More tools in the shop #9: First time hand plane restoration (Craftsmen/Miller Falls No 4 )

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Blog entry by Plasmon360 posted 03-11-2019 09:26 PM 2280 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Japanese pull saw toy for my daughter Part 9 of More tools in the shop series no next part

A year back when I got interested in handplanes, I bought a Stanley number 4 and number 5 that were in pristine condition. I have been in love with hand planes since then. They leave such as nice finish and its lot of fun working with hand planes. Lately I feel that my planes are so pristine that I dont want to use them, so I have been searching for something used and get better at them before using the pristine ones.

So recently I acquired two rusty looking hand planes for 10 dollars each. The seller did not knew the size. The price was right, so I took a chance and bought them. They were both made in usa.

They turned out to be No 4’s. One is craftsmen and other a Stanley. Used lightly but neglected for a long time. Craftsmen no 4 felt to be in much better quality than the Stanley especially the wood. After some looking around turns out the Stanley 4 is type 20 (1962-1967), known for its flimsy construction and typical blue paint. Craftsmen no 4 was actually made by miller falls (Dont know the age, Do you know when it was made?).

I decided to restore the craftsmen no 4 and use it more often than the pristine type 18 smoothing plane.

Here are some pictures when i got them.

The blue one is the Stanley, the red frog one is craftsmen.

No frog mouth adjustment on this plane.

Flaky finish (likely shellac)

Make sure I had all the parts.

Sole looks bad.

Totally neglected blade

That should be “craftsmen tools” logo

After some cleanup. Did not have brasso so just stropped it on my leather with green compound.

Clean the front side of the sole with simple green. Oil it up to prevent rust.

After sanding sole on sand paper on my tablesaw extension wing. Came out nice, but there is still some deep pitting that needs more sanding. It took me 2 hrs to get here. I was tired and thought to get back to this few months later if I find it a problem.

Sand the sides to remove rust. Shows the “4C” inscribed on the side.

Removed the flaky finish (likely shellac) with the side of the chisel. removed the rest with the acetone.

put two coats and danish oil for the knob handle and tote. Beautiful wood and grain. Dont know which wood. rosewood? If any of you readers know it please let me know.

The original Craftsmen blade was very badly rusted. I dont have a grinder, so it took a while with sandpaper to get a fresh edge. But it was still not sharp enough. So I used the blade from the other Stanley I bought. Bit of cleaning with sandpaper, wire brush, honing with my diamond plates and stropping, I was able to make it sharp (sharp enough to take my hair of my arms)

With some adjustment it started to make beautiful shavings. It left awesome finish and made the “swish-swish-swish” sound.

My daughter using the long shaving from the plane as her decoration. :)

This was my first plane restoration and it was fun and rewarding. The plane gets added to my collection of no4 ’s. I have set my stanley type 18 as smoothing plane. I will leave the craftsmen no4 for general purpose planing for now. Dont know what to do with the type 20 stanley no4, may be use it as scrub plane?

Thanks for reading.

3 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 4902 days

#1 posted 03-11-2019 10:14 PM

Very nice. I’m glad to see you got your Daughter into the shop.

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

View b1v1r's profile


22 posts in 1205 days

#2 posted 03-12-2019 09:54 PM

Really nice. I need to find some of these planes waiting to be restored and do the same for myself.

-- Brian - Ellicott City, MD

View Plasmon360's profile


30 posts in 903 days

#3 posted 03-12-2019 09:58 PM

Hi b1v1r! Yes you should definitely try it. I used offerup.

I feel that now with so much effort put it into the plane, it is like my baby. I would treasure this guy even more than the one bought from the store.

Good luck finding yours!

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