Need some insight on tuning my Stanely No. 4

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Forum topic by Steve Diogo posted 02-11-2014 07:32 PM 1489 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steve Diogo

89 posts in 2098 days

02-11-2014 07:32 PM

Hi, all. Hoping you can give me some insight on tuning this Stanley #4. From everything I’ve seen and read, I believe the mouth is supposed be really tight. On this one (my first plane) I have the frog all the way forward, but with the blade set at the correct depth to get a nice, thin shaving, the mouth seems awfully wide open. Am I setting something incorrectly or is there a problem with the plane? I’m happy with the performance, but I don’t know what a perfectly tuned plane feels like.



25 replies so far

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2459 days

#1 posted 02-11-2014 07:39 PM

Is that Maroon japanning?

From the shape of the frog and if that is Maroon than it probably isn’t anything you are doing wrong. That would make it a much newer model and as such was starting the downhill slide in quality. It probably had a larger mouth new in the box.

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View ksSlim's profile


1302 posts in 3396 days

#2 posted 02-11-2014 07:42 PM

Does it make shavings?

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View JayT's profile


6292 posts in 2717 days

#3 posted 02-11-2014 07:44 PM

Two things

A) +1 to Airframer

B) Tight mouth is overrated—they are nice, but not completely necessary except on a few occasions with very tear-out prone wood. A truly sharp iron with a correctly mated and set chipbreaker will do wonders, even with an open mouth.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Steve Diogo's profile

Steve Diogo

89 posts in 2098 days

#4 posted 02-11-2014 07:52 PM

It is maroon, Air.

kss, yes, the shavings are full width and thin—now that I’ve learned how to sharpen. Interestingly, my No. 5, which I bought just after this one and should have a wide open mouth, has a super tight mouth. I had to set the frog back just to get the blade to protrude. Here’s the frog on the 5.


View b2rtch's profile


4892 posts in 3554 days

#5 posted 02-11-2014 08:02 PM

If your frog already is all the way forward, there is nothing you can do.
Or, if you do not mind modifying your plane, may be elongate the holes in the frog so that would move the frog forward a little more.
Another solution , go buy a wood-river plane, the price is very reasonable and they are excellent plane.
Wood rivers are sold by woodcraft.

-- Bert

View b2rtch's profile


4892 posts in 3554 days

#6 posted 02-11-2014 08:02 PM

The Woodriver hand planes are made in china by a company named Quangsheng.
They are excellent.

Here is another video by Christopher Schwarz about the quality of these made in China Woodriver planes:

-- Bert

View Don W's profile

Don W

19331 posts in 3073 days

#7 posted 02-11-2014 08:42 PM

About the only want to tighten the mouth is buy a thicker aftermarket iron, but as already stated, if its not broke, don’t fix it. It should work as is. Keep the cutter sharp and the chip breaker close.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Mike67's profile


97 posts in 3842 days

#8 posted 02-11-2014 09:11 PM

Hard to tell but from the looks of the picture there’s paint where the blade contacts the frog. Look at your #5 and there isn’t any. That should be a perfectly flat surface to best support the blade. If your blade is sharp and you can’t get the plane to cut well, I think I’d start by rubbing that frog over some sandpaper glued down to a flat surface like a jointer table. You’ll have to work around the little nub that adjusts the blade and the rivet on the lateral adjuster, but just taking down any nubs or high spots in the paint could help.

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2866 days

#9 posted 02-11-2014 09:28 PM

Do you really have it all the way forward (B) , or do you have it set so that the face of the frog is aligned with the machined angle in the sole (A)?

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1329 posts in 2441 days

#10 posted 02-11-2014 09:50 PM

If it is working and giving you good, clean shavings, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I am with JayT when he says that the interaction between the chipbreaker and iron are much more important than the mouth opening. I have noticed a significant difference in performance when I vary the chipbreaker tip location. I haven’t noticed much based on the mouth opening

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Steve Diogo's profile

Steve Diogo

89 posts in 2098 days

#11 posted 02-11-2014 10:35 PM

Really appreciate the posts. I think I’ll stick with the general consensus and be happy with the fact that it performs well. Doc, you’re right: I have it set like image a. And Bert, I have my eye on a couple of Wood Rivers.


View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2866 days

#12 posted 02-11-2014 10:41 PM

Don’t want to beat this to death, but if yours is set like figure A, yet you could move it forward, it is fine to do so.
The bevel is not supported on a bevel down plane.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16190 posts in 3124 days

#13 posted 02-11-2014 10:54 PM

Doc has it right, and that’s what the pictures show: the frog is not as far as forward as it could go for a tighter mouth. The name for the color I’ve seen is cordovan. My dad’s smoother is the same make / model, and is a solid performer. The last USA-made bench plane line was this color, and is not typed specifically in any of the studies I’ve found.
They get no respect at all, I tell ya.

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

View bandit571's profile


23766 posts in 3189 days

#14 posted 02-11-2014 10:59 PM

All the bench planes I’ve rehabbed, I start them out as in Photo “A”, then go from there IF needed. Most don’t, and they work just fine. I do find that the more like Photo “B” I get, chatter starts to show up. Atleast on the “Non-Premium” planes.

I think I MIGHT have one of them Cordovan 9-1/2 block planes, sitting around…...

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

View Steve Diogo's profile

Steve Diogo

89 posts in 2098 days

#15 posted 02-11-2014 11:00 PM

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