My Two Best Planes

It’s really a superb thing, simplicity. It’s not the same as nor is it anything like minimalism. Valuing simplicity is to dwell and thrive in the humility of being a maker. Politics and social standing dissolve at the workbench and I do it using ordinary tools I bought in poverty and made do until my skills were so established using them I could never let them go both because I valued them in what they gave to my worklife and then too because, well, nothing bettered them.

The two planes below are the most ordinary of all metal-cast planes. Not only that though. They are the two very best planes I have and have ever owned––no others come even close. I use them every day for decades. I’ve replaced the cutting irons many times but never as a retrofit for thicker or harder versions. That’s always seemed to me at least to be such a silly thing to do. I think sometimes, often, people just want to spend money. Totally unneccesary, really. No, I simply wore the blades down many times over the decades, down to the nub even though I rarely if ever ground them on any mechanical grinder. I think I may have gone through ten cutting irons between my Stanleys. I’m fastidious about sharpening. That’s not the same as obsessive compulsive, you know. It’s just the diligence of living and working as a craftsperson fully engaged in the work and striving always for excellence.

I know now that there is no plane to match these two as far as superb functionality goes. Its inventor and developer usually gets little or no mention anywhere from those modern-day knock-off makers which I feel is quite disingenuous. As this is the case, I generally make a point to do this in memory of and respect for his brilliance. Leonard Bailey is the man who develeoped and perfected all the Bailey-pattern bench planes along with the Bedrock versions to. Hi is the man.

For certain it is doubtful that many makers today could have invented the plane that we have. Of course, therre were many other planes developed and invented ranging fron Scottish panel planes to Spiers, Norris and a dozen or two others but the genious of Leonard Bailey and his series of bench planes and others really knows no equal, even after 125 years further on.

I do think too that it is worth mentioning something here that attests further to the lasting qualities of the inventions I speak of. Few users today have or could ever match the number of hours and days of use these two planes have had through the last six decades of my everyday using them. Week in, week out, year in, year out since 1963 I have used a Stanley #4 and #5 bench plane. Imagine using a plane hour-on-hour and daily six days a week through sixty years. Believe it or not, in my worklife, that means I have picked them both up at least 144,000 times each and it’s likely to be many more times that. What’s more, these two planes still have zero flaws as far as functionality goes too. Nothing is worn away and whatever I have gained from my daily escapades using them just seems to get better. Shoes, cars, electric drills and drill-drivers, power routers and skillsaws ultimatley wear out as do all things, but I wonder how many can pick up and use a bench plane 480,000 times (and that is very conservative estimate on my part) because I pick either one or both up 20 times an hour most days.

I changed the handles for no good reason but to teach you and others how to make both handles without resorting to using or needing a lathe. I am glad I did it. These handles are made from yew and the wood came from a friend in North Wales where I lived and worked at that time. The hour-and-a-half video has had half a million views and the video is an hour and a quarter long. Not having a lathe simplified everything but it also worked instructionally to show not only how to do it but to do it well.

The handles I made are custom fitted to my own hands and yet they are slightly different to one another. Yew is a good wood for this work. I am glad I picked it. Simplicity creeps into my workplace through tasks that have no monetary value or gain. These are not sold things. I have many such tools that have become ‘owned‘ through use and the years of using. The wonderful dimension is the primary motive of making your things. You know, the unsold, never-to-be-sold things you made for your use. It’s so different than making to sell. There was a time when men making had no choice but to sell everything they made, especially working men and women. Surviving depended on selling, growing and making just about everything. But every so often you come across creatives who took themselves off the conveyor belt and grew, cooked and made truly and not as some kind of cultic following. I have seen cultic works in my life. Zones of controlled involvement where acceptance depended on doing everything the same as others. You buy and wear certain clothes, buy and use tools and equipment to show others that you follow and belong in the same zones. It has the apperance of belonging but the truth of it is usually quite artifical. In my world and seeing those who have followed the same or similar path I have seen remarkable people make remarkable changes to recover what might have otherwise been lost to them and the next generations. You have validated my work, you makers, striving for excellence whenever you can and wherever you can. You amaze me!

