Handplanes #4: You don't know Jack!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by PurpLev posted 10-18-2011 09:14 PM 6556 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Fore play ...err... Fore plane that is. Part 4 of Handplanes series Part 5: Ex Skews Me, Is that a block in your plane? »

It all began when I was building my workbench (blogged here). I was using my first (dedicated woodworking tool purchased) #5 BORG buck-bros Jack plane and it broke. It was working quite well after I learned to tune it, but the materials it is made of are just too weak and flimsy and the yoke that controls the blade travel just broke and became useless:

I was bummed, but hey it was a good learning experience, and I have been keeping an eye open for a replacement #5 ever since. not really very actively, but still an open eye. While I would like a LV plane I just don’t woodwork enough to justify it and was hoping to keep expenses to a minimum and then I spotted a #5 on this CL listing:

I offered 30, he said 40, I said OK. I figured there were enough things in there I can restore and use. I have an old brace, but really wanted one with a ratchet mechanism:

some calipers (might be beyond restore but I’ll give it a try):

A couple more calipers and a right hand skew block plane (ironically this completes my righthand-lefthand skews) that went through an initial rust removal but will require a second bath and cleaning:

a doweling machine, and some files and hook and broken block plane body:

And of course the Jack of all trades with his little #4 brother:

I took it apart and put all the screws. frog, blade, plates and smaller parts in a evaporust bath only to find out it is probably expired and has long gone lost it’s potent power (it did clean it some, but even 2 long baths still left a lot to be desired). I ordered a 1 gallon bottle that should arrive today and I will retreat all the smaller parts again.

As for the body, since it was not only rusty but also dirty beyond recognition I decided to go with scraping:

surprisingly a woodworking scraper did a fantastic job getting rid of most everything on there:

I followed up with a little filing to knock off some high spots. apparently the plane was mishandled and had some bumps on the back. I also touched up all the edges to smooth them up and followed with a rough diamond stone to smooth down the sole:

you can notice some low valley on the back of the sole, but I am not going to pay much attention to it as long as the crucial points of the sole are in alignment (toe, before and after mouth, and heel)

Then some cleaning with green scorth pad to remove rust remnants, and polishing it a bit more with the diamond stone and repeating on the sides as well:

now looks much better (still requires some touch ups, but am happy with it for now):

I will still give it lapping on a flat granite slab with sand paper just to bring everything in alignment later on, but need to take a break from this for a bit at the moment.

Next to the broken #5 it is replacing:

The major differences between the 2 are:
1. weight. the stanley is by far heavier which help when using it (less vibration, less jittering, less force to operate it)
2. mouth opening is much smaller on the stanley which produces better control on the shavings less rough work, easier operation
3. handle feels better and overall feels more ‘there’

I think this also signifies the difference between older stanleys and newer LVs for example – it’s not about will they cut better – most likely they won’t (in most cases) but the operation, the dials, the overall feel and longevity of the tools are just much more user friendly on the newer designs. If I could I’d go LV for every plane I have, but for now I’ll use whatever I can afford.

Ah…. the #5 is finally back home in place between the 6 and 4:

like I mentioned, I still have some touch ups to give this one but for starters this plane is up and running if needed. I also need to redo the skew block plane and am not sure if I want to keep the other #4 and repurpose it for anything or just sell it as is. I am also currently restoring the brace, but more on that in another post.

Lesson learnt – sometimes scraping and filing is easier and faster than high tech electrolysis/liquids. it’s kinda upliffting seeing the glittering clean metal surface under the layers of rust/dirt in front of your eyes with each stroke much like planing wood with a smoother.

Thanks for reading,

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

12 comments so far

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3433 days

#1 posted 10-18-2011 09:22 PM

nice find. the skew planes are a real treat. too bad about the buck bros (is that yoke cast aluminum??). How do you feel about making your own wooden planes?

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3617 days

#2 posted 10-18-2011 09:26 PM

Thanks Aaron, yes that yoke is cast aluminum just like the body of the plane. I never really got interested in making wooden planes, although I might do that for a shoulder plane (awaiting blades that were just shipped 2 days ago). For me I think it’s the fact that I like the dial controls and not much into hammering to set the blade. personal preference nothing more. I do have a hong kong style smoother though, but I have not used it as of yet.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View b2rtch's profile


4851 posts in 3017 days

#3 posted 10-18-2011 09:37 PM

Nice find and very good reading.

-- Bert

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3433 days

#4 posted 10-18-2011 09:50 PM

yeah, i kind of know what you mean. I like the dial controls too. I made a smallish/block plane out of wood, but I didn’t know what I was doing and kind of designed it wrong. I need to give wooden ones a fair try, but I wish there was a simple way to mechanize at least some of the adjustment.

View ChuckV's profile


3114 posts in 3496 days

#5 posted 10-18-2011 09:54 PM

Good work. I am sure that you are going to get a great deal of use out of that plane.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2849 days

#6 posted 10-18-2011 10:11 PM

That Skew plane is probably worth more then what you spent on the whole box of tools. Nice find..

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View mafe's profile


11643 posts in 3058 days

#7 posted 10-19-2011 02:48 AM

Congrat, what wonderful finds.
The skew was really a luck.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View phil619's profile


35 posts in 3420 days

#8 posted 10-19-2011 07:33 AM

There is kinda of intimacy you get with a plane when you restore it. For me, I think of the history of plane. (especially pre war planes). I think of the craftsman who used the plane, not as a past time, but to make a living and feed his family. In some way I feel I am honoring that man and his plane by bringing it back to life and putting it back to work. Old planes may not have the tight tolerances or be as user friendly as the LN planes, but the have soul, and have the same ability to produce fine furniture.

-- Building fine furniture in my driveway.

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4046 days

#9 posted 10-19-2011 08:30 PM

That “hook” was the only “non-woodworking” tool I saw in the whole lot! Looks like a good buy to me!
By the way that “hook” looks like a hay hook to me, just like the old ones we used to handle bales of hay when i was a kid. Newer hooks have a much longer shaft and a smaller hook designed for the newer bales (heavier, tighter bales).

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3617 days

#10 posted 10-19-2011 09:13 PM

As for the Skew plane I was originally planning on selling it but then decided to keep it as it is a left hand skew, but then again it is not a rabbeting plane so I may not really need the left hand block plane and it might end up on the for-sale listings after all.

Phil – I agree with you that all planes produce the same end results (generally speaking). I however never developed any intimate relationships with my planes, they live in their house I live in mind – separate beds and all. except if they were given to me in certain circumstances – than they have a story that is relevant for me.

Dez- I was thinking I could use the hook to handle logs when I resaw lumber. probably not going to happen, but it’s a cool hook.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4046 days

#11 posted 10-20-2011 07:52 AM

It is a cool hook, I still have a pair and I have used mine for similar uses!!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View garriv777's profile


140 posts in 2833 days

#12 posted 10-20-2011 08:17 AM

I think that hook is actually used for big blocks of ice. Something they used in days gone by to man handle the big blocks. Nice find on CL. I’ve got to start checking that site out once in awhile myself.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics