Ebay still good for #4’s

Hi Paul,

I recently came across your website and videos and such, and the idea of making high quality items out of wood using nothing but hand tools is really exciting to me. However, the problem is that I’m on a very limited budget since I haven’t been able to work for a long time due to illness. My main concern right now is about the cost of buying a smoothing plane. I’ve looked on ebay.ca, ebay.com, and even ebay.co.uk, and generally speaking I don’t see any way to buy a plane for as cheaply as you’ve reported being able to. Everything I see looks like it will cost at least $50 for the planes more worse for wear, up to and beyond $100 for more well-maintained ones. My concern is that by spending so much on it I’ll use up my entire budget on one single tool and not have any money left over for any other tools. Plus I’d have to add on the cost of sharpening supplies and whatever else I’d need to whip the plane back into shape, I assume. It’s quite a scary figure for me. Anyway, all this just to ask: are there any other makes of plane (other than Record – I looked and they seem equally expensive and more rare) that I could substitute for a Stanley, with the understanding that I’ve never used a hand plane before in my life? 




I know that my blogging on the #4 and 4 1/2 does push the price up after posting for a week or two and then they come down again, but never to the low price. The issue is that more people buy after I post. I went straight to my computer this morning and the first on the list had four minutes to run for a #4 that seemed in reasonable shape with no broken handles and a good length on the cutting iron. I did not use a sniper which I always do and I bid directly at the lowest accepted bid of £10.99 plus £8 shipping. The shipping was £2 higher than it should be, but that wasn’t part of my criteria. I won the plane (you actually never win in anything, really. You are buying it.)  So £19 ($30 USD) I have a lifetime plane. I actually looked and couldn’t find any at over $100. There were several other planes that went after that for not much more than $20-30 and that seems to always have been the case. Perhaps you just picked a bad day. Also, I saw many at Buy it now prices, which were higher, around £30-40 and that can take away the chance of being outbid yet still at a reasonable price. As I said previously, there will always be a plethora of # 4 Stanley planes as they are still there and always will be. They get cycled through and then recycled as people die, stop using and want rid of them. As there are less people using them now than when they were produced in their heyday, we today can reap the benefit and I am glad for that because these planes are top notch when you fettle them well and match any plane ever made. By the way, Record planes were no better than Stanley’s. Snobs might say so but that’s was never true.


  1. Dean on 20 October 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Hello Paul, I’ve been following your articles lately and have been really enjoying them. I’m in a similar position financially as Mark. However, I was wondering, when buying an old Stanley hand plane (#4 or otherwise), whether I should be concerned if the frog has an adjustment screw or not. I’ve read some articles online regarding this matter, but it seems to be mixed in opinions. Some say you don’t need to move the frog and others say you have to, to be able to narrow the mouth for finer shavings. So, if I find a great deal on an old Stanley #4 as an example, and it doesn’t have a frog adjustment screw, should I not buy it (or bid for it)?

    Thank you,

    • Paul Sellers on 20 October 2012 at 9:35 pm

      It doesn’t matter what anyone says about buying a plane with no frog adjustment. Just ignore them. There may be only one time hen you need the narrow throat this affords and that can make all the difference in the world. I think that maybe five times i have need this in almost 50 years of working wood every day and i was glad that I had it. The saving is negligible and as I just bid and won a very nice .99 pence (or $1.48USD) number 4 Stanley I prove that bargains are still to be had on a regular basis.
      Anyone who advocates a no-frog plane is most likely to cut pins first when cutting dovetails.

  2. J Guengerich on 25 October 2012 at 5:12 am

    There is a seller with two Stanley No 4s on his page and they are pretty nicely priced right now.
    If anyone is looking today. One at $24 right now with less than a day left.

  3. Scott Kidd on 1 November 2012 at 3:17 am

    Hello Mr. Sellers. I recently just fixed up a Stanley No. 4 that was my grandfathers. I flattened the sole and sharpened the blade, however I would eventually like to clean this plane up even more. There is rust on all the pieces. I’m no metal man, so I was curious if you had any idea as to what I could do to eliminate the rust, paint the parts that needed to be painted, and also what your thoughts are on shellacking (if that’s a word) the knob and handle, as I have an affinity for shellac. Thank you for your time.

    • Paul Sellers on 1 November 2012 at 6:02 pm

      There are many safe rust treatment gels that remove rust when soaked for a few hours. This usually gets rid of gunge too. Then I use abrasive paper starting usually with 240-grit and perhaps going to around 300. No finer is necessary. You can paint the inner sole with any black enamel paint and then use shellac on the handles. Three cuts brushed on will be enough. Let the coats dry and then steel wood with 0000 steel wool and wax with a furniture polish.

      • Travis Edwards on 26 September 2013 at 4:08 am

        I saw an article online somewhere recently where the guy said he soaks his hand saws, minus the handles, in vinegar over night. He then scrubs them down with steel wool and WD-40. Then a coat of paste wax. They looked pretty good in the pics when done.


  4. John on 6 November 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Sorry Paul I do not agree with your comment re £8.00 post

    Two number 4’s weigh 2.8Kg. Royal Mail charge £13.75 for that and Hermes charge £5.95. I would always go for signed receipt…that cost £1.00 extra
    As we all know eBay take 10% from post and item costs and PayPal a further 4%
    So out of your payment the seller would have been deducted total of approx 14%
    The seller has to box up with great care to avoid damage….that takes time….then trot off to the post office etc……….so all in all you got a bargain……in my opinion, unless I have my calcs. wrong

    • Paul Sellers on 6 November 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Not sure where the two planes came into this. Reading through the blog I bought but one plane. So, would you like me to leave your comment there or take it down?