I’ve had my WoodRiver #4 1/2 smoothing plane for over a year now. I’m very familiar with it and think it’s a fantastic plane and a great value for the money. So when my friend Wayne Brown stopped by with his brand new Lie Nielson bronze #4 smoothing plane I absolutely had to mess around with it and give it a light comparison to my WoodRiver.
I didn’t go into an in depth comparison in the video. Mainly just a first impressions situation. What you get for your money when you buy a premium hand plane like a Lie Nielson is attention to detail and precision out of the box. There is no setup time for the lie Nielson. Simply wipe off the oil and get to work. The WoodRiver on the other hand will require some attention. An initial sharpening process is needed for the blade. The bronze body on the Lie Nielson is also a benefit as it won’t rust like iron will. But you can get the same plane from Lie Nielson in iron as well.
Bottom line, there is no difference in performance of the planes actually doing work. You’re paying for attention to detail and a more overall refined product. The Lie Nielson is definitely a nicer plane. But is it worth the extra expense for you? That’s not something I can answer for you. If you want a really good plane without breaking the bank then a WoodRiver is a very appealing option. If you want a very nice piece of American made craftsmanship that will work flawlessly out of the box then a Lie Nielson is probably where you should look.
As I said in the video, it’s probably not any new information. I was more or less taking advantage of the time to use the Lie Nielson plane. As a final statement I’ll say that while I enjoy both of my WoodRiver planes and am very pleased with my purchase I’d much rather have the entire line up of Lie Nielson planes sitting on my tool wall for a few reasons. The quality is second to none, my tools rust in my shop so bronze (if available per model) will aid in preventing rust, and supporting a USA small business is something I always lean towards when possible.