Record Irwin #4 Plane

Oh, it was such a sick, sinking feeling in my spirit. My student’s Irwin Record #4 smoothing plane sat bright blue atop his workbench awaiting my critique. He was proud of it but couldn’t get it to cut at all. I thought to myself, ‘well, it can’t be much, I’ll get it working!’ and I did, eventually. The blue may have put me off, but then when my hands touched it, picked it up, twiddled the parts, that was the point at which I knew it would be left to me burst his bubble. Still, I thought, it would be a kindness to let him down sooner than later so we pitched in to correct the flawed perspective of the giants view of what they make.

Here is IRWIN Record’s perspective of their planes taken from their website. Then I’ll give you mine alongside.

“IRWIN Record bring decades of experience and well proven design in this fine range of woodworking planes.”

  1. Irwin Record had nothing to do with designing the #4 Leonard Bailey pattern bench plane or many of their other planes. Mostly their planes are knock offs of the Leonard Bailey-pattern planes.
  2. Irwin Record therefore has no “proven” record of designing bench planes as such. See 1, above.
  3. To my knowledge spanning almost six decades in the field, Irwin Record NEVER designed or made a “fine range of woodworking planes.” All planes produced by Record or Record Marples came before Irwin took over the company. And the planes they have made for the last 6 decades have all been poorly made, badly finishes and fall far short of what should be expected.

Now to the nitty gritty. I picked up the plane and thought how shoddy it felt. Typically the plane sells for around £35 in the UK but it is on sale at Screwfix for £15. If you want one for spares it could be worth it except the on e I held had blade with a twist so big you might want it for a boat propellor. The handle is too small for most men’s hands of average size. The stamped out plate work for the cap iron and blade is shoddily finished or even unfinished. and requires filing to remove the burred edges to all of the components. The taped hole for the centre bolt securing the blade to the capo iron has a protrusion that prevents the plate from sitting tight against the cap iron which results in not being able to set the blade cutting edge to the cap iron correctly. The half moon at the heel of the plane has a sharp corn that damages the wood on the reverse stroke.

It took me best part of an hour to get the plane to work and that is with my experience of restoring hundreds of planes over a lifetime of woodworking. Whereas Irwin Record should be thoroughly ashamed of their bench planes they arrogantly boat of creating fine planes. In my estimation they parallel low entry level planes and it is no wonder that anyone is surprised when their planes simply cannot be made to work without serious input from a knowledgeable user. What Irwin Record did was open the door to success by other makers new to the world of plane making. These makers simply did with Irwin Record should have done but never did. For a minor investment of manpower, perhaps a few minutes more, they could put out a top notch plane that could sell for double and they would most likely put other makers out of business. Too late now!


  1. You are too kind, Paul. I’ve seen and used several Irwin Record planes and I’ll say it for you. They are junk and if you purchase one, you’re in for a bad time.

    1. I’m guessing that a plane that bad couldn’t be converted to a scrub plane without the same level of work?

  2. It’s sad to see such a thing, at least your student had you to put it right. Yesterday I bought an Acorn brand No.4 plane for £12. I believe it was a budget brand from Sttanley. It had proper wooden handles, and only had general wear and tear. It cleaned up well, and once sharpened, cut as well as any plane I’ve got.

    Check out Paul’s excellent video on restoring a No.4 plane. It applies to pretty much any brand, and the sense of satisfaction gained is out of all proportion to the work entailed. The only ‘problem’s is that it’s an addictive pursuit 😉

  3. (Apologies for the wall of text – delete if it bothers you)
    I have never bought a new plane and reading your post, I don’t regret that. Every time I walk into a DIY store I have a look at the planes and am shocked by both the low quality and high prices. All my planes are second hand and restored and fettled, using your videos as instructions.

    I come by my planes and other tools by adverts in the local supermarket. I don’t get a lot of response, perhaps 2-3 per year, of which invariably one thinks he has won the lottery and gets $-signs in his eyes when he sees my ad. Most people are very reasonable though. But last week, I was deeply impressed. An older gentleman responded and said he had some tools that belonged to his late grandfather and mentioned in passing that he was a grandfather himself by now, at 75. Said some of the tools were from shortly after the 1st World War. Last week he came by. A very friendly gentleman, had a nice chat with him. He had inherited the tools from his grandfather (1883-1970), who had really wanted to become a carpenter on a ship of the Holland-America line but was forbidden by his parents – he had to become a teacher. He ended up a teacher in ‘extra-ordinary lower primary education’, i.e. for the not-so-intellectually gifted, where he also managed to become the woodworking teacher as well. He said his grandfather had been woodworking (on the kitchen table with a milkman’s workbench) till his last days, building bird-houses and similar stuff. And that he still had a kitchen table made by him, which he cherished.

    He gave me a transitional plane, a Stanley #29 (20″) jointer from between 1915-1918. About 1 cm of wood was worn off the sole so I’ll have to repair that. The plane is otherwise in excellent condition. With a repaired sole the plane should be good for another 100 years. Needless to say I felt very, very privileged and told him so. He also gave a 16″ panel saw, 9 PPI, no brandname visible, but obviously a good one. A #4C Stanley plane (1948-1961), covered in protective oil, plane wrapped in a rag, all in a plastic bag. The gentleman apologized for the rust on the plane. I was stunned – I had never seen such a clean, spotless plane before. (yes, there was a tiny bit of surface rust on the edge of the top of the sidewall of the sole…). An old milkman’s workbench. At first I thought it was home-made and complimented the work of his grandfather, but he insisted it wasn’t homemade and that he used to have the original manual of it but had lost it. The workbench is from around 1918 too. Splattered with paint but otherwise in good condition. Will be a useful too for me after I’ve cleaned it up. Two small wooden block-planes as well and a small handdrill. All very old, all well taken care of. Now the responsibility lies upon me to keep them in that condition.

