Scrub Plane – Preparing for use

Scrub Plane

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Ever felt like you needed a scrub plane, or wondered what they are for? Paul shows how to convert a standard #4 bench plane into a scrub plane, including how to reshape the blade.

As used in the Preparing Rough Stock video.


  1. Eddy Flynn on 6 May 2014 at 12:12 pm

    thanks for taking the mystery out of this for me

  2. David Gill on 6 May 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks for that,
    I don’t have a scrub plane but feel having one would be useful

    A modified number 4 is now on my list of To Do Jobs

    • Paul Sellers on 6 May 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Hi David,
      Just a note really. I use the scrub for other work at the bench after my wood is even prepped sometimes. I will use it to hog stuff off if I need a chamfer and then refine it with the smoother. I use it for shaping other work. It removes the materiel super fast.

  3. Ian Stewart on 6 May 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for this.

  4. jasonwb on 6 May 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks, just what I needed.


  5. bit101 on 6 May 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks, Paul. You’d alluded to this video a few weeks ago, so I was eagerly waiting for it. I’ve actually started using one of my No. 4’s for this purpose. This one already has a much wider open throat than the other. I just moved the chip breaker back and kept it open and it works really great for removing a lot of stock, even without the bevel. I was waiting for you to show the best way to get the bevel on there. Looks like I’ll be doing some grinding tonight.

  6. Mexiquite on 6 May 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I was wondering how furniture makers got that look, now I know. Thank you!!!

  7. Gordon Mackenzie on 6 May 2014 at 8:42 pm

    As always Paul, very informative. I will be looking for an old No. 4 plane very soon. Without a grinding wheel, can you use a rasp or rough file to grind down the blade?

    • Paul Sellers on 7 May 2014 at 8:36 am

      A file will do it usually, it’s just a lot of work. The coarse diamond plate will definitely do it too.

  8. Charles Bjorgen on 6 May 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Most people on various ww forums recommend using a no. 5 Jack plane as a scrub conversion but I think the no. 4 is fine. I happened to acquire a regular Stanley no. 40 scrub a few years back and like it a lot but having seen this video I doubt I would buy one again. Thanks, Paul.

  9. Colin Williams on 6 May 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Once again Paul brings the info. Many thanks.

  10. menegatti71 on 6 May 2014 at 10:41 pm

    For over twenty years I struggled hogging out wood with a regular #3. I have cambered the iron this afternoon, and hell, how it cuts fast! Many, many thanks! And, by the way, thanks for the new soundtrak!

  11. Kirk Zabolio on 6 May 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks again Paul all your videos are very useful. I have a #4 and a #5 that I’ve ground a radius on that I use for scrubbing got the idea from you, thanks.

  12. Greg Merritt on 7 May 2014 at 12:23 am

    Thank you for once again pulling back the curtain and revealing the truth and simplicity. Enjoyable to watch and invaluable to know.

  13. Carlos J. Collazo on 7 May 2014 at 3:24 am

    Thank you for this video. It really helps take away the mystification and lack of clarity surrounding planes and their use in general. Priceless.

  14. Daniel Cook on 7 May 2014 at 3:38 am

    Would you also recommend using a Stanley No 5. I picked one up at an auction a few months ago with the intention of making it into a scrub plane?

    • Paul Sellers on 7 May 2014 at 8:45 am

      I have found no advantage when I put the newly shaped ‘scrub’ iron into a #5 and used it over a #4. There was a reason that Stanley kept their #40 short and narrow and I think it was the quick spins and twists you can do with the shorter sole. Today it seems woodworkers always push their planes without realising they can be pulled to task when the grain changes direction. It’s also easier with a short plane to go across the grain at a tangent in opening cuts as shown in the vid.

  15. JOHN-C on 7 May 2014 at 6:30 am

    I took a cheapo “craftsman” bench plane (no. 5 size) and turned it into a scrub plane. I had it sitting in a drawer for quite awhile, and I was going to sell it at a garage sale, but as the saying goes “waste not want not”, works great as a scrub. Only thing is I made the radius on the iron a lot less than Paul did, I got carried away. It is really aggressive and takes off a lot of wood in a hurry, which is nice when I am working on a board with a bad twist. I could probably make a large cove molding with it if I had to. Once again thanks again for all the great information and education.

