#4 Plane Tune Up - Conclusions
Would I recommend this journey for everyone? Well, there are some merits. By refining the basic tool I think you can gain an appreciation and deeper knowledge about the tool you are using. In addition it’s good value and there is I think, pleasure to be taken in giving an old e-bay or car boot sale tool a new lease of life.
That said if you don’t fancy refining a plane you have options. First up, just don’t bother and see how you go. Who knows, you may have a sweet tool right out of the box and never really test it enough to find faults.
If you have a bit more money to spend you are truly spoiled for choice. By spending more you get more. Your premium purchase is likely to need little or no tuning and look rather nice to boot. Here are a few of the options. I Just want to add I have not included the current Stanley, Record or Faithful versions of the #4. I see no reason why they could not be refined to a good standard, I would however anticipate a similar journey to the tune up I did should you want a high performer. I have also not added the low angle Veritas, a wonderful tool I’m sure but not a tool I have much knowledge of.
The cheapest of the premium planes is the #4 Quangsheng (UK) – Wood River (US). A Chinese made plane based on the “Stanley Bedrock” design. The key advantage of the Bedrock design is that you can move the frog without having to remove the blade. It also comes with a thick, high quality blade. Often during my tune up I looked longingly at this plane. If I reflect on the purchase price of my #4 at around £20.00 or so, the time spent not woodworking, the cost of the sundries needed and the fact my Record only has a regular blade. I think many would feel it’s not worth the time or effort. Food for thought when the #4 Quangsheng is currently £120.00
If you have more funds available there are some rather nice examples for you to consider. Makers like Clifton, Lie-Nielsen and Veritas all have stunning offerings. Both the Clifton and Lie-Nielsen are also based on the “Stanley Bedrock” design and the Veritas is a unique new design. These premium planes also tap into some other aspects such being able to buy a premium tool made in you own Country and the finest detailing. All this does come at a price of around £260.00
So the choice is yours. Every woodworker is different and will need and want different things from their purchase. If you can get to a woodworking show or demo day and try before you buy all the better. The only comment I would make is not to feel inferior in any way if you don’t have the funds for the high end planes. I don’t have one (yet) and I don’t loose any sleep over it. That said the price of the #4 Quangsheng is so attractive that I’m very tempted indeed.