WoodRiver - #4-1/2 Smoothing Plane
The WoodRiver® V3 line of hand planes is based on the reliable Stanley Bedrock design featuring heavy, stress-relieved ductile iron castings, fully machined adjustable frogs and high carbon steel...
The WoodRiver® V3 No. 4-1/2 Bench Hand Plane is 2-7/8" wide, 10-3/8" long, has a 2-3/8" blade, and weighs just over 6 lbs. Commonly referred to as a smoothing plane, the No. 4-1/2 offers the user more heft, size and a larger tote than a traditional No. 4. Features include soles and side machined flat and square, lightly finished hardwood handles, and minimal tune-up required before use.
- 2-7/8" wide x 10-3/8" long with a 2-3/8" wide blade
- Modeled after the Bedrocks, Stanley Tool’s very best line
- Features fine-grained ductile iron castings and fully machined frogs
- Soles and sides machined flat and square
- Tools require minimal tune-up prior to use
Articles & Blogs
This is a great hand plane.
This is my first, and so far, only Woodriver hand plane, and I love using it. Follow Rob Cosman's set up videos for these (or any) hand plane, just search Youtube, he has several videos on this. The blade flat when I went to sharpen it, I use the ruler trick and recommend everybody should, its a huge time saver and your blades will be wicked sharp. The thick heavy blade makes sharpening it easy, and it does not flex or chatter when planing. The size of the plane is ideal. I would say I have average sized hands, and the plane fits my hands nicely. It has nice weight to it, and that really helps getting through the wood. Even though the price has gone up on all the Woodriver planes, and the price point is much closer to the competitors than they used to be, id still recommend these Woodriver planes.
WoodRiver #4-1/2 review
This is a review of the WoodRiver #4 ½ Bedrock style bench plane which I purchased yesterday. I’ll lead with the summary to save you some time. The details follow if you’re interested. In my opinion, this plane is a bargain. At $175 it appears to have most of the quality of my much more expensive bench planes. Although I did wince a little at “made in China” on the box, I have to say it bears none of the expected cheapness that usually comes with that moniker. You will need to spend 30 minutes to an hour tuning it up before it will perform like a L.N. plane, but I feel like that’s a fair tradeoff for the price paid. Time will tell how this plane holds up under use but if first impressions last, this will be a keeper. Out of the box the machined parts are coated in rust preventative which came away easily with a little paint thinner on a rag. It feels solid, and heavy. I don’t have a good scale for small weights but I was 5.8 pounds heavier on my digital bathroom scale holding it than I was without it (accuracy not guaranteed!). The body and frog castings appear to be very good. There is no flash along the edges, no voids or pitting in the machined surfaces and the color of the ductile iron is uniform with no visible variations in the grain nor indications of any problems with the foundry heat. Machining is smooth (more on that below) and the body is painted where it should be and not painted where it shouldn’t be. The cast-in lettering is reasonably crisp. The tote and knob appear similar in grain and color to rosewood, although I couldn’t say for sure what the species is. They are both nicely, matte finished and the grain of the tote is running the right way. I wear a 2xl golf glove and the tote is comfortable in my hand. The knob screw was tight but I needed to tighten the tote screws a bit. I live in a humid climate so rust is always a problem. I completely disassembled the plane, coated the hidden, machined surfaces with a thin coat of lithium grease and reassembled it. The bed has visible milling lines from multiple passes with a small end mill bit however I could not feel any lips or variation from flat with my finger. The milling of the frog appears good to the eye. I didn’t try to measure the flatness or the angles. One nice touch on the frog is the lateral adjustment lever. On most inexpensive planes the lateral adjustment lever is made from thick, sheet metal. The tip, where you push to move the