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.


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.

Flashback: A Unique Way to Wrap Presents

There’s less than a week left until Christmas, so of course you’ve got all your gifts ready to be wrapped, right?

Wrapped Gifts with Poplar Ribbon and Bow

Last year, I discovered a new way to decorate the wrapped package – wood shavings!  Read the original post HERE.

Poplar Bow

A Unique Way to Wrap Presents

Deciding what to get someone is the hard part; wrapping them up is usually easy… unless you’re trying to disguise a hockey stick.  But don’t overlook the creative opportunities available to you in the wrapping process.

I’ve done some pretty crazy wrapping jobs in the past – some just awesome, others tacky but definitely fun.  This year, I came up with the idea of using wooden ribbons and bows.  I started with a 4′ board of straight-grained poplar.  From this, I took a relatively coarse shaving from my low-angle jack with a 25-degree blade for the ribbons.  I found that the low cutting angle was best for cutting ribbons without excessive spiralling though they still did end up looping.  I was able to push the plane with one hand and receive the shaving with the other to keep them relatively straight.  I wrapped them around the packages concave side in and cut and taped the ends to the underside.

For the ribbons I used the same material but switched to a bevel-down bench plane.  My #4 is usually set to take a really thin shaving for final smoothing, however, I wanted the bow to have a little more substance to it so I increased the depth.

To produce the tight, wavy shavings I needed for the bow I modified my grip.  My right hand pushed, but instead of holding the front knob with my left hand I cupped it over the mouth of the plane to restrict the escapement of the chips.  Trapped, they had no choice to fold over on themselves.  I found that skewing the plane at different angles also affected the shape of the shavings.

I took four passes for each bow and selected the three best shavings. Towards the end of each shaving it ended up zig-zagging back and forth.  I cut off this part with scissors.  Then, I gently tucked one end of each shaving under the ribbon and carefully twisted them together to make a homogenous bow.  A couple snips here and there with a pair of scissors cleaned up the bow.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and lots of time to spend with those whom you love!

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After posting this, someone sent me this video, perhaps implying that I should wrap my presents with this next year.

Preserving Odd Bits of Wood

When I am working, especially with hand tools, I sometimes notice unique and special shavings or chips or other side products in my shaping of a piece.

While wasting away material with a bench chisel, I noticed the interesting fractured chip that was being produced simultaneously.

I saved four of them and later cut a recess into a board of the same shape as one and inlaid the chip into it.  Today, it is still just a chip in a board, but one day it may become a lid to a box.

Another chip, created again with a bench chisel, caught my attention.  This one is about 1-1/2″ diameter and definitely too fragile on its own (the tip broke off while I was handling it).  To strengthen it, I dipped it in brushing lacquer, pulled it out and let it dry, then repeated the process to plasticize the chip.  Now, it is strong enough to handle.

I used a dab of cyanoacrylate glue to bond it to a circular piece of metal 5/8″ diameter.  It’s cool.  It’s unique.  It’s a miniature sculpture.  It’s typical of me.  It’s also my playing piece for board games.

Shavings are Fun!

Wood shavings are cool. They are fun to make. They are fun to play with. That is part of why I enjoy working with handplanes so much. It’s not just because of the beautiful, polished surface they leave behind. It’s because of the fashion in which they remove wood.

I’ve found that different types of shavings can be produced by skewing the plane, adjusting the mouth opening, depth of cut, and the effective cutting angle (the angle at which the blade enters the wood, measured from the bevel of a low-angle plane or the face of a bench plane blade to the sole of the plane). Also, controlling how the shaving exits the plane has an effect on the shape of the shaving.

First of all, a straight-grained piece of softwood is the best material to use when experimenting, as it’s the easiest to plane. And sharp blades are really a must, too. I have found that shavings are a great attention getter – at woodshows, everyone not so interested in the hand planes gravitates towards the shavings. They’re just so fascinating!

If you take a bench plane set for a fine cut and push the plane straight over the wood, without skewing it, you will create a tight spiraled shaving. By skewing the plane, the shaving ejects at an angle, creating a long cylindrical shaving, called a spill. The more you skew the plane, the longer the spill you can produce with a given length of wood.

I’ve found that I can take the heaviest cut with a low-angle plane equipped with a 25-degree blade. With the throat opened up fully, I can take a full 1/16″ shaving. The force required to take such a cut is quite a lot – sometimes more than my momentum can provide. For starters, try the edge of a 1/2″ or 3/4″ thick board. I’ve done 1-1/2″ and it ain’t easy. Rather than make these gargantuan shavings on the push stroke, I turn the plane around and pull. Somehow, I feel that I get more control and more power on the pull stroke. Maybe it’s because I have no fear of falling into the workpiece. Anyhow, these shavings make neat bracelets.

Another way to alter the type of shaving produced is to control how it is ejected from the plane. Uninhibited, the shaving out of a bench plane comes out in a curl. But if you put a finger in the mouth (from above), effectively preventing the shaving from ejecting cleanly, you will end up with a wrinkled shaving. A similar shaving can be produced by using a plane with a high effective cutting angle. You can get a similar effect using a shoulder plane, whose body impedes the clean ejection of shavings.