You can learn to rehandle your working planes here and here. The experience of doing this changes both you and the planes. The deepness of the things I speak of cannot be had using anything but hand tools. Tasks of this nature, doing out-of-the-ordinary things, have translatory properties and influences on your mind as well as your body. These are self-challenging and cannot be had any other way.

So there you have it. You can still buy a well worn but cared for Stanley (or Record) for around £20 and then less if you are prepared to wait, shop around and such. Currently there are a dozen listed that will sell for less than £20-25 on eBay UK right now and that is not much for a lifetime plane. My week’s wage when I bought mine back in 1965 was £3.50, the cost of the plane. Simplicy and fixing up planes is the best way to master the skills needed along with gaining the working knowledge and physics of the plane.


  1. Something that I have sadly noticed recently. In the antique / house clearance centre where I often buy tools, newer looking Records and Stanley Handyman planes are marked at higher prices than older Stanley and Record planes. But they also sell quickly. I guess that they look better, almost as new, and, I presume, that it is a younger generation , that know no better that are buying them.
    Not that long ago I could have bought a Woden ~#for £30, I didn’t as I already have 4 #4s. That did seem a good price. I do partly regret not buying it, but not as much as not getting a router when they were £10, but not that long ago I saw one for £30, but by then I had made myself 3.
    The one item that does sell at nearly new prices are clamps, whereas many other tools go for very little, especially if hidden under a light coat of rust.

    1. This is one article I wish I had read before buying a Spears and Jackson hand plane.
      I said before I thought I bough a Chinese knockoff and found it to be true.
      All those little problems I have with the plane aren’t from the Spears and Jackson design.
      Lesson learned. If you are looking for a bargain on the internet make sure you check out the seller real well before making the purchase. Amazon has a few tips on how to spot them and report them and prevent others from being cheated.

    2. Stanley has had a wonderful opportunity, in that the planes that they had sold in the past are very popular today, thanks in part to Paul Sellers. They even have the old designs to go by, but for some reason, they do not make them like they used to. If they decide to make them well, and at a reasonable price, Stanley would profit from the effort, and they would also have repeat customers.

  2. I have developed something of an obsession for Stanley planes and have one (or a few) too many in my small workshop – all made in England sometime between 1937 and the 1970’s if I have done my research correctly. I use a small number of them in my amateur making. The rest I have simply restored and keep just to be custodian of a small piece of UK manufacturing history. Given some good fortune all will be well in excess of 100 years old when I leave them for who knows who to inherit. They will no doubt be just as efficacious for their designed purpose then as the day they rolled of the production line.

  3. My Stanley #4, an old Type 11, is truly sublime. But I recently bought a Woden #4 that I like even better. I think the casting and machining are on a slightly higher level, and there’s something about the weight/balance that I find more comfortable.

    1. I too have a type 11, and for some reason it is my very favourite of my #4s, if not all my planes. I can’t explain why, but it just feels more solid and refined than the others, although most of the others are older Stanley’s as well. As far as I can tell, the handle and tote are the original rosewood, and in excellent shape. I bought it from eBay in generally pretty rough shape, but enjoyed the process of restoring it. I also restored a type 6 that I like (but not as much as the 11), however it’s strange getting used to the reverse thread of the adjustment wheel.

  4. The majority of my planes are Stanley’s. Most of the others are really copies based on the Bailey pattern. I’ve never had any problem with the 1940 – 1950 era planes once I cleaned them up and sharpened the blades. Yes there are other exceptional planes but for the money I look for old Stanley’s. I went the thick plane blade route but balked when they didn’t fit.
    I gave the blade away in the end and went back to the original, I never ever had a chatter problem. I find the handles on the older planes very comfortable they have a better shape to them with no hard edges, maybe before they began to cut costs? It makes me wonder in the future if anyone will appreciate how these planes worked so well.