lever left or right, is two tabs that have been folded over to form a sort of double ear. On this plane the “ear” is actually a separate, brass piece that is screwed to bottom of the lever. It’s a nice accent touch and adds to the overall appearance. Next I whet the iron. WoodCraft doesn’t say what type of steel is used for the iron, only that it’s “high carbon”, which doesn’t really tell you much. Both the iron and the chip breaker are .125” thick. The iron takes an edge well and feels similar in hardness to other plane irons I own while sharpening. However while I was testing the plane I did feel like it lost the edge a little sooner than it should have while planing hard maple. I re-sharpened it and again, it took an edge easily. I was taking full width, gossamer thin shavings off the side of an eight quarter maple board. I didn’t measure the thickness of the shavings I was getting but from the way they floated gently to the floor, I know they were well under .001”. If I fall in love with this plane I may ultimately spring for a high end iron for it. The depth adjustment knob on my plane has a little over one full turn of backlash. Not bad, but not the greatest either. I discovered that most of the backlash was due to the fit between the yoke and the slot in the chip breaker. The fit between the yoke and the adjustment knob is very good. The yoke design is interesting. See the Rob Cosman video for more detail there. Two items that never seem to get the attention they deserve are the cap iron (chip breaker) and the lever cap. In my training, I was taught that the edge of the lever cap must meet the chip breaker in a straight, continuous line in order to put even pressure on the chip breaker and ultimately bed the iron properly to the toe of the frog. This helps prevent the blade from chattering while planing difficult woods. More importantly, the chip breaker has to meet the plane iron in exactly the same manner. Any gap along the edge of the chip breaker where it meets the iron will allow the shavings to catch and clog the throat. On modern planes with 1/8” thick irons and flat chip breakers chatter might not be much of an issue. But I’m a product of my upbringing, so I spent about 30 minutes honing a continuous, flat mating edge on the bottoms of the cap iron and the lever cap. That was more time than I spent on any other part of the setup. To be fair, I’ve done this with every plane I own. The last thing I did was check the flatness of the sole. I made a crosshatch pattern on it with a felt tipped marker and made a few passes over 400 grit wet/dry paper on my granite flat stone. There was perfect contact all the way around the perimeter with a very shallow, almost perfectly oval hollow in the center of the sole, from just forward of the throat to about an inch from the heel. I couldn’t measure it but based upon the amount of marker that was removed I would estimate the depth to be no more that .0002” - .0003”. A dozen or so additional passes and all the marker disappeared. This is amazing for a plane at this price point in my opinion. In conclusion, if this tool holds up under use I would have to call it a “best buy”.
These Wood River planes are superb
I've been using Woodriver 4-1/2 Smoother, 5 Jack, and 7 Jointer for the last year. No complaints. They're a joy to use. That's all.
Problems with the WoodRiver 4 1/2 blade/iron
I've had this plane for nearly a year and have had issues with the blade from the start. The blade dulled quickly, usually with the freshly honed blade edge to rolling over to the flat side, creating something that felt like a large "bur", requiring flattening and re-honing. Never had this issue with any of my old Stanley's. I kept re-sharpening and giving it another go. Finally, a small divot formed and I put the plane away and used my old Stanley's. Received a a worksharp 3000 for Christmas and decided sharpen/grind and honed the blade very sharp. While smoothing a large poplar board, the plane performed well until I saw a line/track in the board and discovered the blade had chipped again. I love the heft, fit and finish of the WR 4 1/2, but I'm done with that iron. I guess I will need to buy an after market blade.