  16. bigparny on 7 May 2014 at 7:15 am

    Many thanks for this concise and informative video. I have had a go at creating a scrub from a No 5 and it seems to work ok but I did not adjust the frog – will try later!
    One question: can you please give ‘grit’ details on your diamond honing plates and also if you can recommend a make.
    Thanks again for demystifying this very useful tool.

    • Paul Sellers on 7 May 2014 at 8:54 am

      The plates I use are coarse (250), fine (600) and superfine (1200) and are made by Ezelap in the USA. They are widely available in the US and from Chronos here in the UK
      I use 3×8 plates. I have used these plates for 15 years, not the dsame ones, they do wear down and become less effective over the years but they last me several years and because of the school and broadcasting I sharpen a many hundred times more than the average user.

      • bigparny on 8 May 2014 at 12:29 am

        Thank you Paul, for this information – it’s always useful to know the tools an expert uses to achieve the desired results.
        On spec, I had recently bought a double-sided Trend 3×8 diamond plate (300/1000 grit) which looks a reasonable ‘fit’ for the coarse/fine grits you recommend.
        All I need now is a few months of practice to master the ‘figure-of-eight’ sharpening dance to create the perfect cutting edge…

  17. tenbears on 7 May 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I’ve wanted to buy a Scrub Plane for a long time. Last spring I picked up an old Stanley No.4 at a garage sale that was in a set of three planes. Didn’t really need the No.4 but wanted the Record Compass plane and a very old Stanley No 90. With the details of this lesson I have my Scrub plane. Can’t seem to acquire the figure 8 sharpening but I was able to accomplish my first successful re-grinding of an old iron. Oddly enough the mouth of this plane was quite wide so I didn’t even need to make any frog or mouth adjustments.

  18. Sandy on 12 May 2014 at 2:38 am

    Thanks Paul for the training video. It came just in time too. The group that I am working with has just been given some very large slabs of Oak that is ruff cut and has twisted a little. I have an older #4 that is not in such good shape so I will make a scrub plane and be ready for the task.

  19. Doug Commons on 21 May 2014 at 1:42 am

    I picked up an old No.4 Powerkraft (I think these were made by Stanley) plane a while back and turned it into a scrub plane. After seeing this video it looks like I have to go back and do some touch up on the iron and the mouth. Thanks for the great tips.

  20. rhwoodworks on 1 August 2014 at 1:49 am

    Paul can you make a #5 plane into a scrub plane ?

    • Michael Petre on 1 August 2014 at 11:58 am

      I know I’m not Paul, but yes… you can turn a #5 into a scrub plane. I tend to prefer the #5 size for thicknessing and smaller ones I use to reduce width.

  21. Jim Braun on 5 November 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I just reground a spare iron and put it into my #4 and it is amazing how this cuts. I am currently building the workbench top (US rounded 2x4s), and I smoothed the underside with my smoothing plane, it took quite a while; the scrub iron is going to help a lot when I flatten the top.

    Thanks for this an all the other great information.

  22. Anonymous on 24 September 2015 at 4:22 am

    I think I just figured out what is wrong with my regular #4 plane. So much subtlety to learn.

  23. petervalcanas on 27 September 2015 at 12:41 am

    I went out on a limb and bought an older #4 on EBay and it was rusty and the handle was broken but for $11 I thought what the hell. Well I removed most of the rust and fixed the handle and ground the blade, it took me awhile because I didn’t refer back to this video, and after a few tweaks here and there it works great. I now have a scrub plane for about $20 including shipping.
    I’m having a lot of fun since I started watching these videos and now it’s time to start building some projects and I think I’ll start with the boxes after I practice my dovetail making first.

    Thanks again Paul,

  24. jmahoney on 9 November 2015 at 5:30 am

    Scrub plane, I converted my all steel #4 to scrub and could not be happier with it. It didnt really do the job as a smoother, but quickly became one my more frequently used planes in it’s new role. I still stare at the all stamped steel plane and kind of wonder “why?” Meh, at least it’s not aluminum.

