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22 Aug. 2006

Rider block plane review,crate design loft beds,exterior door frame plans - Within Minutes

I haven't had time to hone the blade or test it out properly yet, just wanted to get my thoughts down on 'paper' as it were and will revisit in a day or two with photo's of it's performance. Ok, just to clarify - this is the 'new' block plane from axminster and is supposed to be a step up from their previous own-brand efforts from Groz, which were frankly dung. It actually feels very good, the adjustments don't feel cheap at all, and it's very quick and easy to adjust the blade; not quite as fast as say the veritas block, but still very easy nonetheless. It was surprisingly good on the ebony, being such a small plane, I thought it might struggle, but it's a very solid feeling plane, and coped very well, and left a lovely finish.
It's a little smaller and lighter than the LV block plane I had, but I would say so far, that the results are comparable, although I don't have one at hand to directly compare. I can confirm, that the fittings and the cap are in fact bronze, and that horrible finish is just lacquer, but seeing as it doesn't effect the excellent performance of the plane, I intend to leave it as it is. For ?34 it is streets ahead of the stanley's and records, and performs as well as a LV but is miles away from the quality of finish, which if that is important to you, you won't like this plane. I would say that I was impressed with the Rider demonstration that Peter did at Axminster Sittingbourne but he had a much better finished one than that and he fettled his.
The Lee Valley plane plane has extremely accurate machining on it(so does the LN,but not quite as smooth) The machining is also the smoothest I have seen on a commercial plane. With the LN plane's exposed lever cap screw,you can at least see what you are doing,in terms of loosening the cap till it cleared the screw.
I did not have this problem with the LN,or the Stanley,which has a swinging lever to tighten the lever cap, the easiest system to operate,though not made as elegantly as the other planes,it worked quicker. I can lap the sole of the LV(and,indeed of the LN also),though I wish I didn't have to on such an expensive plane (remember,it was within the specs.) I just would like it flatter. I have several block planes,so I may reserve the LV for times when I am working on the bench top,and not over my universal wood worker's vise (which really started life as a German made gunstocker's vise with swivel jaws). I had only made guitars with the Stanley in the past,for the greatest part of its use,for things like planing down the edges of the guitar's sides.

If Lee Valley would post the weight of this plane,we'd have an accurate idea of what to expect. Makes me think that there are likely a few places where a quarter or half pound of metal could be removed from one of these planes.
Amazing that so much goes into the function and appearance of a product and then there is a disconnect when it comes to the actual feel of holding the plane when it is being used. These days, my finances are tight enough that it seems like the more prudent route may be to buy a new LN or LV plane instead of taking a chance on the ebay lottery. I have several block planes,and will just use this one OVER THE BENCH TOP,and not out where I stand more of a chance dropping it.
Ductile cast iron bodies ground flat and square with the sides are coupled with cast and polished Solid Bronze caps to give these planes great heft and presence in the hand.
The Block Plane has always been a critically important woodworking hand tool, but often in the past, even the best from the major manufacturers were just okay. The picture that is with this review is not the picture that was in the add that I responded to.
However, if you are looking for a solid but not overly bulky plane to chamfer edges, trim end-grain, and knock out some high spots on hardwoods, this is a great choice, and I can highly recommend it. Having seen that all 3 planes were a bit hollow on their bottoms with a precision Brown and Sharpe straight edge,I decided to test them on my good granite flat.
I gave it a TINY bit of very low angle honing at the cutting edge to get rid of the grayness,and make the edge shine on both sides. I noticed that when I rubbed the LV plane against the granite surface plate,the center of the adjustable sole,and the butt end edge were the surfaces that touched. Nice to see some measurements on sole flatness - not a critical factor in a block plane, though. The thought was to lower the weight of the bike during a race to give the rider an advantage.

I also tested a Stanley #15 adjustable mouth low angle block plane that I bought new about 30 years ago. It actually sucked down to the granite surface plate.I would rather have the iron a tiny bit hollow,because it will bear down tighter on the blade ramp,so I was fine with that.
I think the most critical factor in selecting a block plane is how it fit and feel in your hands. The blade on the Stanley had been sharpened quite a few times,and was razor sharp,but at a more blunt angle than the other planes.
I think this design,while a bit on the extreme side,is a GREAT deal better than the Bridge City's block plane,which(as was usual) WAY over the top,and WAY TOO EXTREME,stretched out MUCH too far,to the point that it was not acceptable. Our new Block Planes belong in the category of the excellent new niche planes, with similar superb functionality - but at a more affordable price. We highly recommend these premium planes to any craftsman wanting to upgrade his tools while not breaking the bank.
I would say that this plane should have come stock with a thicker iron, regardless of carbon or hardness. I would hate to drop the plane,and I advise anyone buying it to be careful to keep a good grip on it. I couldn't get it to plane quite as thin a shaving as the other 2 would in the condition its blade and sole were in. My only previous experious with block planes were the pretty crude and basic Stanley 220's, so you can imagine I got a land.

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