    1. I like the original thin blades on my stanley planes. What I came to realize is that the plane is a living thing. We use them under tension. As soon as you lock down the lever cap the plan becomes a single, unified thing- different than the separate parts. The cap iron is compressed, the plane likewise compressed against the bed of the frog. I think the thickness of the blade is a feature. It allows that part to give in minute ways that reconcile it to the whole and completed tool. I’m sure if I had the equipment to measure these things, I’d discover that the cap iron, blade, and even the body of the plane change shape ever so minutely as everything is pulled into tension together. I have nothing against some of the new tools and parts getting produced. Some are quite well made. Still, those old stanleys are an a marvel of engineering where a good initial design was refined over years and year in a context of lots of real world use. New plane makers don’t have that sort of scale with tens of thousands of people using their products every day.

      1. Mike that’s a great point about the volume, depth and duration of real world user feedback that was available to go into refining the ‘old’ designs vs the ‘new’ ones. Where would you even find enough day in day out hand tool users to get that coal face input today? Necessity being the mother of invention in any field, incremental innovation comes from the people on the tools for a living for whom a little tweak can make a big difference over time.

  5. In 1978 or thereabouts I bought a new plane because I really needed one, trying my best to make a fixer-upper house habitable. It was a modern Stanley SB4 because that’s all I could afford. I know they’re not good, but it worked then and still does, especially since I learned to sharpen correctly.
    All my other planes were old and abused, but fixable. No. 2, no. 4 (x2) no. 5 and no.7, plus an old shoulder plane of some sort and a little bullnose plane.
    The no.7 wasn’t super-cheap; I spent £50 on that but it was in nice condition. The rest were £10-15 eBay buys except that the no.5 was free. Well almost – I traded a modern no.4 and a day’s labour sharpening a box full of knackered chisels properly for it.
    Since I learned how to sharpen all my planes are a joy to use, and there’s the thing. Without a sharp iron nobody can plane anything decently. Without an owner who can sharpen no plane is worth it’s place on the bench.
    It’s a partnership – we are dependent on each other to function correctly.
    And I’m quietly pleased that my tools will leave my hands and go to a new owner in excellent working condition and well cared for, including the ones I made. There’s no reason they shouldn’t all be fine in a couple hundred years.

    1. Good man! And well said @RS Hughes.

      I have an odd mixture of old and new planes. I prefer vintage. And I usually bought unwanted old tools cheaply from car boot sales. In hindsight, I have been quite fortunate; even some of my less desirable purchases, cheap old tools have proved useful (e.g. screw-drivers & no brand plastic-handled chisels). I have by chance also got some old tools that I later found to be exceptionally good 🙂 (e.g. saws mentioned by PS and Felco secateurs). Too good for me perhaps but I know I saved some, perhaps most, of them from the bin or metal recycling.

      For planes bigger than 5/5.5, I have 2 nice old wooden planes (17″ and 22″). I bought the former from an antique type store on holiday, when we walked into quaint, cramped, Polperro, Cornwall. The other I bought from my favourite old-tool dealer, in the Shambles, Devizes, Wiltshire. Both were nice clean examples and reasonably priced.

      I was lucky to find a nice, unwanted vintage Stanley 5.5 on eBay several years ago. Some years later, I decided to try to find an inexpensive #5 (yes, I don’t really need both). I eventually found an unwanted, secondhand but newish, little used, Faithful #5 on eBay. At first, I was wary of getting and using this modern, Indian-made plane, but the price was right, and it came in a nice lined wooden box and I find that I really like using it! So more than good enough, for my humble needs. 🙂

