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Tool Rejuvenation #1: The 60 1/2 Low Angle Block Plane...

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 2581 days ago 11742 reads 2 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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So this past weekend I was actually able to get into the shop for a bit and do something fun! I recently picked up a Stanley #60 1/2 Low Angle Block Plane and I wanted to get it tuned up for some work.

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This block plane is going to be a great user plane, but it really isn’t much in the way of being “collectible”. It has the blue japanning, which I was a little hesitant about when making the purchase because I know most Stanley planes went through a quality decline when the japanning color changed from black. But a quick glance at Patrick’s Blood and Gore indicated the block planes aren’t really subject to that same guideline.

I picked it up for about $29. The iron is in great condition, so I don’t need to replace it. It wasn’t a “steal”, but it was not a bad deal for a great user plane, either.

First order of business was to disassemble it and clean it up with some WD-40 and an old tooth brush.

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I’ll spare you the photos of my cleaning tools. But basically I picked up one of those disposable food storage containers at Target for $3.00 and I use that when I’m cleaning. Keeps them all in one place and the mess doesn’t get everywhere.

Once that was done, I assembled it again and took a look at the bottom and sides. Here is the bottom. No good pics of the sides turned out, but… A quick check with one of my smaller squares showed they were 90 degrees to the sole, so I was good to go there.

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I use a sheet of melamine board and self-adhesive sand paper for my lapping. I started with 120 and moved up to 220 and then finished with wet/dry 400 (attached w/contact spray adhesive by 3M). End result:

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I probably could have spent a little more time on it, but… I’m not looking for absolute perfection. I’m looking for a sole that is flat enough so that the plane works exactly how I want it to work. After it was lapped through the 400 grit sandpaper, I rubbed in a good coat of Renaissance Wax to keep the rust off and make the sole nice and slick.

I then popped out the blade and hit it with coarse, fine, and extra-fine diamond plates and then did a finished polished edge with my new 8000 grit king stone. I didn’t take any pictures of the blade sharpening – this isn’t a sharpening blog post! :)

I also did a minor tune-up on the lever cap, but I didn’t photograph it. Basically, I removed a small portion of the japanning right where the edge of the cap pushes down on the blade after it is clamped. This will give it a better seat on the iron and make it a more effective lever cap.

I believe it is ready for testing… First, the easy test – a bit of pine.

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As you can see, I was able to get full-length shavings from the pine. Honestly, that isn’t terribly difficult. But it sure as heck makes you feel good when you do it!

Next I grabbed a block of mahogany and tried it on that…

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Being a rather poreous wood, these shavings didn’t come out as solid, but they were all the entire length of the wood. I didn’t spread any out on the bench for you, though; they weren’t nearly as pretty as the pine curls.

So I guess that’s about it! After pulling out the tools I use for this, it really only took me about an hour, all things said and done. The longest part of the process was sharpening the blade, but that’s also one of the more important aspects of planing.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Looking forward to the next project!

The next plane I clean up is going to be my #220 block plane. I got a bit of a start on it at a tune-up class, but I was mostly focusing on my jack plane, so I didn’t finish it. And the blade that came with it was pitted pretty badly, so I picked up a hock blade for it. The adjustment screw was cracked and the front knob was an American hardwood, instead of the rosewood used in older versions of the model, so I picked up a “parts” plane off of eBay for $9 that has a solid adjustment screw and a rosewood knob. Here is a teaser photo for ya…

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-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com



20 comments so far

View gizmodyne's profile

gizmodyne

1763 posts in 2591 days


#1 posted 2581 days ago

Very cool. I have an old Stanley Block plane that I just got from my grandfather-in-law. I am going to give it a once over. You inspired me. What is a hock blade?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke." www.flickr.com/photos/gizmodyne

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

11996 posts in 2599 days


#2 posted 2581 days ago

Nice. I’m looking forward to seeing some more planes…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 2675 days


#3 posted 2581 days ago

Ron Hock makes replacement irons (blades) for most sizes of hand planes. They are made of better alloys now and they’re a lot thicker than what was standard 60 years ago. The better alloy means you can get a sharper edge for longer periods of time. The extra thickness helps prevent chatter. He goes into a lot more detail on his website. You can also get a replacement chip breaker that works better than the originals, as well.

It isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, but the difference is incredible. Plus, when I tried to find an original replacement chip breaker for a different plane I own (a #6 I have yet to touch), it was just $5 less than the Hock chip breaker. Why pay just a little less for an inferior product? Just doesn’t make sense when you’re not worried about the collection value of your tool, but the working value of it. So instead of buying a replacement breaker, I’ll get a new one, along with a new blade, when I finally get around to tuning it up.

Oh, and to find out more about the particular plane you have, definitely check out Patrick’s Blood and Gore. If anything, he’s a lot of fun to read.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

1011 posts in 2595 days


#4 posted 2581 days ago

Yeah, Blood and Gore is a hoot to read and a great resource. I found I consulted it very regularly when I was looking for planes on eBay. It can give you some good questions to ask sellers about before you actually bid.

Ethan, have you ever bought a Hock blade without the new chip breaker and been able to have it function properly. I’ve read the thickness can be problematic. I’ve also heard the width of the throat may need widened just a hair which can be dangerous if your not careful. I would like to try this on a #4 worker that I have but haven’t dropped the dime yet.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2828 days


#5 posted 2580 days ago

Save those shavings for protecting items during shipping, or use them to dress up a birthday/christmas present – pretty:)

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 2675 days


#6 posted 2580 days ago

Yeah, my wife was saying the same thing, Scott.

A while back I picked up (for like $2.50) a pack of 50 business-sized cards made from veneer cut-offs from Lee Valley. I use them for present labels and such. Having ribbon made from wood shavings would be a sight!

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Philip Edwards's profile

Philip Edwards

244 posts in 2941 days


#7 posted 2580 days ago

Good work, Ethan!
Looks great and certainly looks like it works well.
No end grain shavings to show off??? ;)
Looking forward to your next project,
Phil

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 2675 days


#8 posted 2575 days ago

Ok, Phil. Here you go.

I was in the shop this evening, grabbed the newly honed LA block plane, a small piece of maple, and the digital camera, and here are the results.

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Happy now?

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

11996 posts in 2599 days


#9 posted 2575 days ago

This is the only way to fly. : ^ )

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 2675 days


#10 posted 2575 days ago

Isn’t it, though?

I was actually a little anxious about trying it. Taking shavings off of long grain is simple enough, but end grain shavings are a little more of a challenge. But I think this one passed with flying colors.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

11996 posts in 2599 days


#11 posted 2575 days ago

Yup, in flying colors. If your worried take about most of a pass stopping before you get to the end and then come back from the other direction. One way of keeping from tearing the ends out.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 2675 days


#12 posted 2575 days ago

I actually didn’t have that problem with the maple, but I did when I tried it with Mahogany. I’ll have to work on my technique a bit, but thanks for the advice, Wayne!

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Wooder's profile

Wooder

163 posts in 2687 days


#13 posted 2575 days ago

Ethan, very cool! I rehab planes too. So far about 16 have been fettled, still a bunch to go. The 60 1/2 is my favorite plane. I have several and one real nice one from the 30’s that I have a Hock iron in.

BTW I always use a backer when planning end grain and don’t have to worry about tearing out the sides. 2 cents.

-- Jimmy

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

11996 posts in 2599 days


#14 posted 2575 days ago

Anyone tried a Stanley #18? I was thinking of picking one of those up and trying it. Its a standard angle block plane.

I concur on the older 60 1/2 for a low angle plane. If I were buying tools to establish a shop this would be early in my list.

I got a Lie-Nelson version of the 60 1/2 for Christmas. My wife did well.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 2675 days


#15 posted 2574 days ago

I don’t have a #18, but I do have a #220. I just picked up my Hock blade for it… I can’t remember if I sharpened it up during one of my last sharpening sessions or not.

In any case, the #220 needs a little work. I think I’ll be able to get a few hours free one evening this week and then I’ll see what I can do with it.

I’ll be sure to document it, as well. I’m actually kind of enjoying having the camera in the shop! Nothing like working for posterity…

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

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