Stanley #4: Rite of Passage?

Every woodworker seems to have a vintage Stanley #4 bench plane, or one of the new Veritas planes that use a similar construction. I wanted one, especially since my first bench plane was a very cheap off-brand something that was… Not good. But when I got to the point where I could set it up properly it worked pretty well, I came across a beat-up Stanley #4 for $8 at a flea market and it was time to see the difference!

Plane planing wood

I used my usual process of vinegar+salt, steel brush, baking soda, and alcohol to get rid of the rust. From there they were covered in oil. For the wooden knobs I used mineral spirits to clean them, then hand-sanded and finished with Tung oil and beeswax. There was a chunk missing from the rear handle that I was going to fix with some walnut, but I didn’t because it wasn’t interfering with functionality.

I put it back together (poorly at first!), adjusted all the things that weren’t on my other plane, and I’m a total convert. The blade lasts for ages, and the adjustability makes it so much more versatile. In hindsight I’m glad to have had the other plane to learn more about honing and setup, but I don’t think I’ve used it since.

Picture of Stanley #4 on a vice

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