Which plane to make a scrub?

Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Wood and Wood Preparation Which plane to make a scrub?

Tagged: ,

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
  • #56731
    Ian Stewart

    I currently have an old ‘coffin’ wooden bench plane I hardly ever use. The solid beech sort with curved sides and no handles, labelled MASTER 279, and I think possibly ex school. The setting up takes me too long, and slows down the work, and it keeps letting go of the blade during use. When I do use it though, I love the feel of it, it’s so light and positive! It has a lovely heavy thick blade stamped “Pharoah Brand” Warranted Sheffield, which carries a cap iron.
    I have also just acquired a Stanley No.6 with near terminal rust, which I am in the process of cleaning up and refurbishing. The blade was so heavily pitted with rust I had to grind off nearly 3/8″ to reach a piece of steel clean enough to not show flaws on the edge when honed.
    Also awaiting attention is a Stanley No.4-1/2, also with a rusted blade and also a broken handle. I have a spare handle for that, but in very poor condition. The plane body should clean up well though, and I could always make another handle, as I’ve done when I broke the one on my No.4.
    Last, I have a small Preston plane with a home-made front knob and a plane iron that is too soft to hold an edge. I think that this a No.3, with a 1-5/8 blade width. I am intending to try Paul’s hardening technique on this blade, from his recent video, to see if I can make it work again. Perhaps someone in the past has ground it hot and removed the hardness/temper? It may distort in the barbecue, but it’s not usable as it is anyway.

    So, the question is: Which of these planes should have the throat opened up and the blade radiused, to make a scrub plane? I’ve been looking on t’internet and found all sorts of differing opinions. A common view is that a scrub plane should be short and narrow, and have a heavy blade with no cap iron to get in the way. The Preston plane is short and narrow, but has a thin blade as do the two Stanleys. The wooden plane has the right sort of iron, but opening the throat on that is irreversible, not that that matters much as I’m not using it anyway. The blade is 2-1/4″ wide though, and both Stanley blades are of course 2-3/8″. The commercial scrub planes seem to be narrow, but about 10″-14″ long.

    I believe Paul uses a modified No.4-1/2, or is it a No 4? I’d like some help with this decision, and if Paul is listening here, I’d especially value your input.
    Thanks for any contributions.

    Eddy Flynn

    Hi Ian did you see pauls video on the 19th April where he spoke about his #4 scrub https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com/2014/04/preparing-rough-stock/

    Eddy .. Liverpool, Merseyside, UK

    Ian Stewart

    Yes, thanks Eddy, I did see that video and I suppose it was that which finally inspired me to get on with preparing a scrub plane. I’d been vaguely aware of the need for one for a while.
    I couldn’t remember if it was a No.4 or 4-1/2 that he had modified, but I’ve just reviewed the video and at about 25:30 in he says it’s a No.4. Paul also mentions a video about how he modified the plane, but I can’t seem to find that one. Maybe it’s still awaiting release?
    It’s in the last few days I’ve been reading about scrub planes as a result of seeing the preparing-rough-stock video. Chris Schwartz seems to have some firm views on the subject, but then others have counter views. Some even say there is no English history of their use, and that the first plane to touch rough wood is the fore plane – it goes ‘fore any other. Now, I believe that a fore plane is about the size of my No.6, or longer? You wouldn’t want to use that for hogging off a small board rived from a short length of tree trunk. Yes, I have a draw knife, but no room for a shave-horse . . .

    Salko Safic

    No.5 is all you need don’t bother flattening the sole either it’s a scrub plane.

    The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK
    (Hand tool only woodworking magazine)

    Ian Stewart

    Thanks Salko, but the No.5 is the one plane I don’t have (yet?). My list of planes is growing faster than the storage I have to keep them.

    At 18″ long, the No.6 is too big for this, I think. My equivalent to a No.5 is a beautiful old mahogany infill plane 15-1/2″ long with a heavy Marples blade, cap iron and thumbwheel clamp. Adjustment is by tapping with my small hammer, but that doesn’t matter as it is kept set very fine and has made a great jointer for me so far. The No.6 may replace it for that purpose when I’ve finished the restoration, but the infill is way too heavy and the mouth too narrow to use it as a scrub.
    My first ever plane was the No.4 I mentioned before, which is my turn to plane for nearly everything I want to do, maybe I should look out for another of those in the long term. To complete the inventory, I also have a Record 09-1/2 adjustable mouth block plane at 6″ long.

