Recently I have added a couple hand planes to the tool box. A Sargent No.407 and a Stanley No.5.
The top one is a Sargent #407 it’s like the Stanley #2 in size, real small, I wanted it for the girls Allie is 5 and handles the spoke shave on the shaving horse well so I thought she might be ready to play around at the bench but my bench isn’t user friendly for her for the obvious reasons, we need to get her own for it to be fun/easier to make the wood curl. Plenty of time for that, its about introducing things to her now. The plane in the middle is a Stanley No. 4 1/2 that was in with my grandfathers tools, it’s the first plane that I had and played a big role in the direction my woodworking went in those early years. And the bottom one is the Stanley No.5. On a side note Paulownia is a great wood to learn technique with, straight grained and soft. It also rives well so if you ever get some in log form don’t pass it up you can split it into parts and work it green just like Oak and it dries easier.
And of course it is of the utmost importance that you ignore the camera and only focus on the task at hand when working at the shaving horse.
Stanley’s No.5 a “fore” plane some call it because it’s used before the shorter smoothing planes, may be the most versatile plane in the line up “the work horse”. You don’t have to research much to discover that this plane is capable of a whole lot more than just prepping rough stock it bridges many gaps in relation to the sole length of planes and the infinity of stock width and length one encounters in a life time. It seems to me the width of the plane sole and iron play into the versatility of this guy as much as any other aspect. It’s light compared to the No.6 and the iron is 2″ instead of the 2 3/8″ width the No. 4 1/2 and the No.6 I have carry. This means less cutting resistance and fatigue than the other two mentioned. I used the 4 1/2 for years to do everything knowing it wasn’t always ideal but accomplishing much more than you’d expect like jointing long edges for glue up and prepping stock from the scrub plane to final surface. Stanley planes are numbered 1-8 with the No.5 traditionally being a staple in any woodworkers kit. When it came time to get a jointer I got what was readily available the Stanley No.6. It came from the local Woodcraft store (now closed) and needed a lot of flattening of sole, cap and iron, and worked ok . The most appealing part to me was the iron is the same width 2 3/8″as the No. 4 1/2 so with the purchase of a Hock blade there are now three irons or blades, that are interchangeable and sharpened all at once extending the period between sharpening sessions. My next plane will be the No.7 it carries the 2 3/8″ iron and 22″ long, removing the need for the 6.
The No.6 worked but at 18″ long it was heavy and it just felt like there was a gap to fill in planes. The 4 1/2 is 10″ long. I looked for a long time for a wooden 14″ long plane to fill that gap but found more of the No.5’s on the market some dirt cheap if you were willing to put a lot of effort into it. My grandfathers 4 1/2 is a Stanley type 11 1910 to 1918, he was born in 1910 I believe, so I think it was either his dads or his wife’s fathers. Her name was Mann and there was a tool chest I have now with this plane in it and some saws stamped Mann, no markings on the plane though. If I was going to get a metal fore plane it would be neat for it to be the same type as the 4 1/2. And I did, a type 11 No.5 WW1 era plane.
I used Go-Jo (without pumice) and steel wool on the knob and tote to get years of hand funk off and a light sand. The tote still has the Stanley Tools decal on it! And the knob has the number 21 stamped on the front and back. Three coats of shellac some past wax and its my new best friend! The decal seems protected but another couple coats couldn’t hurt.
It’s neat to me that something so mass produced works so well, any short cuts in design and production did not comprise the working integrity. The makers stayed true to the original idea.