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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. Then, too, a few years ago, he improved the chipbreaker, making it thicker to help reduce blade-chatter. Also, when it comes to the frogs, the one on the Wood River is closer to the Lie-Nielsen version than to the Bedrock. Copying is not new or unique to the tool trade, nor is having tools made in China to reduce cost. Let's pretend for the sake of argument that WR and L-N products are equivalent quality and don't violate intellectual property law (if it was really about copying Stanley, WR tools would have molds pulled from them and look like Stanleys).
We need to put our house in order, brother and sister woodworkers: we are clearly not listening to the trees in the wood we work, or to our hearts as they work through our hands. Several of the tools I have on my want list were originally manufactured in England, and I will be proud to use them in my shop. There will always be demand, and dare I say need for low cost, entry-level tools; and these tools have ALWAYS been made in the third world. 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. 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.
JBAR60 writes: My gradpa always told me to buy the best tool you can aford and learn how to use it properly and take good care of it and it will always pay you back.

I have gradually replaced almost all the bargain tools I once owned and the results are that I enjoy woodworking much more and my wife now asks me to make things around for our home. 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. If LN was really as into the needs of WWs of the world, maybe they could have reached more of them by doing exactly what Woodcraft did. Parts list in the top right advice and angstrom unit bombastic filling of tools for atomic number but.
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.
I have made a career out of manufacturing, and would hazard a guess that many of the machine tools used to fabricate LN products (and those of others) were purchased from overseas manufacturers. If anything, LN might like to consider that there is a market for a less expensive version of their tools. The same with Auriou rasps - they really are that much better and my works shows it, plus it feels so much better using these tools. I am happy to tune my equipment as I have acquired skills and mastered techniques I would not have otherwise learned and I don't consider this metalwork over woodwork I view this as all part of the same hobby. When we demand to buy on low price alone we end up cheating ourselves and our fellow Americans. Too little debate about the substantive issues raised by what Woodcraft has done and a whole lot of chatter about first-world personal economic ends justifying any means necessary, though nobody was honest enough with themselves to state it that clearly. However I won't buy Woodriver tools which are obvious Chinese copies of Lie-Nielsen planes.

Brian Boggs was so broke when he first started, he made his first chisel from a screwdriver and would recycle pieces of fence for constructing work benches - none of this expensive Chinese made tools that cost over a hundred dollars. Too many of the comments boiled down to distorted notions of what each of us thinks we can "afford." Huh. 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. It was enough to learn how to sharpen tools and then to use them properly and to pick the right tool.
Marc Spagnola suggests that woodworkers are fine engineers that work in wood - I totally agree with this view. 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.
Of course, the price is higher than a Chinese knock off but quality and value not price should be the priority when purchasing woodworking tools.
Maybe prevailing winds send Chinese pollution to our west coast where most of our food is grown, so we get sick too, like our Chinese brothers and sisters, et cetera. And we still continue to think of affordability in terms of our wallets, and even then we get it wrong because we don't connect our wallet-based illusions to the medical bills for cancers and other things like unemployment, when our to our actions at the cash registers of the world are part of the drain on our wallets. It would be incredibly hypercritical to build their furniture using imported tools made with cheap foreign labor.

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