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Woodcraft, the Parkersburg, West Virginia company that sells woodworking tools by mail-order and through a national network of retail stores, recently introduced a new line of planes under the Wood River name. Seems a lot of Knots posters think the Wood River planes look too much like those built by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, makers of top-quality bench planes, and founded over 25 years ago in Maine by Tom Lie-Nielsen. But, a number of other posters suggested that both Wood River and Lie-Nielsen have a common ancestor in the Bedrock planes made by Stanley from the late 1890s until the early 1940s. With the measuring tools in hand, it became obvious that Lie-Nielsen made several improvements to the old Bedrock. Also, when it comes to the frogs, the one on the Wood River is closer to the Lie-Nielsen version than to the Bedrock.
I have an Ace Hardware private label Millers Falls plane from 1993 that was made with the same care for design, material and workmanship as my old 1985 Ford Mustang.
As for patent protection, Thomas Lie-Nielsen has no patents on his bench planes, and if he did he would be entitled to the full coverage of protection afforded to patent holders in exchange for disclosing his innovations and putting them in the public domain at the end of the term of the patent. CTWoodWkr writes: I don't understand Lie-Nielsen's recent decision to only sell their tools directly to customers and discontinue selling through retailers such as Woodcraft.
Without question I am of the opinion that at around $A50.00 plus half an afternoon's work you end up with a quality plane with character - some of my earlier restorations are type 9's and they still perform very well. My comment is this - the old planes are great and cheap provided you are prepared to do some work.
BloomingtonMike writes: At $110, the WoodRiver No 4 is not half the price of a Lie Nielsen No 4 ($300), it is closer to one third.
Lie Nielson took the Stanley planes, improved many ideas of them, and then charges us you for them.
I don't buy Lie-Nielsen equipment because it won't satisfy all my needs -In my circumstances I can't balance the price against my need other need of value.
I buy the best that I can afford and own Lie-Nielsen, original Stanley Bailey and Bed Rock and a few Veritas and Preston.
For the past few weeks, a rumor has been floating around Internet forums that Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Woodcraft were parting ways. First, as the popularity of Lie-Nielsen tools has grown the Maine toolmaker found it at times difficult to meet the demand created by the Woodcraft stores.
Second, Lie-Nielsen was concerned about the service that potential customers received at the stores, where the tools were kept locked in a glass case and where, he says, store clerks were not always able to provide critical advice about how to choose and care for their products.
You might wonder how Lie-Nielsen will be able to provide that type of service to you if you don't live in Maine or happen to be in a town visited by one of their events. You can look at it however you want, but the Lie-Nielson plane could be compared as a Porsche compared to a VW Rabbit.

Woodcraft used to have a line of reasonably affordable planes that were the bulk of their plane sales.
Not long ago I had decided to purchase all my Lie-Nielsen tools directly from their website. The first LN plane that I purchased was a long tine ago and was before they kept them locked up, so times change.
1oldsarge writes: Since I can't afford Lie Nielson tools anyway, I don't see that this is much in the way of news.
From the standpoint of an adjustable mouth on a low-angle block plane, one shoudl consider what you wish to use if for.
However, if you intend on the low-angle as your only block plane, then yes, an adjustable mouth is quite useful, and if you work highly figured wood, it will likely be essential. If time can be found, I will sharpen up the blade on some of my standard angle block planes and give them a whirl around some wood tomorrow. These planes, made in China, have generated a lot of interest and debate on Knots, our online woodworking forum.
On the Lie-Nielsen, the wood knob mounts to a double boss; the Bedrock has a single boss surrounded by a raised ring. However I won't buy Woodriver tools which are obvious Chinese copies of Lie-Nielsen planes.
I don't have the skills to completely evaluate a plane's dimensions and correct the defects nor am I interested in developing those skills.
I take more time and use a Stanley Plane which will satisfy both my need for a good result (quality) versus my need for value.
My brother in law looks at me and my prized Bed Rock planes and all of their copies with pity and sadness. There is no doubt as to the quality of a LN plane and the company is a pleasure to deal with, but my prized planes are lovingly restored Bed Rocks. The Maine plane maker has ended its relationship with Woodcraft in an attempt to improve customer service. He declined to comment on that issue, but explained that Lie-Nielsen decided to end its relationship with Woodcraft for two related reasons.
Lie-Nielsen believes that a potential customer should be able try out any tool he or she intends to buy, and have an experience similar to the one they would have at the Lie-Nielsen showroom and factory in Warren, Maine, and at the Lie-Nielsen handtool events that they put on around the country. I keep a Stanley low angled block plane in my tool box along with a little rabbet plane for tight spots and a Bosch power plane if I have to do the edge of a door or something. However, I am willing to bet that the tools at the LN events will be sharp and I plan to find out in 2010.

Indeed, both makers state in their catalog that their bench plane designs are rooted in the original Bedrock. I have bought several of the Wood River planes and they seems to perform very well, I also have several old Stanley flea-market finds that I have tuned and sharpened and they do fine. Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is an American company employing American craftsmen producing very high quality tools. Although I do not own any of the Wood River planes, when I started out I probably would have purchased them if they were all that I could afford.
So I spoke with Tom Lie-Nielsen and he confirmed that Lie-Nielsen tools will no longer be available through Woodcraft.
All of the authorized dealers have brick and mortar stores, in which an area will be set aside for Lie-Nielsen tools.
In raising the panel for the top, I use my LN low-angle block plane exclusively, sharpend to a high angle and with the mouth almost completely closed. Also, Lie-Nielsen introduced some current technology by using stress-relieved ductile-iron for the casting, with manganese-bronze as an option.
I know that I will never have any trouble re-selling my planes, and that they will last my lifetime. You can get alot more use out of the plane that you can afford but requires a thorough tune up than a picture of a plane that is pinned on your workshop wall and is being saved up for.
For further details, he referred me to Patrick Jackson, Lie-Nielsen's vice president of marketing and sales. I have a variety of other hand planes in my shop which I seldom use preferring to use my power equipment as it was intended although it is fun to cut a nice ribbon of wood shaving with a newly sharpened plane. Try to up sell them to a $300 plus hand plane and the chances are you will lose the sale altogether. I guess it would be nice to own a couple of those LN planes but I could not justify forking out that kind of dough for something I might seldom use.
On a very busy Saturday, I unlocked the case to show a LN plane to one of our regular customers. In short, when you are using a block plane you are normally in a situation where adjustments are the norm.

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