Stanley Smoothing Plane - No. 4

stanley smoothing plane 4
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The Verdict

Stanley 4 Plane Review By: I.Ball


Manufacturer: Stanley

Plane Type: Smoothing

Model No: 4

The Stanley smoothing plane number 4 has been produced by Stanley for nearly 150 years.

During this exceptionally long manufacture period the Stanley 4 plane design has remained very similar.

There have been slight alterations to the design and the materials used through the Stanley number 4's history which have been classed as improvements and refinements.

In terms of classifying these changes for historical classification, these refinements relate to which 'Type' the plane is e.g. the first design of the Stanley 4 plane is referred to as the 'Type 1' model.



stanley plane 4

The Stanley number 4 is made with an iron body, frog, lever cap, cap iron, cutter, lateral adjuster, rear wooden handle and front knob.

The body is constructed from grey cast iron with machined and ground sides and sole. The machining and grounding ensured the plane body was originally flat and true (or pretty flat and true). The top-side of the plane body is finished with the black finish which is synonymous with the Stanley plane range.

The central part of the plane is the cast iron frog on which the blade rests, the frog position / throat is set, the lateral lever pivots on and the depth adjuster operates.

The frog face is set at 45 degrees, therefore the blade is set at a 45 degree angle.

The frog can be used to adjust the mouth thickness at which the shavings pass through. This is adjusted by turning the frog adjusting screw which is located at the base of the rear of the frog (below the blade depth adjusting wheel).

stanley smoothing plane frog

Note: ensure the frog screws are loosened so the frog can move backwards and forwards when the frog adjusting screw is turned (the frog screws are the two screws located in depressions on the frog bed where the blade sits).

The plane’s lateral blade adjusting lever is located just behind the top of the blade / at the top of the frog. This lever pivots side-to-side which in turn adjusts the cutter side-ways; this is useful for aligning the blade to ensure it is not skewed.

The plane’s blade depth adjuster is a notch on the front face of the frog, just below the bottom of the lateral lever. This notch locates with a gap in the plane blade and is controlled by an adjusting wheel (usually brass) found at the rear of the frog.

The depth at which the blade is set is adjusted by turning the adjusting wheel, this in turn regulates the thickness of the shavings. Turning the adjusting wheel towards the frog raises the blade, and turning in the opposite direction towards the rear handle moves the blade downwards.

Note: ensure the lever cap is loosened before making adjustments to avoid damage.

The number 4 plane is fitted with a 51mm (2 inch) wide steel cutter.

The plane blade is stiffened with the use of a cap iron. The cap iron helps reduce chatter and assists in curling the shavings to prevent splintering the work-piece, particularly when working against the grain.

stanley plane number 4

The plane blade and cap iron are locked in position with the lever cap. This further reduces chattering. The lever cap has a plated finish which is usually a nickel plating.

The lever cap has a hole in the middle in which a screw runs through from the frog. With the exception of the earlier planes / lever caps, the lever cap has a pear shaped hole in the middle in which a screw runs through, this pear shape was designed to help prevent the cap loosening.

These Stanley planes are fitted with a comfortably shaped handle and knob. The handles and knobs can be made from hardwood or a hard plastic composite. The wooden handles are quite desirable as they feel natural and more comfortable.

Planes with Rosewood handles and knobs are highly sought after, with numerous choosing to 'pimp-up' their plane by buying a new Rosewood plane handle set. The plastic composite handles have the advantage of being very hard to break/damage.

The Stanley smoothing plane number 4 is in the region of 9 inch - 9 3/4 inch in length depending on the age/type of plane.

As with all the Stanley bench planes, the Stanley 4 has universal interchanging parts.

1.

Plane Construction

stanley plane 4

Body and frog:
cast iron

Lever cap:
cast iron with a plated finish

Cap iron:
best quality steel

Blade:
best quality steel

Depth adjuster wheel/nut: brass

Handle and low knob: rosewood

Plane finish: black

Stanley 4 Plane Markings

"No 4" - found on the top face at the very front of the plane.

Date Of This Plane

1871 - 1906


2.

Plane Construction

stanley plane 4

Body and frog:
cast iron

Lever cap:
cast iron with a plated finish

Cap iron:
best quality steel

Blade:
best quality steel

Depth adjuster wheel/nut: brass

Handle and low knob: rosewood

Plane finish: black

Stanley 4 Plane Markings

"Bailey" - found on the top face at the very front of the plane.

"No. 4" - found on the top face between the front knob and blade.

