Do I want a Clifton No 4, or No 4 1/2 smoothing plane?

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I was determined to NOT buy any new tools after my recent return to woodworking but already succumbed to a Japanese saw. I'm really glad I did though! It made the repetitive task of accurately hand-cutting blocks from hardwood stock a lot easier and I get *much* more accurate results (and cleaner cuts) than I could ever hope to achieve with a "western" saw.

After that success and since I've already wavered anyway, I'm further tempted to get "just one more" useful tool. I lost my Stanley No 4 smoothing plane yonks ago and managed with a couple of block planes ever since (one low-angle, one not). I'd like to buy a quality (new) smoother to replace my old Stanley, about the same size, but not Stanley. Their product quality is nothing like it was when I bought that lost plane decades ago, so I'd like to try another brand.

Although I can do it myself, if I must, I'd prefer the plane to come with the sole and cheeks ALREADY accurately ground - or at least very close. That rules out Rider and Stanley IMO. Veritas planes blow the budget of £300-ish. So after looking around, it seems the Clifton No 4 is the only game in town for me. But I noticed they do a No 4 1/2 at a very slightly higher cost. I'm tempted to buy that one instead because it might make a better shooting plane (extra heft and wider blade). I guess at least 80% of my usage would be for truing-up stock, jointing small pieces and smoothing faces. Only 10% of the time would be spent shooting, if that (the missing 10% is for random needs I haven't thought of).

My question is, given that I only want to buy ONE, new, general purpose plane/smoother, would the No 4 1/2 work just as well as the No 4 "off the shooting board"? I wonder if its significant extra heft and/or width might detract from that. Conversely, could the No 4 work just as well as the No 4 1/2 "on the shooting board", and thus remove any need to consider the No 4 1/2 at all?

In short, do I get the Clifton No 4 or or Clifton No 4 1/2? Or have I missed other options?

Interested to hear any general views or opinions about either Clifton plane (the No 4 or No 4 1/2) from owners too.


I have a few No 4. A No 4 1/2 and No 5. If I were to decide I’d go for the No 5. It’s a bit longer therefore heavier than No 4. Good for the shooting board. And don’t forget a 4 1/2 has a wider cut therefore more effort required when planing wide stock.