    He had already mentioned he wanted nothing for it – just the thought that the tools, which he inherited himself in 1970, would go to a good home was important to him. I did give him a nice bottle of wine and some chocolates for his wife, I felt it was the very least I could do. When he visited it turned out he was also into yachts, so I offered him a few of my older books on classical yacht-construction which I was intending to get rid off anyway. He was very pleased with the books.

    Is it any wonder I don’t buy new tools? And if you have to repair and fettle that new tool anyway, then why not get a used one in the first place? I love the old ones much better, if only for their attached history. You don’t get that with a new plane, Irwin or not. I shall never be able to use that transitional jointer without thinking about an older gentleman who died before I was born and his dream of becoming ship’s carpenter at the Holland-America line.

    1. I enjoyed reading your comments, Nemo, sharing similar sentiments from the few of my grandfather’s tools given to me 40 years after his death. They were all in rather poor condition surely to deteriorate further. However with the techniques I learned here, they were all brought back (probably even better) to their former use. I don’t have any memories of him using them, yet they are a pure joy for me putting to task, both in their usabilities and knowing they were his at some point way past.

  4. Paul, I have the utmost respect for your dedication to teaching, your knowledge of woodworking technique and your skill as a fine woodworker. Certainly you have all of the credentials and experience to offer a cogent and authoritative critique of any woodworking tool, new or old, its manufacture and marketing.

    As I read your blog above, however, it struck me that you have opened yourself to the same nature of criticism that you are wielding. As a professional blogger, I would think that if you want your customers to have the highest level of respect for your product, as you are suggesting Irwin Record should, you should be investing the same level of craftsmanship and attention to detail in your words as you expect Irwin Record to invest in their planes. I believe anything less exposes you to “the pot calling the kettle black”.

    Specifically, I counted fourteen typographic, spelling, punctuation and grammar errors in this blog. I remember reading a blog of yours way back where you responded to similar comments by saying that the level of language accuracy being suggested as necessary just wasn’t as important to you as the performance or skill concept being proffered. That is fine. That is your prerogative and privilege. No argument.

    I would suggest, however, that your inattention to your craft in this instance lessens your credibility when commenting on the shoddiness of someone else’s craft. In your words: “For a minor investment of manpower, perhaps a few minutes more, they could put out a top notch plane that could sell for double and they would most likely put other makers out of business.” Please allow me to “offer mine alongside.” “For a minor investment of manpower, perhaps a few minutes more, they could put out a top notch blog that could influence double and they would most likely put other bloggers out of business.” I don’t mean to imply that it is your intention to put other bloggers out of business. What I mean is, I believe your critique credibility would take a big leap forward if you practiced it from a position of excellence in your blogging. A benefit that I think would prompt your casual readers to be more endeared to your comments of other’s work- in writing, in woodworking, in tool making, in philosophy.

    I love reading your blogs. I will continue to do so religiously. This one just tweaked a nerve…

    1. Ah, but the difference! Their plane is sold for profit. My blog is written for free in my own time, is not sold, has no advertising and generates zero income. I take it you are not offering to pay the hired person. It’s a back handed compliment to write, “I love reading your blogs. I will continue to do so religiously. This one just tweaked a nerve…”

      1. I had the same reaction after reading this post so I wasn’t surprised to read Greg’s comment. I find your distinction between a for-profit enterprise and a not-for-profit one unconvincing in this context. How many of the people (like me) who follow your blog and your videos engage in woodworking to make a profit? If we don’t do it for profit, does that mean we can (or should) be sloppy? One of the most important things I admire in your woodworking and drawing is your attention to detail and pride in your woodworking products (whether they be for profit and for pleasure). This blog is a product of your work, too. It deserves the same level of pride and attention, or at least more than this post was given. Your distinction seems to contradict everything you otherwise appear to stand for.

        This is the first time I’ve commented here and I apologize that it isn’t completely positive. This doesn’t detract from my admiration of what you normally do here, but it is meant to be constructive “criticism”.

        1. Ah, but, again, remember when I left school at 15 the school principal, capital ‘P’, told me in the presence of my parents that I was indeed ineducable.

          1. Paul,

            Thanks for your reply. I’m also responding to the comment you left below:

            “Where the question comes up for me is, having been told that I was illiterate on leaving school, and that I could “never be educated”, should I then bottle up my knowledge because Vivian or Greg would like me to learn English grammar before I write down my knowledge to pass on to others progressing their craft in woodwork before I die? I am 69 years old. How quickly would I learn where to place a colon or a semicolon?”

            I don’t think anyone here is accusing you of being illiterate. Nor did I (or Greg) even remotely suggest that you “bottle up your knowledge” and learn English grammar before you write down your knowledge”. So, I’m not sure that’s a fair rejoinder to those mild and well-meant comments. It’s funny, I live in France and you are listed in the French Wikipedia as an “ecrivain” (writer)! Your writing, as such, if fine. You are a woodworker, but more than that, you are a professional teacher and communicator of woodworking skills. The issues noted previously have more to do with careless, or even lack of, proofreading, and not grammar. It’s not such a big deal, but my suggestion (offered as a fan) is that you do a quick read over what you’ve written (or have someone else do so) to correct the obvious typo’s and other errors.

            And, yes, it’s just a “blog” (in response to Andy). On the other hand, what would you think if I were to quote the definition of “box” in defense of needlessly sloppy dovetail work (even from someone who was told they couldn’t even make a box at age 15)? I think, and you are as a good an example as any, that it is those small habits and attention to detail that differentiate the good and the great from the passably functional. I ripped a board this morning for something the accuracy of which is not at all important aesthetically. I didn’t do it for profit or even for a wide audience! It’s likely I’m the only one who will ever see it. But, taking your lead, I used it as an opportunity to hone my sawing skills even if it was “just a board”. Good habits engender good skills, whatever the endeavour. And, to quote those meticulous wood-working Quakers, God sees everything, even the inside of a box.

            I’m looking forward to your next blog entry.



          2. How many times must a teacher or other educator put down or derride their students. I don’t think you have done too poorly for someone your school principal has has derrided so.

            Experience and knowledge freely, truly and honestly shared should always be cherished.

            I for one won’t look the previbal gift horse in the mouth.

            Thanks Paul

          3. Paul, How many of us were thought less of from teachers…what gave me confidence were old WWII, Korean War, Vietnam Veterans, local Police Officers and countless other adults in my neighborhood that saw something in me that I didn’t. Whoever helped you to know yourself I say “Thank You…” because you are a doing a great thing.

        2. Vivian, in reply to Paul, you wrote:

          “Your writing, as such, if fine”

          I believe the word ‘if’ should be removed with ‘is’.

          People who live in glass-houses shouldn’t throw stones.

          This is an entirely petty and distracting line of commentary, folks. Find something important to do, because this nonsense fails to qualify.

          1. Oh dear, I too appear to have made an error!

            Maybe we should all line up against a wall and wait for the grammar Nazis to reload.

          2. Well, I guess I ‘be learned my lesson! It is disappointing to me nevertheless that a bit of constructive criticism isn’t very well accepted among this group. You’ve certainly got a loyal fan base Paul, but I didn’t expect to be told to “get a life” or be called a Nazi. Next time I’ll know better.

          3. I too am sorry for that. We can all move on. Though some accuse me of not doing so, I do take criticism seriously but what I lack in writing ability and conciseness is to me immaterial if indeed I needed to stop what I do to learn better grammar. If only you and others could understand how much love writing what I write but how difficult it is for me to create sentences and paragraphs. If you actually knew that I agonise over every single word and indeed go back through the blogs a dozen times at least to try to pick up what to others are glaring errors.

        3. I come for the woodwork, not the typos. I understand the writing, and that is what matters. Thanks, Paul. The Irwin planes are carp!

      2. Hello Paul. With no disrespect to Greg, he is missing the point that your lifetime achievements and teaching abilities have nothing to do with “correct grammar”. I worked the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico for 32 years, and we were taught that there are “No Stupid Questions”, and also taught not to point out someone’s mistakes but to seek, instead, a path to show by ‘hands on’, if necessary, the correct process or method. Kudos to you Paul, you have enlightened me and encouraged me to pick up woodworking again at 70 years young.

    2. Greg, what a load of nonsense. Don’t put people on pedestals and be realistic and fair when it comes to your expectations from other people. If you want to complain about occasional spelling errors and then suggest that in any way detracts from Paul’s credibility when sharing a critical opinion as a master woodworker and craftsman, I can only find it in myself to view your comments and hot air and bluster. Find something meaningful and worthwhile to do with your time because your written contribution fails to qualify as either.

      1. My two cents:
        No one is perfect. What Paul lacks in his poor grammar he makes up in his excellent craftsmanship. I am good with grammar and good in woodworking/craftsmanship. I am a woodworker and a maker. Perfect in neither. I also ignore punctuation and capitalization
        when I am doing computer conversation.
        Now something to think about: is it craftsmanship or craftspersonship?
        Thanks michael

    3. Greg, this is one of the most pedantic and petty comments I’ve ever read. And there is lots of competition out there. Well done!

      Just a reminder to anyone that wants to post about spelling, grammar, etc. This is a woodworking blog. The rest of us find your critical comments tedious and boring.

    4. Well, I taught at the University level (in the U.S.) for nearly 40 years. I have read endless poorly written student papers as well as some good ones. I must say I periodically wondered, though only in passing, where someone who left school at 15 learned to write so well! I guess I just chalked it up naturally ability. (In the interests of complete disclosure, academics such as myself are not generally known for good writing so maybe I am no judge of such things.)

    5. I don’t believe these are formal essays and as such I think you should keep your grammatical corrections to yourself as I did. I noticed all of the them because I am a writer, among other things, however I am not in the business of telling other how to share their knowledge.
      I think those criticizing here are coming from a place of educational privilege, meaning that you were taught proper while Paul was not and you can’t fathom being less educated and think it easy to self edit or at no cost have a style editor.
      Paul has no responsibility to share his craft freely as he does here. Others charge a lot for similar information and that is not provided with everyman language.
      In short, I love what Paul shares, even when I disagree with an approach. The typos make his personality on youtube that much more authentic – it is not an act or a show to sell subscriptions, Paul is Paul unvarnished.
      The professional writer in me prefers paul this was and if published in book form I think it would be best presented without heavy editing.
      That said – Paul, if you so desire an editor to shut people like this up, I would gladly edit your blog for free. Free because your advice has come in handy so many times and that was offered to me freely as well.

    6. Irwin Record, for-profit; Paul, not. Round 1 to Paul.
      Paul claims, rightfully, excellence in woodworking acumen, never asserting linguistic superiority. Round 2 to Paul.
      Paul’s not a troll on others’ sites. Knockout for Paul.

  5. Blog – A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

    Not necessarily a long considered piece of edited prose but a punchy and, often by nature, controversial download of thoughts designed to provoke discussion and reflection and in the process educate and entertain the readers.

    What worries me more is not the perfection of Paul’s grammar and spell checking, but that we have had an 8 day gap between the last postings. I sincerely hope this is due to Paul taking a well earned holiday as it is unusual given his normally prodigious output.

    Thanks Paul, for all of your output regardless of whether I always agree with you or not, I just appreciate your effort and generosity.

