Hand Tool Journey #2: Planes, Pains and Automobiles..

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Blog entry by Airframer posted 02-03-2013 08:50 AM 2034 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Making the Hand Tool Commitment Part 2 of Hand Tool Journey series Part 3: One down.. and the next set of victims »

As I mentioned in the first post of this series. I already own 1 hand plane. It is a Buck Bros 6 1/2 block plane from Home Depot. I purchased this when I was building my first workbench to join 2 pieces of Pine stair tread to make up the top. I knew nothing of hand planes and how they worked and figured a plane was a plane.

Well, it was soon evident that that wasn’t the case. This little guy was very difficult to work with. Only cut in the center of the blade and it took forever to get a somewhat decent flush joint. I chalked it up to inexperienced user error at the time. Fast forward a couple weeks and after reading up on the forums I quickly realized I had bought perhaps one of the worse hand planes on the market. No wonder I couldn’t get a flat surface to save my life!

So now that I am waiting on my 9 1/2” plane to arrive I figured I would see what I could do to tune this little guy up to something usable. I figured if it is still a POS when i finish then no harm no foul but if it ends up usable I just added a tool to my box.

Here is the suspect..

So the first order of business was to check and see how flat the bottom was. I set it on top of a metal straight edge and checked for light. Lets just say you could read a book by the amount of light it was letting through. So I took a page out of my guitar repair book and went about leveling the bottom in a similar fashion that I use to level guitar frets.

First I marked the bottom in a criss cross manner with a sharpie and set up one of my leveling beams. It already had 220 grit applied to it so I figured I would start with that.

After a couple minutes I had a look at the bottom. All the high and low spots should be evident by now. The left over sharpie are low spots and where it has worn off are high. You can see clearly how out of level the bottom was just by the first pass.

I then changed out the sand paper for 80 grit to really clear some material.

This is after 1 hour.

2 hours

and finally 3 hours later I am finally almost level. Just one stubborn low spot to the right of the slit.

That little spot took another hour and a half of sanding and a couple fresh sheets of paper to get to the point where i was seeing scratches form on the sharpie marks. Close enough for me.. plus my arms were getting tired lol.

I then set up the bar with 400 grit and started polishing the base. I did this in progressive grades up to 1500 grit. Here is the result of that. I could shave in this mirror!

Now I am getting to work on the blade. Just picked up an oil stone and have spent most of the night putting and edge on this thing and I am about 80% there. The two edges were lower than the center (hence why it only cut in the middle of the blade). Once I have a clean bevel I’ll start honing it on the fine side of the stone. That will have to wait until tomorrow.

Here is where I left off tonight.


Progress so far tonight..

As always thanks for reading and feedback is encouraged!

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

8 comments so far

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3856 days

#1 posted 02-03-2013 11:24 AM

I have a couple of late 19C chisels with the Buck Bros. name, superb tools. It is just sad what they have become.

Good job tuning it, once you have a decent plane to work with I think you will really see some rewards.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3387 days

#2 posted 02-03-2013 02:12 PM

Good work so far, but the time used seems really excessive. I guess it depends on what tools you have and maybe what kind of sand paper. Emory cloth might be best, not sure. the bevel could have been lightly ground on a bench grinder in just a few seconds (if you have a bench grinder). I can’t think of a better way to do the bottom though, so I admire your willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The bottom looks superb.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Starjumper's profile


1 post in 2062 days

#3 posted 02-03-2013 02:28 PM

Amazing. I’m a green hobbiest and wondered how you even found out that you needed to perform such a task? I will search the topics now. Oh, and BTW, I think I had have the same model so this good to know. Thanks.

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2005 days

#4 posted 02-03-2013 05:14 PM

@ stefang – Yes, it is an excessive amount of time spent on this cheap little guy. It could be done faster if I had some machines like a bench grinder but, I had to pack all those up when I joined the military and they are sitting in a storage room in Dallas at the moment. About halfway through doing the bottom I had a thought that this was taking too long but by then I was in for the long haul so I pressed on. There is something relaxing (for me at least) about doing some mindless work with your hands. I just turn on some Hank or Johnny and shut off the brain and go. It is a nice change from the work week. My wife calls it “putting my brain in my box” heh.

Thanks for the encouragement guys. I am almost finished honing the blade and will post an update when it’s finished. I also have a couple new acquisitions either on their way or here already to chat about. So stay tuned for more.

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3387 days

#5 posted 02-03-2013 05:25 PM

Yes, I understand the mindless thing. Most of my work is done that way. You will wind up with a great little tool and that’s probably all that matters.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 2310 days

#6 posted 02-03-2013 07:04 PM

I don’t know what else your considering doing to tune the plane up but two that I see that would be easy and quick are to scrape the paint off the area behind the blade near the mouth and on top of the column it sits on. It also looks like the blade has some sorta coating on it. I would strip that too, at least on the back.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3538 days

#7 posted 02-03-2013 08:22 PM

With the limited time many of use have in the shop, I now understand why some folks just bite the bullet and buy LN, LV or other quality make hand tools. I have literally spend way to many hours feddling with tools and equipment, trying to get them in good working order. And, to my surprise, I’ve enjoyed most every minute of it. Not to say a nice new LN plane, pick a number, any number, wouldn’t be great. But I have even less money than time! And by tuning up old tools, or even the current crop of new crappy tools, you learn about a a whole other topic of interest, plus the added advantage of getting to use the tools, as they were meant to be. You should probably not search fleabay for stanley handplanes. You’re the type that doesn’t just slide down a slippery slope. You get a running start and fling yourself onto the slope. DAMHIK. I’m just saying. Good Luck!

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18789 posts in 2620 days

#8 posted 02-04-2013 12:29 AM

So your probably not gonna want to look a restoring any old vintage planes. After that work out you’d be bored.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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