Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods #12: Stanley Bailey #4 Restored w/ new premium blade & chip breaker

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Dan posted 03-22-2011 06:53 PM 15405 reads 4 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Stanley #48 Tongue & Groove plane restoration complete w lots of pics. SWEET! Part 12 of Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods series Part 13: Old woodworking square restored... A little break from the planes »

This #4 smoothing plane is the most fine tuned of all my planes. I also upgraded it by replacing the old blade and breaker with a premium quality Pinnacle IBC blade and chip breaker. Once I got this gem tuned and sharp the power sanders were tucked away on a shelf in my shop. I use this plane to finish smooth my projects and the new blade makes it a true joy to use on almost any type of wood. The restoration process for the plane is the same as I used in the other planes. You can check my previous blogs in this series to find the how to’s on my rust removal and polishing as I explain them in great detail. In this blog I want to focus on the blade and its advantages on the old plane.

When I first got into hand planes I knew nothing at all about them or how they worked so I did my research. I spent many many hours reading various blogs, forums and websites with hand plane information. I also watched a lot of videos on how to tune and use the planes. When researching the planes I would find some guys say “you need a quality blade for your plane to work” while others would argue great results with the original blades. Had I not done my research I might think I need to buy a premium blade in order to use my old plane. Well if any of you are researching just like I did and you have stumbled across this blog let me tell you that “you DON’T need an expensive premium blade/breaker to make your old plane a great user”. However replacing the blade and chip breaker with a premium set will make your plane perform a lot smoother.

I actually bought new blades and breakers for two of my planes. I bought an A2 Hock blade and breaker for my #7 and I got the Pinnacle set for my #4. The IBC Pinnacle set cost me 5 times what I paid for the plane so it was not an easy purchase to make but I am glad I did. The new blade and breaker are much thicker and the big advantage is the plane does not chatter or tear out when working with harder woods or woods with difficult grain patterns. With the old blade I had to be careful and pay close attn to the grain direction or I would get tear out. With the Pinnacle blade I have not had any problem with grain direction. I have even planed the wood against the grain without getting any tear out. The blade also works much better on edge and end grain. If I hit a knot in the board it does not slow the new blade down at all where the old one would chatter. It really does make a big difference in the performance of the plane.

My advice on upgrading to a new blade is this… If you use the plane a lot and work with a lot of hard woods and have the money then go for it. If your on a tighter budget you may want to save the money for other more needed tools and make do with the old blade. I think its more of a luxury then anything to have the premium blade. The last couple pictures show the plane in use on a piece of cherry wood which in my experience has been very tricky to plane without tear out. The new blade went through the cherry as if was a piece of softwood.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

16 comments so far

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4136 days

#1 posted 03-22-2011 07:03 PM

Man, you do good work. That could pass for a new plane.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 5035 days

#2 posted 03-22-2011 08:06 PM

Smokes! Is that the same plane??? You do good work and will be receiveing several planes from me for same treatment (return postage enclosed of course).
Those curls look near transparent.
Thanks for sharing it with us.

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4128 days

#3 posted 03-22-2011 09:16 PM

BT- Thank you and in a way it is a whole new plane as it looks and feels like a new plane to me.

Ratchet- Yes, it is the same plane :) However if you look close it looks like I changed the front knob on this one. I just now noticed it myself but it looks like it originally had a tall knob and I put a low knob on it. I was restoring a few of my planes at the same time and I probably got the knobs mixed up. I think I put the tall knob on my #7 which was missing its original knob.

If you want to send me some planes to restore I will gladly do it and for a very good price. Just send me a message and let me know.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3941 days

#4 posted 03-22-2011 09:29 PM

I think you’re the one that turned me onto the IBC pair. I recently loaded one up in a jointer and I’ve been really impressed. I’d been a Hock guy forever. Nice job on the restore!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 4188 days

#5 posted 03-22-2011 09:42 PM

Well done Dan! One day my planes will receive the same treatment….

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Furnitude's profile


380 posts in 4755 days

#6 posted 03-22-2011 10:20 PM

Looks like you did a great job. Would you mind saying a bit more about your process? How do you clean them? What kind of materials do you use?

Update: I just saw that you have more posts about restoring planes, so I’ll start there. Thanks!

-- Mitch, Also blog at

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3933 days

#7 posted 03-22-2011 10:33 PM

nice post! I picked up a #4 and a #5 (plus a little Stanley “pocket plane”) on E-bay a few years ago for about $40 for the lot. Mine have a yellow “stanley” mark on the front so I don’t think they are that old.

all were in “fair” condition but a little surgical work with rust remover and a very fine wire brush on the bench grinder made them look like new. They work ok but I think they are in need of new blades (“irons” I guess for the perfectionists). I’ll check out the Pinnacles.

