Just discovered your site last week and I am really enjoying it. I do have a question about bench planes that you use. Do you ever use a No. 6, 7, or 8. to do any fore planing or jointing? I notice that you use the No. 4 1/2 quite a bit, is there a reason you prefer it over a No.5? It seems older Stanley No. 4 1/2 are harder to come by and seem considerably more expensive than other Stanley planes.
Yes, I do use long planes for some work such as jointing the edges of boards and truing and squaring longer stock. I must say though that the Stanley or more accurately the Bailey-pattern 6, 7 and 8 planes are no longer what I would consider high priority planes and I might even say are actually more non-essential in today’s world of working wood. In most cases, stock will be delivered from a machine to the bench and will usually be squared and dimensioned to a finished size, having been run through tablesaws, jointers and planers. My favourite long plane today is the Veritas bevel-up Jointer plane, which I like to use for most jointing work after using the shorter bevel-up jointer they make. I still use the Bailey-pattern bevel-down #5 1/2 for most prep work and even final finish planing before the smoothers I use and so for me it is not an either or but a question of prioritizing.
Re the 4 1/2 I use. Alongside my #4, this plane works really well for surface work on tabletops and so on. First I go with a customized #4 sharpened with a convex edge along the edge. This reduces undulation fast and preps for the #4 smoother. Beyond that I go with a #4 1/2 finely set. This expands the surfacing capabilities to improve flatness.
For me, this is reality woodworking. Surfacing wider boards with long planes was actually much easier work with wooden jointer planes and I mean about half the effort. Most joiner’s kept two; one with a more open throat (usually an older plane with a worn sole) for hogging off at 30-degrees to the long axis of the grain, and then a followed by one with a tighter mouth and a dead flat sole. Whereas most metal jointer planes can be flexed and bent during task, wooden ones cannot.
Stanley 4 1/2s are still inexpensive compared to when I was a boy. My first 4 1/2 cost me a week’s pay as an apprentice. I just looked on eBay and found one at £15, one at £35 and one at £45 (not even a morning’s pay). All looked like good planes. I usually pay about £20-25. That’s a whole lot less than the new heavyweight planes, about one-tenth, and it will do everything they will do and more.