Silverline #4 smoothing plane

This topic contains 16 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Nathan VandenDungen 2 weeks, 1 day ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
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  • #550998

    Brian A
    Participant

    I notice that the Silverline #4 plane (~$56 US) that Paul recommended now has a cheaper non-identical twin (~$26 US) with a similar or identical name. From the pictures, the higher-priced earlier version has a chrome (milled?) steel cap iron, while the new one has a cap iron painted black with a mottled sort of look to it (like cast, unmilled steel or iron?). Has anyone purchased the one with the black cap iron (with yellow stripe), and if so, is it functional?

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    #551010

    Alan
    Participant

    Hi Brian,

    Silverline tools are usually the poorest quality of those around. Of course you can make one work just fine, it just means more fettling to get it to the performance you’re seeking, it will have a plastic handle, probably no frog-adjustment screw, and you’ll need to sharpen its inferior iron more often.

    For the same price, you can find an old Stanley / Record / Marples plane with Rosewood handles, Brass fittings, and Sheffield Steel cutting-iron. So everyone does that. Try eBay / Gumtree / Craigslist / Car boot sales …

    Paul may be recommending the Silverline but in-context; that’s only an evaluation of the newest/cheapest options available today. Paul has been asked “What’s the best of the new budget planes today?” He’s playing Devil’s advocate – an exercise. To see if they can be made to work at all.
    Vintage planes are the same price and leagues above those cheapo Chinese ones. Paul has always endorsed vintage Stanley/Record above anything today.

    Check-out: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DRYyV6IUpsYk&ved=2ahUKEwjf_K-zlKvdAhUsDMAKHcAGDooQwqsBMAB6BAgJEAU&usg=AOvVaw0gR2QTKBi9GaziKOPXYmAm
    You can buy one that appears past-it quite cheaply, and you’ll have a rewarding time restoring it from trash to treasure.

    #553462

    Brian A
    Participant

    Well, I’ve sent out some bids and still haven’t got a #4. In the US we don’t have ‘car boot sales’, unfortunately. It seems even the rusty ones with broken totes are selling like hotcakes on ebay. (I’m rebuilding my benchtop currently, along Paul’s lines, but keeping the current base since I only have a few hours a week to do this.)

    I currently have only a Stanley Jack plane. What am I missing out on with the #4 that a Jack can’t handle? My guess is efficiency or less muscle required?

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    #553468

    Dionysios P
    Participant

    In my opinion if you have a well tuned jack plane with a flat sole you don’t miss much compared to a No4 plane.

    The No4 is lighter and more versatile in case of small projects, but on the other hand, for flattening larger surfaces the longer sole of the jack plane is a plus and the longer part of the sole in front of the blade makes easier the registration of the plane on the surface to be planed.

    If you desperately want (not need) a No4 plane I will recomend to be patient and find a used one from a reputable maker on e-Bay. No matter if it looks like it was salvaged from the bottom of the sea, you will need much less time to bring it back to life compared with the time you will spend to make a new Silverline plane work (I have learned that the hard way with a Silverline No6).

    #553471

    Dave Ring
    Participant

    Brian, where do you live? While we may not have car boot sales in the US, we do have flea markets or swap meets (same thing) in most areas. Estate sales (see estatesales dot com) also happen everywhere. Antique shows, low class antique shops and antique malls can also be great sources for old tools. Most of my tools came from one or another of these sources. No shipping charges (typically $15-$20 on bench planes) and you get to actually examine what you are buying.

    Dave

    #553472

    Keith Walton
    Participant

    Are the admins here opposed to sales or trades going on? I hate to see people complain of not being able to find tools while others are leaving them sit in local antique shops because they just don’t need another plane.

    #553477

    Brian A
    Participant

    @dionysios – Yes, I’ve seen that the ‘undersea’ planes (those that can be identified at least) cost about $10 less than the shiney ones, but the bidding seems to frequently get up to ~$75-175 depending on the vintage, +$15 shipping and often with no refund available. I keep hearing they should go for under $20 but often the starting bid is ~50.

    @dave – The flea markets and ‘bargain stores’ in this area either sell overpriced decorative ‘antiques’ or cheap modern utility items, respectively. I’ve not been into every antique shop as I work when they are open, but so far I’ve only found ‘pretty’ things in them, also very pricey and no planes. I’ll take a look at that website, maybe that will bring better luck than ebay.

    @ Keith – I’m fairly certain they don’t like online commerce on this site. But there is a private messaging system.