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4128 days

#8 posted 03-22-2011 11:02 PM

Skarp- I agree that the blade is the key element of the plane. I say the new blade is a luxury only because I still use the old blades in my other planes and they perform very well. They don’t cut as nice and easily as the premium blades but they are still very usable. If you are using an old blade it will need a lot of work to get it flat and sharp and square though.

Mitch- I was just going to remind you then I saw you found it.

To anyone wanting to know the whole process please check out my earlier blogs in this series. I go over most all of the process that I do on each plane and tell you what products I use. The later parts of the blog series are mostly just to show the before and after of the individual planes that I restored. I didn’t want to re-type the whole process that I do for each blog. The earlier blogs show more pics during the restoration process also.

Al – I did do a review of the IBC blade and breaker when I bought it, you may have read it back then. I couldn’t decide on going with the IBC set or getting a Hock set so I ended up buying both. They are both great sets and its hard to compare the quality. I don’t think i have put enough hours on them to say one is better then the other. I do know that the IBC blade set is thicker though so that does add more mass which probably helps.

teejk- I don’t know that the age of the plane is as important as having it fine tuned. Not only do you want a square and sharp blade but you also want to make sure the frog is sanded flat and the bottom of the plane is flat. I still use the old blades in my other planes and I get good results.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3933 days

#9 posted 03-23-2011 12:28 AM

thanks Dan my planes cleaned up nice enough with a lot of time and patience including final finishing of the base up to 500 grit wet/dry and no feeler gauge I own will detect a gap.

I suspect the irons were a bit “abused” and are a little more than “off” from square to the plane base. Easy enough to compensate some with the Stanley mechanism but it would still be nice to keep the indicator at a dead 90.

I still have plenty of “slot” available on the original irons and I guess with some more time I can grind the edges down square then go back to work on the bevel and edge. One issue I have seen is the locking mechanism on the #5 (doesn’t seem to want to lock and stay) but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

thanks again!

View Dwain's profile


623 posts in 5107 days

#10 posted 03-23-2011 12:32 AM


I too am looking to upgrade some of my planes with new blades and chippers. I am curious, did you have to open the mouth of your #4 to fit the IBC blade? The advantages of that really thick blade are obvious, however I don’t want to make that kind of change to the plane if I can help it. I see you thought the Hock blade worked well also. I was thinking of going with either Hock or Lee Valley. Lee Valley is cheaper, but not by much. Lee Valley also has A2, while Hock of the closest price is HSS. Not sure there are many advantages one way or the other, but am looking forward to seeing your input as you continue to use the planes.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4088 days

#11 posted 03-23-2011 04:38 AM

Great work Dan, again. Museum quality. Remember “I am not a collector!”
Buy the way when do you sleep? I am doing good in the week to steal a couple of hours in the shop.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4128 days

#12 posted 03-23-2011 06:12 AM

Dwain- I did have to file the mouth of the plane to fit the new IBC blade. I also had to file the mouth of my other plane to fit my HOCK blade and breaker. It was really easy and straight forward to do. Rob Cosman who sponsors the IBC blade and breaker set has a video/dvd in which he shows you how to do it. My blade came with the dvd and instructions.

Dave- thanks… I do get sleep, I have been working on these planes for a while. Some of them were completed months ago but I am just now posting them with the pictures… I don’t have heat in my shop so I actually did most all of these restorations in my house. It kept me busy this winter and gave me something to do.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4363 days

#13 posted 03-23-2011 08:29 AM

another great restoring job from you Dan :-)

take care

View Blasthoff's profile


2 posts in 3864 days

#14 posted 03-29-2011 01:52 AM

Nice job Dan! I have also caught the bug of restoring these fine tools. I also appreciate the input on blades. Your analysis is just about what I figured. By coincidence just last night I bought my first blade “upgrade” stumbling on an opportunity to save a few bucks. I went the distance and ordered a new chip breaker to go with it. I have had the itch of wanting to “see for myself”. It is for a #7 that I am almost finished restoring and I have dreams of this thing gliding like silk. Hopefully I’ll have everything ready to go this weekend. I already have a board set aside to be trued, squared and dimensioned.

Thanks for Sharing,


View PaBull's profile


969 posts in 4913 days

#15 posted 04-05-2011 07:46 AM

Dan, I will take this oppertunity to show off MY #6, my Keen Kutter K6, that has YOUR blade in it. It works fantastic. All the hardware you send me fits, thread and all. And this plane has helped me flatten pine boards that needed to be glued together.

Aagin, thanks Dan!!

-- rhykenologist and plant grower

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

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