Using a Scrub Plane

How to Use a Scrub Plane Keyframe

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Scrub planes can be used for a variety of planing tasks, from rough stock preparation to more refined work such as chamfers and texturing the surface.


  1. Robert Hall on 16 February 2018 at 11:14 am

    An absolutely superb video. Thank you.

  2. Brian Miller on 16 February 2018 at 11:46 am

    I picked up a second #4 recently as a “spare”. But I realized these things NEVER wear out so it just sits there while I use my first one. Going to convert it to a scrub. I’ve seen your video showing how to do this a number of times but wasn’t quite brave enough to do it. Now after working with my #4 for a while the confidence is there. Thanks.

  3. Dan Becker on 16 February 2018 at 11:47 am

    Excellent video, thanks Paul.

  4. David Seymour on 16 February 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Wonderful as ever, thank you – I just love your passion and energy! Just a quick question: If you had the choice, would you convert a No 4, No 5 or No 5 1/2 to be your scrub plane (i.e. would the extra weight be a good or bad thing?).

    • Philip Adams on 16 February 2018 at 2:56 pm

      Paul’s preference is for a #4. Not too long and not to heavy.

    • d c on 14 March 2018 at 3:42 pm

      What I’ve read is that you actually want, if anything, a _smaller_ plane for a scrub. Like a #3 is actually better than a #4.

      The #4’s are most of what you find on the used market though.

  5. Thomas Hanson on 16 February 2018 at 1:47 pm

    I’ve had a genuine scrub plane for years so I’m amazed that someone would use a Stanley #4 instead of a Stanley #3 to make one. The #3’s are much lighter, cheap and just about all over YouTube for much lower prices that a #4 Did I mention lighter? they are much less bulky and are lighter than the #4.
    I’m gong to have to try one of these just to compare to the # 40 original if nothing else.

    • d c on 14 March 2018 at 3:45 pm

      Youtube? Do you mean ebay? I’ve done a lot of ebay shopping for hand planes and I don’t believe the #3s are usually cheaper than #4s on USA ebay — they run about the same price. They’re definitely not as common.

  6. Mathieu Peckel on 16 February 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Great video! Thanks!

    Just a side note, the link provided in the e-mail I’ve received doesn’t work, I have a 404 error message.

    Here’s the faulty link :–+A+New+Woodworking+Masterclasses+Technique+Video

    The image and text link in the e-mail both link to the above.

  7. Bill Milhoan on 16 February 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Is there any reason not to use a Handyman or Wards or some other consumer grade plane for a scrub?

    • Philip Adams on 16 February 2018 at 2:57 pm

      No reason not to, they would probably do a great job.

    • Richard Noonan on 16 February 2018 at 3:01 pm

      I used a really cheap no.4 someone had laying in their cellar. Cleaned it up, reground the iron and opened the throat and it works fine.

  8. btyreman on 16 February 2018 at 2:34 pm

    I have an old no4 that would be handy to convert to a scrub, the handles are missing and it’s in pieces.

  9. tas on 16 February 2018 at 2:42 pm

    What a lovely video!
    Thanks Paul!

  10. Rick Gatewood on 16 February 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I have a radius-ed iron in a lightweight cheap no name no 5 and it works great for making quick work of rough wood. I have lots of rough sawn pine and “the little green monster” as I call it, helps speed the work.

  11. Richard Noonan on 16 February 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Another very useful video. Thanks Paul.

  12. Dennis Leksander on 16 February 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Great video! Great to see the versatile uses of this plane. I’ve a no-name no 4 I’ve cleaned up for this purpose, and now i’m really motivated to camber the blade, and open the mouth, if need be, to make it work like yours. Thank you!

  13. Harvey Kimsey on 16 February 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I find the cambered iron is great for squaring up the edges of boards. Because of the blade’s curvature, I just push the plane left or right of center to remove the high edge. It’s surprisingly easy to get the edge close to square, which I can clean up with my regular smoothing plane. With a dead straight profile on the cutter, I have to carefully apply pressure to the high edge and I find that process is quite tricky to control. I like my scrub plane so much that I have 2 irons for it; one with a strong camber for hogging off material and one with less camber for finer work.