    Meanwhile, however, I’ve got this weekend to get this wood prepped so I can’t sit on the computer all day. I’ll use the Jack. It is getting heavy though, and the arms are pretty sore from the benchtop lamination work already.

    edit: stock prep picture with the Jack plane. Works well on this ‘whitewood’ stud material. It didn’t seem to want to touch the Southern Yellow Pine 2×12 apron piece. Maybe the SYP is too flat already.

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    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Brian A.
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    #553486

    Ken Tee
    Participant

    I will echo much of what others have already stated on here and add a few points.

    1) Silverline Planes. I bought a No 6 Silverline plane relatively recently. I bought it new and for a ridiculously low price as the packaging was alleged to be imperfect.

    I am happy with the plane but there are significant pros and cons with it. Cons: The amount of fettling I needed to do with this mew plane was much more than I have ever had to do with any other plane. All my other planes were bought second hand and varied enormously in condition. (The used planes generally needed cleaning, rust removal, a little sole flattening, freeing the moving parts, sharpening (sometimes regrinding) the iron.) The Silverline needed considerable work on the iron and the sole was without doubt the furthest from flat of any plane I have encountered. It took considerably more time to sort out this plane than any I have renovated. The sole is still not completely flat but I can use the plane and it is OK for my purposes. Apart from the faults and the time to resolve them, I would say this is a very poorly made tool and Quality Control is probably an alien concept in Silverline factories. Anyone who has renovated several bench planes and has the time and patience could do what I did and turn a Silverline plane into an ‘OK’ tool – but it will never be great. Anyone who lacks that experience should avoid this make. A final point is that the iron on mine, after my efforts, appears to be fine but others have criticised the steel as soft – so I suspect that the QC of the that part is also lacking. The iron can be hardened if necessary – but that is still time and effort and you have to know what you are doing. Alternatively you can replace the cutting iron with one from a reputable manufacturer – but that obviously adds to the cost. Ironically, the one ‘part’ of this plane which was fine was the packaging!

    A number 4 plane is the most commonly used and most commonly available plane and there are a number of ways acquiring them at reasonable cost:-

    1) Do not get too hung up on the ‘Stanley’ name. When the Stanley patents ran out, many companies started producing Stanley ‘knock offs’. Many of these copies are every bit as good as the Stanley originals; some can be even better; some were even made by Stanley itself. I have yet to come across an old knock off which is worse than an old Stanley – though I am sure they must exist. So, if you have the chance of acquiring an old copy of a Stanley, you may well end up with a bargain.

    2) Try to buy from somewhere near home – either from local sales or from local ebay sellers. If you can collect the plane, rather than have it posted, you obviously save that money. It also gives you the chance to outbid most of the other bidders who have to factor in postage costs. Last, but by no mean least, you can look at the item before you part with your cash. If there is a major fault which has not been declared or is not visible from ebay photos then walk away and do not buy the plane.

    3) Stay with a cast iron plane body – do not consider pressed steel. Most you will see will be cast iron but always check.

    4) Keep your attempts to save cash in perspective – especially with a number 4 plane. The No 4 plane is the one you will probably use much more than any other and, if you are starting out, will probably be the first plane you acquire. However young you are, a ‘bailey’ type plane will outlive you if you look after it. Viewed in that that context, these are fantastic value for money – even if you do pay a little more than you may like.

    5) Do not try to save money by buying a cheap modern plane which is not a Bailey type. The types using replaceable blades are particularly bad. The types with two knurled nuts for blade adjustment have also earned a bad reputation. Apart from many other faults, these types of plane often have some key components made from plastic. Avoid these planes like the plague!

    6) Make sure the plane is complete. Buying a missing component is possible but usually expensive.

    7) Consider bidding on ‘job lots’ of tools with things you want and things you do not. I have acquired some terrific bargains in this way. Either sell the unwanted tools immediately or renovate and then sell on.

    8) Use a sniping app on ebay. It removes the temptation to get carried away and bid higher than you intend.

    9) Do not buy tools in a hurry but buy them ahead of when you need them. That gives you time to get them clean, sharp and ready for action when needed. Keep a list of the tools you want to buy and prioritise the list. You can deviate from the list and the priorities if opportunities arise but that may mean delaying a priority purchase if you are sticking to a budget.

