Just when I thought I had all of the bench planes that I would ever need I found the 4 1/2. When I first took an interest in hand planes I was a little amazed that there were so many different sizes. I didn’t understand the need for all the sizes and thats what had me most interested in getting them all. Over the past year I have been buying the different sized planes tuning each of them to go to work. After using each sized plane for a while I would start to see the differences and learn where and when to use them. I had gathered and restored planes #3 through #8 and figured I had a complete set. I had no real plans of getting the less common sizes.
Well a little while ago I was working with some short yet very wide boards. When smoothing the boards with my #4 I thought to myself that it would be great if my #4 was just a little wider and had a wider blade like my jointer planes had. Then I could smooth out these wide boards with a few less passes. If only I had such a plane… So the search for a 4 1/2 was on!
I started keeping an eye out for one on ebay. They don’t come up as often as the common sized planes and when a good one is listed there is usually a handful of bidders to compete with. After a couple months I finally landed a winning bid for a nice Stanley 4 1/2. With shipping I think it came out to be a little over 70 dollars which I think is a good deal considering the great condition of the plane. There only some very minor rust on the plane, hardly any scratches or dings, the rosewood tote and knob were great and there was almost 100 percent of the original japanning still in good shape. So this plane did not require my normal restoration process. It didn’t take me long to just clean and polish up the plane. I then spent a few hours tuning the frog, frog bedding and lapping the sole. Then it was on to the blade….
I lapped the back of the old blade for about 20 minuets and it still was a long way from flat. The blade was also off square pretty bad and I just didn’t feel like spending another entire day lapping and grinding. I decided my best option was to just swap blades with my #7 which had a Hock blade and chip breaker in it. I figure I can just swap the good blade back to my 7 when I want to use it there.
I have only used the plane to test it out a little but I can tell I will love this one and I expect I will be using it very often.
-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"