    1. I certainly don’t expect all to agree with me, many don’t, in fact I like constructive dialogue not diatribe. I’m not put off at all by the ad hoc comments occasionally, it shows we’re alive and kicking. Where the question comes up for me is, having been told that I was illiterate on leaving school, and that I could “never be educated”, should I then bottle up my knowledge because Vivian or Greg would like me to learn English grammar before I write down my knowledge to pass on to others progressing their craft in woodwork before I die? I am 69 years old. How quickly would I learn where to place a colon or a semicolon?

      Oh, lack of posts? I had five days in bed sick, that’s all. That means catching up answering comments and emails, filming, writing, correcting my grammar!!!

      There are some things that I will never stop doing unless incapacitated: woodworking and furniture making, writing, poetry, photography, drawing and painting, riding my bike, walking in nature and last but far from least, being with my children and grandchildren, my friends and those I love.

      1. Paul,
        I sincerely hope your health improves. As a senior citizen I, too, have health problems to deal with.
        Vivian and Greg need to get a life! I think that any detractors completely miss the point of your work.
        And Paul, I read and watch everything (free) that you do, except for the plywood bench, LOL, and will be your student as long as I can pick up a hand tool.
        Thank you.

      2. My point exactly Paul, my sole concern was your welfare, I know you have broad enough shoulders to take the odd critique !

        Hoping you’re back to full fitness soon.

      3. Hello Paul-

        A famous sportscaster here in the states said about his critics “spitballs at a battleship.”

        Keep up all your great educational efforts.

        — Steve.

      4. Paul, please see my comment above. I believe you are right on in this comment. Keep doing what you do, so many of us depend on your proper advice.

  6. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the Faithfull No.4 – I bought one as my first plane about 18 months ago after watching your workbench video. The only deciding factors in my choice were that it looked nice and was affordable (at that point I didn’t know how long I’d have the woodworking bug, so wasn’t prepared to fork out for a ‘proper’ tool). The Faithfull has however, served me well enough that I still am not convinced a more costly version will produce noticeably better results, even though the temptation to get hold of a Stanley or Veritas No.4 is extremely strong (what is it with collecting tools!). Whatever the general consensus on Faithfull is, I guess we all know and feel what works for us, if I’ve learned one thing from your philosophising Paul, it’s that. Keep up the great work.

    1. I have a # 7 Faithfull and at the first cuts the blade looks a bit rough, cold, but then cuts smooth.

  7. Hi Paul, I have mentioned previously that the Record planes were made well when the company was owned, I believe , by Bahco/Sandvik from 1981 for about ten years I think. The standard of manufacture on the NO. 4, A NO. 5 and a NO. 7 which I have is quite high with decent attention to finishing. The worst with the NO. 5 was poor storage by the previous owner and some rust pitting. The NO. 4 I bought around 25 years ago and I still use it most days for work , I thought the $75 I paid was a lot but value has been proven through time. What sealed the deal for me and proved your above comments was the purchase of the NO.7 from a hardware store which was closing down. There were two options, one with a plastic handle and tote and one with a timber handle and tote . I prefer timber so that is what I picked, regretting it immediately when I got home and inspected the plane properly. The one I had looked at out of the box in the store was made by Bahco with the plastic handle and tote . The one I had was a pile of waste material with a poor finish by Irwin. Luckily the owner of the hardware whom I had a good relationship with was happy to swap it back when I showed him the difference. I know you are not the biggest fan of the bigger planes but other than a little sharpening and polishing of the chipbreaker it works a treat. It is a shame when you see what happens to manufactured products when quality control goes down the gurgler. Good resources get wasted. The Stanleys do have two things in their favour specifically that I can think of straight away from using and owning both brands from a variety of timelines. The casting is lighter making for a more nimble plane and the irons are not tungsten vanadium steel which are a bit slower to sharpen. Not so much of a deal in the NO.4 Record I use due to its relatively small size .

  8. bring decades of experience and well proven design in this fine range of woodworking planes

    this is the key difference. Never is pauls blog presented, or worse – sold to the unknowing – in this manner. paul only presents this site as ” a platform for his online voice” he never claims to have
    decades of experience with grammar education and he isnt promising anything, just offering his thoughts.

  9. Hi Paul I just bought a new Irwin No 60 1/2 block plane with a low angle blade on ebay, and I must admit the quality is appalling, I thought I will give it a good clean up before I use it, I started with the iron, there were very deep machining marks on the back face and a deep hollow as well, it took ages to get it polished up to a descent finish. Then I started on the base of the plane, I worked it on some fine sand paper (free cut) to try and get a clean polished face but soon realised the only bits that were a shinning were the heel and the center of the sliding front piece, the front piece was proud of the base by quite a lot, after stripping it down I found burrs and rough edges everywhere, cleaned them up and put a steel rule along the base, I could not believe the amount of hollow on the base and round going across the adjustable front piece, I tried coarser sand paper and getting nowhere in the end I had to use a file and then go through the grades of free cut paper and wet and dry to get a reasonable finish. In case you are not supposed to say it I will say it for you do not buy Irwin tools they are rubbish not a patch on the old Record tools.
    Love your blogs and videos keep the good work up.

  10. Eye 2 woz riten oph buy Skool.
    It is a pity that the grammar and spelling police have joined this debate. This was a woodworking blog where ideas were shared and advice on tools was given by Paul and readers for the benefit of all.
    It would appear that one may only contribute now if
    a high standard of grammar and spelling are used.
    That will at a stroke wipe out the hundreds of thousands of woodworkers who don’t have English as a first language. Anyone who has dyslexia; sorry, not welcome.
    Anyone visually impaired may be on a sticky wicket.
    Oh, and no doubt anyone using a local term for a tool will be on the naughty step.
    For goodness sake!
    We are woodworkers. We make things. This blog and Paul’s videos unite people regardless of education, location or wealth.
    Stop this nit picking nonsense . It is divisive and unpleasant.

    1. Neil
      Attatching “E & O E” as I have done may be a phrase used in an attempt to reduce legal liability for potentially incorrect or incomplete information supplied in a contractually related document such as a quotation or specification.
      E & OE
      Roger K

  11. It’s been interesting to read the above debate. I’m sure that nobody intends to offend, and maybe we should all consider that where no offence is intended, none should be taken.

    I find the question of grammar an interesting one. There are the essential rules in grammar which should form the basis of all communication in order that emphasis, syntax and the like are understood by whomever is reading it. However, we should also allow for the vernacular as this reveals the ‘human’ behind the written words.

    Correct grammar is a little like received pronunciation in that it is understood by all. Where R P falls down is that it makes no allowance for dialect, regional idioms and the like. These are what make language the dynamic thing it is, never moribund, yet acknowledging those essential rules.

    When all is said and done, (cliche) we watch Paul’s videos for their instructive value. Minor matters of grammatical correctness are irrelevant. If these matters become an aspect of the comments page, Paul will be ‘as sick as a parrot” (idiom)

  12. Sellers, I believe this is a result of pushing cheap hand tools in woodworking. There are bargains to be had but it’s not something that its available all the time. Tuning a hand plane is a skill, and most beginners don’t have the skills or the knowledge to tune a tool to its full potential., If you ran into that situation imagine how many more are out there. People always want to hear how easy and simple it is to do something but it is not so simple and anything worth doing requires effort and perseverance. I find that in woodworking as in most things everyone is trying to sell you something. Whether cheap, expensive, or somewhere in the middle. It is a Trade after all and one should always strive for balance and use good judgment.

  13. Hi Paul!
    I’m from Croatia. I just want to tank you for sharing your knowledge, experience, thoughts etc…
    As you can see my English is very bad, but I’m glad too see that yours is too(at least according too well established critics above…)
    Anyway I’m very happy that I can learn so much about woodworking from you..and again..even my English sucks

    1. I understood everything you said perfectly
      You have NO problem
      Thanks for commenting and
      Pls keep on commenting

      Michael in America

  14. I bought one of these planes a few years ago believeing that Record Irvin were good quality but I couldn’t get it to cut properly and became quite frustrated as I thought it was just me. Then I discovered Pauls website and set about trying to remedy the problems with it after watching his videos on restoring planes. I finally had the thing working to a reasonable standard but was still not happy so bought a second-hand #4 off Trade Me (NZ equivalent to e-bay) – FAR OUT, what difference !!!!!!!!!!! Not only was my purchase substantially lighter the finish was so much superior even thought it needed a good clean up. So I proceeded to give the “new” plane a good going over and what a difference in performance. Consequently the Record Irwin was quickly converted into a scrub plane as that is all it was good for as far as I was concerned and it does a good job at that.

  15. As someone who 1) has been a horrible speller since childhood, 2) has to write a lot for my job, 3) spends a long time editing emails for spelling and clarity (again, for my paid job), I STILL make plenty of typos and errors that I miss right after hitting “send”.

    The older I get, the more sensitive I become to the sense of entitlement some folks feel about the work of others. The era of free content and cheap knock offs has devalued the work of craftsmen and of companies that build with quality. As for myself, I am simply grateful for all that Paul is doing. Grateful he takes the time to write as much as he does – this is one of very few blogs I regularly check in on – and for the insight it contains. I recognize that he doesn’t have to, that it takes a very large time investment to do it, and that I’m not even subjected to ads of any kind for all the insight and entertainment this blog provides.

    I cannot fathom complaining about the odd typo. His intent and meaning is 100% clear at all times. I’m honestly baffled that the topic would even come up.

  16. Just started to reed some of the other posts and I also am dumbfounded to read about Greg’s critism of Pauls typos. Typos are quite acceptable when you compare them to the rubbish that is being floggged of as “quality tools”. All I can say is ………….

    Greg, get a life, we ALL make typo’s we don’t pi k up

    Keep up the damn fine work Paul – typo’s or not – itt’s all part of the character.

  17. The plane in question….looks a LOT like what is being sold over in the states at Lowes….called a Kobalt…..I tried it for one entire week…and then returned it to the store…and used the $35 on real tools…..Flimsy iron and chipbreaker,,,,could not get the plane to hold a setting for more than 3 passes…on Pine. Liked the handles….but, I had to return those with the plane….

    prefer older Millers Falls, Stanleys, and a few by Ohio Tool Co. I do have a Stanley #4c Made in England…..I can read the newspaper through the shavings it makes.

    As for the grammer stuff…..depends on whether one is speaking the Queen’s English….or Ohio Hillbilly English….all depends on one’s point of view…even to an Auld Mick like me..

  18. Yours is the only ‘social medium’ I read. Not reading through RSS feeds or whatever but by directly typing in the address in the browser.

    As I see it the spelling criticism was meant earnestly and in good faith and was expressed gently and kindly, but some of the responses to it were unwarranted. I’m not a native English speaker and usually get quite annoyed when I see English spelling errors – mostly because of the fact that the errors I don’t spot I may start making myself in future writing. That being said, I have little problem with your writing. Can’t say the same for a certain printed book I’ve been trying to read about the origins of humans and ancient civilizations. It was originally written in Italian and translated to Dutch. The translators did a very lousy job. I often find myself reading a sentence half a dozen times and still not be able to make head or tails of it. This book was translated by (supposedly) professional translators. I’ve put the book aside, with regret – no matter how much I want to read it and learn more, that book is useless to me.

    I can’t say the same for your blog!

    Personally I’ve always had difficulty expressing myself verbally. But given pen and paper or a keyboard, I can accurately express myself. With spoken word there’s much more pressure and you get only one shot at doing it right. I often feel like a bumbling fool when talking. In writing, I can correct, look for a better word, etc. and very accurately express what I want to express. With you, it appears to be the other way around; you seem to be more comfortable and at home in personal contact and presenting things verbally. I am jealous of that.