      So yes to: TLC for old tools, sharpness and leaving a tool legacy 😀

      1. Hi Tone.
        The only Faithful brand tool I own is their version of a No.80 cabinet scraper. It was awful and I regretted buying it. Then I read Paul’s review of a cheap scraper and understood the problems.
        The edge was ground far too fine. I measured it at about 25°. So I superglued a wedge of scrap softwood to the toolrest of my bench grinder and reset it to 50°, give or take a tiddy bit.
        Next, the steel was far too hard. A sharp file didn’t even scratch it. So I glued a cheap diamond plate to a scrap of 18mm ply and “drawfiled” it with that. I was able to turn a decent hooky edge with a kitchen steel that Mrs H discarded years ago and I couldn’t bring myself to throw away.
        So now it’s working well. The steel is still too hard and it’s a pain to sharpen but I can live with that.
        Is it as good as a proper one? I doubt it but truthfully I don’t know because I never used a proper one. But I do use it frequently and I know I want to keep it now. The finish it produces is really nice, even on softwoods, which was a surprise.
        So maybe even cheap stuff should be considered if you have no option but have the imagination to fix it.

        1. I consider myself very lucky to have managed to buy, perhaps one of the last(?), new (presumably Old Stock?) English made Stanley 80 cabinet scrapers, in its box with instructions*, via Amazon here in UK. It has always worked great :). Impressed.

          I thought the scraper blade was a bit short but later realized the longer blades I’d seen on the web sometimes were likely replacements homemade from a longer card scraper.

          FYI I don’t recall the Stanley instructions including burnishing a burr hook, but I will check. It certainly included simple instructions for a 45 degree bevel though.

          Yes, the Faithful planes seem like a step down from vintage, but perhaps better than some other modern, far Eastern, Bailey copies? After PS -style fettling, they work okay for me. And, as I said earlier, I I have some vintage planes too 🙂

          1. Sorry, I was wrong, just checked, my Stanley 80 instructions do in fact include detailed instructions on creating a burr hooked edge with a burnisher! :). I just followed the instructions; it’s clearly been a while since I’ve used it 🙁

  6. Thanks Paul. I am in complete agreement with you. I started with Lie Nielsen planes. Over time I tried using the Stanley vintage planes for a while then tried going back to the Lie Nielsen planes but couldn’t. Sure the LN planes have nice fit and finish but they are so much heavier. As such, now use the vintage Stanley’s daily to the point I may just sell the Lie Nielsens.

    1. It amazes me how we get attached and used to using our favourite tools, I just love the feel of a razor sharp well setup hand plane. As much as I love my old Stanley planes, still my favourite is a record no 4, apart from colour and name they seem identical, but it feels totally different when using compared to my Stanley no4

  7. When I started buying planes I looked for the cheapest and most beat up ones as I learned from Paul’s videos how to restore them. I have a Hudson forge #3, Milwaukee #4, Stanly #4 1/2, and 5, Buhl Hardware #6, Stanley #80 as well as others. All though are based on the Leanord Bailey types. They all work fine too. Two has broken totes but they too were fixable. The nice new and shiny planes do look tempting but they seem to be the same as what I already have. I especially like the Buhl Hardware and Hudson forge planes. Once I bought one of those weird old German metal planes, it was nearly impossible to use so I gave it to a friend who collects old planes. When I die my survivors will probably get rid of all my tools and turn my shop into a potting shed.

    1. Planes vary in quality. The off brand planes can be better then Stanley. I switched my #5 from Stanley to a Dunlap (made by Miller Falls for Sears). It has a steel adjuster and isn’t rosewood. But its sole is flat and the Stanley wasn’t.

      I tuned up a Handyman #3 & gave it to a friend. It was every bit as good as the #3 I inherited from family (that’s the only reason I switched)

      1. I bought a Millers Falls #5 with corrugated sole from an antique store about 10 years ago. Cleaned it up, did some minor tuning and it works great. It is usually the one I grab first.

  8. My granny gave me my No.4 Stanley for my 14th Birthday. Still use it everyday and think of her. It cost a lot in 1974. I bought a second hand no.5 about 10 years later. I suddenly got good a school work and transferred out of the woodwork class to go on to A levels. But by then I ‘d been taught the trade a by a brilliant city and guilds qualified craftsman, who allowed us in his shop every afternoon. Build my own bench at 15 and tool box. those were the days when schools still taught craftsmanship. Plane still going strong, aquired a bit of rust over the years due to garage roof leak at one point, but soon rubbed up new.

