What's the Difference between #4 and #5 Stanely Planes(Other than length)

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Forum topic by JohnMcD348 posted 10-07-2014 02:30 AM 1237 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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50 posts in 1103 days

10-07-2014 02:30 AM

I bought a new #5 Stanley Bailey awhile back and it’s still in the box. Haven’t done anything with it yet, haven’t had time. Anyway…. I’ve been reading a lot lately about planes and such and I read in a few places the #5 Jack plane was a good Scrub plane, where the #4 was a better smoothing plane.

When I was shopping for the planes, I decided on the #5 thinking that it’s longer sole would allow me to do the smoothing like the #4 but allow me to flatten, minor jointing work in small areas. You know “Jack” of all trades. A good “make Do” plane until I learned more about them.

So I’m wondering now, if there are other differences between the two. I’ve looked at a few different sites like Superior Works and few others I can’t recall right now. I was wondering if the opening is different between the two? Maybe allowing the #5 to take off more wood by having a larger opening for the Iron/Chipper/Cap to ride into and not allowing it to work as well at smoothing.. Is there any difference other than the length? I know the 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 planes have a larger iron on them. Can those irons be used in the 4 & 5 or would the opening on their soles not allow it?

Thanks for the education. I’m still trying to learn.

7 replies so far

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8390 posts in 3154 days

#1 posted 10-07-2014 03:00 AM

A #5 has more mass. Also, as a useful
carpentry plane it can be left set up with
an open mouth and cambered iron for
hogging cuts where tearout is not a concern,
which is what a scrub plane does.

A proper scrub plane is sized closer to
smoother size, but narrower. My scrub
plane is light in weight actually, and a
little shorter than a #4.

That’s my theory on the matter.

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 1763 days

#2 posted 10-07-2014 03:27 AM

The 4 and 5 are the same in all but two respects, length and the fact that the tote on the 5 has a screw in it. The parts for the most part (made near the same time nothing really really really old, or really really really new) and the parts are completely interchangeable.

You can not use a 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 blade in your 5. It is 2 3/8” wide while your 5 is 2”. You could try for a Stumpy Numbs (guy on lumberjocks) and try to make a rabbiting plane from one with that blade… don’t recommend it. The cheeks are not tall enough or thick enough to take the stress with out cracking.

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50 posts in 1103 days

#3 posted 10-07-2014 10:15 PM

OK. Thanks for the info. I appreciate it.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18049 posts in 2073 days

#4 posted 10-07-2014 11:20 PM

You’ll find the shorter #4 much easier to smooth with. Its possible with #5 but the 4 just works better. You’re also going to find the quality of the new Stanley is no where’s near the early vintage.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Aussie's profile


19 posts in 908 days

#5 posted 10-08-2014 07:56 AM

You ll find the shorter #4 much easier to smooth with. Its possible with #5 but the 4 just works better. You re also going to find the quality of the new Stanley is no where s near the early vintage.

- Don W

Don’t mean to hijack the thread but how does one (someone new to hand planes) tell how old the Stanley plane is ? Cheers, Scott

-- The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made.

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Don W

18049 posts in 2073 days

#6 posted 10-08-2014 11:05 AM

And you can always ask any questions on the hand plane thread.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

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Derek Cohen

300 posts in 3474 days

#7 posted 10-17-2014 01:44 PM

A #4 is a short plane, and this is important when smoothing as it will better follow the undulations of a board. The #4 is less involved with flattening and more involved with smoothing.

The longer #5 wants to plane only the tops of the peaks, with a result that it will remove more wood to achieve a flat result. The #5 is (relatively speaking) more involved with flattening than smoothing.

Of course, the #5 is still too short for use as a decent smoother (unless you are working with boards that have already been flattened on a jointer). The #5 is used with a strongly cambered blade to remove waste rapidly. It is a plane for rough work.

For flattening get a #7, which has a much longer sole.

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

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