Paul Sellers recommends the Bailey-pattern #4 as it usually suits the build or stature of most people, if you have a slightly smaller stature, the #3 might suit better. Paul uses the #4 and #4½ the most. The ½ refers to the extra width, so these planes are both the same in length, but the #4½ is slightly wider. Refrain from buying any with previous breaks in the handle. Although these can be repaired, the fix is very rarely permanent under heavy use. When looking for breaks, see if you can see any horizontal split lines, these will most likely be nearer to the base of the handle but not always. Also, the horn at the top of the handle needs to be fully intact as this prevents the hand from slipping upwards under heavier planing thrusts. eBay is often a good place to find planes secondhand. It is wise to buy a bevel-down plane as these can do all the same things as a bevel-up plane (but not vice versa). The most common one is a bevel-down, however if it is a bevel-up then it will likely specify this in the name/description. The bevel-up plane is sometimes preferred for more refined work and although used the same way as bevel-down planes it has more limited uses. They are also often more expensive than bevel-down planes which are more widely available on secondhand markets. Stanley planes are a good make recommended by Paul Sellers as are Record. When purchasing a plane, look for the length of the blade, if it is roughly the same height as the handle, you will have plenty of life left in it that way. If it is short then you will have to replace the blade sooner or even straight away which adds costs.

To view the parts of a plane, click here.

We purchased this Bailey #4 secondhand from eBay for £29.50 with £3.50 delivery*.

Plane on workbench

*Prices correct as of December 2017

Further Reading

To read more on planes, we recommend the following from Paul's blog:

Which Plane- Bevel Up First or Bevel Down

11 Comments

  1. Dennis Moyer on 13 September 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Paul,

    Before I found you I purchased a #5 Stanley plane that had the manufactured grooves in the bottom and one of the wings broken off. It there any way to make it a usable plane again?

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 18 September 2018 at 2:49 pm

      Hi Dennis,

      Thank you for your comment. I have passed this onto Paul and put his reply below:

      My suggestion for corrugated soles is to not use them. Unfortunately the idea was good but in practice it grabs the shavings and they wedge in the grooves and often damages the very surface you want to make smooth. You can use just about everything on the plane to retro fit on other planes or you could just find a plane sole on eBay as they often come up for sale. The broken wing really confirms it for me that you should replace the sole.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

  2. [email protected] on 18 December 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I am asking for advice. I’m thinking about buying a new Stanley # 4 (it’s cheaper than being used on eBay). In the guide you recommend buying used. Are the new Stanley planes poor in quality? I know that their hinges are plastic and that’s the only difference to my eye. Best wishes.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 20 December 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Karol,

      I asked your question to Paul and his answer is below:

      No you can get these to work just fine. They just feel tinny because of the plastic handles which can be replaced with wooden ones. (See Paul’s blog on it here)

      Izzy

  3. jeffdustin on 26 October 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Using an ECE Try Plane freshly sharpened, I can’t get a long wispy shaving on my plank for my white oak bench top build. It just digs in an the plane stops. I back off and the plane won’t take any shavings…very frustrating! I can go diagonally to the grain with the ECE Scrub, a narrow bladed 1 inch wide or so and heavily rounded edge. The board is heavily crowned and I’m trying to remove the crown to flatten the wide face. The board is 12 inches wide, 2 inches thick and about 66 inches long.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 5 November 2019 at 8:31 am

      Hi Jeff,

      Paul says: It’s really hard to say without having the plane in my hand. You may be backing it off too much and over correcting, sometimes it’s necessary to practise more with some tools than others.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

  4. Clem Tln on 13 June 2020 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Paul and Izzy,

    I’ve bought a second hand Stanley Handyman n°4. I had quite a hard time planing the sole. Therefore I’m considering converting it into a scrub plane.

    I’m looking for another n°4. In France, where I live, you can find new Stanley Bailey n°4 for around 55 to 60£ not that much more expensive that what you can get on second hand on eBay once you consider the delivery fees. Indeed, most planes come from the UK. I have heard that those new planes are not quite as good as the old models. Would you recommend to buy it ?

    Thanks for everything

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 19 June 2020 at 11:38 am

      Hi,

      Paul says:

      I feel the same way about these newer models, the older ones are definitely better and of course the Stanley Handyman range was a dumbed down version that should never have emerged. Personally I would go for a mid 20th century or earlier Stanley because they will last you for your whole lifetime. I doubt that anybody has used a no4 plane anywhere in the world as much as I have and I’m still using mine 55 years on. It’s a great investment.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

  5. Clem Tln on 20 June 2020 at 8:52 am

    Hi,

    Thanks for the answer. Is a conversion to scrub plane a suitable end for my handyman or should I just get rid of it and buy two number 4 and convert one?

    Thanks again for the time you take to answer us.

    Kind regards,
    Clem

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 3 July 2020 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Clem,

      Paul says:
      You have nothing to lose using the handyman plane because it’s of little value or use to you anyway. Just try it and see how it feels.

      Kind Regards,
      Izzy

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