    Either way, your writing is worthwhile, warts and all. Combined with the excellent photos in your articles, there’s not much to complain about. Those articles would be well-suited to appear in for-pay magazines, but appear here for our benefit free of charge.

    1. Thank you very much for this post..and for the first one. I really enjoyed reading both of them.
      Yesterday I wrote sarcastic post about spelling etc..but today, after reading this post, I have to admit I shouldn’t react like that.

  19. ” I had five days in bed sick, that’s all.”
    Take care of yourself. With age, otherwise small problems can rapidly deteriorate.


    1. Nope, not giving in to that. Just eat the right balanced diet, exercise three times a day over and above your work, and my work is 90% manual work, don’t live in fear and doubt and help your fellow man as much and whenever you can.

      1. I am very very far from an hypocondriac and I don’t suggest anyone should be one.

        1. No way was I suggesting that of you or anyone, Sylvain, was a hypochondriac. Just I know how easy it is for me to pamper myself that’s all.

  20. I found your information accurate and actually quite gracious in describing the inferior standard of the Irwin. I recently purchased a (what I thought was a stellar deal) #4 replica. Unfortunately the handle was broken when I received the plane and this was perpetrated by the USPS. Filing a claim and even finding the correct form they require was astonishingly complex. One needs a degree in “Gov-speak”, which I do not have and am now firmly convinced is done purposely to avoid accountability. I made a new rear handle and proceeded to tune the plane. Dole was not flat as is common on less expensive planes, the sides were not flat, the iron would not present in a parallel to the sole. Examined frog, dressed the faces which made any contact with any part, still off. Adjusted the frog to cheat a little, better, but not even close enough. Upon further examination I discovered the points in the frame upon which the frog rested were not equal in height, thus producing the canted iron angle. Some “sneak up on it “ filing and internal leveling eventually did the job and it is now usable. Far too much time spent but it was educational. Would I purchase another of that brand? Nope and nope. Standards in the manufacturing process were terrible. Why did I make the effort to get it workable? Probably because I wasn’t going to let it beat me. Probably should have taken the beating. I concur fully with you. If you’re going to make a tool, at the very least, cover the basic engineering features that make it work as it should.

  21. In my day to day work I have to fix bugs and listen to users suggestions. I learned that, it’s not easy. So, just keep fixing errors, say thank you every time and go on. Finally, this improve the product and users usually appreciate the attitude, and this attitude count.

    For users I could say, all products made by humans have errors. This does not mean we should not notify about them.

    It’s a process, like a dance on both sides, just try to enjoy it.

  22. I really don’t understand why anyone in woodworking would expect any quality in tools made in China
    Btw the past wonderful and very expensive and incredibly designed bridge city tools are now made in China
    If it’s from China I do not buy
    I will pay more for quality tools for two reasons
    One for the better quality and
    Two to support the manufacturers financial health
    But that’s me
    No I am not rich
    Anyone have any thoughts?

    1. I do. Some people refuse to buy non-domestic goods on principle, others believe, artificially in my view, in a global wealth and prosperity economy, both are ideologies and not fact based. Domestic makers, like Nicholson files (USA), Irwin (UK) and many if not most other conglomerates like them, deserve no loyalty whatsoever. They mostly hide behind marketing phrases that pretend to be of this or that country or name when in reality many of not most, again, actually manufacture in other countries but do not tell their buyers. Having a false perspective of supporting local businesses tends to be more what we want to believe rather than reality. The economic import companies here in the `uk make three or four planes that are non-UK made. All four were better and much quicker to fettle than the Irwin Marples version I reviewed. Whereas manufacturers like Nicholson, Irwin, Kuntz and so on should be ashamed of their products and their arrogance, they are not. This is the sad condition of much of European, British and USA manufacturing today. My reasons for not supporting some domestic makers is not because their prices are so high but that their products have other flaws not the least of which is weight, clunkiness and more. I stay secondhand and pre 1960s. I can buy just about anything `i need for a fraction of the price and the reason I recommend others to do the same is that they must master restoration and sharpening skills to continue woodworking. Why postpone what they need now. Anyone can sharpen a saw, a plane, a chisel and scrapers and spokeshaves; anyone! It takes me four minutes to sharpen any saw. 2 minutes fir a plane iron and four minutes for a set of chisels. This is the reason I wrote my book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools. It equips people to master the essential skills by walking them through the processes. YouTube and my blog expands that all the more.

      1. Thanks for the reply
        Btw I am an excellent proofreader
        And for the record and to quell certain ridiculous comments above
        I found only one typo
        So bottom line you can do it if you choose
        The answer to your comments
        I do question china manufacturing thinking
        The labor is cheap resulting in profit
        Why does the quality have to be inferior?
        And we do have a resurgence in small tool manufacturers here in the us

        1. I recall at one time where manufacturing of a non domestic nature was frowned on because of quality concerns, wrenches snapping under modest pressure, low grade plastics folding up under torque, cutting edges developing concertina edges when interacting with knots, such like that. That was then. Nowadays that is not generally the case at all. Whereas I do like to see local manufacturing succeed because of good economics, good business practices and the preservation of skilled workmanship and knowledge, we do have to look at certain realities. One not minor reality I find is that domestic companies in any country reserving their titles are using their names to promote product without loyalty to local and loyal followers and supporters.

  23. I recently bought an Irwin Record plan similar to the one pictured, but sporting wood and a bit of nickel plate. It had most of the problems you mentioned-plus a couple of others. The frog should rest on four machined places. Only one was machined. I have doctored the unmachined places with epoxy and produced some improvement. An unresolved issue is failure of the cutter/chip breaker assembly to hold it’s lateral adjustment. Advice on addressing this problem would be appreciated.
    I also bought a record rebate plane at a similar exorbitant price and with similar machining problems.
    Veritas tools are beginning to look a lot cheaper.

