Replacing an Irwin #4 Plane – also Bandsaw

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  • #308502
    Greg M
    Participant

    Hi all,

    I have an Irwin (it’s about 5 years old – home depot or Lowes $50 plane so it’s nothing special) #4 smoothing plane. I followed Paul’s instructions on flattening, tuning, and setting and as far as I can tell, it performs ok, but I’m new to woodworking.

    I can get fairly fine shavings, although I find it’s somewhat hard to set, and it loses the set pretty quickly. The base of the frog isn’t parallel to the throat opening – it’s not awful, maybe 1-2 degrees off, but it’s noticeable. I haven’t had any luck tweaking the adjustment screws to fix that.

    So I’ve been in the market for a vintage Stanley off of ebay, but they are getting more expensive – over $100 USD including shipping for one’s that seem complete and in reasonable shape. I assume I’ll have to put several hours into restoring/flattening/sharpening/cleaning on top of that.

    I also have been eyeing the Veritas #4 plane. I’m sure you all know those are really expensive. Almost $300. I’m sure they are very fine quality.

    My dilemma is this: I can afford the Veritas, although my wife thinks I spend too much on tools as it is, and I’m about to pick up a new bandsaw. So – seeing as Paul says the #4 is the most often used plane in the hand tool shop, do you all think it’s worth investing in the veritas? or saving $200 and going with a vintage Stanley off of ebay? I’d really appreciate opinions and rationale.

    Lastly, I’m about to pull the trigger on a Laguna 14BX 220v bandsaw. I live on 60 acres of trees and plan to resaw my own timber for boards (mostly Maple, Oak, Pine, Cedar). Any opinions? Cost is about $1300 USD.

    Thank you!
    Greg

    #308504
    David B
    Participant

    I have never spent more than $25 on a Stanley #4. Don’t buy one that has already been restored as you will pay a premium. Plus I think it’s good to go through the motions of restoring a bench plane and really getting familiar with it and how it goes together. Granted that is just me.

    If you don’t see any reasonably priced #4s on eBay, just be patient (hard to do!)

    Also, make sure you look very carefully at the photos on ebay–look for any cracks, chips or missing parts (or parts that may have been borrowed from another plane that might not be the OEM parts). I’ve restored 3 #4s, 2 # 4 1/2s and 2 #50 plough planes. The most I’ve spent for any of them was $100 for the plough (and it came with a full set of 15 cutters/beads).

    #308507
    joemonahan
    Participant

    I bought a No 4 Rider plane from a local (US) woodworking store for about $45.00 new. It has proven to be a fine plane for my (non-professional) uses. I also bought a Stanley “transitional” plane with the wood base and metal top. It os a joy to use – very light weight and just glides across the wood. I probably shouldn’t mention that since I plane to buy more of them and don’t want to drive the price up 🙂

    #308535
    Debra J
    Participant

    The Irwin plane actually sets up nicely. Flatten the sole, of course, and remove any paint between the frog and plane body. Paint may cause the frog to slip or not sit level. The lever cap tends to pop loose but this can be fixed easily. Use a file to cut one or two small grooves on top of the lever cap where it meets the big screw. (Don’t know the technical name.) The grooves will give the lever cap more friction under the screw head so it stays put. Oil the lateral adjuster and use it to better line up the blade so you get even shavings. At first, I thought this plane kinda sucked until we put a little more work in it. The iron sharpens really nice.

    My other plane is a Stanley #4 with the corrugated sole. It’s a lot lighter than the Irwin and shorter by about an inch. I think the Irwin may be more like a 4 1/2. Otherwise, they work about the same.

    - Debra J

    #308536
    Hugo Notti
    Participant

    Concerning the bandsaw: It is definitely nice to have one, but I doubt, that you can cut your trees to boards with it. This probably requires a sawmill. If you have much experience using a chainsaw, you can look for “alaska sawmill” on youtube, quite impressive but also quite dangerous. Perhaps, you can find a sawmill nearby, to get your trees cut.

    I got some trees to chop up as well, and have no concept yet. The trees have diameters of up to 35 cm (oak, birch, beech, lots of thinner fir). I can definitely cut shorter boards by hand, I got a suitable frame saw. I also want to experiment with splitting. It is quite annoying to have so much wood without the ability to use it!

    Dieter

    PS: By the way, I read the comments about “your” bandsaw on one website. “cuts through 1/2” material with ease”…. Well mine, at 10% of the price, does that too – careful, when reading comments 😉

    #308537
    Dave Ring
    Participant

    Greg, ebay is hardly the only place to buy old tools. Have you tried Craigslist? Estate sales? (Google “estate sales”) Flea markets? Antique shops? (Low rent “antique malls” are best.)

    FWIW I scored a pretty good century-old Sargent jointer plane Wednesday at an estate sale for $10. (Gloat! Gloat!)

    Dave

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Dave Ring.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Dave Ring.
    #308547
    Richard Guggemos
    Participant

    Plenty of good advice in the posts above.

    I’d also like a band saw to resaw. One good local wood dealer charges $30 and a weeks lead time to resaw boards you buy from them. ?

    That said, I can’t really justify the cost – I just saw my wood as needed.

    If your wife objects, you might want to reconsider what you can afford. It’s not always about the bank account balance.

    I haven’t been able to hit the same price points as dbockel2, he has more patience than me. But I’ve never had to sped anything close to $100 on a plane. I just bought a fore-plane on eBay for $43 including shipping. When it’s tuned up it’ll sing with the rest of them.

    As I’ve said before, there are many other great brands of planes besides Stanley, and these often trade at a discount in comparison. Think of Sargent, Keen Kutter, Sears Craftsman, Vaughan and Bushnell, Millers Falls to name a few here in North America.

    So keep at it, you’ll find what you need and will probably enjoy the process too.

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