In recent years, the market has seen an influx of high-end planes in the Bedrock style. Initially, Lie-Nielsen planes took the lead, followed by Clifton, and later the Chinese-made Wood River brand, carried by Woodcraft. Surprisingly, Jorgensen, a brand mostly associated with vises and clamps, made a bold reentry last year by introducing their own style of Bedrock planes at a very reasonable price. Intrigued by this newcomer, I decided to try out the Jorgensen #4 plane, costing around $70, thoroughly examined its parts, fine-tuned as necessary, and put it to the test. Here is my review.
The Jorgensen #4 plane is based on the Type 3 Bedrock planes, which were the predecessors to the famous Type 6 Bedrock planes adopted by Lie-Nielsen, Clifton, and Wood River. The earlier Type 3 version of the Bedrock style featured a substantial ramp integrated into the body, accommodating an angled frog that could slide up or down and be secured with two screws. Accessing these screws required removing the blade assembly. Additionally, it had an advancement and retraction screw at the back of the ramp, similar to modern Stanley planes.
Jorgensen chose to adopt this earlier Type 3 version of the Bedrock style, likely because it is less expensive to produce compared to the more elaborate Type 6 Bedrock planes, which include clamping hardware accessible from the back of the ramp.
The Jorgensen #4 Bedrock plane features a ductile cast iron body, as indicated on the box. The hardware is made of stainless steel. The lever cap, which securely holds the blade in place, appears to be made of aluminum or die-cast zinc. While these materials may not offer the same tensile strength as steel, cast iron, or bronze, the lever cap is currently functioning adequately. The blade is notably thick, and the chip breaker is impressive, requiring minimal adjustment and sharpening. The handles are crafted from beechwood, providing a comfortable grip during use. Overall, the engineering of the plane displays high-quality craftsmanship.
During my examination, I noticed that the frog, the component supporting the blade, seemed to be made of aluminum or magnesium casting. This conclusion was drawn from its lack of response to a magnet and its lightweight feel. However, using such materials for the frog raises concerns about long-term durability, as they are softer than steel, cast iron, or bronze alternatives. Notably, one of the images clearly shows indentations caused by the steel hardware interacting with the softer aluminum frog. I also encountered a small chip at the bottom of the frog, which required attention using a diamond stone.
One concern I discovered was a tiny crack in the middle of the plane’s throat. This crack likely escaped quality control inspection but should not have been present. It raises questions about the stress relief procedures during manufacturing or whether the plane was mishandled. For a $70 plane, a crack is unexpected.
After sharpening the blade and putting the Jorgensen #4 Bedrock plane to use, I can confidently say that it performs flawlessly. With no chatter and commanding robust milling capabilities, it proves to be an effective tool. Despite lacking a cast iron (or steel) frog and lever cap like higher-end Bedrock planes, it competes admirably with the Wood River planes in terms of performance. The Jorgensen plane demonstrates its worth as a reliable and efficient woodworking instrument.
The Jorgensen #4 Bedrock plane offers impressive performance at an affordable price point. While it may possess only some of the premium features and materials found in higher-end planes, such as a cast iron or steel frog and lever cap, it doesn’t compromise on functionality. Woodworkers seeking a cost-effective alternative will find the Jorgensen #4 Bedrock plane a worthy contender.
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