Stanley plane SB-4 – Junk???

Paul,

I recently bought a Stanley plane SB-4. I have not heard of this plane until I saw one at home depot.. The price was right {$ 26.50}. I am having trouble getting the blade to cut in the bevel down position, the blade is right to the front of the mouth and will not cut at all. I put it in bevel up and it would cut but really poorly. What can I do to fix this problem if anything.

 I was looking on utube and could find no reference to help me. but no luck. I think maybe I bought a pig in a poke. But I did find out they were manufactured in Great Britain.

Please try and help me figure this out. I think it could be a good plane once I find out whats wrong.

By the way, I really like your channel on YouTube.

Thanks in advance.

Allen

Hello Allen

I would take this plane back because of it’s inferior quality and unfitness for purpose. The Stanley SB4 plane is and always will be piece of junk. If it were stainless steel, perhaps it could have been sold as a cheese slicer. Stanley came out with this plane type under different names years ago. It’s the very worst plane in the world and this again typifies The Home Depot inability to cater to the needs of its undeserved loyal following who rely on them to provide quality at fair prices and not cheap and unfit products. I should give them the benefit of the doubt but it’s doubtful that they sought expert insight or even tried out the plane. They will have relied on the old Stanley name, which really lost credibility for tool making of quality back in the 1970’s.

Go online, look for a Stanley #4, pre 1970’s are all fine, find one you like, send me the link and I will look at it for you and let you now whether it seems OK and what you should bid for it. If you don’t have the time, find a US tool dealer to supply you with one. Buying a good Stanley #4 will last about 100 years of full-time use. I have used mine now for 50 and it shows no sign of deterioration. It also feels quite lovely.

Best for now,

Paul

20 Comments

  1. Eddy flynn on 29 May 2013 at 5:11 pm

    well Allen with advice like that you can’t go wrong best of luck



  2. Paul Sellers on 29 May 2013 at 6:36 pm

    If I was paying that kind of money I would buy two Stanley #4’s on eBay; even 3. Set them up differently. Or…….a Stanley #5 1/2 and a #4 plue another #4 or put some money away and settle for the #4 first followed by a #5 or a #5 1/2



    • David Knight on 30 May 2013 at 12:29 am

      I agree – $126 US will buy a lot of vintage planes that will work far better than that. Todays Stanley is not the same as Stanley of pre 1960’s.



    • Marc C. DiGiuseppe on 23 August 2017 at 10:49 pm

      Hi Paul,

      I was given a brand new Stanley SB4 about a year ago. I tried to use it after sharpening the blade but it was “klunkey” in my hands so I set it aside. Much later, when I was preparing to “tune” my old Stanley planes that once belonged to my great uncle–as I hadn’t really “spruced” them up for ages–I took the time to watch your video on restoring an old Stanley #4. I watched it several times and then tuned all of my antique Stanleys according to your protocol. Of course, they work like new now. I then thought to apply the same technique to the SB4. After flattening the bottom and sides, smoothing it with the grade paper I saw you use and preparing the body by softening all the edges and putting a slanted edge on the back like I saw you do in the video, I then sharpened the blade according to your protocol which included rounding the corners and using the strop with stropping compound. What can I say, Paul? The plane spit out and neat shaving as thin as tissue paper the very first time! It still felt “light” in my hand and I’m not advocating the SB4 but, I can tell you that your restoration and “tuning” technique is nothing short of magical! It tuned a sow’s ear into a silk purse! So, “Sellersizing” your plane WILL make a big difference.



  3. W. Muse on 19 February 2014 at 6:58 am

    I’m glad I found this.The only plane I currently have is the sb4 (bought it to fix a swelling door some years ago)… I am working on getting my workshop set up, and it looks like I’ll be doing most of my shopping on ebay, as well as buying Paul Sellers’ books and DVDs. Thank you, Mr. Sellers.



    • felix on 15 December 2015 at 2:54 am

      Not to be funny or anything but I got two if these planes. Both set up as scrubbers. To get them to work had to change blade angles and run bevel up.



      • Paul Sellers on 15 December 2015 at 7:48 am

        If it works it works. Great.



