Hand Tools Odyssey #4: Smoothing Plane Restorations

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Blog entry by gizmodyne posted 11-10-2009 05:37 AM 4180 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Sharpen this! (Card scraper) Part 4 of Hand Tools Odyssey series Part 5: Block Planes and Tool Gloat One »

Our next project in class tune a smoothing plane. We bought a No. 3 Stanley for Kristin at the Swap Meet and I bought a Stanley No. 4C on E-Bay.

My plane before tuning.

Step 1: Flatten Sole or pay a guy to do it

The sole of the plane before grinding.

We set up wet-dry paper on a granite plate and tested the soles.

Given the condition of our planes, we decided to take our teacher up on an offer to send the planes to his machinist friend who ground the soles and squared one cheek for $25. We are just running out of time for lapping.

Here are the planes after machining:

Step 2: Sharpen Iron

Just like sharpening a chisel.
Lap the face.

We set the honing guide for 25 degrees up and honed up to 8000 Grit

We ground camber (curve) into the blade. Both of them are aggressively cambered and we plan to regrind and home one to make it more subtle.

Step 3: Tune Chip Breaker
We ground the chip breaker so that it sits flat on the plane iron.

Smoothing the top of the chip breaker so that chips rise easily.

Step 4: Tune Frog and Bed
We removed the frog, taped the lateral adjustment and then ground the frog flat on a diamond plate.


We put a silicone carbonate powder in grease and then ground the frog against the bed to seat it properly.
Step 4: Assemble

Now I should say that I did lose the frog adjustment screw and tote nut to Kristin’s plane. A few days later and a new set arrived it in the mail. I left the dog house.

The planes cut like a dream.


Next time: Block Planes

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

7 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4097 days

#1 posted 11-10-2009 05:40 AM

Very nice guys. Really like the 4c. It looks like a great find.

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

View a1Jim's profile


117094 posts in 3577 days

#2 posted 11-10-2009 05:49 AM

Big Job but worth it.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3359 days

#3 posted 11-10-2009 06:15 AM

Nice!! I just took a class on tuning a plane, but we didn’t get into grinding the frog. What is the purpose of that?

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3823 days

#4 posted 11-10-2009 06:56 AM

Best piece of sandpaper you’ll ever own…LOL…Blkcherry

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3348 days

#5 posted 11-10-2009 07:28 AM

Flattening the Frog ensures there is a good mating surface for the blade to rest on when in use. A non-flat frog will cause “chatter”. As the plane iron skims across the wood, it will unseat itself and bounce around on the surface of the frog, causing an inconsistent cut.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3822 days

#6 posted 11-10-2009 01:15 PM

This is a nice post, Giz. I have a couple of planes that I need to tune up and this post is certainly a motivation to do mine.

Nice job.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3359 days

#7 posted 11-10-2009 09:06 PM

Thanks JL, I appreciate that. I would also like to point out (just in case there’s anyone out there as ignorant as I) that its really not that much work to “tune” a plane. I had always put it off thinking it would take days. We tuned ours up in about 30 minutes and that included flattening the sole, grinding the hollow bevel, and working the stones up to 8000 grit. It was amazing to see how differently the plane performed after versus before.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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