For more information on planes, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.
About 5 years ago or so I started to blog the truth about the Stanley #4 smoothing plane being one of the best all rounder planes that could be had for under £5 via eBay. Back then I don’t know if many people listened but then we were able to start making videos showing how well they really work and pow. Over the ensuing years we showed other interesting things that you could do with it and people caught the bug. The prices went up to between £12-15 in 2012.
Videoing led to us making over 500 video films and in just about every one of them I use a #4 bench plane for 99% of the work whether I am working oak, ash, sapele or rosewood. I’m not claiming the whole of it but we have changed hundreds of thousands of people’s minds about the humblest of planes, the Stanley (or its British knock off the Record) #4 bench smoothing plane with its standard iron and no extra-cost retrofitting needed. What’s exciting me this evening in looking on eBay is seeing that plane prices are still gradually rising and it’s because people now believe that these planes are really brilliant. Tonight buy-it-nows on eBay start around £20 and some bidding goes to around £35. That means people are truly recognising something at last. They are recognising that crafting woodworkers, artisans of the very finest calibre from the late 1860’s through the 1960’s, really new their onions when it came to Bailey-pattern #4 Stanley planes and that they used them as favourite planes for a century and a half. Joiner’s, boat builders, violin makers and guitar makers and of course we furniture makers have relied on them to make some of our greatest work. It doesn’t mean we can’t use better made planes that are heavier or more refined, just that we can make the best with the rest whenever we want to.
So, now, my friends, I am glad to say that you can still buy a good plane and be working wood with me for half a century to come for around twenty quid. How ’bout that.