Stanley Bailey No. 3

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    John Grogan

    Hello Everyone,

    I have a Stanley Bailey No. 3 which I bought new in the 90’s. After years of inactivity (other than rust growth) I’m bringing it back to life following Paul’s Restoration video. My intent is to make it my smoothing plane.
    However, I’m thinking at buying a No. 4 and converting the No. 3 to a dedicated scrub plane per Paul’s video on making a scrub iron.
    My question is; should I keep the No. 3 as a smoothing plane and convert a No. 4 to the scrub? My thinking is the No. 4 should be heavier and so be more aggressive than the No. 3.

    Thanks in advance.

    Dripping Springs, Texas
    First met Paul when he lived is Texas. So happy he is active online. We are all blessed for his generosity.
    Would be happy to meet anyone in the Austin area who also follows Paul's work.


    Hi John,

    “should I keep the No. 3 as a smoothing plane and convert a No. 4 to the scrub?”

    I would have to say that the better option for the scrub plane is the No.4 rather than the No.3. The 3 is a lovely plane and although value might not be a consideration, they are worth more than the No.4’s.

    Also, for that reason, you may feel easier filing the mouth (throat) of a No.4 to accept the heavily cambered blade needed for the scrub, than filing the No.3? Although, to be honest, if it’s a 90’s plane then it might not make a whole lot of difference.

    Also, I think you’re right about the No.4 being more aggressive.

    One other option, if you have access to one, is converting an old No.78 to a scrub. This was featured in one of Paul’s later videos.


    Plane Collector & Restorer
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    My #3 is one of my favorite, most used planes. If you are making a surface look nice rather than making a surface suitable for joinery, it is nice to have a shorter, narrower, plane that will take a shaving when the wider, longer, #4 is riding up on the peaks above the blemish you want to remove.

    Scrub planes are wonderful, but an issue can be making too much camber so that the plane will only take a narrow, but thick shaving. Sometimes that is useful, but it slows down the planing of surfaces, in my opinion, because you need so many passes. A true #40 scrub plane is quite narrow and, in my opinion, is more suited to hogging huge thicknesses of material off of a narrow edge rather than working a surface. So, I prefer having a #4 as my scrub plane and making the camber be wider so that I get more width in each pass. Actually, my first scrub was a #5, but it’s the same width blade as a #4. I think with the cambers I like, there is no need for me to widen the mouth. That means I really don’t even need two #4’s, but just a second blade. As it turns out, I have two, though.

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Hej John,

    The #3 might be a tad too short to make a good scrub plane, both for working across and along the board.

    For working across the board, I think a dedicated scrub plane (e.g. Veritas) with a 3″ edge radius is the most efficient. True enough, each stroke does not bring particularly wide shavings, but it’s relatively low weight and the reduced resistance associated with narrow shavings allow for a high frequency.

    I prefer a #5½ or #6 with around 9″ blade edge radius for dimensioning along the board (or edge). In my mediocre hands the scrub plane constantly tilts when going along an edge.

    To sum up: a #5½ with one blade cambered and one straight, will be a very good companion to your #3.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Dave Ring

    There is very little difference between a No.3 and a No.4 although I find the No.3 to be a bit handier as a smoother. If you don’t already have a jack plane, I’d recommend a No.5 as your next plane purchase. With a cambered iron, these are great for heavy stock removal. If you want a dedicated scrub plane, old wooden coffin smoothers with open mouths and thick tapered irons are abundant and cheap.


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