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New blade for Stanley 4

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Andy P Devon

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Hi All,
I've just cleaned up a rusty old Stanley no. 4 plane I found at a car boot sale. 50p!
It's come up rather nice but I've discovered the blade in it is a Record. This feels rather flimsy and I'd like to 'upgrade'.
Can anyone recommend a brand of replacement blade (and a website to buy it from) please?
Happy to pay for a quality one. The plane will be a working tool afterwards (weekend woodworking).
Regards
Andy
 

ED65

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Nice buy!

Don't worry about the iron seeming thin, it'll work just fine. Sharpen and use it and unless you're working on a lot of exotic woods I bet it'll do all you ask of it.
 

AndyT

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Your iron has already been upgraded.

If you want more details, threads from the last few days will provide evidence. Have a look at the later digressions in the  Easiest Blade and Chisel Sharpening thread and D_W's experimental results.

Note too the comments on the virtues of the old iron you already have.
 

D_W

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If the top of the iron has corners on it and isn't rounded, you might find the blade to be quite good. If it's pitted badly or in horrible shape, then replacing may make more sense.

Setting the cap iron properly is the first step before replacing a thin iron. Once you do, all the sudden, the plane will stop you in your tracks before it shows any ill effect from a thin iron.
 

ED65

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AndyT":12tw872u said:
Your iron has already been upgraded.
That's a bit sweeping isn't it? Stanley irons varied a lot even if we confine ourselves to the English ones, and even those from the 70s widely regarded as rubbish clearly weren't all bad. Given the large timeframe over which they were produced (and the multiple owners!) Record irons are sure to have varied somewhat; the planes they were mounted in certainly did.

As we don't know the vintage of the original or its replacement I think a tentative "might already be an upgrade" is a little fairer to Stanley.
 

AndyT

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Ok, I was trying to stress that thin irons (as sold by the million to working craftsmen) are actually a good engineering design, not an inferior option. And yes, I was assuming that the original owner had the sense not to buy something unusable.
 

David C

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I beg to differ. The 70's Stanley blades that I suffered with were terrible.

A Hock replacement iron from Classic Handtools will make a huge difference.

Best wishes,
David Charlesworth
 

Bm101

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I bought a Ray IIes replacement iron (or two) used on here. They are fifty percent thicker than the original Stanleys and 01 which suits me. They are cheaper new than the Hock irons from the same supplier that I checked ( Classic Handtools) Bearing in mind the price difference have you any preference for the Hock irons over the Iles David in terms of quality or use?
Be very interested to hear your ( or anyone elses) opinions if you don't mind sharing.
 

D_W

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David C":dq3pg88p said:
I beg to differ. The 70's Stanley blades that I suffered with were terrible.

A Hock replacement iron from Classic Handtools will make a huge difference.

Best wishes,
David Charlesworth
Those were dud irons, but the difference between an older good quality stanley iron and a hock iron is fairly minimal. The solid (non laminated) irons are probably oil hardening steel, anyway.

I think before we'd suggest a replacement is necessary because 70s stanley irons were bad, we'd like to know if the user actually has one.
 

AndyT

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Let's not forget that the OP's plane has a Record iron, so comments about Stanley are only useful if he buys one of those instead.
But he's still not said how old it is.

I'd sort of assumed it was a proper made in Sheffield iron, but another recent thread has reminded me that the Record brand can now be found on whatever its American owners want to put it on so if it's quite new it could be anything.
 

D_W

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I've had one bad one - 70s era that David mentions.

But I also intentionally bought one of the last stanley made #4s from the UK. It was a terrible plane, but I'd imagine that the iron would've tested around 60/61 RC, and it was perfectly fine. Only the one with the rounded top was bad, and it probably would've been fine for someone planing pine in a construction setting. And I'd imagine that most were made just for that very thing, and a test group may have requested softer irons that are more easily sharpened on site. The block plane irons (all the way back to the 18s) were much like that.

It costs stanley no more to make those 70s irons hard, but they chose not to for some reason. Intentionally less hard vs. unhardened are two very different things.

Point in this case is the OP appears to have asked, and perhaps lost interest or never had as much as we do. It's worthwhile (this coming from the guy who just refitted his planes with house-made powder stainless irons) to use the iron that the plane comes with first before buying hocks irons. Hock's irons are good quality, but they can sometimes require plane modification, they're only marginally better than a good stanley iron and the look at the top of them is appalling. it's just thrift on the maker's part to do nothing other than round the very corners.
 

ZippityNZ

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D_W":ps0d00n0 said:
If the top of the iron has corners on it and isn't rounded, you might find the blade to be quite good. If it's pitted badly or in horrible shape, then replacing may make more sense.

Setting the cap iron properly is the first step before replacing a thin iron. Once you do, all the sudden, the plane will stop you in your tracks before it shows any ill effect from a thin iron.
I have been trying to date some planes by the shape of the irons.

I assume the squarer ones are older?

Where can I get some detailed information regarding old irons and their shape?
 

D_W

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I'm not versed on hard and fast rules, so I don't know when the rounded irons came in.

