I seem to be the odd one out here – I don’t have a hand plane problem! Saws are my problem but that’s another topic altogether…
I mainly use a LN #4 which I absolutely love. I tried getting a vintage Stanley but all 5 or 6 that I bought ended up being in really bad shape and I didn’t have the knowledge, time or patience to restore them. Although now Chris Schwarz has released a DVD on pimping an old plane, I might get a copy and restore the #4s I have wrapped up in the loft!
I also have a Stanley #5 1/2 which is what I use for milling boards. I think it’s pretty much the perfect size for being able to remove lots of stock very quickly and getting a rough board into pretty good shape. It needed new handles but I couldn’t find replacement vintage ones so have temporary plastic ones on it at the moment. Needs the sole flattening a little but is otherwise in more than usable condition!
I picked up a Bailey #7 as well a while back which requires more restoration than the 5 1/2 and I haven’t used it yet. It’ll be used for flattening boards after they’ve been milled with the 5 1/2. Then they’ll be smoothed with the #4.
I think that once I’ve got the #7 in a usable state and the 5 1/2 tuned, I’ll be in good shape regarding planes. The #4 is my favorite though. I don’t use it for everything like Paul does – just everything apart from milling and truing long boards.
"To know and not do is to not know"