    • Barry Ogus on 29 September 2018 at 3:56 pm

      You could get a similar result with a straight blade by using your lateral adjuster to take more of one side than the other.

      • harry wheeler on 29 September 2018 at 4:20 pm

        I think what you’ll find happening if you try to do that is you’ll just swap sides with the high side. You’ll do exactly the same thing with a scrub plane if you get carried away and you can’t get a perfectly square edge off a scrub plane because of the camber. So you end up either swapping to a regular bench plane or having to readjust your normal plane for a level cut to finish the task. With a little practice, having the plane adjusted for an even cut across the width of the blade and simply moving the plane over so that you’re planing the high side down first, then finishing with the plane centered taking full width shavings.

  14. Michael Anderson on 16 February 2018 at 5:28 pm

    When I first learned about scrub planes years ago, the guy who taught me recommended an 8 inch radius on the iron. It worked fine at removing wood rapidly across the grain and also at giving a handmade appearance by planing with the grain. Later I noticed that commercially available scrub planes (Lie-Nielsen, Veritas) have a 3 inch radius, which seems really radical. What radius does Paul use? It looked like it may be even larger than 8 inches.

    • Michael Anderson on 17 February 2018 at 4:16 am

      Edit: Looked at Paul’s 2014 video where he made a scrub iron and he used 7 1/8″ radius, apparently because that’s what his compass was set to?? Pretty close to my 8″ radius so I guess it’s all good.

  15. skeptycal on 16 February 2018 at 5:53 pm

    This looks like another eye opening video that I can spend a lot of time thinking about while I adjust and test my tools. I have to tell you … I never understood the attraction of the plane until I saw you teaching about the uses and especially how to setup and sharpen a plane correctly. Once I had mine sharp, and not just what I thought was sharp, it was a different tool altogether.

    Same with the chisels. I didn’t really understand what sharp was until I did what you suggested to sharpen my chisels and plane irons. They are actually different tools when sharpened correctly. They perform completely differently. It has been amazing to hear and feel the wood develop under my plane. I understand now. Thank you.

  16. Timothy Sweeney on 16 February 2018 at 8:21 pm

    For most folks the accidental or unwitting purchase of a Stanley H1204 would be a real bummer. Horrible plane, total garbage, right? Wellll…. maybe not. I bought one on purpose. These planes have really wide throats, which quite admittedly makes them horrible or even non-functional smoothing planes.

    But – they can make awesome scrub planes. I did not do anything to the throat, knocked in a bit of a curve into the blade and Voila! I got scrub plane for $10.00, US, (yes, ten dollars) and darned near zero work. It’s typical downsides – it’s heavy, it has a thick, bulky handle, and a comparatively huge throat – all become assets in looking for a low cost scrub solution. Especially with #40’s tipping the scales at $100.00+.

    Paul, thanks to you and your team for such a great knowledge resource!

  17. Larry Christensen on 16 February 2018 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you for another educational video. I enjoy all you videos and look forward to seeing the next video.

  18. David Marienau on 17 February 2018 at 2:50 am

    I really enjoyed the great video.

  19. Christopher Johnston on 17 February 2018 at 6:36 am

    When he does stuff it’s almost as quick as machining.This is the man that led me away from machines and onto HAND tools.Much quieter and I listen to music while working.Thank you Paul

  20. Gerald Spence on 17 February 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Recently I had to prepare some oak boards too wide to fit in my planer. I had recently bought two old wooden planes and set one as a smoother and the other as a jack plane. I was astonished at how fast this combination allowed me to get the boards to size. I have always been a bit wary of wooden planes but these two are almost frictionless and after a bit of practice and getting used to adjusting the depth of cut are just as fast as a metal no.4. The last time I used a wooden plane had been 50 years ago in school woodworking and I suspect that it was poorly adjusted and too heavy for a 12 year old.

