Are WoodRiver’s new block planes good enough to knuckle down in the shop?
Eariler this week, I found a small, but very heavy box on my desk. The shipping label and weight told me all I needed to know. Inside I would find both versions (low-angle and standard-angle) of WoodRiver’s new block planes. One thing that immediately jumps out is that they have a knuckle-joint cap lever. Stroll on over to Patrick Leach’s Blood & Gore and read about Stanley’s #18 block plane to learn a bit more about the original design. I’ll need some more time with the WoodRiver version to determine exactly how, if at all, they differ from the Stanley #18. (But that will have to wait.)
I used the prototypes at IWF, but not enough to get a good sense of how well the planes worked. Sadly, I’ve already packed up these new ones and shipped them off to Chris Gochnour, who will give them a full test. Look for his review in an upcoming issue of Fine Woodworking. On first impression, the fit and finish are good. And the planes are heavy. That big spoony looking part of the cap lever is comfortable (I prefer it to the cap iron on a more traditional block plane, like the Stanley #9 1/2). And overall, the plane fit my hand very well. Oh, but I wish I could have put it to use for a week or so in my shop. So, I’m sorry to say I can’t report on its performace. (I guess that’s alright. I do have three very cool planes in my shop right now for testing. Say no more. Say no more.)
Anatomy lesson. The cap iron has two parts. The true cap iron looks a lot like a chip break, with its curved front. A bulbous cap applies pressure when its snapped down, closing up the jointed lever.