I’ve seen a number of postings and blogs on LJ about restoring an old hand plane the very thorough way, taking an old plane that looks haggared from years of use and restoring it to new. While that is a great way to do it, if you have the time, money for all the required parts etc, and I wish i did, because that’s a great way to get good results. This is not one of those posts.
This is a great method for those who have a small budget but are willing to put in some elbow grease. It is a simple and straightforward process that will give good and repeatable results. Total cost, including the plane is less than $40 and will result in a great user plane that will serve you for years to come. It may not be show-room perfect, but it’ll look good and work great!
Plan a budget for the following:
Plane – You should be able to pick up a workable old Stanley Bailey for 10-20$
Lapping Plate – a 10×12 piece of 3/8 plate glass can be had for $10
Sand Paper – You’ll want atleast a sheet of 80, 100, 220, 400 grit paper $5-10
Spray Glue – to keep the paper down, 3M Super 77 Spray adhesive can be found for around $5
That should do it for the materials you’ll need, other than whatever you use already to sharpen and hone blades. If you are lacking in that department, you can go a long way using the sand paper to get your blade pretty close. Best part is, once you have this stuff, you won’t have to buy it again.
Step #1, The victim: Obtaining/picking a plane.
If you have an old plane, whether a hand-me-down or an old one that has been used and abused for years and needs sprucing up, that’s great, otherwise, try and find a good old Stanley Bailey (or similar Record etc.) in the size that you need.
For the purpose of this example, I will be using a Post-war Stanley Bailey #4 – These are as common as dirt and will make a pretty good user with some work. I found this example in a barn sale for $5. Make sure to check for any visible cracks (Especially around the mouth)missing parts etc. The rest you can work with. To limit the amount of work that you need to do, you’ll want to look for one with a reasonably flat sole. Use an engineer’s square to check that the bottom is relatively flat down the length and not too concave or convex across the middle, and check the sides for squareness.. if they are REALLY out, chances are the plane may have been dropped and might be one to avoid.
The process involves stripping down and cleaning the plane, removing rust, lapping (Flattening) the sole and sides, tuning up the movement, and putting it back together to get to work. All in all, the process will take a few hours depending on how flat the sole of your plane is and is a pretty simple and easy process.
Next post will get into the cleaning/disassembling part of the process, more to come soon.
-- Will, Ontario Canada. "I can do fast, cheap and good, but you can only pick two... "