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Which #4 do I like best?

Question:

Hello Paul,
You have mentioned your love for the #4, but out of all the planes you own (individuals, mind. Not types), which is your favourite? Do you find yourself favouring a particular #4 of yours, even if it’s based on something a little less logical, and a little more sentimental? Though, I think sentiment is logic, often.
I ask just out of curiosity. I know, personally, I pick favourites. I have a favourite knife for working, though it may not be the best, or the most functional. But it’s my favourite, none the less.
Andrew

Answer:

P1100183I do have a favourite or two amongst the many makers of the Leonard Bailey and Bed Rock types of number 4s. Bed Rock is principally a Bailey-pattern plane with an adapted frog. The rest is identical the Bailey-pattern so he should get the credit here anyway.

P1100188The plane I reach for in the day to day is the Stanley #4 Leonard Bailey pattern but it could I suppose as easily be a Record. They weigh in about the same in almost every aspect. I think one thing is important to understand about my planes and that is that I like my handles to fit my hand and so the first thing I do is customise the fit to fit mine in every way. Additionally I restore the planes and fettle them all identically as needed too. Three coats of shellac and some wax polish on the handle and it’s mine. If there is a glitch on a plane where the mechanisms are distorted or different one to another I fix it and never live with it. Stanley is not just the poor man’s plane though. Remember that I am not selling planes or demoing them at shows to sell, which makes everything different.

P1100166

So, yes, I do love the Stanley #4 and the Record #4, but my favourite #4? Well, I have to say it’s the Woden #4. I just love this cheeky little plane. From the perfect fitting handle and the little red medallion on top of the tote to the misspelling by which most people find them listed on eBay. P1100120This plane was a better made UK model of a mass-made version in that it’s mechanisms seem better fitted. It’s not really different to the Stanleys and Records other than that. I own all of the ones Woden ever made, but I still reach for my Stanleys the most. I just love ’em and though I have owned all of the others, this one I have always been faithful to.P1100104

8 Comments

  1. TaDaMan on 4 September 2015 at 5:33 am

    I just bought a second Stanley #4 on eBay and the sole is about 1/2″ longer than my other Stanley #4. The difference seems to be the tail of the plane is longer. If you line up the mouths the nose is the same. All else being equal which would be better to modify into a Paul Sellers #4 Scrub plane, long or short?



    • Paul Sellers on 4 September 2015 at 5:58 am

      It makes no real difference really. Keep the best for the smoother I would say. My scrub from a 4 was about as rubbished as it gets but as a scrub plane it’s great.



  2. Diego Demeulemeester on 4 September 2015 at 7:24 am

    I’m I intrigued by how you fit the handle of a plane to adapt your hands.
    I think I saw you mentioning the same thing about saw handles as well.

    I’d like to do it to some of my planes as well but I’m a bit apprehensive about it, once you start to remove too much, it’s very hard to put the wood back on.

    Could you elaborate on this a bit further?

    Thx Diego



    • Paul Sellers on 6 September 2015 at 5:41 am

      Hello Diego, It’s simple enough. I use a round rasp for redefining and remove stock wherever I feel my hand hits too hard on any point. I then scrape the surface smooth with a card scraper and sand to finish.



  3. Mike Pentecost on 4 September 2015 at 10:39 am

    That would make a great short video. I am very visual oriented it seems and get far more out of a good video than just text. Also when can we start preordering the new book?



  4. S Richardson on 4 September 2015 at 9:45 pm

    entertaining, I have always liked the Records best, dont know why. particularly the hammer adjusted steel block planes.



  5. TaDaMan on 5 September 2015 at 12:28 am

    Thanks Paul. I will probably swap handles to have the best parts on my smoother, and the rest on the scrubber.



  6. john montgomery on 11 September 2015 at 11:42 pm

    i bought two used #4 planes from a second hand store recently. The first was a beat up old Stanley plane. I cleaned it up and it works great. Both as a smoother and a scrub plane. I use different blades for smoothing and scrubbing.
    The second plane I bought was an Award plane for 3x the price. It was shiny out of the box new. I could never get it to perform. I was thinking of using the wood on this plane to replace the badly worn handles on my old #4 Stanley. But decided it would be disrectful to the prevous owner of the Stanley whose blood, sweat and DNA are infused into the old handles.



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