My experience is with a few type 20 planes, and those planes came with that type of iron (and as I recall, my last iron with the very late sheffield made stanley plane also had rounded edges at the top). i like the type 20 planes, but the irons can be lacking.

I've never had consistent experience with the sharp cornered irons (tombstone pattern, whatever they would be called - isosceles trapezoid?) showing the same softness that those irons do, and the latest iron mentioned that's properly hardened, I've had one, so that's not reliable, either.

On all of them, there's no harm in trying the iron before replacing it. If an iron is soft, it will surely also be easier to flatten and try, and a good quality iron that's a click soft (rather than five clicks soft) will still hold up well.
 

nabs

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ZippityNZ":2enx7mf5 said:
D_W":2enx7mf5 said:
If the top of the iron has corners on it and isn't rounded, you might find the blade to be quite good. If it's pitted badly or in horrible shape, then replacing may make more sense.

Setting the cap iron properly is the first step before replacing a thin iron. Once you do, all the sudden, the plane will stop you in your tracks before it shows any ill effect from a thin iron.
I have been trying to date some planes by the shape of the irons.

I assume the squarer ones are older?

Where can I get some detailed information regarding old irons and their shape?
I don't think anyone knows exact dates - evidence from the collected research by contributors to this forum means we can be reasonably confident that the (older) laminated crucible steel blades were produced in the UK by both Stanley and Record until the mid/late 1950s (Incidentally, I've often wondered if the two firms had the same steel supplier as there were only a handful of crucible steel furnaces operating by the 1950s).

We did check a reasonably large sample of square shouldered Record blades and they were all laminated/crucible steel, which backs up David Lynch's findings that this firm switched to rounded shoulders towards the end of the time when they could still supply crucible steel blades.

So for Record at least, I think the best you can say is that "square shouldered" means pre 1960s. My guess would be the same for Stanley but I don't know that anyone has really looked much at the surviving irons to see if the shape of the blade can reliably be tied to the end of the crucible era)
 

D_W

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It's not perfectly clear here in the states for two reasons. Some type 19 planes (made as early as the late 40s and as late as the early 60s) had rounded irons, but most didn't. I'm sure that's clouded even more by some swapping, but the type study pages state that some of the planes did have those new.

Are they as bad as the irons in type 21 planes? I don't know. Type 20 planes are seen as the first "bad" planes by some (others are more particular). Somewhere around 20 or 21, the process was changed and the planes made less accurate in general. However, my day to day smoother is probably a type 21 plane (it's one of the ones that I got with a round iron). I have used other stanley irons and irons of my own make in it and it's a delight. It in no way feels expensive or classic, but it was easy to flatten, the handles feel good, and the large and inexpensive adjuster setup on it is smooth and easy to use. I may have 25 smoothers at this point - it is my choice for daily use, just not with the original iron.

In my view, it's far more practical to assume that the iron is not guaranteed, no matter the era, and that there aren't any stiff rules of thumb that are absolute. For example, record put out a very convincing marketing article about their laminated irons. when GSP opened on ebay, I looted your shores for a while and then resold most of what I got. The laminated irons are no better than the american stanley irons of unlaminated form, as long as those american irons don't appear to be made in some strange color post-oil/water hardening steel era. Assertions have been made here about stanley's laminated irons - "they're harder, longer wearing". I have seen no evidence of that, as again, the hardest I've ever had from stanley was laminated, but quite a few of the laminated irons are slightly softer than all steel irons of a good vintage.

I separate the plane and iron in my purchasing. If a plane has a rounded top iron, I expect it to be $10 cheaper to compensate and won't buy otherwise. I have and can make irons, so swapping isn't a big deal, and I think it's a better plan for someone to expect there may be purchasing more than one of some things in building a kit rather than trying to find perfect.

The later strange-color (water yellow?) rounded top irons in the US that are made in teh 1960s and 1970s, I will take. You can almost roll a burr on some of them. But the plane must either be perfect, or it had better be $10 less than a more ideal earlier type.

What i've seen of english planes, too, is that the marples and i.sorby planes can have very thin and soft irons, but as long as they're not junk (and that's spec) that's a kind of nice thing for dimensioning.
 

D_W

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(long story short, for the people who come up with the "I just want one perfect plane", I'd say - buy one with no rust
..

... a long clear iron, all original parts, nothing broken or bent...

.... and an iron with sharp corners on the top.

(and expect there could still be something you don't like about the plane)
 

richarddownunder

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Andy P Devon":nq7pc0u1 said:
Hi All,
I've just cleaned up a rusty old Stanley no. 4 plane I found at a car boot sale. 50p!
It's come up rather nice but I've discovered the blade in it is a Record. This feels rather flimsy and I'd like to 'upgrade'.
Can anyone recommend a brand of replacement blade (and a website to buy it from) please?
Happy to pay for a quality one. The plane will be a working tool afterwards (weekend woodworking).
Regards
Andy
Soooo..what did you do in the end?

Cheers
Richard
 

Andy P Devon

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Hi All,
I'm the OP.
Thanks for all the notes.
After much consideration, I've decided to go with a Hock blade.
Pricey, I know, but I only spend 50p on the original plane. It cleaned up very well.
I'll keep the old Record that was in it for use on reclaimed wood.

Andy P
 
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