Date Of This Plane

1907 - 1921


3.

Plane Construction

stanley plane 4

Body and frog:
cast iron

Lever cap:
cast iron with a plated finish

Cap iron:
best quality steel

Blade:
best quality steel

Depth adjuster wheel/nut: brass

Handle and knob: rosewood

Plane finish: black

Stanley 4 Plane Markings

"Bailey" - found on the top face at the very front of the plane.

"No. 4" - found on the top face between the front knob and blade.

???? - something similar to "U.S. PAT APR-19-10" - found on the top face between the rear handle and frog.

"Stanley" - found on the lever cap face.

Date Of This Plane

1922 - 1932


4.

Plane Construction

stanley plane 4

Body and frog:
cast iron

Lever cap:
cast iron with a plated finish

Cap iron:
best quality steel

Blade:
best quality steel

Depth adjuster wheel/nut: brass

Handle and low knob: beech

Plane finish: black

Stanley 4 Plane Markings

"No. 4" - found on the top face at the very front of the plane.

"Bailey" - found on the top face between front knob and blade.

"Made In England" or "Made In USA" - found on the top face at the rear between the handle and frog.

"Stanley" - found on the lever cap face.

Date Of This Plane

1936 -


5.

Plane Construction

stanley plane 4

Body and frog:
cast iron

Lever cap:
cast iron with a plated finish

Cap iron:
best quality steel

Blade:
best quality steel

Depth adjuster wheel/nut: bakelite

Handle and low knob: beech

Plane finish: black


stanley plane 4 bakelite

Stanley 4 Plane Markings

"No. 4" - found on the top face at the very front of the plane.

"Bailey" - found on the top face between front knob and blade.

"Made In England" or "Made In USA" - found on the top face at the rear between the handle and frog.

"Stanley" - found on the lever cap face.


6.

Plane Construction

stanley plane 4

Body and frog:
cast iron

Lever cap:
cast iron with a plated finish

Cap iron:
best quality steel

Blade:
best quality steel

Depth adjuster wheel/nut: alloy

Handle and low knob: beech

Plane finish: black


stanley plane 4

Stanley 4 Plane Markings

"No. 4" - found on the top face at the very front of the plane.

"Bailey" - found on the top face between front knob and blade.

"Made In England" or "Made In USA" - found on the top face at the rear between the handle and frog.

"Stanley" - found on the lever cap face.


7.

Plane Construction

stanley plane 4

Body and frog:
cast iron

Lever cap:
cast iron with a plated finish

Cap iron:
best quality steel

Blade:
best quality steel

Depth adjuster wheel/nut: alloy

Handle and low knob: plastic composite

Plane finish: black


stanley plane 4

Stanley 4 Plane Markings

"No. 4" - found on the top face at the very front of the plane.

"Bailey" - found on the top face between front knob and blade.

"Made In England" or "Made In USA" - found on the top face at the rear between the handle and frog.

"Stanley" - found on the lever cap face.


8.

Plane Dimensions

Length:
9 inch - 9 3/4 inch

Width:
2 1/4 inch ??

Blade Width:
2 inch

9.

Manufactured Dates

1858 - current day

10.

Plane History & Developments

Note: This information is not for copying. A lot of time and money is spent reseaching this information.

1858: First Patent

1867: Knobs fastened to stock by screws

1870: Offered to public

1871: Lateral iron adjustment

1885: Sidewise adjustment

1888: Sidewise adjustment friction pad

1892: Circular enlargement on iron reversed

1905: Redesigned frog

1907: Word 'Bailey' cast into bottom

1910: Frog improvement to bottom bearing surface

1914: Adjusting screw to close and open throat accurately

1914: New logo on iron - 'Stanley, New Britain, Conn, Usa' previously 'Stanley Rule And Level Co'.

1920: Stanley Works logo on iron

1922: Shape of front knob heightened

1925: Name Stanley added to lever cap

1933: Kidney shaped hole in lever cap

1936: Raised ring cast into forward end to seat front knob

11.

Plane Also Known As

Stanley Smoothing Plane no. 4
Stanley Bench Plane no. 4
Stanley Wood-Work Plane no. 4
Stanley Hand Plane no. 4

12.

Further Information

Further information on the Stanley plane number 4 can be found in the many Stanley tool catalogues produced from the 19th Century through to the current day. Additional information to this Stanley number 4 plane review can also be found in many different trade catalogues as well as reference books which are dedicated to discussing Stanley tools.

13.

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