Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods #14: Stanley Bailey #4 1/2 cleaned, tuned and upgraded to super user plane

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Blog entry by Dan posted 05-16-2011 08:38 PM 11287 reads 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Old woodworking square restored... A little break from the planes Part 14 of Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods series Part 15: Discovering the history and wonders of an old plane/tool »

Just when I thought I had all of the bench planes that I would ever need I found the 4 1/2. When I first took an interest in hand planes I was a little amazed that there were so many different sizes. I didn’t understand the need for all the sizes and thats what had me most interested in getting them all. Over the past year I have been buying the different sized planes tuning each of them to go to work. After using each sized plane for a while I would start to see the differences and learn where and when to use them. I had gathered and restored planes #3 through #8 and figured I had a complete set. I had no real plans of getting the less common sizes.

Well a little while ago I was working with some short yet very wide boards. When smoothing the boards with my #4 I thought to myself that it would be great if my #4 was just a little wider and had a wider blade like my jointer planes had. Then I could smooth out these wide boards with a few less passes. If only I had such a plane… So the search for a 4 1/2 was on!

I started keeping an eye out for one on ebay. They don’t come up as often as the common sized planes and when a good one is listed there is usually a handful of bidders to compete with. After a couple months I finally landed a winning bid for a nice Stanley 4 1/2. With shipping I think it came out to be a little over 70 dollars which I think is a good deal considering the great condition of the plane. There only some very minor rust on the plane, hardly any scratches or dings, the rosewood tote and knob were great and there was almost 100 percent of the original japanning still in good shape. So this plane did not require my normal restoration process. It didn’t take me long to just clean and polish up the plane. I then spent a few hours tuning the frog, frog bedding and lapping the sole. Then it was on to the blade….

I lapped the back of the old blade for about 20 minuets and it still was a long way from flat. The blade was also off square pretty bad and I just didn’t feel like spending another entire day lapping and grinding. I decided my best option was to just swap blades with my #7 which had a Hock blade and chip breaker in it. I figure I can just swap the good blade back to my 7 when I want to use it there.

I have only used the plane to test it out a little but I can tell I will love this one and I expect I will be using it very often.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

12 comments so far

View blackcherry's profile


3349 posts in 5033 days

#1 posted 05-16-2011 09:08 PM

Nice work on your new 4 1/2, I would recommend get extra blades with different angles 50 and 55 for those extra wild grain pattern. Nice to see you interest in hand tool, there so much fun to use and rewarding as well, enjoy …BC

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4090 days

#2 posted 05-16-2011 09:29 PM

BC – I have never tried a high angle like that on a blade but I also have never run into any really crazy grain yet. I will keep that in mind if I do get some grain that my other blades don’t take well.


-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4384 days

#3 posted 05-16-2011 09:32 PM

Oh, yeah. She’s a sexy little number :-)

Nice job !

-- -- Neil

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4325 days

#4 posted 05-17-2011 12:31 AM

another great job from your hands Dan :-)


View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3903 days

#5 posted 05-17-2011 12:55 AM

OMG, this one might be my favorite of yours. Are you back to the Hocks? I’m in the market for one of these currently.

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

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5307 days

#6 posted 05-17-2011 01:00 AM

It’s a caddy (or corvette, pick your favorite classic car) for sure. I’ve been looking for that exact version (type 11) in the 4 1/2. Sounds like you got a great plane for a good price. Nice job on the restore.

I’m thinking you will want a 5 1/2 as well…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3903 days

#7 posted 05-17-2011 01:23 AM

Type 11 4 1/2, couldn’t have said it better. I’ve got a Hamler scraper insert that I’m finding a home for. I should probably just plane (Freudian slip for plan) on all the 1/2’s Wayne. You’ve probably got some Bedrock 1/2’s in your arsenal!

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

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5307 days

#8 posted 05-17-2011 01:36 AM

Nah. I have a WW2 vintage 4 1/2 and a type 9 or 10 5 1/2. Will eventually replace both with type 11’s. Pretty sure Bedrocks or LN’s are not in the works unless I get lucky.

How do you like your scraper insert?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4090 days

#9 posted 05-17-2011 06:20 AM

Al – I only have one Hock blade. I bought a Hock blade and breaker for my #7 and that is the blade/breaker I put in this plane. For now I am just going to swap the blade back and forth. I don’t see the need to buy another one right now. The Hock I have is A2 steel and I actually find it really hard to sharpen. I use Scary Sharp method and that might be why but it just takes a LOT of work to grind the bevels and hone it. I have no complaints on the quality of the blade though.

Wayne- 5 1/2…hmmmm… You may be onto something there… I think all but one of my restored Stanley’s are type 11s. I didn’t even intend to have them all the same type. It just so happened the ones I found were all that way.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Abiqua's profile


16 posts in 4748 days

#10 posted 05-17-2011 12:59 PM

Dan— Nice looking plane. I have two garage sale planes that I have started to rehab. Learning as I go so it is a slow process. One is a #4 but not sure what the smaller one is.

Looks like you did a great job on this one. Keep the posts coming.

-- Have you hugged your tools today?

View caterthun's profile


1 post in 3337 days

#11 posted 07-30-2012 12:59 AM

I have recently restored #3 through #7 Stanley Bailey planes from little more than hunks of rust. All working perfectly now. Currently looking out for a 4 1/2 and a 5 1/2. No big hurray, but do not see them very often on Ebay.
In case anybody does not already know, you can order parts for these antique planes directly from Stanley parts and services for a fraction of the asking price on Ebay. For instance the handle toe screw ( which often seems to be missing) for $1:00. These are impossible to find in modern hardware outlets. #12 20 threads per inch, definately not sandard anymore.

View skruft's profile


8 posts in 3329 days

#12 posted 08-06-2012 06:40 PM

There is a 4-1/2 type 11 on eBay if anyone is interested. (I am new and hope I am not violating any rule by mentioning.)

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