Tool Overview #2: Record Marples no. 4 Smoothing Plane

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by David Craig posted 10-07-2010 02:16 PM 9540 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Stanley 12-920 Block Plane Part 2 of Tool Overview series Part 3: Going Plane Crazy... »

I think I caught the hand plane bug somewhere, maybe during the last LJ get together. It probably just festered under the surface and waited until my mind was weak enough before it bit. At any rate, after my experiences with tuning and working with my block planes, I felt the draw to pick up a smoothing plane. I checked the LN website and I am not quite ready to part with $400 to get their no. 4 and a cool little screwdriver so I went the ebay route. I didn’t see much there for a smoother but a Record caught my eye. After doing some research, I found it to be a late 80s model and every bit of advice I read indicated that it was best to pass on that era. But the mind works in funny ways and I found myself thinking about it and losing sleep over it, so I decided to just fork over the 20 bucks and be done with it. I figured the worst case scenario would be practice fiddling with the thing until I got a decent plane.

The plane arrived yesterday and it really is a decent plane. It had a cast but not ground finish, had a decent heft to it, the sole was relatively flat, and virtually no rust to the plane. The tote and knob were still wood (though not rosewood like the pre-wwii models), and there was still a bit of brass to the hardware.

I took the plane apart, placed some items in an evapo-rust bath and flattened and sharpened the plane iron. The iron was made from Tungsten Vanadium steel which held a pretty nice edge and I now am sporting bald spots on my arm. (Why do we do that anyway? Can’t we all just get matching tattoos?). The knob and tote were loose so I spent a little bit of time grinding the bolts down to give the brass nuts a tighter fit. Both tote and knob are secure now.

After re-assembly, it didn’t take too long to get the sole flat. It either came out decent from the factory or the previous owner spent some time tuning it themselves. This model still retained the frog adjustment screw so I don’t believe this was released as an “economy” model.

One of the methods for dating the plane is going by the lateral adjustment lever. The last production change (after 1988) used a die cast method of manufacture. This is how I knew it to be a later model from the ebay picture.

I ran some test cuts over some white oak. The project I bought the wood for is part of the reason why I wanted the plane in the first place. I experienced no chatter and had the shavings I was looking for. I also enjoyed the “shuck” sound that the plane made while running over the wood. Having experienced (way too many times) the distressing sounds of cracked and splintering wood fibers, I recognized the difference immediately.

All said, I am pretty happy with my purchase. I didn’t have to purchase any new parts and the plane is working how it is supposed to, and at a price difference that is more than substantial. Of course now I am going to be looking up shoulder and jointer planes, but that will be a whole other story :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

5 comments so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4256 posts in 3403 days

#1 posted 10-07-2010 04:33 PM

Good show, David, looks a winner, (don’t know if it will break any Records, however…....(-: )

One of these days I am going to tune up my old Stanley Bailey and see if it is salvageable. I it seems usable, I will probably get a first quality blade for it. But I am still stuck in MDF and plywood for a while, so no rush…....

Thanks for the comments, fixing up an old tool is well within my sphere of interest…....


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3911 days

#2 posted 10-07-2010 05:17 PM

Nice work David.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3127 days

#3 posted 10-07-2010 09:39 PM

Hi David.

Congrats on a great deal and for bringing new life to an old tool.

You aren’t truly a plane nut until you need a bigger home to house your collection, or when your wife gives you the old “the planes go or I do” choice and you help her pack! ;)

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View swirt's profile


3561 posts in 3210 days

#4 posted 10-07-2010 09:55 PM

Pull up a chair and start lacing up the ice skates for that slippery slope you have already ventured over the brink of. ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3347 days

#5 posted 10-08-2010 01:00 PM

Thanks all for the comments.

Jim – When you do get around the working on that Baily, most definitely pick up a quart (or gallon) of Evapo-Rust. It is available at most auto stores. Harbor Freight carries it as well but I know you don’t have one close to you. If you have any rust on the plane, that stuff will make it come out looking new after an over night soak.

Charlies – Thanks for the encouragement. Sounds like you have been building your own hand tool collection. Nice to see you accumulating things for your shop.

Big Tiny and swirt – I am afraid I am hooked and am lacing the ice skates as I type. I can see why hand planes are so addicting. There really is nothing like the sound and feel of them when they are tuned up. Due to my lack of sharpening skills, I really was frustrated with cutting tools and didn’t touch them again for a very long time. Making those thin wisps with the smoother really did something to me.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics