Thread: Hand planes - #4 and #5
4th Oct 2019, 10:26 PM #1SENIOR MEMBER
- Join Date
- May 2009
Hand planes - #4 and #5
Curious when do you guys choose to pick up a 5 and when do you choose to pick up a 4? (in terms of bevel down bench planes).
How many are using 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 instead?
Is the general set up, say you are planing a table top, to use the 5 first with a heavier cut to flatten out the top/joins and then to use the smoother with a very fine cut after?
What about other situations - when do you guys use the 4 and the 5?
5th Oct 2019, 12:25 AM #2
I would be interested in hearing responses to this thread too, as I'm not long down this road.
I own a couple of 4s, a 4½ and a couple of 5s. All used Stanley or Record.
In general, I use the number 4 for most tasks. I got my second 4 earlier this year, and what a difference having two made. Being able to have them set for different cuts and simply switch as required has been a real boon. They're so cheap too.
I only use the 4½ if I'm smoothing a wide board, which it is fantastic at. I find the extra width can make it tough work to take deeper cuts. This was my first hand plane though, and I used to do everything with it.
I use the 5 if I'm planing a longer length, or if I'm taking deep cuts or scrubbing, where the extra weight helps it carry momentum through resistance. I also use the 5 on my shooting board. In fact I recently picked up the second 5 so that it could be set up and dedicated to shooting as I find that shooting is something I do more and more of. I don't know that it's really ideal for that though. I will see.
Having said all that, sometimes for whatever reason things just don't seem to be working, so I'll try a different plane. Or a blade will start to dull, so will pick up another plane to finish the task at hand (which I know is naughty, but I can't be good all the time).
I hope that provides some insights.
5th Oct 2019, 09:06 AM #3SENIOR MEMBER
- Join Date
- Nov 2007
I always appreciate the extra length of the toe on the 5 over the 4. Helps to register/balance the plane.You boys like Mexico ?
5th Oct 2019, 11:20 PM #4Senior Member
- Join Date
- May 2019
- Canberra, Australia
4 1/2 and 5 1/2 share a blade size with the No 7 jointer, so if you want interchangeable blades, e.g., back bevels for dealing with specific timbers, these 3 planes are all you need
edit: I should mention that the 5 1/2 switched from 57mm to 60mm blades during WWII. You want the 60mm blade
6th Oct 2019, 06:17 AM #5
6th Oct 2019, 08:32 AM #6
Record did the same with their 5-1/2, I have an early one with the 2-1/4” wide blade.A thief stole my anti-depressants. I hope he’s happy now.
6th Oct 2019, 07:52 PM #7
I think whatever rules exist about what plane you use and when, should be read as "guidelines" rather than "rules". What works for you, works. In general, a long-bodied plane is best for straightening, but you can joint a long board with a #5 with a bit of practice (& if you are really slick, you could probably do it with a #4!). However, most of us end up with a fairly set succession of planes for taking rough-sawn wood through to dimensioned stock, and on into a piece of furniture.
I'll use different combinations for different woods and different planes for much the same process on different jobs. Over the years my preferences have mutated quite a bit, but for the last 5 or 6 years at least, the two planes that generally sit on the bench throughout any job (after straightening & thicknessing steps have been dispensed with & the #7, scrub, & rough jack put away), are a #5 1/2 (another early one with a 2 1/4" blade) and a #4. The 5 1/2 does all sorts of trimming and refining and the 4 is generally set-up with its cap-iron, fine, but not super close, for cleaning up/initial smoothing, etc. For final smoothing I generally prefer one of my infills,which vary in length & pitch from my little rear-bun @ ~ 180mm long (standard pitch) to a 200mm 60 degree job. None has a blade wider than 50mm, wide smoothers just don't do it for me - getting a 2" blade taking full-width 1 thou shavings is pretty much the limit of my skill.
TBH, the smoother I end up using on the final run is often the one I've most recently sharpened, though in some cases, when the wood is refusing to cooperate with the plan I chose, I go through my other 5 smoothers to see which one might handle the situation best - I can usually predict which one it'll be, but often enough, I get a surprise. It's a bit of a silly luxury, but adds to the fun.....
7th Oct 2019, 02:48 AM #8
Traditionally the No.4 is set fine and with an almost straight cutting edge on the iron - for fine smoothing, while a No.5 is set for a deeper cut and has a greater radius on the cutting edge - for rougher, faster, wood removal. But there's no reason that you have to set your planes up that way. Swap irons between planes and see what suits you best.
As for No.4 vrs No.4 1/2 and No.5 vrs No.5 1/2 again it comes down to what feels best to you.
I have my No.5 (actually it's a Record No.05 - same thing) set up as a jack plane. I prefer the narrower iron for a deeper cut (figuring it should take less strength to push through a deep cut than the wider irons in a No.5 1/2) .
Cheers, Vann.Gatherer of rusty
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