  4. Dave Turnbull on 26 June 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Hmmm… just found one on ebay starting at £3.00 and will probably put a bid in simply because I need a replacement handle for the one I broke when I knocked my No4 off the bench. Just wondering if any of the other parts are of use elsewhere?



    • Paul Sellers on 26 June 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Yes, it’s good to have one around you can cannibalize or trade off parts from time to time.



  5. Offshore Organbuilder on 9 May 2015 at 12:55 am

    A friend of mine recently bought an SB4 in B & Q and showed it to me.

    I have never seen anything like it. It is NOT a plane. It is a plane-shaped object.

    I sharpened the blade and made it cut, but there is no proper support for the blade, so it chatters, horribly, at the slightest imperfection in the wood. Adjusting the blade is awkward and imprecise. It is truly junk and I amazed that any company would put its name to such a thing.

    B & Q should be ashamed to foist this rubbish onto the public. It is certainly not fit for purpose.



  6. Steven Newman on 22 August 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Just picked up one of these at a yard Sale..$1US Flattened the iron, sharpened the iron. Flattened the sole. Spent MAYBE 20 minutes total. Adjust to take as fine a cut as i could. See-through shavings. No chatter. The cap iron must be as tight as can be, to keep the settings. Not bad for a dollar bill.

    Design is about the same as a Windsor #33 from Harbour Freight. The #33 is about the same size as a #3 stanley. But, when i ground a 3″ radius to it’s edge….best little scrub plane ever. I may turn this SB4 into a scrub as well. iron is thick enough.

    Junk? maybe not, depends on whom uses it…and HOW they use it.



  7. Marty on 5 April 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I’m with Steven on this. The SB4 isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a show piece and isn’t going to win anyone any awards, but fiddle enough with it and you can plane wood with it. I use mine as a scrub to knock down the edges of 2X lumber, but I did spend more time flattening the sole and honing the iron than I did growing out of adolescents.



  8. Marty on 5 April 2016 at 6:21 pm

    I also might mention that a certain seller on Amazon promotes it as a Stanley #4.. I know this because I was a sucker and typically don’t return stuff. I needed a plane at the time.



    • Paul Sellers on 5 April 2016 at 6:26 pm

      I know that we can make any plane work, it’s whether it has enough guts in it to last as a lifetime plane as others do with the same ease of adjustment. The plane is an awkward plane with built_in issues.



  9. Todd Larsen on 29 April 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I had one (initially it was the only plane I had). It worked… sort of. I used it on a wooden surfboard, but it definitely had issues with chattering and tear out. It also took a lot of work to flatten the sole. I recently bought a low angle jack plane from WoodRiver for my first furniture build and I realized just how worthless the SB4 was after I used the new plane. I have re-ground the blade for a scrub plane, though I used a 7″ radius not the 3″ above. Haven’t used it as such yet though. I’m working with Cherry. We’ll see how it goes.



  10. Colin on 29 May 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Hi – I’ve been looking for a plane and seen the SB 4 in B&Q. Glad I read this post before purchase!! I see ScrewFix are selling a Bailey No 4 for £49.99. How does this compare to the SB, it looks more traditional.

    Thanks
    Colin



    • Paul Sellers on 29 May 2017 at 7:33 pm

      It is and it will work fine. Home Base also sells the Stanley and possibly others there too. Personally I would prefer a secondhand on ebay but that’s just me. Wooden handles are definitely a game changer over the modern plastics Stanley uses nowadays as they always crack eventually and usually sooner not later. Funny how the plastics of 40 years ago lasted better than the ones they use today on Stanley planes. Probably some buyer in the buyers department who never picked up the product they sell.Oh well, such is progress.



      • Andy on 5 June 2017 at 12:20 pm

        Is this the *plastic* Stanley refer to as “high-impact polymer” on their website? Maybe they should spend more on engineers and less on spin doctors.



  11. Shawn Haggard on 4 March 2019 at 12:42 am

    This was my first plane. Thanks for making me realize the plane was the problem and not me



  12. JULIA MAHAFFEY on 23 April 2019 at 4:39 pm

    I just got a second hand SB 4 and came to your blog to figure it out. Now I know I should set this up as scrub plane for wood I wouldn’t use a good plane on (old deck lumber with potential embedded rock chips, nails). So glad this plane can perform a service!