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Stanley No. 4 vs No. 4 1/2

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Forum topic by rbterhune posted 03-01-2010 09:42 PM 6923 views 2 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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rbterhune

176 posts in 2682 days


03-01-2010 09:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane finishing milling sharpening

I’m new to handplanes (and woodworking) and I will soon make my first plane purchase. I want a plane that will be a go-to plane for smoothing, flattening, general clean-up etc. Which of these plane models…No. 4 or No. 4 1/2…would be good for this purpose and why do you choose it over the other?

Thanks.


31 replies so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3557 days


#1 posted 03-01-2010 09:49 PM

For general purpose you may want to look at a #5. 4 and 4 1/2 are a bit short for flattening. Difference between the two above is width and weight of the planes. For smoothing some people also like 5 1/2 or #3s. Depends on how much weight you like, how big your hards are and what is comfortable to you.

Also consider a low angle jack plane. You can get an extra blade and set them up for different types of operations.

Stanley has a new low angle jack and Lee Valley and Lie-Nielson have some very nice versions.

For general clean-up you may want to look at a low-angle block plane.

I would advise staying away from the cheap planes you would find in a Home Depot or Lows (buck and some of the regular Stanleys for example)

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4822 posts in 2508 days


#2 posted 03-01-2010 09:55 PM

I am not directly answering your question but I write to you because you wrote that you are about to buy a plane.
After shopping around for quite a while last week I finally decided to buy a set of three Footprint planes on Sears.com.
What decided me is that I read review of this brand which were, if not excellent at least mostly good, and that Sears offers a good deal on these planes.
I thought I let you know.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00937763000P?keyword=hand+plane
later I shall buy a #6 or #7

I recommend you read this:

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/understanding_bench_planes/

-- Bert

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b2rtch

4822 posts in 2508 days


#3 posted 03-01-2010 10:39 PM

Another thing that you need to know is that, except if you have several hundreds dollars to buy a Lie-Nielsen plane, when you get it you are plane is no where near ready to be used.
You will have to spend several hours tuning your plane and flattening and sharpening the blade.
If you are brand new to hand plane I recommend that you do as I did : I spent about one month reading about hand planes, reading reviews ( read reviews in wood magazines and on amazon)and watching videos on the Internet (wonderful tool) then when ready to purchase you will know what you need, what you want and what to look for.

I chose the Footprint because I read that they are good base to build better planes with and the deal at Sears is quite good.
After tuning them I shall us the original blades until I have money to buy better blades (the singles most important thing in the plane).
I understand that some planes made in India, on old British molds, are very good and very inexpensive.
Good luck.

-- Bert

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 2516 days


#4 posted 03-02-2010 12:31 AM

I agree with Wayne, but to answer your question I think the big difference between a #4 & # 4 1/2 is personal preference. I’ve used a 4 1/2 for many years. It’s an old Stanley, probably from the 1930’s with a corrugated sole (which I dont’ think makes much difference in performance.) I like that size because I’m a big guy, and it seems to fit. I bought a LN 4.5 a few years ago and like it a lot. Then during a weak moment I bought the LN low angle jack plane and it is absolutely the one I grab first. It does every job. When I recently flattened my maple bench top I used a #7 and the low angle jack. I’m not going to sell the 4 1/2’s but I don’t use them much anymore. I took a class with Mario Rodriguez a while ago and he swears by his LN #4. So as I said, much has to do with your preference. I also agree with Wayne about getting what you pay for. A good tool is a pleasure to own and use. A cheap tool may be nothing but frustration.

-- Glen

View bigike's profile

bigike

4049 posts in 2749 days


#5 posted 03-02-2010 01:13 AM

i would go with the #5-1/2 stanley it’s the best plane long to flatten u can tune it to take thin shavings for somewhat smoothing but u might have to follow with a #4 u can get one cheap on ebay, david charlesworth’s furniture making techniques he explains why this plane is the best for general work and how he uses it all the time. I’ve been using it alot in my shop for for everything it’s the first one i reach for and i have alot of planes from block planes up to the #7. If u need planes i have a post listed on the trade/swap forum here on LJ.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

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knotscott

7208 posts in 2836 days


#6 posted 03-02-2010 01:33 AM

I like the extra beef of the 4-1/2. The 4-1/2 also leaves the door farther open for a #3 sometime in the future. For general stuff, I like the 5-1/2 too, and reach for that one more than any of the bench planes.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4822 posts in 2508 days