    1. Sorry, I was wrong, just checked, my Stanley 80 instructions do in fact include detailed instructions on creating a burr hooked edge with a burnisher! :). I just followed the instructions; it’s clearly been a while since I’ve used it 🙁

    2. You’ve owned your Stanley #4 plane for 50 years from new?! Wow! Well done Tom :). ( Not as long as Paul though :D).

  9. Thank you for helping me focus on my early journey into woodworking. I started the journey thinking I needed another tool. Your book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools was very helpful. I now try to use my mind and tools at hand to accomplish what I need to do. I enjoy my number 4 plane. Stay well.

  10. Hi Paul. Wondering on the set up of your Stanley 5 Iron and if its set up with a camber and used as a scrub plane and for earlier rough dimensioning thicknessing tasks or with your Stanley 4 a finishing smoother.

    1. I set my #5 up the same as a smoothing plane, no differently. I use a second #4 with some adaptions as a permanent scrub-type plane and then a second permanent #78 as a heavy scrub plane. Between these two I have alll that I need. Here is my YT link to convert a #4 to a scrub plane. And then here for the #78.

      1. Several years ago I came into possession of newer model Stanley type 20 #4 plane (blue bed), which I was not a fan of, due to the apparent cheapness of the construction. Sure enough, the cheap lateral adjustment lever soon broke off. I therefore converted it into a heavy scrub plane, as there is no need to laterally adjust the blade due to the rounded camber. Now it gets a lot of use!

  11. Thanks again for your insights into real woodworking, which must have improved the skills, and fired the enthusiasm, of thousands, in many countries – a remarkable achievement.

  12. Paul, I have used the method of your front knob video to make the two knobs for the router plane.

  13. A family friend was over with his kids last Sunday. He brought with him an old Millers Falls no 9 that was in overall good shape but much neglected. The Millers Falls no 9 is the same plane as Stanley’s No 4. This friend had borrowed the plane from a neighbor and was frustrated trying to use it. We spent an hour and a half breaking the thing down and getting it tuned back up. What a rewarding experience. He left with a tool that was clean, oiled, sharp and able to produce lovely shavings. I gave this friend a spare Stanley no 4 that I’d picked up from ebay at some point and never got around to restoring. And thus one more example of how the work that Paul and team started gets paid forward.

  14. Great article. Shows how if you take care of your tools they can last a lifetime. I have a Type 8 Stanley #5 that is my go to plane 80% of the time. Took the time to refurbish and tune it and wouldn’t give it up for anything.
    My second go to plane is a Type 11 Stanley #4. This plane was a mess when I purchased it. Same as the number 5 lot’s of time patience and this plane works perfectly fine.
    Just because these tools are over a hundred years old doesn’t mean they are worthless, on the contrary they are heirloom treasures.
    Hallsville, TX

  15. Did you ever have to flatten the sole? With so much use, I would expect that even a metal body would show some abrasion overtime.

    1. Not as much as you might think. it depends on what you use the plane for, what wood and so much more. Perhaps by some minor amount three times in 60 years. You can wear a sole evenly by micro-adjusting your stance, presentation and other aspects.

  16. I settled in on the 2, 4 1/2’s and 1, 5 1/2. I’m in heaven.
    Thank you for everything Mr. Sellers.

  17. I too have acquired quite a number of planes over the years, learning as I went. The best Stanley I have is a US no 6, WW2 era. I’m the second person to own it. It’s the best bevel down plane I have and it still had the original grind on the iron.
    Modern U.K. Stanleys are not good and I avoid them.
    Veritas I now favour over most others, they are all bevel up. The ability to register the flat sole on the workpiece before commencing the cut is very satisfying.
    I have a couple of Veritas blades with a steeper bevel for curly grain but rarely seem to need them.
    A piece of reversing grain mahogany showed tear-out that defeated all other plane options though. You win some you lose some.
    Thick blades are a pain to sharpen but I rough grind a shallower bevel to just behind the cutting edge leaving a thin strip at the correct bevel to sharpen.

