WoodRiver #5 V3 Bench Plane Review – In Use

My LAST POST showed what the hand plane looked like out of the box.  This post shows what the plane was able to do.

While setting up the plane, I took note of the slop in the lateral- and depth-adjusters.  The depth adjuster had 3/4 of a turn of slop and the lateral adjuster had a little side-to-side play.

Lateral Adjuster Play

I honed the bevel up to 15,000-grit on a Shapton stone.  This process took about two minutes.  I then reassembled the plane and surfaced a board of beech.  This was the reflection I saw when I looked down the board’s length.

Beech, After Handplaning with Honed Bevel

The plane made shavings like these.

Shavings

To further increase the performance of the plane, I then lapped the back of the blade.  It took 12 minutes to bring the blade to this degree of flatness.  At this stage, the blade was flat enough to be usable, but there was still a large hollow in the center.

Adeqately Flattened Back

Six more minutes of lapping erased the hollow and I was able to bring up the polish.

Completely Flattened Back

I then reinstalled the blade and surfaced the beech board once again.  The polish of the planed board after having lapped the back was noticeably better.

Beech, After Handplaning with Honed Bevel and Lapped Back

I took this shot for fun.

WoodRiver #5 V3 Handplane

Remember the grease I wiped off as soon as I got the plane?  Within a week of returning home to the Westcoast, I found that the sole already had rust spots.  I cleaned the rust off and applied a coat of Boeshield, something I should have done right away.

WoodRiver #5 V3 Bench Plane Review – Unpackaged

A couple months ago, while visiting some friends in Arizona, I went to a Woodcraft store and bought a WoodRiver #5 V3 bench plane.  While I don’t need any more bench planes, I was curious to see just how good the much-talked-about WoodRiver planes really were.  From what I have read, Version 3 (V3) is drastically better than the previous two versions.

The purpose of this article is to show what the V3 plane looked like out of the box.

After taking the plane out of the package, the first thing I did was disassemble the plane and wipe off the grease applied to keep the plane rust free.  I carefully inspected each part, made notes and took photos along the way.  In general, everything seemed well-machined.

I noticed that the burr from tapping the hole in the cap iron had not been removed.  I used a mill file to remove the burr.

Cap Iron

The cap iron, which appeared to be very similar to the Lie-Nielsen design, was ground to a fine edge.

Cap Iron Edge

The blade was also ground to a fine edge.  The machining marks were finer on the blade than on the cap iron and the blade was sharp, though not as sharp as I keep my blades.

Blade

The parts of the lateral- and depth-adjusters that engage with the cap iron and blade appeared to be well-made.

Top of Frog

I spotted a cosmetic defect, a scratch, on the right wing of the plane.  It did not concern me in the least.

Scratch on Side Wing

The body was machined very uniformly.  The text on the box was clearly reflected in the plane’s sole.

Sole

The frog rested on this ramp.  The small machined edges on either side of the bed were helpful in keeping the frog from twisting as it was adjusted and locked down.

Frog Bedding Surface

The bottom of the frog was finely ground.

Bottom of Frog

All the moving parts moved smoothly.

Back of Frog/Depth Adjuster

There were two of these “rivets” dropped through the slots in the frog and into the body of the plane.  In the rear of the ramp (on which the frog rests) was a pair of slot-head screws with pointed tips.  The points engaged with the conical recess in the rivets and as the screws were tightened, the rivets were pulled down to secure the frog.  The dimple on the top indicated the location of the conical recess so that it could be properly aligned once it was dropped in place.  (Side note:  When removing the pointed, slot-head screws for the first time, they backed off freely then bound up snug.  By applying a little extra torque – but by no means an excessive amount – I was able to remove the screws.  When I ran them in and out afterwards, there was no resistance.)

Frog Rivets

My biggest complaint about the plane was that the front of the mouth opening was a little uneven, making it difficult to set the mouth evenly.  A little work with a file solved that problem.

Mouth Opening

The left wing appeared to be perfectly square.

Left Wing and Sole

The right wing appeared to be a little out of square.  I e-mailed Woodcraft Technical Support about this and they informed me that if I was able to fit a 0.002″ feeler gauge between the square and the plane’s sole, they would be happy to replace the plane.  This gap was well within that tolerance.

Right Wing and Sole

The NEXT ARTICLE shows how the plane performed.