  25. luptak on 16 January 2016 at 2:49 am


    You mentioned there is a minor advantage to having an engineered scrub plane. Can you elaborate about the advantage(s)? For discussion, what advantage does a Veritas® Scrub Plane have over a modified #4 plane?

    Best Regards,

  26. Gary on 10 June 2016 at 4:43 am

    I just watched this video again to refresh my memory. I have an extra corrugated sole #4 (I didn’t like it for a smoother, so I purchased a smooth sole on eBay and swapped out the parts several years ago). My question is: would the corrugated sole make a good scrub plane?
    Thanks for all you do!
    Gary Blair
    Lander, Wyoming

    • Paul Sellers on 10 June 2016 at 4:06 pm

      I have never converted one for a scrub but I can see no reason why it shouldn’t work just fine, Gary. Of course you could just retro the iron from the corrugated plane and use that in your smoothing plane too.

  27. Mario Amero on 30 December 2016 at 2:05 am

    Hi Paul.
    I’m new to woodworking and am enjoying the video tutorials very much. You’re no nonsense approach is wonderfully. My question is about the Stanley no.4 that you mostly use. I have been looking at planes and find that the prices vary from around $50 Canadian to upwards of $300. What model of the no.4 is yours and are the cheaper Stanley sufficient?

    Keep doing what your doing. Regards, Mario Amero

  28. Adrian King on 30 April 2017 at 11:12 am

    Thank you Paul this has really helped, your videos are brilliant and very easy to follow.

  29. Hugh Roche Kelly on 22 July 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Hello –
    A little question, I’ve been finding and buying some tool lots recently second hand, and I have without meaning to ended up with 2 x stanley 4 1/2 planes.

    They’re both in good condition, rather than going through the hassle of selling one off I was thinking of making a 4 1/2 scrub plan – good idea / bad idea?

    Thanks for the video as always.

    • Edmund on 22 July 2017 at 7:40 pm

      At first glance it doesn’t seem like a good idea from here…two reasons: 1) a 4 1/2 in good condition will sell for much more than the cost to acquire [something which can be made into a scrub plane] and more importantly 2) scrub planes are generally not that wide…too much resistance when you combine a deep gouge over a wide blade.

      If selling is too much of a hassle, maybe offer it for trade and see what comes along?

      • Hugh Roche Kelly on 23 July 2017 at 8:37 pm

        yeah, thanks for the reply. Makes sense the wide blade causing more resistance.

        Will hold onto it for the moment- there’s not so much demand for planes like this over here (belgium), but will see what happens…

  30. Lee Manson on 20 September 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Hi Paul if you didn’t have a bench grinder is there other way to make a scrub plane

    • harry wheeler on 20 September 2018 at 11:45 pm

      It takes a lot longer but you can hone the curvature into the cutting iron by hand. A grinder makes “roughing” the shape very quick, but you still end up doing a good bit of honing. Just hone until the pain shooting up your arms goes from moderate to intense, take a ten minute break and pick up where you left off (I’m kidding of course). Seriously, you can rough the shape in by hand on some coarse grit (80 or 100) paper without all that much effort. Good luck wit it!

  31. Drew Whitehead on 8 April 2019 at 3:42 am

    I just made this and I am so overjoyed with the results. I bought the cheapest plane in the shop (AUS$25) because I wasn’t sure of my ability to adapt it, but the end product is a thing of beauty. Thank you so much Paul for your detailed coaching me through the process step by step. You made it so easy in the end. 🙂

  32. Bill Previte on 19 April 2020 at 7:27 am

    I just received an old Stanley #4 from my father in law who got it from his father in law. It’s now my 2nd #4 and I was thinking of making it into a dedicated scrubber, thanks for all the tips and easy to follow instructions!

  33. Fernando Munoz on 10 December 2021 at 4:22 am

    After watching this video, I now feel confident to set my own scrub plane!

    Thanks, master Paul!

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