateral adjustment lever has a bearing and there is a recent tweak to the yoke that engages the cap iron. It's aim is to reduce wear but only time will tell on that one. 






While I don’t have the means to test flatness to engineering standards I am able to put typical woodworking hurdles in the way to see if the tool will do what is expected of it. Edge jointing was easily done, tearout was tamed and end grain was shot. At no time did I find any issue causing a problem and the WoodRiver felt very tight and crisp. To be fair though my other planes also do what I ask of them. There is a significant weight to the WoodRiver that lends itself well to refining, smoothing, jointing and shooting. However if you use your plane in a looser way for working at odd angles, shaping or for any volume of stock preparation from the rough you might prefer to add a lighter vintage plane to the list. Below are a couple of Hollywood shaving shots, the WoodRiver did great, but then so did my 99p ($1.50) wooden jack plane 






As a vintage tool user I know how to get the best out of them to suit my needs but I often feel for someone totally inexperienced the biggest hurdle would be knowing just what that means. What the WoodRiver does well is provide good value hone and go experience that can be used with no extra fettling allowing the user to get on with making things. It comes with the back up of a guarantee and the ability to get help at the end of the phone if you have and issue. It also could provide a benchmark for people new to vintage tool restoration. I wish this option were there for me when I started work in the late 1990’s. It does not break any new ground but frankly I'm not sure many new offerings truly do offer anything really new. My Wooden Jack demonstrates well how evolved the handplane was over 100yrs ago. And no plane will work well unless sharp and used properly. In a nutshell you could do much worse than a WoodRiver






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Thanks all! At least I managed to fend of the "hey look at the new thing it's so awesome" vibe in the review. The context of the older planes was all I had but's it's good at illustrating that very good tools can be found in all kinds of ways. Just to stress also I'm not on anyones payroll, I don't make $ from sales of the product nor have I been given the tool or paid to do the review. They have a clifton on a share around, looking forward to seeing how that fares!

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Great review Graham and top notch video. I have a couple of Quangcheng (AKA Woodriver) planes in my collection and can confirm that they are indeed very well made. They are well worth the outlay which is quite modest in comparison to LN/LV/Clifton (models of which I also have in my arsenal).

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Thanks for the great write-up Graham.  I'm primarily a power tool user and very light in the use of hand-tools, but I'm gradually using more. I have an old No5 that is rough but serviceable,  a few block planes, a 62 LA jack, and a router plane.  My next step is a smoother I think, and I'm really liking the LN (who doesn't?), but the WR is appealing for it's straight out value.  The budget is there for a LN, but I have a hard time accepting that it's really worth two and a half times the cost of a WR.  Reviews like this give me comfort in knowing that I really can't make a bad choice. 


Also.....very neat idea of passing tools around so others can try them!

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Cheers John, glad you liked it. Yes, passing tools around is something that is very useful. Feedback is normally good and "real world" so to speak. I didn't touch the value issue as buyers can see the prices and make up their own minds based on their personal preferences. The key issue is always "does it work as it should" and yes it does!

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