Hand Plane question

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Forum topic by Rich L. posted 03-03-2015 08:03 PM 858 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rich L.

21 posts in 1701 days

03-03-2015 08:03 PM

Hi all,

I’ve decided that I need to learn to use hand tools more. I think a smoothing plane and block plane would be a good start.

I have two planes that have been on the shelf for years. I believe they were my father in law’s. I looked at some photos and I think they’re both Jack Planes. I also have some smaller ones that I think are block planes.

I’d love to be wrong and find that I have two smoothing planes; but doubt it.

So, would you skilled woodworkers identify them?


-- Rich, Southern CA

13 replies so far

View PaulJerome's profile


57 posts in 2457 days

#1 posted 03-03-2015 08:45 PM

Looks like a jack plane and a 4 1/2 smoother along with a bunch of block planes including a low-angle.

-- Paul, Central Illinois

View Marshall's profile


151 posts in 1479 days

#2 posted 03-03-2015 08:48 PM

I agree looks like a #5 and #4 1/2. The 4 1/2 is a great smoothing plane – my favorite.

I also use my #5 a ton and my #8. Looks like yours are in pretty good shape and should be able to be cleaned up nicely.

Here is a really nice resource for learning about old planes.

-- Marshall -

View OSU55's profile


1039 posts in 1414 days

#3 posted 03-03-2015 08:50 PM

Top photo, one on the left appears to be a #5, one on the right appears to be a 4-1/2. Measure the blade width (either 2” or 2-3/8”) and sole length to help identify. Either can be used as smoothers, but if that is a 4-1/2, it will make a good one.

Lower photo, the bottom small one is a trim plane, or small block plane, take your pick. The other 3 are block planes, non-adjustable mouth. The one on the left might be a low angle (13° bed), can’t tell for sure, the other 2 appear to be standard angle (21° bed). Someone else can probably provide mfr and model #’s, I don’t know the variations all that well.

Tune ‘em up and they should work well. Here’s my take on tuning and sharpening

View bondogaposis's profile


3972 posts in 1775 days

#4 posted 03-03-2015 09:14 PM

Top Photo, #5 jack on left and #4 1/2 smoother on the right. They look like great user planes, clean them up and sharpen and you will be planing in no time.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bandit571's profile


14095 posts in 2107 days

#5 posted 03-03-2015 10:41 PM

Top photo Left: 5-1/4 junior jack, Stanley? R: Worth #4
L-R: second photo: Buck Brothers 220, Stanley #110, Stanley #220

Little Finger plane out front. One hiding in the back to the right, #110

The 5-1/4 will have it’s cutter @ 1-3/4” wide. The Worth will be about 10” long, with a Steel frog.

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

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 1682 days

#6 posted 03-04-2015 12:46 AM

Bandit is spot on. The little plane was originally made by Sargent Co. and is copied by quite a few makers now. Although I think the closer 110 was a copy branded by buck bros. All except for the no 4 would make good planes.

The 4 is the lowest quality and it’s the one that needed to be the highest. Don’t get me wrong if you are on a budget and have more time than money, you can get some good results with it, but it will take some wrestling.

View Rich L.'s profile

Rich L.

21 posts in 1701 days

#7 posted 03-04-2015 01:05 AM

Thanks for the responses everyone. I’ll definitely follow the links you posted to learn more.

The one block plane on the left does seem to have a slightly shallower angle. That would be a bonus.

Your right bandit. The one on the left in the first pic is a Stanley (1 3/4 blade) and the one on the right is indeed a Worth!

The Worth has a 2”blade does that make it a #4 or 4 1/2?

Should I assume I got lucky and the worth will make a good smoothing plane?

One last question. Should all of these blades have a micro bevel on the back? I experimented with the broken one in the second photo and sharpened it like a chisel. It worked to bevel the corners of a scrap piece of maple but not very easy. Of course I’m fairly new to sharpening chisels so it’s probably me. I’m trying to learn the scary sharp method.

Thanks again for all of your replys.

