The #4 vs #4 1/2 Smooth Plane Dilemma

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks USA | No. 4 versus Lie-Nielsen Toolworks USA | No. 4 1/2

I got a little bonus at work, and I wanted to drop some on a new plane from LN. Now I can’t decide which #4 version to get…

I have the Low Angle Jack from them already, and a #4 Stanley Type 19 that I’ve tuned up a little.

Any advice? I love the look of the Brass body #4… but if I can only get one plane…



  1. Chris Wong December 5, 2011

    If you prefer a heavier plane, go with the #4-1/2. I don’t think that having a wider blade is necessarily a benefit. Though it can take a wider shaving, it also requires more effort to push. I prefer the narrower, slightly lighter #4.

  2. Brian Sullivan December 5, 2011

    I have a Veritas 4 1/2, a low angle Veritas smoother, and a Stanley #3. All are very nice, but I use the number 3 most of the time, because of its light weight, so I would recommend the LN brass #4.

  3. Ralph Boumenot December 6, 2011

    I have 2 old #4 stanleys – one set coarse and one fine. I have #3 stanley that I find myself using all the time for everything. And I have the LN 4 1/2 with the 55 degree frog that I bought for figured wood. It is heavy but if set for light wispy shavings I could plane all day with it. Just keep the sole lubricated with wax.
    If you look/read about the old wooden smoothers most of them were about the size of the #3. It is difficult to say which you would like and use. My #3 supplanted my block plane which I hardly use at all now. Maybe some time a LN tool event would help cement a decision for you.
    As for iron vs bronze I would go with the bronze it’s extra but I like the look.

  4. Badger December 6, 2011

    Thanks Ralph, Brian and Chris.

    Good feedback, I think if I go the LN route the #4 makes the most sense to me. Plus, that Bronze looks so nice.

    Chris also made a good point about pushing the wider blade is harder. That makes a lot of sense.

  5. Phil Lang December 6, 2011

    Mr. Badger:

    To further complicate your choices, you may wish to consider a Lie-Nielsen 4 1/2 in bronze. Although Lie-Nielsen has not, to my knowledge, advertised that they have 4 1/2 bronze bodies available, they have had them available at least as recently as January 2011. These bodies were essentially the same as those offered on the 25th Anniversary plane, but without any of the commemorative markings. You may wish to call Lie-Nielsen to ask if they still have any available. They will outfit the body (if they still have any) with your choice of frog. However, in January 2011 they were considerably more expensive than the standard iron 4 1/2.

    Good luck with your choice.

    Phil Lang

  6. Badger December 7, 2011

    Tempting! But I ended up spending my money on a couple of planes from Lee Valley instead. When I do go buy a new LN Smoother, I’ll be getting the #4 Brass, based on the size of my hands. I’m more average size, and I think the #4 would just suit me better.

  7. Joe McGlynn January 9, 2012

    I have the LN 4, and I like it a lot. I think the next smoother I get will be the 4 1/2 with the high angle frog.

    Which Lee Valley planes did you get? I need a “moving filister”, and I’m torn between theirs and the LN 140 style.

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