  21. jakegevorgian on 18 February 2018 at 7:06 am

    With a scrub plane I almost never put any pressure on the plane. It cuts down thickness effortlessly. Every hand tools woodworker should have a scrub plane.

  22. Paweł Kaczmarek on 18 February 2018 at 11:25 am

    Very simply BUT great video and explanation! 😉 Thank You very much! 😉

  23. Michael Ostrander on 19 February 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I’ve had and used an old Stanley #40 for years as well as a newer ECE scrub plane that I paid $10 or $15 for at a flea market. I have one set for about 1/64th” stock removal and the other for almost 1/32″.

    They are amazing. Effortless to use, very light, and amazingly good at what they do. If you can afford one you won’t regret it. I’m sure the #4 works ok and is a great alternative if you don’t use it enough to justify the expense but the dedicated version is a stock removal monster and well worth the price if this is a common task in your shop.

  24. Christopher Dennis on 19 February 2018 at 6:22 pm

    I used a Whitmore #4 as a basis for my scrub. As the plane appears to be made to ‘wider’ tolerances than a Stanley or Record the mouth was already possibly too big for fine smoothing work, so I put the cambered Record iron in there (that I’d saved from being thrown away) that I’d made a few months ago and I now have a great tool that I’ve used quite a lot already.

  25. Anthony Grosso on 20 February 2018 at 3:42 am

    Another absolutely brilliant video from the artisan himself, Paul Sellers! God Bless you always

  26. Kevin Farris on 23 February 2018 at 2:03 am

    Another plane that would make a good candidate to be converted to a scrub plane would be the Stanley Defiance #4 size. They are about the lowest cost #4 plane I’ve seen on Ebay.
    Before I acquired a #40, I use the Defiance for rough prep.

  27. charles hupp on 4 March 2018 at 11:45 am

    awesome video got a scrub I need to sharpen you got me motivated now thanks

  28. jeffdustin on 30 August 2018 at 1:20 am

    Any thoughts on the ECE Scrub plane? It has a very sweeping radius and a narrow body. It seems to take bites in a deep and narrow pattern.

  29. Tim Ridolfi on 30 August 2018 at 2:24 am

    I have one and like it better than my Stanley #40. The wood sole is much smoother over the stock, and the grip is more comfortable in heavy work. It does hog off wood, but I rarely use either of the scrubs. I usually reach for a heavily set #4 or #5 instead.

  30. jeffdustin on 20 September 2018 at 10:00 pm

    I love my scrub, but it is an ECE and very narrow with a sharply curved radius on the cutting iron. It really digs deep into the wood.

  31. Marc Hintzman on 4 February 2020 at 3:28 am

    I love the raised panel method of getting a board to thickness. Thank you it’s a game changer.

  32. Paul philip on 5 July 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Im still not exactly clear on this. Do I understand that the scrub plane just allows a thicker shaving to be taken? Whats stopping you just setting a thick shaving on a regular smoothing plane? Likewise, Surely you can create a chamfer just fine with a smoothing plane?

  33. Colin Scowen on 5 July 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Yep, that is exactly what the scrub plane is for. It is to remove larger amounts of material. Depends on the smoothing plane you have. Traditionally, a scrub plane would have a blade, but no chipbreaker, and a wider mouth. (Certainly that’s what my old wooden one has. Often they would be made from a well worn wooden smoother). Stanley also made a metal version, again with no chipbreaker, with a wider than normal mouth. If you have a smoother with an adjustable mouth, then yeah, go for it. Yes, you can create a chamfer with most of the basic planes. A scrub plane may be useful if you have a deep chamfer though, to get you closer to the line quicker.

  34. Roberto Fischer on 5 July 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Paul Philip, try to set a smoothing plane for a heavy cut and note how much force is necessary to make the cut actually happen. The reason why a scrub plane exists is because sharpening the cutting iron with a curved instead of a straight edge makes it so the heavy cuts are much much easier to take. You should try it out with a spare cutting iron of you have one. It’s all about saving you energy.

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