Review: Rider 3-in-1 plane

From diamond in the rough to…

Well, some sort of gemstone at least. First task: break all sharp edges and smooth everything so that the plane feels nice in the hands. For this I used a flat file and some 600 grit sand paper.

Next up was the bed for the blade, which I cleaned up to 21.25% “Clickspring quality”. A small piece of wood with some sand paper wrapped around it, did the job.

I took it a bit farther than shown here, but not exactly a mirror polish. Which really is not necessary at all.

I gave the sole a bit of time on my finest diamond plate just to smooth it a bit. It was pretty decent from the factory, so I did not spend too much time on it. Besides, removing the shoulder plane nose attachment and putting it back again will probably never line things up exactly the same. One might think this is a problem, but if you really think being 1/100 of a millimeter off should raise concerns – you better go look in the mirror! It is woodworking. Not Swiss clock making.

I should also mention that the sole is dead on 90 degrees to both sides.

The adjustment nut was hard to turn in one area of the screw, so I chased the threads on both the screw and the nut. The dimension is M6. The screw came loose from the plane body, but I secured it with a drop of Lock-Tite thread locker. Afterwards I could spin the nut freely.

I then gave the blade some attention. I removed any sharp edges on the shaft and at the back of the wider part so that I won’t cut my fingers. I then lapped the back of the blade and sharpened it using my Veritas honing guide MKII.

The back of the blade had a tiny hollow grind, but a few minutes on the diamond plates took care of that. From rough to mirror polish in a few minutes:

I left the primary bevel as it came from the factory, at what ever angle they ground it to. I made a secondary 35° bevel and polished it up to good standards. My Veritas honing guide MKII ensurer that the edge is square to the sides of the blade – which is rather crucial on a shoulder plane.

A satisfying burr appeared, and I polished the bevel on the strop. A quick test on some scraps proved the sharpness of the blade.

Good enough.

The plane can be changed over to a chisel plane, like so:

Note that it won’t reach all the way into a corner if the wall is higher than the mouth opening, but at that point you could probably just use a chisel.

It also has a bull nose attachment, like so:

This is a really useful setup! The bull nose attachment was a tad too “deep”, and I’ll have to grind off some material. The overall fit and finish is rather sloppy, but it is what it is. No complaint from me, really – because the important areas are covered. The sides are 90 degree to the sole, the sole is flat and the blade is a smidgen wider than the plane body (as it should be on a shoulder plane).

The main focus on this plane is its function as a shoulder plane. Which is a type of plane most often located in the “optional” section of a woodworker’s tool list. Using the knife wall technique usually renders the use of a shoulder plane rather moot, but there are times where it will be a nice tool to have on hand. Trimming tenons to a piston fit, for example. Adjusting a rebate too – and it is a far better plane than the No. 78 rebate plane since a shoulder plane has its blade sticking out on both sides. Just a gnat’s nadger, mind you! But that means you’ll get right into tight corners. The 78 can do that too, but only on one side at a time – and it is really a right handed tool, whereas the rebate plane can be used in either direction.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the Rider 3-in-1 plane. It is not a high end, posh* tool that will make tool nuts aficionados drool like rabid dogs, but its utilitarian value is second to none – with a bit of fettling, of course.

*POSH: Port Over, Starboard Home. From back in the day when men allegedly did not fit on a door and ocean liners was the hype. The spoiled rich wanted sunshine through their port holes, so they had to get a stateroom on the “sunny side” of the ship. Oh, the 19th century problems…

I bought the Rider 3-in-1 plane for NOK 1500,-. The bull nose version of the exact same plane cost around NOK 1300,-, meaning that I got the shoulder plane nose for NOK 200,-. How does this compare to other, premium brands?

The Veritas shoulder plane clocks in at around NOK 3300,-, the Lie-Nielsen 073 large shoulder plane (which is pretty close in size to the Rider) would set me back NOK 4750,-. The LN 97 chisel plane, which is a smidgen wider, is priced at NOK 2350,-

For the hour I spent fettling the Rider plane into a good user plane, I saved around NOK 1800,- to NOK 3250,- depending on which competing plane you look at. Add a bull nose and a chisel plane to the mix, and things do not look good for the premium brands! I think of it this way: NOK 1800,- is close to an average salary for one work day here in Norway – before taxes! A well paid hour indeed!

Taking on some white oak.

If we also consider the fact that a shoulder plane is a tool with very limited standard repertoire, I cannot see why on earth I would spend any more money on such a tool.

As for bull nose – I still want a No.92 bull nose style plane. It is a lot smaller and more “handy” plane for removing sharp arrises and shaping of small pieces. In the meantime, the Rider 3-in-1 will do nicely. And maybe just nice enough that I won’t prioritise the 92.

The Rider 3-in-1 shoulder plane / chisel plane / bull nose plane receives my recommendation. It is, if not a diamond then at least a rather nice sapphire, in the rough. The price tag justifies spending some time refining it, which for many will make the high-end brands too pricey. Don’t get me wrong here – if you want a Lie-Nielsen, go for it! They are superb tools that will outlast us all if cared for. If you can afford it and want it, I don’t see any reason why one should not indulge. If woodworking is a hobby, you can and should spend money on it – just be mindful of where to spend. Rider seems to be a “brand”* worth considering, in the lower “mid price/quality range”.

This one won’t dig a big hole in your pocket, so no need for a shoulder to cry on…

*Rider is an OEM brand, not a manufacturer. These planes go under many brands and are probably made in the same facility. I’ve written an article about the phenomenon here.

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