I don’t relish handing out bad reviews of tools. But as someone who gets stoned occasionally by an angry mob, I know that a critical review can help improve the quality of my work in the future.
During the last year I reviewed new premium planes by both Wood River (Woodcraft’s line) and Stanley. I had problems with both brands. The Wood River planes had irons that were too soft, the lateral-adjust levers were flimsy and some of the block planes had fatal bed errors.
Stanley’s new Sweet Heart line of planes also had some rough patches. Both versions of the No. 62 low-angle jack plane had fatal bed errors, rendering the planes worthless. Some of the adjustable mouths wouldn’t close up. And the overall fit and finish of the tools was lacking.
During the last month, both companies have released new or improved versions of their tools and I am in the beginning stages of testing them here for a follow-up review.
It’s obvious that both companies listened to complaints from customers.
The Stanley planes look about 100 times better. The wood is nicely finished. The paint on the base casting has changed and , most of all , there are no bed errors in the examples I’ve examined. I still have one quibble with the line as a whole: The lever caps are too lightweight.
The Wood River planes also made a big leap forward. The lateral-adjust levers are now robust and made using two pieces, like the old Bed Rocks. The depth-adjustment knob is bigger and easier to turn. And the overall fit and finish of the tools has improved.
I’m going to set these tools up and send the irons out for testing in the coming weeks. So I haven’t drawn any conclusions other than it looks like the quality is improving.
Stay tuned for a review in the next few weeks. I really am focused on building stuff right now. So the prospect of setting up nine more plane irons isn’t appealing.
– Christopher Schwarz
Other Stanley & Wood River Reviews and News
– My original review of the Stanley No. 62
– News on the new line of Stanley chisels (I still need to get a set).
– Read other reviews of premium planes in my book “Handplane Essentials.” It’s big (312 pages), printed in the United States and chock-full of the drivel you’ve come to begrudgingly endure on this blog. You can order it directly from our store.