    Please forgive the grammar-this is written by a one fingered typist with little arts education.

  24. This was a highly informative, passionate and well- written article that saved me (and no doubt others) from purchasing a useless tool and personally I was surprised and disappointed at the impertinent, ungenerous comments about the author’s spelling. I didn’t notice any errors – maybe I was too busy thinking about the many interesting issues brought up in the article, but in any case, I have never heard or seen a grown-up correct another grownup’s spelling or grammar. It’s a strange way to thank someone for sharing decades of professional experience for free.

  25. I am lucky to have my grandfather’s Record No 4, bought in the 30’s when he started his apprenticeship.

    This is a wonderful tool, even in my inexperienced hands it never fails to take perfect shavings.

    It is sad to see the Record name so lowered by the pursuit of quick profit by conglomerates run by people who literally wouldn’t know one end of a plane from the other.

    It should also be remembered though, that when grandpa bought this plane it would have been a huge purchase for him, representing the best part of a month’s wage.

    By comparison, today, even a premium plane like a Veritas or Lie Nielsen No 4 would cost less than half a month on minimum wage.

    We should avoid the current cheap tools sold under once great names like the plague, but we should also question ourselves if we ever think a good tool should be had for an hour’s money instead of a month’s.

  26. I bought one of these using my staff discount when I used to work at Screwfix. It weighed a tonne and I replaced it with a older, genuine record plane I picked up for £10 in a charity shop in Axminster. So much lighter, much more comfortable to use.

  27. Hello Paul,
    I recently became acquainted with your videos and blog. I have enjoyed all the information you have shared, both written and through videos. Thank you! I too have worked with wood for over 50 years. My father started a business repurposing used lumber for new homes and outbuildings. I grew up with wood in all sizes and forms. He built over 40 homes and commercial buildings. Dad was many years ahead of his time. I enjoyed the work and business and continued the business until I was injured and retired. Recently I have enjoyed learning more about woodworking on smaller projects and restoring vintage tools. For most of my life I didn’t realize buying old tools and equipment and returning them to working order was “restoration”, I just thought it was a necessary part of doing business and making a profit! Over the years I learned to communicate with many people in many languages to acquire knowledge I needed, some orally, some by watching and some through sign language. I did not care what medium was used as long as they could get the information communicated. I still don’t. Please continue to share your knowledge, your insight, and your genuine desire to educate and help your fellow man. There is no higher calling. My hope when I pass on is that someone will think of my life’s work and say, “He was a good craftsman”. Thank you again.

  28. Maybe if you shout it loud enough and long enough, companies mat listen. Happy you got your student on track.

  29. Please clarify your statement: All planes produced by Record or Record Marples came before Irwin took over the company. And the planes they have made for the last 6 decades have all been poorly made, badly finishes and fall far short of what should be expected.

    Is it your opinion that all planes produced by Record and Record Marples (before Irwin took over) are “poorly made, badly finishes and fall far short of what should be expected” or do you mean that the planes produced by Record Irwin are poorly made and badly finished?

    Did Record/Record Marples ever make any good planes?

    Thank you.

    1. Record did make moderately good planes, when they were just Record. Record became record Marples and the slippery slope began. Bahco stuck their oar in for a few years and sold out to American tool Eventually Rubbermaid, the plastics people, bought out American tool and thereto Record Marples and Irwin was bought out by Rubbermaid so it’s actually Rubbermaid, the ones taht make plastic buckets and waste bins and such, who run what we now know as Irwin Record. Hence how can a plastics company produce insightful changes to a crafting artisan’s hand tools?

  30. Thank you for your knowledgeable input Paul. I’ve often wondered what is truly the difference between some of these modern “cheap” planes and a pre-WWII era Stanley. I ignorantly thought, how terrible can they be? I gladly have listened to all the advice I’ve seen and purchased older planes, and even for a newbie I have been able to get them in excellent working condition with ease! I must admit, I’ve often been tempted to purchase some of these newer cheap planes, just to build-out my collection, but glad I haven’t!

  31. Chinese are going to the moon.
    They will produce according to specifications. It is the job of the brand holder to make precise specifications and to exercise quality control before selling.
    Poor quality is not specific to China. I once read the story of million $ computer (mainframe?) delivered to US government in cabinets with cardboard panels to save a few cents.
    In Europe, goods must be “fit for the purpose” and warranted minimum 2 years. So we should not accept those “illegal” goods.
    Producing, transporting and distributing goods not fit for the purpose is a waste of energy and a waste of resources. Not good for the climate and extremely frustrating.
    Programmed obsolescence is a similar sin.

  32. It’s like the Stanley #4 I bought at Menards. It was $16, I thought it was a great deal. I sharpened the blade and went to work on a rough sawn board, trying to flatten it out. After 20 minutes of “planeing” it didn’t look much better and my elbow was aching. I sharpened the plane blade and started again. But the pain in my elbow was getting worse with each pass, I thought this is odd, why the pain? I put everything this away and went into the house. The next day I couldn’t move my elbow without excruciating pain. So I sat with ice packs and watched videos about planeing. After watching a video of yours I realized that I was trying to remove to much wood at a time and that the plane I brought was crap.

    So now I have tennis elbow and a much better plane. And it is much nicer to use. Thanks for your wisdom and sharing of this wisdom.

