Why Paul Sellers likes the #4 Plane | Paul Sellers

Why Paul Sellers likes the #4 Plane | Paul Sellers

No matter who you are, wherever you are in the world, if you follow me at all, you will know that I am always refining my woodworking and my wood with a #4 Stanley bench plane.

You can buy them secondhand and enjoy them as I have throughout a lifetime of woodworking. Follow my channel here to find out how to restore them, fine-tune them, maintain them and use them. You will not regret it!


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  1. Carpythesharky on July 16, 2022 at 10:28 pm

    I just got my first real Stanley plane (had only used "harbor freight" quality planes before). It’s a Bailey #4 Type 12 and it’s an absolute dream. Watched your videos on how to set it up and tune it. Absolutely no complaints. Money very well spent for the quality of the work it produces, as well as the enjoyment I get from using it. With those two things in mind, it’s actually quite "cheap" for how much of a tool you’re really getting. Thanks, Paul.

  2. Marc Slonik on July 16, 2022 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you Paul. This type of testimonies from someone as accomplished as Paul are things to come back to, whenever you find yourself in one of those situations, when you begin to believe you are limited or blocked by the lack of some special tool for the task at hand. It’s rarely the case.

  3. MC's Creations on July 16, 2022 at 10:30 pm

    Awesome, Paul! Thanks a lot! 😊
    Stay safe there with your family! 🖖😊

  4. 738polarbear on July 16, 2022 at 10:30 pm

    I cannot imagine getting better advice from ANYBODY.

  5. Joseph Webb on July 16, 2022 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks for your insights Paul. You rule!

  6. Jérôme Andrieux on July 16, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    Everyone has its preferred chisel, square, plane … this particular specimen that gets picked more than the other for no particularly objective reason. The fit, the feel, the history … Then, no one can really go wrong by picking a 4 to a 5 1/2 as their first all around plane purchase.

  7. The Casual Citizen on July 16, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    What type is your No 4 plane?

  8. Eric Schneider on July 16, 2022 at 10:38 pm

    Notice too, its what he started with. Its what he learned on and so he got to know that plane best. I have the same experience with the 5. Its my go to. So find a plane in that 4-5 range in length and learn to use it. Might be the only plane you’ll ever need for taking rough lumber to smooth. Neither will do the job of a longer jointer plane as efficiently, but they can do the job.

  9. Harry Chisholm on July 16, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    Thanks, nice straight talk. To the point.

  10. Elaine D on July 16, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    Thanks again for wonderful information Mr. Paul! I too prefer my #4 over all the others. For me, it just seems to fit better and is easier to work with than the longer wider jointer planes.

  11. Ben D. Straw on July 16, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    I restored a wooden plane from an antique mall and all the guts are from an old stanley #4!!

  12. Manu on July 16, 2022 at 10:47 pm

    No love for 5 1/4?

  13. Geoffrey Newton on July 16, 2022 at 10:47 pm

    I am only a “keen novice” to fine woodworking but years ago I came across an old dilapidated No.7 plane and the research I did on it at the time indicated that it was designed for jointing work. It was the only plane I had for some years and I got to know it and love it. I recently made one of your desktop organisers and I frequently found myself reaching for my no.7 instead of the No.4 which have acquired more recently.
    I quess that my comment is more about the fact that people shouldn’t stress too much about what tool they have, or how they use it, just as long as they can get the results they what . Repeatedly.
    I think that this is a theme I see running through a lot of your videos which I admire and appreciate immensely.

  14. Engin Topuzkanamış on July 16, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Thanks for the video. But i believe it’s not the #4 has the magic. It’s your craftsmanship, experience and knowledge. I’m pretty sure it really doesn’t matter 4 or 5 or 4,5 or wooden or cast iron or whatever. The beginners usually tend to think the tool itself is what matters and if they buy that razor sharp japanesse saw or high end, thick blade plane they’ll master the work. When i watch your videos, i can see my own granfather who was a metal worker and worked with very few tools and bad conditions but his work was excellent. So, hands know not no4. My greetings and respects…

  15. M M on July 16, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Some people recommend to start with a No. 5, and I would agree: the longer sole gives you a little more confidence when you’re straightening up a piece of wood. Keep in mind that the title of the video is “Why Paul Sellers likes the #4 Plane” and not “The No. 4 should be your first plane”.