Very well made plane
Let me start off by saying that after a little work, this plane is capable of doing anything a plane costing almost 3 times more would do. I had one issue with mine that involved the blade. One corner of the back (flat) side of the blade was ground too deep and required me to take about .0045" off the back of the blade. I was able to do this because I have access to machinery that can accomplish this easily. The plus to that was that when I was done, the entire blade surface was flat to .0001" and ground to an equivalent surface finish you would get from a 4000 grit stone. (yes, one ten-thousandths of an inch) For most people without access to the equipment I do, this would have been a reason to return the plane for a replacement. If you watch Rob Cosman's video on this plane, even he mentions that if the blade is out of flat too much to return it. I did consider this, but since I was able to fix it myself with little effort, I just did it. That is the reason I took off one star. Otherwise, the plane is darn near perfect. Woodcraft, you can take this as a reason to watch your quality control just a bit more closely. (while I was in the shop grinding the blade I checked the hardness. 61 Rockwell C. Exactly what they claim.) Interestingly enough, the back end of the blade was in the 35rC range. Something I never knew about plane blades, that they were not hard all along the length of the blade. I may check my other planes sometime to verify they are all that way. So, the rest of the plane was just great. The sole was flat within .0005" right out of the box. Probably better than the spec for that plane. Before I redid the blade or did any kind of sharpening, it was able to take .0015" shavings off a board with an almost perfectly smooth surface. After I reground the blade and sharpened it, I was able to shave endgrain pine to a smooth surface with a continuous shaving coming off the plane. Hard maple shavings I could get down to less than .001" and so thin they stuck fast to your hand with static, leaving a glass smooth surface behind. The sides of the plane were square with the sole to within .002 total. (that's about .06 degrees.) easily good enough. The depth adjustment for the blade was smooth and precise. No complaints there. The weight of the plane is just right to make it easy to smooth the wood surface, not too light and not too heavy. Bottom line, this plane is worth every penny I paid for it, and probably more, since I got it on sale for $159. At that price, or even the regular price, there is nothing on the market that can touch it. If it wasn't for the issue with the blade, it easily would have gotten 5 stars. If you are looking for this size plane, you just can't go wrong with this one. Again, I could have returned it because of the blade and Woodcraft would have exchanged it for me with no problems but I was able to fix that myself. I only mention it so if someone ever gets a Woodriver product with a problem they will take care of you. Highly recommended
Great Value, Excellent Quality
I own several old Baileys and the new boutique makers. This one stands up respectably to the lot. I find I tend to reach for the WoodRiver more and more of late.
#4-1/2 After One Year
Well made, square and flat enough for me. The iron took considerable work to flatten, and had very very small chipping on the bevel edge. I continued tu use it and after many honing so, the edge is clean. Very hard iron, by the way. The setup cuts as well as my old planes, one with a best quality aftermarket iron. Adjustments are great and you will find yourself with it in your hand often. Get past China and never be disappointed.
I own a lot of planes. If you need the most bang for your mula. This is the plane for you. The adjustment alone is amazing. They have a hefty iron and the milling is spot on. I have used this palne for two years now. So this is not an out of the box review. I own a few of the "big Boy" manufactured planes and the are great but I will be ordering a full set of these soon.
I bought this Plane today. Cleaned it up honed the blade. Cutting .0001 shaving in less then 30 min.
Blade is not A2 steel
Although I went ahead and bought this plane anyway based on Woodcraft's return policy, I was hesitant because technical support at Woodcraft indicated that the blades are no longer made of A2 steel. They indicated that the catalog makes no claim of using A2 steel and felt that the web page needed to be changed to indicate this change. I send this bad review as feedback about an inaccurate web page. More later after I have used the plane.
Very nice plane
Got it for smoothing some scruffy red oak, and it worked beautifully. Very minimal tune-up, and it was ready to go. Nice fit and finish. The extra weight is great for difficult woods and a little easier on the shoulders since less downward pressure is needed.
4.5 woodriver and low angle planes
while on holiday in florida I was fortunate enough to visit woodcraft I viewed the woodriver range and was pleasantly surprised how better the American version was to the uk version so I purchased the 4.5 and the low angled block plane which are unavailable in the uk and I am very pleased with the purchase excellent quality
Diamond in the rough
An excellent plane AFTER being thoroughly fettled. Completely disassemble, then use taps and dies to clean all threaded holes and bolt threads of manufacturers left behind crud such as metal chips and dirt. Carefully reassemble taking care that all parts fit and operate smoothly. Flatten all blade parts mating surfaces including the lever cap and chip- breaker, hone the blade and you will have a plane equal to any others including "L-N". The only difference between this 4 1/2 plane and my LN 4 1/2 is LN has done the fettling for you. This plane is about 6 oz HEAVIER than the LN and performs just as well. These WoodRiver planes are an excellent value in spite of the work required to complete what the factory started.
Great Tool, Great Price
With an absolute mininum of tuning, and proper sharpening this plane will produce shavings of under 1/1000 of an inch. Mine commonly do 1/2 of 1/1000th. There is only one other tool maker that produces this quality but those are around twice the price. The 2X price is worth it for those who love very very high quality brass fitted tools but they don't perform a bit better than Wood River.