Hand Planes - #4, #4 1/2, or #5 - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-03-2018, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Question Hand Planes - #4, #4 1/2, or #5

Greetings!

I am looking at making my first hand plane purchase, but am unsure which one I should buy. As far as brands go, I've decided on the WoodRiver v3 series by Woodcraft. I feel like these are a good investment in a quality plane without getting into ridiculous levels of spending.

I understand there's no such thing as a "catch-all" but that's kind of what I'm looking for here - which is why my gut is telling me that the #5 will probably suit my needs best. I don't have a jointer or electric planer - so this plane will have to perform the functions of squaring up and smoothing stock.

What are your thoughts?

⚡ Anthony
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-03-2018, 12:15 PM
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I think you can find a suitable plane for a lot less money, to be honest. It takes more work, though--e.g., flea markets, refurbishing, etc.

(Interesting that you're from the Amish Electric Company in Ohio---I live right in the heart of PA Dutch Country. )

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post #3 of 18 Old 01-03-2018, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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There's an Amish community nearby where I live, also. This forum name is part of a long-running joke:

Years ago, we were looking for a family dog. Ad in the paper had the breed we were interested in, but there was no phone number. Just an address and the name "Yoder." Guaranteed Amish. Sure enough, it was. Turns out this guy was actually the community's leather smith. We were chatting out in his shop and my son was clearly enamored by all of the overhead belts and pulleys that powered the various shop machines. He traced them to a hole in the barn wall. Outside was a wheel where a mule could be hitched to walk in a circle to power the shop. Noticing my son's curiosity, the old guy says "And THAT is the Amish Electric Company!"

Pretty much ever since, any kind of manual labor around my house is referred to as such. Lazy teenagers don't want to take out the trash? Call the Amish Electric Company!
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⚡ Anthony
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-03-2018, 02:30 PM
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The No. 5 is often referred to as a "Jack" plane, most likely because it's the jack of all planes. Small enough to be a smoother, long enough to be a jointer (within limits). Yep, that's the one I'd suggest as a first plane. It takes a 2" iron which are readily available, and by having more than one iron ground for different purposes you can have a scrub plane for roughing stock straight and a jointer/smoother just by swapping irons.

Dave in CT, USA
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post #5 of 18 Old 01-03-2018, 02:50 PM
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Iím with Maylar, get a jack plane as your first plane. For even more versatility then a #5 you could consider a #62 low angle jack plane. Having extra blades ground to different angles increases versatility.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
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post #6 of 18 Old 01-03-2018, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, guys. @Maylar - I was wondering if it was called the "Jack Plane" for that very reason.

@Terry Q - I think my next purchase may be a good set of chisels, but a low angle plane is definitely on my short list.

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post #7 of 18 Old 01-04-2018, 01:18 AM
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I own a Stanley #6 and use that quite a bit. Generally just for roughing but it is long enough to be used as a jointer I guess. I never liked the idea of smoothing planes, yeah I know it's traditional I'm just far more partial to sandpaper. A #6 might be a bit big for smoothing so a #5 jack plane is probably best. Then again I'm not a plane expert I just use all of mine mainly as an excuse to get tinder or for round overs.
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post #8 of 18 Old 01-04-2018, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeebyWoodWorker View Post
I never liked the idea of smoothing planes, yeah I know it's traditional I'm just far more partial to sandpaper.
This is something I've been struggling with as well. I recently watched a YouTube video that showed a side-by-side comparison of two oak boards. One had been hand planed and the other was put through a power planer, then sanded. The difference was very telling. The hand planed board showed much more grain and character. The image below isn't from the video I watched, but shows the same thing. Here is the related article.

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post #9 of 18 Old 01-07-2018, 02:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmishElectricCompany View Post
This is something I've been struggling with as well. I recently watched a YouTube video that showed a side-by-side comparison of two oak boards. One had been hand planed and the other was put through a power planer, then sanded. The difference was very telling. The hand planed board showed much more grain and character. The image below isn't from the video I watched, but shows the same thing. Here is the related article.

Well that certainly is a big difference! Never would of thought! Goes to show that you shouldn't always dismiss the old ways as being inferior.

It's not bad to dream. But you also have to consider what's realistic. -All Might (Boku no Hero Academia)
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post #10 of 18 Old 01-07-2018, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by WeebyWoodWorker View Post
Well that certainly is a big difference! Never would of thought! Goes to show that you shouldn't always dismiss the old ways as being inferior.
Often the "improvement" is in higher production rates, lower barriers to entry, and/or lower cost, which may come at the price of lower quality and an inferior product.

Power tools have jump-started newbies like me, but I still want to teach myself adequate hand tool skills, including the use of hand planes.

I am finding decent hand planes at the local thrift stores and swap meets. Now that I have begun to restore them, I am learning more about what to look for and what to reject. Poor selection makes for a lot more restoration work, and sometimes crummy tools. I don't want to buy new replacement blades, which would negate any cost savings I might get from restoring the old ones. They don't have to be pretty, just "like new" functional.

I have no real production experience with hand planes yet. I am still restoring them and practicing with them. That said, here are the planes that I am working on restoring or acquiring, in order of what I think might be the most important to me:

1. #5 Jack Plane
2. #7 Jointer Plane
2. #60 1/2 Low Angle Block Plane
4. #4 Smoother Plane
5. Someday I might add a low angle jack plane.

