When I first took interest in restoring old planes and tools I didn’t pay much thought to the individual tools history. I just took a hunk of rusted metal and made it look new erasing the tools past in the process. I have no issues doing that as its my belief that you are only adding a new chapter in the tools history. On the other end I can also now understand leaving the tools history alone and getting a joy out of wondering what its story is. It wasn’t until I had restored a dozen or so planes that I started to take an interest in the tools past.
As I restored more and more tools I would start running into marks and modifications on the tools that just stumped me. I would be sitting there scratching my head trying to figure out why the tool was altered. How did this altercation assist a previous owner?
One of the first things I ran into was this lever cap off of a Stanley plane.
When I saw this lever cap I couldn’t help but wonder why someone had put a grinder to the end of it. I will never know for sure but its the guessing game that makes its history interesting to me.
Another example that I want to share is this side damage to the #8 Stanley plane I have.
The grinding marks that you see in the picture are also on the other side in the exact same spots. I was completely puzzled and confused as to why someone would have put these gouges on both sides of the plane in the exact same spots. Judging by the amount of damage it couldn’t have been done by mistake. After sanding the sides for a while I got a closer look and reviled some more clues..
Do you see it yet??? No? Then lets take an even closer look!
You should be able to see the letter “H” hidden in the scratches. You cant see in the photos but there is also a letter “B” and “D”. “B.D.H” was stamped on the bottom front and back side of each of the planes sides. My guess is one of the owners had his initials stamped at the 4 bottom sides of the plane. Then I believe there is a good chance the plane was stolen from this owner. The reason I think it was stolen is because it looks to me like someone took no care at all when trying to erase the initials. Who ever put the gouges and scratches in the sides didn’t seem to care at all about the damage but rather to just make sure his name was removed. I could be completely wrong but again thats the joy of these old tools. You can guess and guess and guess on what the tool has been through and it will always be interesting to me.
Although I have don’t some heavy restore to most of my planes, I still respect the past of the tool and don’t mind leaving some of it alone.
-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"