    1. I can’t imagine what anyone would do with such long and heavy planes in the day to day. Looking at my life using bench planes through six decades as a full-time maker there is no way any full time maker could have survived. We could handle almost all grain with just lighter weight Stanleys just fine and never needed anything longer than a Jack plane. Using the range you speak of there would eliminate 60% of all woodworkers and would-be woodworkersjust by the sheer excess weight alone.

      1. i bought an 1800s era plane. it was all wood with a wedge. the thing that surprised me was how doggone heavy it was! like a heavy brick! it was coffin shaped. so i took out a tenon saw and sawed off the ends in a wedge then i rasped away the sharp edges of the wood. its not a tropical wood because it has a lot of growth rings. maybe a rock maple. it weighs maybe half what it did. very smug about my acconplishment lol.

      2. Never owned or used anything bigger than a 5.5, but am I correct that 7 and 8’s were really only for getting perfect edges on boards that were to be edge joined?

        1. Not really, Keith. Long edges flexed and could be ‘sprung’ to minimise the need for many clamps. You don’t need perfectly straight edges, just closish, that’s all. Yop can get everying off a Jack plane easily. Plus, the soles of 7s and 8s were never straight enough anyway, and they change with heat changes. I have never known a straight sole on a 7 or 8.

  18. Hi, Paul. Those two planes appear to be type 16s, which means they were made circa 1930s. I’ve heard it’s better to buy old planes from the pre-war period and no later, although I’m sure that some good ones were still made. I have a type 16 #10 carriage-makers rabbet plane which I used for twenty years as a timber framer. Very similar to a #5 but with the blades running the full width of the plane. A marvelous tool. I cleaned up thousands of big timber tenons with that tool.

    Now I’m making furniture and I may sell it because it’s a little big for work on smaller parts.

    1. I have no problem buying postwar planes as long as they have wooden handles. We often have to live with old timers saying never buy this or that that turned out just fine. I have bought and used older plastic handled versions that were really good and did not break or crack at all but more recent plastics, say in the last two to three decades on Stanleys tend to crack in cold weather because they are more brittle. The years of manufacture have little if anything to do with the year of purchase or sale as many hardware shops in Britain had planes they stocked for years and even a decade or two before they went on the shelf for sale.

      1. I bought a Stanley 12-004 smoothing plane with plastic handles at a big-box store in 1986 when I bought my first house and had to replace all the flimsy Masonite interior doors with solid wood 6-panel doors. After flattening the sole just enough to get the mouth and heel aligned, and deburring the frog, it has served me well for 35+ years. I now also own a 1930’s era Stanley no. 4. The no. 4 is lighter weight and beautiful to look at, but the plastic tote on the other is larger and fits my hand better. Regardless, they each do useful work and I’ve set them up for coarser and finer cuts.

  19. I have a question. Somebody in this parish will have an answer I’m sure.
    What is the advantage (if any) of corrugated sole planes? I’ve never used one, or even seen one so far as I remember.
    The only thing I can think of is I speculate there might be less surface “drag” or resistance, on long jointer planes for example.
    In theory anyway. Or is it just marketing BS?
    Thanks in advance and have a great day. 😎

    1. The idea was less drag but the disadvantage is the corrugation tends to drag shavings and mar the surface being planed. They are also hard for bevelling and making roundovers too. I certainly would never recommend anyone buys one to use.

  20. I agree about the appeal and honest value of these old tools. I love acquiring an old, neglected tool and restoring it, not just to admire it, but to use it regularly.

    What troubles me is reading so many comments from readers who have lots and lots of planes, seemingly simply to posses as many as they can. That means there are other people who don’t have access to such tools. How many does one need to enjoy the craft?

