Vintage Tool Rehab Projects #23: Into each life a #4 must fall: Stanley #4-T11-pictoral essay and rehab

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Blog entry by Brad posted 04-04-2014 02:34 PM 1577 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 22: A Problem-child Stanley Transitional #26 Part 23 of Vintage Tool Rehab Projects series Part 24: Into the Beech: My first foray into molding planes--Rehabbing a side-bead plane »

On a recent rust hunt, I happened across a Stanley #4.

The very reasonable price and three patent dates behind the frog motivated me to have the nice lady open the display case.

Once it was in my covetous little hands, I started ticking off the distinguishing characteristics of a vintage Type 11.

I’ve been burned before. So before forking over good tool money, I made sure that all the parts were present and in good working order. Check, check, check and—here’s my check.

At home I took a closer look.

The experiential archaeologist in me likes to look over how the previous owner configured my new plane.

Wow. Either a youngster gave cambering the ole’ college try, or an Irish workman decided to do it first thing in the morning on March 18th. The cap iron was also set a country mile (3/16”) from the edge. Let’s see. A course camber and set to the iron, plus paint streaks and drops everywhere, plus some plywood chips ensconced under the frog. To me that all adds up to a lifetime dedicated to general purpose work.

That left a cosmetic layer of rust, tarnish, grime and dust everywhere.

The disassembled parts plopped into Evaporust. Everything else was treated to steel- and brass-wire brushes, cue tips, mineral spirits and that Spice-Girls-fluorescent-pink naval jelly rust remover.

After that, I followed the plane rehab regimen that I detailed in my restore of a #3. That includes lapping the iron, sharpening it with a hint of camber and polishing the leading edge of the chip breaker to a mirror finish.

The sole was in pretty good shape. A total lapping time of five minutes through the grits was all that was required.

I left the sides alone other than to remove some rust to reveal the patina beneath.

Before/After tool porn

With the cleaning and sharpening complete it was ready for the test.

My minimalist rehab must have been sufficient, because it only took a few minutes to dial in some solid, smoother performance.

Mmmm. Billowy, gossamer shavings. That’s good, but what kind of finish does it leave on a piece of cherry?

Nice! A glassy-smooth, reflective, no-sandpaper-needed surface.

I’m satisfied with that. More so, considering that I only spent 30 minutes on tuning activities.

From display case to my shop. This one’s a keeper.


-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

7 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile


1574 posts in 2154 days

#1 posted 04-04-2014 02:51 PM

SUPER Rehab! Thanks for the blog through the steps. “Ya got it going”.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2507 days

#2 posted 04-04-2014 02:56 PM

Beautiful work. I’m sure that plane is much happier to be in your hands.

-- Brian Timmons -

View theoldfart's profile


9737 posts in 2473 days

#3 posted 04-04-2014 03:10 PM

Really nice rehab Brad. I love the shaving collections we find under the frog!

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3809 days

#4 posted 04-04-2014 03:52 PM

Rehab beautifully executed.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2590 days

#5 posted 04-04-2014 04:36 PM

a keeper for sure. Nice cleanup Brad

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


6953 posts in 2621 days

#6 posted 04-04-2014 06:12 PM

Nice pictures and shavings. A great plane to have, for sure.

View ToddJB's profile


7974 posts in 2153 days

#7 posted 04-05-2014 01:58 AM

Nice save, Brad. Looks to be in stellar condition.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

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