-- Rich, Southern CA

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13576 posts in 2042 days

#8 posted 03-04-2015 03:53 AM

The Worth has, based on the bottle cap adjuster, a pressed steel frog. Anything less than solid cast iron in a frog degrades performance, particularly in a smoother. If you’ve heard of chatter, it’ll likely be how you first notice the performance difference in the Worth.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View BurlyBob's profile


3502 posts in 1690 days

#9 posted 03-04-2015 06:02 AM

you are one lucky guy! Be very thankful that someone gave you something from the family gone by. Some of us have nothing connecting us to our heritage. Treasure these wonderful tools . My neighbor gave me a plane his father had. I loved that guy. He taught me a lot and I intend to restore that plane and display it in a place of honor in my shop. I miss Charlie and that old cheap plane will always remind me of him and his counsel. I have one pair of pliers hanging on my peg board, they were my Dad’s. They are an old pair of Electricians pliers. I have memories of them from the early 60’s. My son knows that he can never get rid of them!! We need to cherish our heritage as woodworkers and honor their memory!

View rwe2156's profile


2126 posts in 905 days

#10 posted 03-04-2015 01:02 PM

What brand are they?

The Stanley/Bailey’s and Records have the number on them.

If there’s no number you can refer to Stanley’s dimensions and figure it out.

If you are not well versed in the topics, I would invest some time learning about hand plane tuning and blade honing before you start using the planes. If you immediately start using a plane that is not tuned or correctly sharpened you won’t have experienced the pleasure. If they don’t have adjustable frogs, I wouldn’t expect too much.

When you sharpen the blade be absolutely sure the back is flat before you start.

Good luck.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View JayT's profile


4688 posts in 1635 days

#11 posted 03-04-2015 01:45 PM

The Worth has a 2”blade does that make it a #4 or 4 1/2?

Should I assume I got lucky and the worth will make a good smoothing plane?

Actually, I would assume the opposite for the reasons Smitty mentioned. Pressed steel parts on a plane are generally not a good sign.

One last question. Should all of these blades have a micro bevel on the back? I experimented with the broken one in the second photo and sharpened it like a chisel. It worked to bevel the corners of a scrap piece of maple but not very easy. Of course I m fairly new to sharpening chisels so it s probably me. I m trying to learn the scary sharp method.

- Rich L.

Back bevels are not needed for general use, for bevel down planes you are better off with a perfectly flat back to the iron, much like a chisel. There are only a two times that I would put a back bevel on a plane iron:

  • A vintage iron has some light pitting on the back, but is very usable overall. The choice is either grind clear past the pitted area or use a small back bevel so that the pitting doesn’t affect the cutting edge. I’ll use the ruler trick when sharpening until past the pitted area, then go back to normal sharpening.
  • Planing highly figured wood. The back bevel increases the attack angle, so the plane functions like a one with a higher angle frog. I don’t do this, as I have a high angle smoother for these cases, but other use a back bevel for these situations.

Irons with back bevels also tend to need more frequent sharpening, in my experience. The thinner edge and higher angle dull the edge quickly.

Bevel up planes, such as block planes, gain no advantage whatsoever from a back bevel, so unless you have the pitting issues, don’t bother.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View OSU55's profile


1039 posts in 1414 days

#12 posted 03-05-2015 01:09 PM

I use back bevels of about 1° on all plane blades, new or old, bevel up or down. Look up “plane blade ruler trick” or see my blog. It simply reduces the amount of time to prep an edge – not as much material needs to be removed. For bevel down blades much higher angle back bevels (up to ~20°) can be used for planing reversing grain, but can be tedius to sharpen and resharpen – I use bevel up planes instead. The edge doesn’t care if there is a back bevel, the same level of sharp on the same blade will wear the same amount – 1° of back bevel is insignificant.

View Rich L.'s profile

Rich L.

21 posts in 1701 days

#13 posted 03-05-2015 05:30 PM

Lots of good information here! Thanks for the input from all of you.

The frog on the Worth is stamped. The Stanley is more substantial. I didn’t even know what a frog was a couple of days ago! I’m going to read your blogs and watch some videos and restore them as best I can. I think my father-in-law would like that. Good learning process too.

Meanwhile I’ll keep my eyes open at flea markets etc for a smoothing plane I can have some fun with.


-- Rich, Southern CA

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