Stanley no.4 with plastic handles

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Forum topic by gavinzagreb posted 04-01-2012 01:54 PM 9257 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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210 posts in 2314 days

04-01-2012 01:54 PM

I picked up this Stanley Bailey no. 4 at the flea market this morning.
I never thought I would see a Stanley plane here, especially one in such good condition. It has ‘made in england’ cast on the body, also on the blade. I almost didn’t buy it because of the plastic handles, but ended up getting it for around US$17. Very little rust, japaning is about 98% intact. Once I got it home and took it apart, it appeared that someone had used it once, cutting too deep (thick shavings found under blade), and then never used it again !! The blade has obviously never been dulled or resharpened.
I set it up to cut thin and tried it out on a piece of pine and it produced see through shavings with ease.

My question is, when were these plastic handled stanley bailey planes produced ?

Are they generally considered decent ?

8 replies so far

View bigfootphil's profile


18 posts in 2619 days

#1 posted 04-01-2012 01:59 PM

All new Stanley planes are already plastic, at least here in my part of the world-Philippines. Most prefer the pre-WW2 era planes though.

Pre-WW2 planes seems better built, better metal quality used.

View bandit571's profile


19960 posts in 2677 days

#2 posted 04-01-2012 02:39 PM

IF you don’t like the plastic handles, use them as “templates” to make wood ones you do like. Choice of wood would be up to you. The ones I re-handled, I used Black Walnut. Others might use rosewood, or Cherry.

I think LEE Valley even will provide downloadable templates to use. They have step-by-step instructions on drill angles and such.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4928 posts in 3954 days

#3 posted 04-01-2012 03:30 PM

Highland Woodworking in Atlanta has tote/knob kits. Well made too.


View 489tad's profile


3362 posts in 3005 days

#4 posted 04-11-2012 02:47 AM

I have the same plane and made the tote and knob from cherry. Good luck and make sure you post your plane.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2945 days

#5 posted 04-11-2012 02:51 AM

As Bill points out, you can buy Stanley-made replacement handles that are plastic. I had them on a No 5 I recently sold:

I think the newer models come with them.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#6 posted 04-11-2012 03:10 AM

Being made in England and having plastic handles, it is a fairly recent plane. $17 is still a bargain if you have it set up and working well.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2371 days

#7 posted 04-11-2012 04:00 AM

I’m not sure when Stanley started using plastic totes but whenever by that time the Bailey pattern planes were no longer “tools” but were “tool shaped objects”. If you spend any time refurbishing planes you can trace the decline of quality from the introduction of the comma shaped leaver cap hole in ‘33 (type 16). By the time you get to type 19 planes they look like Bailey planes but the frog and its bed have been cheapened to the point of being a joke, by type 20 you are almost as well off with a Buck Brothers from Home Depot.

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#8 posted 04-11-2012 04:13 AM

The Made in England Baileys were better quality than the
USA made ones in the 1990. The castings are a bit heavier
and they are not bad planes. I have a UK made Bailey
smoother but it has wood handles, probably beech. I
don’t know its age, but my guess would be 1970s.

more info on UK Baileys:

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