    Meanwhile, the wooden plane at 7-3/4″ long seems like the best candidate, although I still like the idea of using the little 7-7/8″ No.3, if I can make the blade hard again.

    Eddy Flynn

    i have seen a record #4 on a stall at a car boot sale its been there a couple of weeks now its a bit tatty and i think it would make a great scrub plane if i can get the guy to move on his price he wants £20 which is a bit steep considering the state of it .

    Eddy .. Liverpool, Merseyside, UK

    Ian Stewart

    Cheers Eddy, but I’m the original skinflint. I could get one eventually from ebay for less than a tenner, with postage, if I wanted to.

    Paul Sellers

    A few years ago the boys and I installed some false beams for someone over on Anglesey and we needed a scalloped adze-like surface on the beams we made to make the appearance right. We created a successful plane using a coffin smoother like the one you describe you have and used it as a scrub plane very successfully and the beams looked like they were 200 years old to boot.
    If you have a #3 Preston you have a rare find indeed. Perhaps it can be salvaged and restored to its former glory. I certainly wouldn’t be using it for a scrub if it is.
    I have found the #4 anything will make a very decent scrub plane and you can get them for a buy it now for under 20 if prepared to wait a bit and keep watching. You could of course just buy an extra secondhand iron to shape and use it in a normal #4. You don’t have to have two planes, just two irons.

    Ian Stewart

    Thank you Paul. I am coming round to the view that the wooden plane is the one to go with.
    Did I say Preston? I’m sorry for that Paul, I mis-remembered and confused two manufacturers there. The plane I think may be a No.3 is a Sargent. The casting is labelled SARGENT and carries the number 407. The lever cap has the same name. The blade is stamped SARGENT in a box with NEWHAVEN.CONN. underneath and USA on the next line. It measures 7-7/8″ long and the blade is 1-5/8″ wide. It will never be a collector’s piece, as the front knob is obviously a home-made replacement and the body is pretty well beat up. As I said, the blade is too soft to be usable. It belonged to an uncle I never met, and I inherited it from my aunt.

    Mark Armstrong

    I use an unnamed no.5 as a scrub plane works a treat.
    Wether you use a No.4 or 5 dose not make a lot of difference its all about the camber on the iron.

    Dagenham, Essex, England

    Ian Stewart

    Thanks Mark.
    To conclude this thread, I have now completed the conversion of my #4-1/2 to a scrub plane, following Paul’s recent video, and it works beautifully. The first job was to take down some badly re-sawn sycamore I was given when a neighbour had a tree felled. I had split this down the grain with a home-made frame saw that wandered all over the place (I didn’t have a rip saw then), and I needed to plane out a V shape depression about 3/8″ deep. The scrub plane has flattened it easily.
    I chose the #4-1/2 because
    a) it came to me very cheaply
    b) the blade and body was heavily rust pitted, and would never have been acceptable as a regular use smoothing plane
    c) it has the weight for ploughing through heavy work
    d) I love my #4, and couldn’t imagine why I might also need a #4-1/2 smooth plane as well.
    e) the #6 is too long for a scrub, and I needed it as a small jointer
    d) the little wood plane would wear faster (I think) in this role.

    Thanks to everyone who helped me with this decision, and especially to Paul who inspires us all.

    P.S. The Sargent 407 plane, I have just discovered, is equivalent to the Stanley #2. Does anyone know what such a small smoothing plane was used for?


    can we see a photo of the final result?

    Robin ... Richmond, Virginia, USA

    Ian Stewart

    OK Robin. I’m no photographer, but since I fell off my bike yesterday and hurt my shoulder, elbow and wrist, I’m not mooching around in the garage today so I’ve taken these photos.
    Here’s the finished #4-1/2 and the re-worked mouth

    Ian Stewart

    And here are the other two candidates:

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.