    Of course there‘s no reason not to get a No. 4, especially in places where No. 4 planes are the most common ones to find and the cheapest. It is the most versatile plane, although I would probably go for a No. 5 if I could only have one. On the other hand, the No. 4 is not as heavy, so I might change my mind at some point, who knows. Weight is a factor if you’re using a tool all day, even as a hobbyist. For that reason, I’m not a huge fan of the wider irons (e.g. 4 1/2 and 5 1/2) – they don’t give you much, they just used to save craftsmen some time.

  16. Bill on the Hill on July 16, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks Paul… I recently purchased a #4 plane that came as a set of ( 3 ) planes in a dovetailed box & made in India of all places, through a specialty tool company here in the states. Surprisingly very high quality as I wiped them all down 1st thing. I learned 1st hand that the #4 is indeed a bevel down plane as you alluded to this at the very beginning of your presentation, it won’t work any other way btw as I found out very quickly, LOL! Your little tips here & there are quite helpful too…
    In closing about ( 2 ) years back I followed your wood vise install for one was given to me that goes back to the 40’s or 50’s I believe. I did a restoration on it & followed your install video on it into my workbench with some slight modifications for my particular install. The install came out perfect thanks in no small part to watching the install of your old Record vise I believe. My 10" vise which is now a 14" vise was forged in Pennsylvania back in the day…It has become a inherent part of most everything I do working with wood now… Now I’m ready to plane some wood…
    Bill on the Hill…
    Vermont, USA… :~)

  17. Glenn McQueen on July 16, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    is this speaking in the third person?

  18. Craig Mouldey on July 16, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    I have a Bailey #3 which belonged to my grandfather. It is more than 100 years old, I’m sure. It could use a new iron though I did sharpen up the existing one and took my first shavings with it a few days ago. It’s more of a keepsake than anything but I’m happy I was able to get it to the point where it actually can work again. Amazingly, the sole of this plane is very flat.

  19. bigscreen bird on July 16, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    Hey what ever works for you.

  20. Darryl Portelli on July 16, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    My first plane was a number 5 which i restored and i learned on it so recently when i restored a number 4 it now seems that the number 5 is more comfortable to me … I guess its because ive used it for so long now … Great planes if you learn how to sharpen them well …. Its takes quite some time of experimentation to learn how to sharpen but over the past year and a half or 2yrs that ive been into wood working ive managed to find a way that works for me and im managing to plane 8/4 beech and maple endgrain with ease – it took a looottt of hours experimenting with sharpening though !!!

  21. Robert Deming on July 16, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    it happens to be the first one i was able to get, so i don’t know any different!.

  22. EatenByAGrue on July 16, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    For a long time I only had a #5. I bought a #4 a while ago on your recommendation and it fast became my favorite plane. It really is more versatile.

  23. pcb1962 on July 16, 2022 at 10:54 pm

    Price of No 4 planes on eBay just doubles…

  24. stan lam on July 16, 2022 at 10:54 pm

    Can you do a video on how to true up a board with a 4 or perhaps exercises on increasing our proficiency? Tried to flatten with a 4 and it never comes out right. I always have to break out the 6 to right the errors.

  25. Jerry Zhao on July 16, 2022 at 10:55 pm

    Hi, Paul! Love your YouTube channel and blog. It was such a delightful surprise to see you and be able to say hi to you on the high street yesterday. A big thank you to you for your infectious passion for woodworking and generosity for sharing your knowledge with us. Hope to be able to visit your workshop some day. Thank you!

  26. GenWivern2 on July 16, 2022 at 10:58 pm

    Interesting. A 5 1/2 has always been my bread and butter plane, along with a 7 and an adjustable block. Never did meet a 4 I liked much – pretty much everybody else in the trade seems to favour them, though.

  27. Ken Tyler on July 16, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    I must have 7-8 metal planes. All are good but if I had to choose a favorite it would be my old Stanley 4 1/2.
    I really like the wider blade and heavier base. Really hugs the wood.

  28. Darin on July 16, 2022 at 11:01 pm


  29. Michael Means on July 16, 2022 at 11:02 pm

    What tools do you prefer in your minimalist tool kit? If you could only have one small portable tool box, what would make the list?

  30. ugaladh on July 16, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    my original plane was a CHEAP Stanley #4, it had plastic knobs and totes. I eventually bought a good 5 1/2 which is my do almost everything Jack plane. I have a #3 for a smoothing plane and I like the smaller size. That cheap #4 got new wood totes, a new blade and got converted to a Scrub plane. One day, I might need to see about a new, good #4, but really it would mostly be superfluous with what I have otherwise.