The thrift store/swap meet hand planes are cheap, but they take many many hours of work to restore. That restoration process has taught me a lot about hand planes, how they work, and what to look for. It has been a low cost education, and I feel that now I can do a much better job of finding the diamonds in the rough. In the end, I hope to have a set of hand planes of the highest quality for a decent price. I am not adverse to buying new hand planes if I can't find what I want when I need them. Those Veritas and Lie-Nielsen hand planes are gorgeous, and I am willing to pay for them, but first I want to try my hand at restoring old planes, which can get me high quality and a good education to go with it.

Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 01-07-2018 at 11:38 AM.
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post #11 of 18 Old 01-07-2018, 12:04 PM
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Your understanding is correct.

The #5 is the most versatile of the planes.

With a cambered iron, it can be used to quickly flatten a board.

With a non-cambered iron, it can perform the function of a smoothing (#4) plane.

It is not quite long enough to be used as a jointer, but it would do a pretty good job for that as well.

Of course, that is why they call it the "jack" plane. :)

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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post #12 of 18 Old 01-07-2018, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Agnostic View Post
Often the "improvement" is in higher production rates, lower barriers to entry, and/or lower cost, which may come at the price of lower quality and an inferior product.

Power tools have jump-started newbies like me, but I still want to teach myself adequate hand tool skills, including the use of hand planes.

I am finding decent hand planes at the local thrift stores and swap meets. Now that I have begun to restore them, I am learning more about what to look for and what to reject. Poor selection makes for a lot more restoration work, and sometimes crummy tools. I don't want to buy new replacement blades, which would negate any cost savings I might get from restoring the old ones. They don't have to be pretty, just "like new" functional.

I have no real production experience with hand planes yet. I am still restoring them and practicing with them. That said, here are the planes that I am working on restoring or acquiring, in order of what I think might be the most important to me:

1. #5 Jack Plane
2. #7 Jointer Plane
2. #60 1/2 Low Angle Block Plane
4. #4 Smoother Plane
5. Someday I might add a low angle jack plane.

The thrift store/swap meet hand planes are cheap, but they take many many hours of work to restore. That restoration process has taught me a lot about hand planes, how they work, and what to look for. It has been a low cost education, and I feel that now I can do a much better job of finding the diamonds in the rough. In the end, I hope to have a set of hand planes of the highest quality for a decent price. I am not adverse to buying new hand planes if I can't find what I want when I need them. Those Veritas and Lie-Nielsen hand planes are gorgeous, and I am willing to pay for them, but first I want to try my hand at restoring old planes, which can get me high quality and a good education to go with it.
Very good advice! I just purchased my first handplane off of Ebay. It is a #5 Jack, it needed some cleaning up and some work on the handles, which I was fine with. But your post just reminded me of why I'm sending it back already. When it arrived, the upper portion of the frog was completely broken off right at the lateral adjustment lever. That whole upper piece is missing. Learned lesson, but I think the guy is gonna take it back without question. It was a Type 9 early model, I was excited and just wanted it to function. I was only gonna get it functionally perfect. No intent to sell it, but you have to know what you are dealing with when you buy old tools, I, obviously didn't catch that in the pics, but now I'll have a better eye when I buy the next one.
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post #13 of 18 Old 01-07-2018, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I picked up a WoodRiver #5 v3. Fit and finish is very nice with one exception - the lever cap lever has a little burr on it. Nothing I can't fix with a little elbow grease, but irritating nonetheless. I have a Veritas honing guide on order, so once that arrives, I'll get to sharpening. First project will be putting my workbench together, so I'm excited for that!
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post #14 of 18 Old 02-03-2018, 06:46 PM
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post #15 of 18 Old 02-03-2018, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Agnostic View Post
2. #60 1/2 Low Angle Block Plane
You mention the 60 1/2 which is readily available on eBay, but I am in possession of a W60 which appears to be older, but I can't find any reference to this model Stanley.
Would appreciate any link which defines it's production date. The model number is cast into the bottom plate at the rear under the adjuster, and there are two finger dimples on each side.
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post #16 of 18 Old 02-04-2018, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by scorman1 View Post
...I am in possession of a W60 which appears to be older, but I can't find any reference to this model Stanley....
first block plane on this page:
http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan9.htm
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post #17 of 18 Old 02-04-2018, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by P89DC View Post
first block plane on this page:
http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan9.htm
thx for the link, which I must have stumbled across before, since I had seen Patrick's site before, but hadn't seen that page??
My version is one of the earlier ones: has the cast adjuster knob, cast sliding seat, but the domed shape of the lever cap is absent as shown in the new photo below.
Also, it claims that prior to 1914, the width was 1 1/2" and 1 3/8 afterwards, whereas mine is 1.70"?
No mention of a "W" version either which is clearly shown in photo under the adjusting knob

Was going to list on local Craigs, but may now opt for eBay bidding ...let me know your thoughts
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post #18 of 18 Old 02-04-2018, 12:27 PM
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People always think they've won the lottery with a lucky find of a rusty old plane. I wouldn't pay $10 for it but ebay has a way of making fools out of bidders....
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