This #4 smoothing plane is the most fine tuned of all my planes. I also upgraded it by replacing the old blade and breaker with a premium quality Pinnacle IBC blade and chip breaker. Once I got this gem tuned and sharp the power sanders were tucked away on a shelf in my shop. I use this plane to finish smooth my projects and the new blade makes it a true joy to use on almost any type of wood. The restoration process for the plane is the same as I used in the other planes. You can check my previous blogs in this series to find the how to’s on my rust removal and polishing as I explain them in great detail. In this blog I want to focus on the blade and its advantages on the old plane.
When I first got into hand planes I knew nothing at all about them or how they worked so I did my research. I spent many many hours reading various blogs, forums and websites with hand plane information. I also watched a lot of videos on how to tune and use the planes. When researching the planes I would find some guys say “you need a quality blade for your plane to work” while others would argue great results with the original blades. Had I not done my research I might think I need to buy a premium blade in order to use my old plane. Well if any of you are researching just like I did and you have stumbled across this blog let me tell you that “you DON’T need an expensive premium blade/breaker to make your old plane a great user”. However replacing the blade and chip breaker with a premium set will make your plane perform a lot smoother.
I actually bought new blades and breakers for two of my planes. I bought an A2 Hock blade and breaker for my #7 and I got the Pinnacle set for my #4. The IBC Pinnacle set cost me 5 times what I paid for the plane so it was not an easy purchase to make but I am glad I did. The new blade and breaker are much thicker and the big advantage is the plane does not chatter or tear out when working with harder woods or woods with difficult grain patterns. With the old blade I had to be careful and pay close attn to the grain direction or I would get tear out. With the Pinnacle blade I have not had any problem with grain direction. I have even planed the wood against the grain without getting any tear out. The blade also works much better on edge and end grain. If I hit a knot in the board it does not slow the new blade down at all where the old one would chatter. It really does make a big difference in the performance of the plane.
My advice on upgrading to a new blade is this… If you use the plane a lot and work with a lot of hard woods and have the money then go for it. If your on a tighter budget you may want to save the money for other more needed tools and make do with the old blade. I think its more of a luxury then anything to have the premium blade. The last couple pictures show the plane in use on a piece of cherry wood which in my experience has been very tricky to plane without tear out. The new blade went through the cherry as if was a piece of softwood.
-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"