  31. Colin Fielder on July 16, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you Paul . As a novice woodworker I appreciate your input

  32. All Of Us on July 16, 2022 at 11:06 pm


  33. Tony Minehan on July 16, 2022 at 11:07 pm

    I’ve only started playing with wood in the last 12 months or so, I now own 3 number 5’s and several number 4’s. I must admit, I do love the 4, I’ll use the 5 just for roughing out (I use pallet wood because it’s free and I’m broke) and the 4 for smoothing. Having said that, I have a dedicated 5 (a Faithful) that can get very close to the fine shavings one would expect from a 4.

  34. CrimeVid on July 16, 2022 at 11:07 pm

    It’s no wonder that the number 4 is most favoured, after all it’s the first plane you see at school, your dad had one, and it’ll do most things, I have several, I have a couple of fives and a five and a half, I don’t use them much, I think probably because my old woodwork master was sniffy about them (“only for rough work boy “) I was always impressed by the big “try” plane, but have never owned one, Two of the best chippies I have known said “its the kind of plane you buy when you are young, and never use !”

  35. Cole Jeter on July 16, 2022 at 11:09 pm

    Thank you paul for sharing all your great knowledge

  36. Gary M on July 16, 2022 at 11:09 pm

    The Stanley #4 was my first plane also.

  37. darz3 on July 16, 2022 at 11:10 pm

    Stanley sold a lot more 4/5 than other sizes, which is telling in itself. Paul’s skills and experience are a resource we are lucky to have.

  38. Stan Moderate on July 16, 2022 at 11:16 pm

    Paul, have you ever heard of a Spinny 4-1/2? I think it was made by Stanley or Record for one of the big ‘catalogue’ companies in the UK. I am just wondering if it is worth tuning up. Thanks

  39. James Smith on July 16, 2022 at 11:18 pm

    Love ya

  40. The Walnut Woodworker on July 16, 2022 at 11:19 pm

    I always reach for the No 5 and I only use my No 4 for finishing.

  41. Chris Jordan on July 16, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    Just finished restoring an old Stanley 4½ which actually feels quite comfortable compared with the 4 and I don’t have particularly large hands, it also seems to have considerably more mass for that bit of extra width which may be useful on a shooting board. But my favourite is still my (fairly) old Clifton No 5, but then I’m a biased Englishman.
    Funny thing collecting all of these planes and finding you only use one or two (me, the Clifton and a little Lie Neilsen block plane), Stanley was obviously onto a great marketing ploy giving them all numbers, because you’ve just got to collect the lot!!
    Now, where can I find that No 1, 2, 6…?

  42. Mark Macauley on July 16, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    Thank you Paul 👍

  43. justin woods on July 16, 2022 at 11:21 pm

    Am I the only one who had a no 4 then got a no 3 but use the 3 all the time now. That’s me for the past 3 weeks since I got one

  44. matteo on July 16, 2022 at 11:21 pm

    What Paul is saying is absolutely true… BUT he’s a master in woodworking. Hand planing and jointing long lengths is not easy. He can do that because he’s an extremely talented, proficient and experienced woodworker. But I think that using a longer and wider plane makes life much easier for a beginner. If you have just started in woodworking and you are on a budget, then go for a No.4

  45. Tornelli Guitars on July 16, 2022 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks for the great info Paul 👍

  46. Ham68 on July 16, 2022 at 11:22 pm

    I was always told to start with a #4 and a #7. Both will do everything you need, with the exception of dado’s, rabbits. But, those are specialty planes any way. Thank you Paul, as always, very informative. Cheers 🙂

  47. Why Don't You Build it? on July 16, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    I should disagree. After all fights are what drives traffic on the internet. But I can’t. Stanley n.4 (like) planes are my favourite tools.

  48. Matt Evans-Koch on July 16, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    Thank you Paul for the highlight n the #4 smoothing plane. I suspect that like all artists, your preference for the #4 comes from your overwhelming experience. Having watched your videos for years now I have come to believe that your right hand has become a #4 plane that magically appears as soon as the vise closes on a piece of wood that needs any truing up. Now I just hope that the price and availability of used #4 planes does not go the route of the router plane after you extolled its virtues and use. Again thank you for all that you share with us.

  49. That Ellipsis Guy on July 16, 2022 at 11:25 pm

    Alternative title: Why Paul Sellers is talking about himself in the 3rd person…

  50. Joey Shofner on July 16, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    I have a #4 taytools plane with a bowed blade. #4 plane blades are hard to find, quality blades anyway. Excellent plane piss poor blade.