tuning up an old plane #2: in less than two hours...

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Blog entry by Camper posted 08-12-2010 04:41 AM 2082 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The plane.. Part 2 of tuning up an old plane series no next part

All motivated with your comments for the previous post, I got into the garage after work. Here is what I started with. Definitely not bad as I thought…

For the body of the plane, I simply wiped it down with mineral spirits and let the screws soak in some mineral spirits also. I was not hoping to make them shiny (not yet at least), just wanted them clean and turning easily. I wanted to focus on sharpening the blade.

I do not have a much in my garage so here is my simple set up. Simply attached different grit sand papers onto a melamine board using a clamp as I worked my way up from 60 to 1000 grit.

I was not too hopeful since I did not have a honing jig or stones and other fancy sharpening “systems”. BUT the results were not bad at all!! If shaving the hair off your arm is any measure, this blade did that!! You can probably notice the shaved area in the top middle of the picture…

So, all excited about the results, I went to work on the cap iron. i read somewhere that this is another important piece in making sure a plane functions properly. Again rather than making it nice and shiny, I just focused on the minimum requirement which is making sure that the front edge is flat and it sits flat against the back of the blade. Apparently the proper adjustment is that it should be 1/32” from the cutting edge of the blade. Well here is how mine came together. You can see shiny cutting edge of the blade protruding out. I could not help use some 60 grit on the back of the cap iron to clean some of the rust. All the scratches should go away once you get down to 400 grit or so. At 1000 its almost like a mirror.

Last piece I spent time on was the sole, I just could not see it all grimy and black. Here are the results on that, only working up to 220 grit. Pretty flat and nice and clean.

It was finally time to assemble the whole thing and give it a try. Mind you I have never used a hand plane before. Adjusting the frog was tricky and I still do not know if I got it right but here is my first ever shaving :)

My planing set up is pretty primitive as well. A piece of broken board clamped to the side of my portable workbench (which will be another blog when its done). It was enough to give me some practice and as I started getting the hang of it, nicer shavings started to come out.

and more

and more

and finally done :)

and here is what did all this

The hard part now is to stop making shavings and actually clean it up properly. Also I need to learn to take proper pictures but hopefully you enjoyed it and it seems like it can be done (maybe not perfectly) with just sand paper for $5 and a $5 plane…

-- Tampa-FL

5 comments so far

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2935 days

#1 posted 08-12-2010 04:46 AM

Pretty cool. You have to wonder what the craftsmen did 100+ years ago to sharpen tools without all the fancy stuff of today.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 3002 days

#2 posted 08-12-2010 05:05 AM

thanks for the fun story, I have an old plane from my DAd that I’ve been staring at for about 50 years, now I’m inspired to do something with it!

-- Smitty

View Joe Watson's profile

Joe Watson

316 posts in 3601 days

#3 posted 08-12-2010 07:05 PM

@RonPeters oil stones and probably didn’t get near as sharp as we do. there is this guy who has a shop for teaching 19 century woodworking was in a video where he sharpened and wasn’t very critical about it. wish i could find the video on it.

-- Got Wood?

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3293 days

#4 posted 08-12-2010 09:20 PM

check this tutorial for picture posting

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2995 days

#5 posted 08-12-2010 09:37 PM

...and you are hooked! Don’t you just love that shhht sound the plane and shavings make! See, not so hard to sharpen that blade by hand and it can only get better!
Well done! Now you can look for the next plane too!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

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