  33. Maybe thirty years ago, when I first started dabbling in woodworking, I bought a Record #7. It does not say Record-Irwin on it, just Record. I did not use that plane more than a few times for years. When I started with hand tools, and Paul’s website, just a few years ago, I bought and stuck mostly with old Stanley #4 planes. However, a few months ago, I pulled the Record #7 off the shelf. It is a not very attractive blue color (though not the color in Paul’s picture) and has some problems. But with just a bit of work on the blade, and the skills in sharpening Paul teaches, I got it to work very well. I can cut gossamer shavings for jointing boards. And I have used it on boards after using the scrub plane on them. Maybe I got lucky with this one, but I do like it.

  34. Please do not put any value in your critics comments. Your blogs contain insight, information ,inspiration ,comfort and perspective. I for one put more value in this content then a blog that has been written perfectly and says nothing or simply criticizes for the sake of writing a blog. I enjoy your blogs very much and get what you’re saying. Also appreciate the free and non advertising nature of your utube channel. Well done charles

  35. To hell with the grammar nartzies Paul…if we wanted to read pros we would be sitting in a quaint little rocking chair reading Shakespeare.
    I am far more interested in the subject that you share knowledge of than any slight imperfections in your delivery.
    Keep up the great work Sir.

  36. Paul, you may have seen a few videos under the title “The Fine Art of Bricklaying”. This highly skilled gentleman ,in my mind , is twinned with yourself as both of you work to a super high skill level . If anyone has not seen these videos look up the Victorian Weave panel he builds . You both deserve a Knighthood .

  37. Paul, As i sit here 9300 miles away from where i was born waiting to go back on duty you have really brightened up my day, thank you so much. as with many of the things you write, It is a real pleasure to see someone articulate why people shouldn’t believe the hype of big companies. I guess if we think about it we know when something isn’t right, you pick a tool up you can feel the quality or not. you cant beat buying old tools in my opinion, specially when you consider a good new bench plane will cost $500 compared to the boat anchor from the local bulk hardware shop between $30 and $100 (I guess the extra $70 get you a flash box with corporate hype. I think you’ve made the comparison between Ikea and what some of us try to do. Anyway great work keep it up. I will now apologise as mildly dyslexic English is my first language, yes before anyone get all offended and says “that’s not funny” It’s true. Thanks again Paul keep up the great work.

  38. One Stanley Plane I use regularly is the Replaceable Blade Plane R B 10 . But only get the one with yellow plastic adjusters and the hollow handle with spare blades .
    The original model was in my house for over 15 years and was unusable with a deformed cast iron sole. The later edition works like a dream and does nasty planing jobs that would ruin a standard model .The blades run right to the edge and are valuable for getting knots level by attacking them from the side . These very thick floorboards with several hard as nails knots needed special attention without losing wood via sanding machines . On ebay one cheeky devil was advertising the blades as if you were getting a full set of half a dozen . Suspiciously I asked him / her “Is this for one single blade ?” Honestly he admitted “Yes this is for one blade “. All at six times the price . So just be careful if you order any . They are still available too .

    1. The RB-10, ‘even’ the one you describe, is a perfect plane to give as a gift to someone you don’t like. Total junk.

      1. I made the mistake of buying one a while back – I use it for hatchet work – work where I just need to remove chunks to get on with the job.

  39. Spelling, grammar and syntax aside, I think Paul has called this one correctly. I’m not impressed with their spokeshave either – I had to make at least 2 modifications, nay corrections, to the design to get it to function.

  40. Was the Record company split into Record power and Irwin Record? If Irwin bought record and make that plane then the history and design statement is correct because Stanley Black & Decker own Irwin, so that is, in fact, a Stanley!

  41. Bought an irwin record no4 a little while ago, not due to fascination with the plane but necessity. Started hand tools wood working as a Xen activity a year ago, with the great help of the likes of you Mr. Sellers.
    With limited budget started with an indian plane (which you wouldn’t use for a scrub plane. Was able to build my pine workbench with it though, then moved to some hardwood projects were the Indian plane just couldn’t handle.
    Upgraded to irwin, and it was a huge improvement. Which is the best plane you can find in the market where I live 🙂 point is, progressing through carp tools to less crappy ones, sure makes you appreciate every detail of fine tools.
    Where I live the market nor carpenters know the difference between cross cut and rip, you can’t find anything remotely resembling dovetail saw, nor a hand router… sometimes you just need to make due with what you have 🙂
    Thank you again Mr.Sellers for all the knowledge you share selflessly! God bless you!

  42. Paul, my Dad recently passed his small collection of hand planes down to me and in the mix was an old Record #4. In your opinion, would you have all Record hand planes are generally flawed, or, do the older ones have some sense of worth? It needs a lot of work, from a new tote to getting it all trued up.

    I ask because I want to know if it is worth the effort.

    1. Personal preference. Might as well restore them as this is the fastest way to learn about any plane anyway. And if I bought any new plane, and I include all the so-called premium makers here, the first thing I would do is take files and sandpaper to them to round off those ugly straight chamfers engineers always like that so dig into the wood when I least want or expect them to. Give me a good rounded corner any day. I also don’t care for the pretentious codswallop about soles having to be so dead flat. just plane and get your intuitive juices flowing. Most of the new gurus are ex plane salesmen anyway. In fact all of the ones I ever met used to sell planes at woodworking shows.

  43. Paul and all,

    Whenever I receive criticism, I ask: Was it (due to) lack of intelligence or lack of good will?
    If they say “lack of intelligence” I then say “well you’ll have to forgive me.”, because I didnt get to choose my intelligence.
    If they say ” lack of good will.” Then I say ” Well thats just plain wrong.
    And I also ask “What would you have me do right now.”

  44. Paul,

    I don’t know if you will see this or not. Got a Record Marple No. 4 plane from a yard-sale. (No big loss for $10. I’ll take angle-grinder with a cutting wheel to it later.)

    Just a question:

    You say “The handle is too small for most men’s hands of average size.”

    How large is the handle of a handplane supposed to be?

    Thank you,

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