First off, let's address the issue of country or origin. These planes are made in China for Woodcraft. Now, I work for a company who sells to Woodcraft, and I can tell you that they do not accept junk. Are these Chinese planes equivalent to the America made Lie-Nielsen planes, or the Canadian made Lee Valley planes? Get serious. But the great news is they are worlds better than the current Stanley planes which are sold by the big boxes and hardware chains; and they are 1/3 of the price of a new Lee Valley, and 1/2-1/3 of the price of clean vintage Stanley Bedrock.
Are they TOO similar to the Lie-Nielsen? Well, that depends on your perspective. LEGALLY Thomas Lie-Nielsen owns ZERO US Patents for his plane designs. Why? Because he himself was knocking-off the original Stanley. I Say "Knocked-off" to make a point. Just like Woodcraft Mr. Lie-Nielsen was inspired by the Stanley, and seeing that the US Patents on the Stanley Bed-Rock planes expired almost 100 years ago he was well within his rights to produce tools based on the originals... just as Woodcraft is. Lie-Nielsen ToolWorks USA has made a few changes to the original design, but these improvements were not patentable, or they determined that the cost to gain patent protection for 20 years (the life of a US patent) wasn't worth it.
All that said, it looks like the WoodRiver planes are getting a great reception, and the four planes that I played with at my local Woodcraft looked like a good value at $65 to $149!
Click to see the new WoodRiver Hand Planes From Woodcraft
Click this link to see the new WoodRiver planes for sale on eBay
Here's the text from Woodcraft's listing:
Working closely with our own manufacturer, Woodcraft has succeeded in doing what hasn't happened in more than a century: producing a collection of hand planes that are meant to be used, and are surprisingly affordable.
- Modeled after the Bedrocks, Stanley Tool's very best line, WoodRiver™ planes feature the same heavy castings and fully machined frogs
- This arrangement reduces chatter by supporting the blade and helps to reduce tear-out when planing highly figured wood
- Lightly finished rosewood handles provide comfort and control
- Most importantly, the tools require almost no tune-up prior to use
- Soles and sides are machined flat and square within tightly held tolerances ensuring these planes are as close to ready to use as can be made
- Usually, just a light touch up on the high-carbon Rc60-64 blades will enable you to go right to work
WoodRiver #4 Bench Plane
WoodRiver #6 Fore Plane
WoodRiver #3 Plane
WoodRiver Adjustable Mouth Block Plane
WoodRiver #5 (Jack) Plane