Stanley Bailey No.4

This is the standard Stanley plane, designed by Leonard Bailey, of Boston Massachusetts. This one is a ‘No.4’, and sits in a middling position on the size scale, from the diminutive ‘No.1’, through to the large jointer, the ‘No.8’. I’ll soon be posting a some more detailed info about Leonard Bailey, and his association with Stanley as a separate page. In the meantime, I’ll stand on the shoulders of giants, and point you to the wonderful website of Patrick Leach, Patrick’s Blood & Gore. If you’re looking for information about Stanley tools, Patrick’s website is an absolute must-read.

Patrick’s earlier career was in software. He developed an interest in woodworking early on, and now admits to being a ‘self-confessed tool fanatic.
He has an enviable knowledge of Stanley, and other well-known makers.

A proportion of my own small tool collection is made by Stanley, and it’s becoming something of a mission to build a complete set of Stanley USA-made ‘Bailey’ planes, numbering 1 through to 8. Recently I managed to find my first Bailey, (which is a number 4), from a private sale on the web.

Stanley Bailey No.4
The standard no.4 measures 9″ long, by 2″ wide. It weighs in around 3 3/4 pounds and was manufactured between 1869-1984.
Stanley Bailey No.4
Removing the lever cap (left) shows the iron and the chipbreaker (sandwiched together in the middle by a bolt).
Stanley Bailey No.4
The frog, the part that remains in the sole of the plane, has an adjustment lever protruding from the top. The lever, when moved left or right, slightly angles the tip of the blade up or down either side, to make sure your cut is square.

[notice]Tool nerd alert! (Quite geeky and unnecessary facts about frog casting variations follow). [/notice]

The casting in the base of the plane takes a lot of stress holding the frog, which in turn holds the blade, chipbreaker and lever cap. Consequently, the method for holding the frog was constantly being revised by Stanley and was the focus of many new patents. Previous to the design shown, the frog was seated on a flat bed with machined grooves, but in 1902 this new design was introduced. The frog has support from a cross rib and centre rib, and also support on its leading edge from the casting, as well as being held by the two bolts. Planes of this period have ‘PAT’D/MAR-25-02/AUG-19-02’ embossed into the sole of the plane.

Stanley Bailey No.4
The design of the frog receiver, (the part of the plane casting where the frog is bolted to), underwent four major changes during the complete manufacturing period.
Stanley Bailey No.4
The brass adjustment nut moves in and out, moving a ‘Y’ shape wishbone-shaped piece of metal in and out. This movement transfers to an up and down movement as the metal tab protrudes through the front face of the frog, (see pic below).
Stanley Bailey No.4
Here you can see the metal tab that’s raised and lowered by the movement of the rear adjustment lever and wishbone. This tab engages with a slot in the blade, resulting in fine depth adjustment of the blade in the mouth of the plane.
Stanley Bailey No.4
The no.4 is a standard-sized plane, but see how small it looks compared to some of Stanley’s larger models. Here’s the #4 (top) next to a #7, which is a big ol’ badass jointer. I’ll be posting more pics of the #7 soon, (my second purchase of the family).