|Review by gko||posted 06-23-2011 10:03 AM||3392 views||1 time favorited||11 comments|
Wood River Side Rabbet Plane
I finally got my Wood River Side Rabbet Plane after ordering it about 2 months ago. It’s main job is to clean up the sides of rebates and grooves. It has two blades that can be set independently. They can be used left or right handed and can be used in either direction of the grain. There is a nose or toe to put pressure on the wood to give you finer shavings but it is a bit too far from the blade. The nose can be taken off so you can plane all the way to a stop. There is a fence that can be reversed to use in the opposite direction and can be set to the depth of the groove. The fence aids in controlling the plane while shaving the sides of a groove.
The screw holding the bullnose in was not screwed all the way in when they machined the front so most of the head was machined off. The guys at WC used a needle nose to unscrew it. Went to a local hardware store and got a m4×20 screw which fit perfectly. Sole was decently flat and took just a little work to get it really flat. A lot of the edges were knife sharp so I just sanded some of the edge off.
Picture of screw cut off in machining the front of the nose.
The blades were really in bad shape. The flat backs weren’t really flat with rather coarse machining lines. One had a slight dip behind the edge which is similar to the dip in Japanese blades called an ura which I thought was ok because it would make quicker work getting it flat to the edge. But the other one had a huge rise right in the center of the blade which took a lot of work to flatten. I took about 300 strokes on the extra coarse diamond stone and it didn’t seem to be flattening. I ended up using a Japanese technique of putting a long piece of wood on the blade and bearing down on it with my weight. Finally flattened. The bevels also were not flat but being smaller took a shorter time to flatten. To flatten I used an extra coarse diamond stone, then coarse diamond, then 1000 grit Bester stone, then a 3000 natural Japanese stone and finally a 8000 King stone. For the bevel I started the sequence with the 1000 grit Bester. The Bester stone cuts really fast but I think its closer to an 800 grit.
Pushed down on the two ends of the blade and only the middle touched the stone.
The nose (or some call it the toe) can be taken off so it can be used in stop grooves but the gap between the blade and the nose is not adjustable and is too large for fine shavings. I don’t see a way to modify it to close up the gap. I might try to make a wooden one. But after sharpening and some tuning the shavings were even, fairly thin and left a very smooth surface.
The depth of cut is difficult to adjust. There is no screw to adjust the depth and there is just a small part of the blade sticking out the side to use to push the blade. No easy way to move the blade a few thousandths of an inch. I use a technique used on Japanese planes of tapping the back end to pull the blade back out a little. I have to start with the blade cutting too deeply then just loosen the hold down bolt just enough to let the blade slide a little, tap the back (I use a foot long 2×2 maple as a hammer so I don’t dent anything), screw in the hold down and try it. Its rather tedious and takes awhile but I haven’t figured out a better way to do it. There is also no way to adjust lateral movement of the blade which could cause the blade to cut one side deeper than the other..
After two hours of sharpening and adjusting plus running around for the sheared screw it actually cuts very nicely and is quite easy to pull through the groove. Does a nice job of cleaning, straightening and adjusting the widths of the sides of grooves.
So its a tool I’m glad to have for those times when you have to widen a groove incrementally or just clean the sides up. Didn’t like the way it came from the factory and adjusting the cut is difficult to master. After working to flatten the back of the blade and getting a really sharp edge at least future sharpenings will be easy and quick. I considered getting the Veritas at $129 plus shipping but the Wood River at $69 without shipping was half the cost. The Veritas would have probably have taken less time to sharpen and tune but it also didn’t have an easy way to adjust the blade and the gap between the nose and the blade also looked rather large. I don’t shave the sides of grooves enough to warrant spending that much so despite the negatives I really like this plane. I recommend it for those that are good at sharpening and setting up planes.
I ended up with three stars. Plane cuts and handles around 4 stars, adjusting it is about 3 stars and fit and finish about 2 stars.
-- Wood Menehune, Honolulu