    1. For every woodworker out there there will be 20 Stanley planes that remain unsold, otherwise the prices on eBay would be much higher than the mere £20 they go for, believe me. Go to other venues and they go for less than that which really shows how minimally valued they really are. I think you are suggesting that there is a shortage because of hoarders stowing unused planes in cupboards and on shelves when that is not the case at all. Any woodworker can stock up on bench planes and own a dozen and would not put the slightest dent in the supply possibilities. “That means there are other people who don’t have access to such tools.” Not at all, Mark. I have watched the market for the last three decades and these planes just keep on cycling through as woodworkers pass away or give up. On any given day there will be 200 Stanley and Record bench planes offered for sale and that will never change. Also, “How many does one need to enjoy the craft?” From a practical point of view, I am far more efficient relying on my half dozen, ready-to-go planes. I adopt and adapt them according to my intended use of them so scrub #4, scrub #78, heavy set #4 1/2, coarse wood #4 and #4 1/2 saves my others for refining work and so on.

      1. Thank You, Paul

        I’ll keep my eye out for a few more, then. I recently made a handle for my trusty Stanley Bailey No. 5 that I inherited from my father. The original had split in the middle, and it had been re-glued several times. I made mine in 4 pieces with the grain of the middle pieces about 45 degrees off the grain of the outer pieces to make it more resistant to splitting. The thickness of the middle pieces are the same as the bolt hole diameter, so I was able to make the hole just by spacing the pieces apart and gluing it up. I’ll see how many years it lasts, it looks great!

        I’m afraid I’m as guilty of acquiring bikes the way that readers of this blog accumulate tools. I’ve enjoyed reviving older bikes that had been neglected, and often gave them to college students. When we moved from our home of 35 years, I gave away 7 bikes, including my 1954 Raleigh Sports, which I had retrieved from our town dump in the mid 70’s, and my Crescent, which was my race/commute bike, bought second hand in 1976. I get the same pleasure getting an old bike humming and ready to show the world what it can do as I do restoring an old tool.

        I hope you are recovering nicely and are back in the saddle. Just about anyone who rides regularly experiences violence, unfortunately. Often I think it’s a person who is angry about something else and sees a cyclist as a vulnerable scapegoat. I do hope progress is coming in the form of greater awareness and enforcement.

  21. Paul:
    I recently bought a made in England Stanley Bailey NO 7 model 17. It is brand new, never been used. I am like a kid with a new toy.
    Thank you for your tutorials.
    You are a great inspiration.
    Chuck W
    Tampa, FL

  22. I made new handles for my planes and like Paul I “custom fitted to my own hands”. The original handles were always just a touch small for my hands and then when I was shaping the new ones I found that I also preferred the back handle to be leaning forwards more. Suddenly a tool that felt like I had to work it, became an extension of my hand with a blade on it.

  23. I agree the older planes are the best. I was fortunate enough to get a Bailey #3 Type 13 (1925-28) that was used by a Sausalito California boat builder until he passed away and his grandson donated it to a traditional boat building school I was attending. It still has his name etched in it, and I maintained his yellow paint (each worker in a yard would have a unique color to mark their tools). It is my favorite goto plane for most jobs, and was instrumental in my 6 year build of a traditional 20′ Gaff rigged sail boat. The handles are still original, but now I’m intrigued to see if I can build a new set to match my hands. But I’ll still keep the original as they’re in good shape with no cracking and a solid feel.

  24. I first viewed your YouTube videos at the onset of COVID lockdowns when my equine leather tack business went flat. Since then I’ve acquired many vintage bench planes along with a myriad of other woodworking tools. My skills as a woodworker will never exceed more than mediocre but the joy and satisfaction of using old tools and my old hands to create useful things from wood is pure joy. Thanks for sharing your passion and expertise to us all!

