Jointing with a #4 stanley baily hand plane

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by spooled posted 08-15-2012 01:22 PM 2392 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View spooled's profile


27 posts in 3239 days

08-15-2012 01:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: 4 stanley baily

I recently bought a used stanley bailey #4 plane. I tried jointing a
4/4 piece of cherry for a bed I am building. I couldn’t get it to plane smoothly, it chatters. What is wrong< me or the plane? should I be using a different type of plane?

-- Charlie,Treasure coast

9 replies so far

View Brett's profile


661 posts in 2885 days

#1 posted 08-15-2012 01:32 PM

Lots of things could be happening.

How old is the plane? Can you figure out what type number it is? (

Chatter can be caused by a frog surface that is not flat, a cap iron that is not tight enough, grain that is difficult, insufficient pressure on the plane, and probably many other reasons.

A Stanley #4 plane can joint just fine when it is properly tuned and used, but it is probably inadequate for jointing boards that are longer than 2 or 3 feet. Jointing with a #4 can be done if you have an extremely accurate (and long) straightedge (the tool, not a straight edge of a board) to use as a reference, but obviously a longer plane (a #7 or #8) will make things easier.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3964 days

#2 posted 08-15-2012 01:36 PM

The #4 was/is designed for final smoothing of the surface.

For jointing, a #5 or better yet a #7 will give much better results. The “rule of thumb” is that a plane can joint a board about three times as long as it’s length.

Sharpening of course is a whole field of study in itself. Chris Schwarz’s book “Handplane Essentials” has a wealth of information that can shorten the learning curve.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2943 days

#3 posted 08-15-2012 01:39 PM

First thing to do is to tune up your new plane. There’s plenty written here on lumberjocks on how to do that. Search on “rehab”, “restore” and/or “tune” handplane and have at it.

If you still get chatter on that cherry board make sure that you’re planing with the grain not against it.

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

View ITnerd's profile


263 posts in 2802 days

#4 posted 08-15-2012 01:40 PM

The general rule is you can joint a piece of wood 2-3 times longer than your hand plane, so a 4 limits you to a pretty short piece of wood, it is more a smoother than a jointing/try plane.

Chatter is a seperate issue, and could be the result of several things; I’ve listed them in the order of things that caused my chatter problems in the past, from most to least likely:

Not sharp enough – to paraphrase Chris Schwarz’ book ‘Sharp fixes almost everything’.
Too deep a cut – back off the iron completely, and move it down until it barely kisses the wood.
Going against grain – you will also get tearout in most wood if this is the case.
plane iron not bedded properly to frog – some lapping may be required.
frog not mated properly to body – some lapping may be required.

Try running down this list, and see if you get any improvement. If nothing works, show us some pics of the wood that you’re struggling with. try to get a raking (slanted) light on it, so we can see the results of your planing effort.

Hope this helps,

-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19014 posts in 2770 days

#5 posted 08-15-2012 04:10 PM

Chris is dead on and I’ll add, the frog bolts are loose, the frogs not flat are and the caps mot tight.

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

View spooled's profile


27 posts in 3239 days

#6 posted 08-15-2012 06:23 PM

Thanks guys for all the info. I will check everything out that was mentioned and give a report .

-- Charlie,Treasure coast

View spooled's profile


27 posts in 3239 days

#7 posted 08-16-2012 12:16 AM

After reading all the advice, making sure all screws are tight, sharp blade. all adjustments ok, I questioned myself if the blade could be installed upside down. My only other planes are a couple of block planes, one cheap, one more expensive. The #4 Stanley Bailey plane I bought had the blade oriented the same as my block planes so I assumed it was correct?! I found a stanley PDF parts breakdown and noticed the blade in mine to be upside down. Assembled it the correct way and it works great. I just need to flatten the sole some more and work a little more on the sharpness. Thanks for all the help.

-- Charlie,Treasure coast

View Brett's profile


661 posts in 2885 days

#8 posted 08-16-2012 03:18 AM

The blade on a Stanley Bailey plane is thin, so the cap iron is essential to maintain stiffness. If the blade were installed upside down, the cap iron could not support the blade just behind the cutting edge. I think that is what allowed the cutting blade to flex and chatter.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2367 days

#9 posted 08-16-2012 03:38 AM

make it sharp and bevel down. Oh and the cap iron needs to be close, but not too close to the end of the blade. And then make it more sharp.


Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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