#7 posted 03-02-2010 01:42 AM

I recommend that you watch this ( there is a lot of background noise yet it is very interesting)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfE2is_ahLQ

-- Bert

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3557 days


#8 posted 03-02-2010 01:50 AM

I say get one of each. : ^ )

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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b2rtch

4822 posts in 2508 days


#9 posted 03-02-2010 03:04 PM

I understand that there are many kinds of people participating on this forum and other forums I am a part of. Mostly I can divide this people in two broad groups: hobbyists and professionals,.
Of course each group has vastly different requirement when it comes to the tools quality and performance. Nevertheless I am amazed by how much money some hobbyists are able and willing to spend to buy the “best” equipment available.
I am making pretty good money with my job, my wife never stops me to buy what I want and I just cannot afford to buy a Nie-Liesen plane for several hundred dollars. or the other day I was looking at the wood working benches, the one I was looking at goes for $4500!
If I was 30 years younger and a professional I might consider buying one ,but today, there is no way.
Today, rather than best quality ,I shop for best value, sometimes they go hand in hand but not very often.

-- Bert

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WayneC

12642 posts in 3557 days


#10 posted 03-02-2010 03:51 PM

I guess I have a different perspective on the topic. I have a number of LN tools. If I wanted to sell one, I could and would get very close to what I paid for it back on ebay. I expect to use thee tools the rest of my life and be able to pass them along in the family. I also like old tools and I find it rewarding to find an old diamond in the rough and bring it back to life. If I am going to spend my time tuning and lapping a tool this is where I would rather expend the effort.

I think it also comes down to why a person is working with wood. For me it is the experience of doing something with my hands to counter act 12 hour days spent behind a computer and in teleconferences. Quality tools are a joy to use.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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b2rtch

4822 posts in 2508 days


#11 posted 03-02-2010 04:20 PM

I fully agree that quality tools are a joy to use and to keep but for right now I chose quantity (variety ) of tool versus quality.
When I have most tools I would like to have then I may switch to quality versus quantity.
For example I just bought a set of 3 Footprint hand planes from Sears.
I was told that the base is quite solid that they require a loft of tuning.
I shall tune them and use the original blades until I can afford to buy some Hock blades in them.
I rather go this way than to wait to save enough money to buy a Lie-Nielsen even if I would love to own one.
Something else at my level I might not appreciate the difference in quality between both planes.
I love beautiful objects ( especially beautiful cars) but that does not mean that I would be able to fully appreciate all the possibilities of a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Bugatti.
I am very satisfied with my Subaru

-- Bert

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

176 posts in 2682 days


#12 posted 03-02-2010 04:56 PM

Thanks to those who’ve replied thus far…your insight will be useful.

My research is leading me away from the #5 and larger planes because although I’m going to flatten some panels with my hobby level work, those panels will generally be less than 24” wide (nightstand, for example).

WayneC…I do like the low angle block plane idea…maybe that is what I need in conjuction with the No. 4 or 4 1/2.

b2rtch…thank you for the links. Good info there.

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b2rtch

4822 posts in 2508 days


#13 posted 03-02-2010 04:58 PM

You are welcome

-- Bert

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 2497 days


#14 posted 03-02-2010 06:35 PM

I have to jump in regarding the quality of the footprint planes: they are NOT good out of the box. They take a TON of work to get right, and even then really need a new blade. I am at the end of this process for my #4 footprint, and even though it works well now, the adjustment will always be touchy and I need to spend more on a good blade than I did on the whole plane!

I am very strongly leaning towards the Woodriver planes for their price/quality ratio when I buy my next plane. Having worked with my footprint, I can say that it is more trouble than it is worth-buy a better plane unless you are really up for a challenge

-- David from Indiana --

View rbterhune's profile

rbterhune

176 posts in 2682 days


#15 posted 03-02-2010 07:42 PM

I will probably buy a better plane, but on the cheap via E-bay. Quality was never a question for me because I know, at least in my book, quality is most important to me, even as a beginner. As I mentioned in my original post, I’m new at this…which means I want very little setup or at the very least, once I set it up I want it to stay that way for awhile.

I originally asked about the size and application because I wanted to see how folks were using these tools.

The popular woodworking article b2rtch sent does a good job explaining applications…based on that article I would probably benefit most from a No. 4, especially because I will work on medium to small furniture parts. A No. 4 and a small block plane would probably be the perfect combination. If I get into very curly woods a low angle jack would probably be better than the No. 4 as a good all around tool.

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