Restoring a few handplanes - a family heirloom

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Blog entry by bfd posted 12-15-2008 05:51 AM 1737 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I went back east to NH for thanksgiving to visit family and friends. While I was staying at my Mom’s I came across a few of my grandfathers old hand planes that I thought were given away after he passed away at a time when I was still in College and not into woodworking. I found an old Stanley #5, a 60 1/2 block plane, a mini plane and a little razor blade plane. All were complete but in need of some serious TLC. My Mom knowing that I would put these to good use gave them to me and they are the only tools that I have that were my Grandfather’s. Their sentimental value to me is priceless. Here are a few pictures of the planes as I found them. Years of sitting idol in a damp garage had produced a fare amount of rust.

Now for the collector’s and purist in the group my goal was to get these back to a useable condition so that I can actually work wood with them not maintain any collectible value. As I mentioned the sentimental value was far more then their market value. Since I wasn’t going to sell these I decided to restore them accordingly.

Spending an entire day I disassembled each and spent much of the time removing the years of rush and stains. The #5 cutter and iron cap were too far gone and I had a new one of each laying around so that was the only pieces that I didn’t salvage. After a lot of elbow grease, sweat and love I have brought each back to life and they are tuned up and ready to Rock N Roll. I dated the #5 online and it is circa 1929-1930. I have no idea about the other 3.

11 comments so far

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 3723 days

#1 posted 12-15-2008 06:48 AM

Brian, it looks like you’ve got them cleaned up really well. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to have some of my grandfather’s shop tools. I’m sure you’ll cherish them.

-- Martin, Kansas

View woodspyder's profile


80 posts in 3629 days

#2 posted 12-15-2008 07:30 AM

Great job on the rebuild.
I understand what you mean about the sentimental value aspect, I inherited some of my grandfathers woodworking tools too. I plan on rebuilding them some day soon.

-- Measure three times, cut twice.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4063 days

#3 posted 12-15-2008 04:20 PM

I think you did an exemplary job especially on the 60 1/2. I use my Grandfather’s Low Knob/no ring No.5 nearly every shop visit. Somewhere (perhaps at your elbow as you use these fine tools) your Grandfather is smiling.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3627 days

#4 posted 12-15-2008 06:55 PM

Nice cleanup and a great story to boot. It is funny how these tools can be lost for a generation or two. Then, as if it runs in our blood, a new generation picks the tools up again. I am with you on use vs. collection. I don’t have time, money, or space to be a collector. Using these old tools is where the joy comes.

My heirloom was a no6 that belonged to my great grandfather. I would love to know the history of it beyond him as the plane itself dates to about 1890. He was likely the 2nd or third owner. I am contemplating having our names etched onto the tool so that those after us will know who used it.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 3638 days

#5 posted 12-16-2008 02:56 AM

There’s just something about wrapping your hand around the same handle your grandfather used.

It’s like reaching across time and shaking hands, or sharing a simple smile.


-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3823 days

#6 posted 12-16-2008 06:04 AM

Woodworking runs in the family, nice work in cleaning these beauty back to life, gramps would be proud…thanks for sharing…Blkcherry

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3996 days

#7 posted 12-16-2008 07:52 AM

Nice work on these -

Have fun using this set that has a lot of value to you…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4077 days

#8 posted 12-16-2008 06:54 PM

these are TRULY incredible…your grandfather would be really proud…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Keith Cruickshank's profile

Keith Cruickshank

41 posts in 3644 days

#9 posted 12-18-2008 06:19 AM

Good on you. Another classic Stanley saved! Beautiful job!

-- Keith Cruickshank, - on-demand woodworking videos

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3874 days

#10 posted 12-20-2008 08:05 PM

Nice job. These will always be in the family as an heirloom.

-- Happy woodworking!

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

207 posts in 3393 days

#11 posted 10-05-2009 04:09 PM

WOW—they’re like new! Well done!

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

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