Monday 9 July 2018
Initial trepidation about having to test a plane from China gave way to cautious hope as I opened the box to see that the tool inside looked good.
In fact this plane has little to do with China. Originally marketed in the USA under the Woodcraft Wood River brand, these tools, according to Quangsheng, are patterned after vintage Stanley Bedrock-style planes. In my view, though, the chipbreaker is very similar to that made by Lie Neilsen.
As I started testing it I liked it more and more. I wondered if it constituted the missing link between Stanley and other top planes, or if it fitted into that exalted class but at half the price.
The sole is made from cast steel machined to the same tolerances as Lie Nielsen planes. With a straightedge a little light could be seen to the rear of the mouth towards the back but a little work would remedy this. The sides were pretty good and only remotely out of square.
The handles are made from grass not wood, not unusual in China, but they are strong and easily up to the job if a little lifeless in appearance.
All the adjustments are tight and the engineering reassuringly precise. The lateral adjuster, just a folded piece of steel, lets it down, but it works well and you have just saved Pounds 200 or so.
The blade is a little thinner than the Lie Nielsen, but the same thickness as a Clifton model. It has been hardened to Rockwell 60-63, the Chinese equivalent to W1 steel which I am told has a little less wear resistance than O1 or A2 steel but will achieve a keener edge.