  25. You are fortunate to have two reliable Stanley planes without faults .I was given a 41/2 Stanley which seemed fine but the rivet pivot for lateral adjustment was interfering with the blade level . Most Stanley planes I have seen have a slop in the plane depth adjustment .This design has never been perfect. Winding to and fro is a bore for depth adjustment and for finer depths of cut . On top of those two I dislike the lever mechanism . The screw type can be fitted and has no drawbacks at all . Rapier planes made in Gateshead had that as standard . Old blades from wooden planes had very high grade blades and many are wasted and put on ebay .It seems a shame not to use them . They cut better than a standard Stanley blade and they stay sharp longer . It just needs the mouth to be filed open a little bit . But then the slots and holes have to be matched to fit them in a modern plane . This is playing a different game that many would criticize. But that`s not important . I hope you never had to work with a Spear and Jackson No 4 plane. The battle to get the better of one of these set me down the road of making all my planes work better . It works now . But it also has a blade with a bashed down end after some years life inside a wooden plane . That nasty plane did me a favour .I learned how to fettle two Japanese planes as well . They are both little gems . The video of a late London cabinet maker explaining all the various plane types mentioned Japanese tools and said “I hate to say it ,but they worked to a much higher standard “. He is gone now but like yourself was a pleasure to learn from.

    1. Stanley producing plane of the quality of old I doubt would work. There are so many old ones around that I doubt anyone would pay the price. It is way the premium makers now concentrate on other designs that were never popular when new, hence collectors pay a high price for them as there are not many around. Because second hand ones fetch a premium they try and sell them as better.
      The slop you mention is a consequence of the Bailey design, never seen it as a problem. Not sure why you don’t like the lateral adjustment?

  26. What makes yew so favorable for knobs and totes? Do you take any precautions working with it? I have read that it is one of the most toxic woods, i.e., one of the ones with toxic dust, splinters, etc. Is this one of those cases in which there are different species all called, “yew,” but which are actually different or maybe proper drying changes the wood?

    1. “What makes yew so favorable for knobs and totes?” Taken from the right part of the tree, it’s its interlocking grain. I love its final colour change and no need fopr stain or dye and then its texture to work too. You are right, every part of the tree is toxic and people should take the right precautions. Because I used only hand tools and no turning it on the lathe or bandsawing it, the atmospheric dust levels are virtually nil. As with using any toxic wood and material, people should definately take care if they do choose to use yew.

      1. Toxins (and allergens) in plants are part of their chemical defence system. If you search on line you will find lists of them. Yew is more toxic than many. But to put it in context, we have a yew tree in the front garden and part of one hedge is yew, I cut,collect and compost the trimmings, at least once a year, and have not suffered as a result.
        However, some people do have to avoid certain timbers as they suffer from allergies.
        Many garden plants and vegetables contain toxins. Strawberries contain a toxin, but you will not eat enough to do you harm.
        It is simply a matter of being sensible and obviously avoiding contact with anything that you have become allergic to.

  27. Good day Paul

    Great article.

    I too, use my No. 5 on most of my projects. I bought this plane off of eBay about 20 years ago for $35. A new iron from LN makes it a delight to use. Post COVID, LN no longer makes replacement irons for vintage Stanley planes. My second most go to plane is my LN rabbet block plane (pre-nicker). Since, I have restored my grandfather’s No 3, and I have added a No 4 1/2 and a No 606 to my user collection.

    1. I’m glad you agree with my use of a number five though not really because you’re not saying the same thing at all. I hate the thought that anyone might think that changing the cutting iron out for another is in any way a necessary step to make the plane a “delight” to use because, far from it, that’s not the case in any way at all. In my view it’s simply a matter of personal choice and preference and not any kind of necessaity. If some have the desire and the money then that is good enough a reason to do it. No one should ever think the Stanleys or Records need any kind of retrofit with any other iron than the ones that come with the plane they find. I get exactly the best “delight” from all of my planes with no need to ever replace the cutting irons with something costing twice as much as the plane bought.

      1. Paul,

        I bought the LN replacement iron as the iron that came with the No 5 I bought through eBay was badly pitted with rust. As there were no local vendors in the New Orleans area to get an original iron I went with LN because they were highly rated. Today, unlike when I got my plane there is a wealth of places to get the old Stanley irons; also, when I got the plane I was just beginning my journey with hand tools.

        Thanks for your follow up.

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