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.
The cap iron, which appeared to be very similar to the Lie-Nielsen design, was ground to a fine 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.
The parts of the lateral- and depth-adjusters that engage with the cap iron and blade appeared to be well-made.
I spotted a cosmetic defect, a scratch, on the right wing of the plane. It did not concern me in the least.
The body was machined very uniformly. The text on the box was clearly reflected in the plane’s 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.
The bottom of the frog was finely ground.
All the moving parts moved smoothly.
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.)
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.
The left wing appeared to be perfectly square.
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.
The NEXT ARTICLE shows how the plane performed.
11 thoughts on “WoodRiver #5 V3 Bench Plane Review – Unpackaged”
Thanks Chris, nice job, look forward to your performance review, Best regards, Frank
Nice initial analysis. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on performance.
Best review of Woodriver planes I ever read.
Great review — extremely helpful in my decision making about purchasing one of the WoodRiver planes.
Very fair and informative review
The 51/2 I purchased was out of square – sole to shoulder – both sides by .38mm across the sole. I was advised this was within their 18 thou tolerance. I had used the plane before discovering the out of square, but they agreed to refund. I had asked their UK outlet to check if they could supply one checked for square, but they instead refunded. Very disappointed as the plane was otherwise a joy to use, and disappointed that RW have not thought to tighten their tolerances for square.
Disappointing that they didn’t give you the chance to check or try a different plane. However, I can understand having those tolerances. Tighter tolerance cost more to produce, and they probably want to be at that price point in the market.
Maybe buy another from your dealer? Check before you purchase if possible.