Plane Restoration #1: Assessment and Cleanup

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Blog entry by bit101 posted 03-24-2014 07:55 PM 1332 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Plane Restoration series Part 2: The Pits »

Well, I’ve been wanting to try and get into more hand tools. A plane is a good start. After watching Rob Cosman’s Plane Revival and some of Frank Klausz’s stuff, I picked up an old Stanley #4 on eBay for $20. It arrived today.

Overall, I think it’s in pretty good shape. Some rust on the sides and bottom, but no serious pitting.

So, I took it all apart. The frog, inner body and lever cap are almost pristine. Just needed a little wiping down. Everything turns and moves smoothly.

The blade and chip breaker look pretty rough though.

Pretty rusty and gunked up. Sprayed them with some WD40 and scrubbed them up with some steel wool just to get an assessment of how much work needed to be done.

Even with that little bit of scrubbing, they cleaned up pretty well.

The blade is going to need some grinding, but just because it’s way out of square

But the edge shows no serious chunks missing.

Lots of gunk still on the back of the blade, but I’ll be flattening that anyway.

So, we’re off to the races. First step will be to flatten the bottom and clean up the sides with some wet/dry sandpaper and a flat surface.

I’ve got a bench grinder on the way in a few days, so I’ll see if I can straighten out that blade.

Then I need to get a hold of some decent stones. I might go with the “scary sharp” sandpaper method to start with, depending on the immediate budget.

Finally, I’ll need to learn how to used the durned thing!

4 comments so far

View scruboak51's profile


37 posts in 1766 days

#1 posted 03-24-2014 09:33 PM

I’d vote to skip the stones and go with the scary sharp method. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with it

View bit101's profile


106 posts in 1905 days

#2 posted 03-24-2014 11:06 PM

Yeah, the sandpaper seems like it might be the way to go, at least to get started.

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 2286 days

#3 posted 03-26-2014 07:39 AM

I’m sure you have read this elsewhere, but you should get the paint off the frog where it comes in to contact with the blade. Also make sure the chip breaker is in complete contact with the blade(look for light between them when assembled) and also check if the back of the lever cap was ground properly and meets the chip breaker evenly. This is hard to check with the plane assembled just take the frog out and put the blade and lever cap on and make sure it sits flush just like you would with the chip breaker.

Don’t worry about some of the other details like super flat sole and a really tight mouth. I would ease into super tuning. Most woods work well with a fairly open mouth and a fairly flat sole. Being new to planes you will be much happier with a good well tuned plane (assuming you are using well behaving domestic woods) than getting frustrated with the plane misbehaving on you (If you don’t know what you are doing, a super tuned plane can be a serious headache to get the right balance of mouth opening and chip breaker setting.(plus if you super tune all your planes that takes a lot of effort in to keeping going)). Tuning all your planes like this is a waste, the jack or fore (5 or 6) is a course tool and requires an open mouth, even with a dull blade these planes will do the job.

Next is a jointer (6-8 only necessary if you are gluing boards or fine joinery, and can be skipped for most task) is not as anal, and only requires the proper sharpening. Again don’t fret about flat soles with this plane (the old timers made great pieces with wood bodied planes (almost imposible to super tune) for centures and their work is still around.

Also a super tuned plane, while fun to see the nice see though shaving is a SLOW tool (look at Schwartz (thin shaving means more work). I like to use two smoothers, one after jointing or jack(fore) and THEN the super smoother. It saves the blade on the super (only buy a sweet blade for this plane, and is soooo worth it just to make less trips to sharpen), which needs to be really sharp and makes for much faster production.

After a few weeks of use if you decide to get serious with planes (I would use this for basic smoothing and upgrade to dedicated smoother aka a much older Stanley or something from the newer makers) then you can trick it out with all the crazy stuff from Rob, Schwartz and others.

View bit101's profile


106 posts in 1905 days

#4 posted 03-26-2014 12:12 PM

Deycart, thanks for the tips. These all align with a lot of what I’ve been reading and watching. I’ve realized that there’s a spectrum from good enough to crazy perfect. And beyond that is Rob Cosman perfect. This video from Paul Sellers put a lot in perspective:

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