    10) Always check out ebay sellers before bidding. I try to avoid any with an approval rating of 99.7% or less. Look at sellers’ other items for sale – it can be very illuminating. You may save postage costs if you purchase two or more items and you can always ask a seller to hold on to an item until other auctions have finished. If a seller is mainly dealing with items which are not tools, then their tool listings may be less than perfect. Sometimes listings can be incorrect and/or incomplete. Knowing what I am trying to buy has helped me avoid problems but also netted me a couple of bargains by very careful checking of the listing and photos.

    Hope this helps.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Ken Tee.
    #553489

    Dave Ring
    Participant

    Turnout was low and pickings were slim at the local flea market today. Lots of low end, heavily pitted and/or severely damaged saws. A few so-so braces. About ten low quality Bailey knockoffs (4’s and 5’s and–yes–they were worse than any Stanley Bailey.) and a couple of cheap block planes plus the usual cheap plastic handled chisels. The only worthwhile hand tools I spotted were a small hard Arkansas stone and a very nice Millers Falls No.9 (No.4 equivalent) for the princely sum of $10. Having just dropped major money on car repairs and having more smoothers than I need, I passed on it.

    Dave

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Dave Ring.
    #553492

    Brian A
    Participant

    @ken Tee – I guess I should have made a new thread as the ‘silverline’ tag really riles people up, and I certainly won’t be buying one of those now! I’ll try to use your other tips on ebay. Where do you get a ‘sniping app’? Buying close would be nice, depending on how many dirt roads and muddy ravines my car can handle.

    The local flee market has a lot of machining tools, but barely anything for hand-tooling wood – one vendor told me the market for that is so small its not worth it. We have a wood reclamation store that sells ‘left out in the rain’ planes for $20, but these are more rust than metal and are sold as decorations. I checked out the estate sales. There were two this month selling knicknacks and yard implements (collectable dolls, dishes, lawnmowers, and so on). No other sales listed. What I really need to find is someone selling the contents of an old barn or something.

    I think in this area the hand tool people are keeping their tools, and everyone else has no idea what a woodworking hand tool is used for.

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    #553497

    Brian A
    Participant

    Update/correction: I went back to the flea market and talked to the vendor again. The reason he stopped displaying hand planes was, yes, because it was not profitable. But not for the reason I had supposed. Turns out people were not buying planes, but they were stealing the blades! (so apparently there are a lot of unscrupulous hand tool woodworkers in this area. They have planes, they just keep using up their blades too quickly? More mysteries.)

    Now he sells planes only early in the morning on Saturday, and most of the planes are gone in an hour or so.

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    #553508

    Philip Adams
    Participant

    [quote quote=553472]Are the admins here opposed to sales or trades going on?[/quote]

    Hello Keith. We are not set up for sales and trades in these forums so ask people not to use them for such as there is a lot involved in doing that practically and legally. Thanks for asking though, it is something we will think about for the future.

    I work alongside Paul to plan and produce the videos for Woodworking Masterclasses

    #553509

    Dave Ring
    Participant

    Brian,

    I have used esnipe (esnipe dot com) for many years for all of my ebay auction bids. The service is very reliable. You have to register, using your ebay handle and password, and send them a deposit (I think $5 is the minimum). They submit your bid automatically in the closing seconds of the auction at a time decided by you. If you win the auction, they deduct a small percentage of the selling price from your account. I’ve never had a problem with them.

    Your last post raises an important point. There are lots of woodworkers, collectors and dealers trawling the flea markets and estate sales so you should arrive as early as possible. A good estate sale will see buyers lined up hours before it opens.

    To echo one of the many excellent points made by Ken, be flexible and watch for tools that you don’t need immediately. You never know what might turn up. I once went to a small estate sale where the only tools were some cheap pliers, a handful of screwdrivers and a Stanley No.143 Miller’s patent plow plane. I passed on the pliers and screwdrivers and drove home six bucks poorer.

    Dave

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Dave Ring.
    #553567

    Brian A
    Participant

    Isn’t giving a second internet site your login information and password from another site a bit of a ‘faux pas’? I may be a bit old fashioned, however.

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    #553568

    Selva
    Participant

    No @brian8, you are not old fashioned, its esnipe who are being old fashioned (using arcane methods) if by taking user’s password is how they do the bidding for them. I have not checked how they work. But they should be using OAuth to get an access token from ebay on user’s behalf and then use the ebay API to do the bidding. That way users’s password stays secret and the authorization given can be revoked any time by the user. esnipe may have its own reasons for doing what it does (ebay doesnt like snipe bots etc..), but asking people to give out their credentials is not a good practice.

    Don’t give out your ebay or any other online credentials to third parties.

    selva

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