While visiting family in Tennessee this week (hence the “pappaw”), I managed to rummage through my late grandfather’s very scary tool shed, which has been pretty much been locked up since he died around 13 years ago.
I found some ancient woodworking stuff, which is in pretty terrible condition. This includes a #26 jack plane (with a wooden sole) with some unique properties. I can’t quite date it because the info on the toe doesn’t appear to match anything I can find online (“stanley bailey NO 26” and patent dates I can’t make out), and the wooden parts seem to have been factory-coated with something like a red paint—if my grandfather had done it, it would have been very utilitarian. It seems to be from around 1890-1900, as it has bells and whistles that put it in that period. The japanning is pretty much all gone. The tote is cracked. Oddly, all of the finger-adjustable mechanisms work.
I’m seriously considering restoring this plane, by making a new body for it and cleaning up the iron parts as much as possible. I want to use it. It was already used so much that the sole had been lapped enough to wear down some of the incised information on the toe. It took me about an hour of checking from different angles under a magnifier to recognize that it’s a #26. The chipbreaker appears to be from a different plane, and my mother swears that there’s a smaller one around. I looked, hard. Maybe next time.
So here is a bad iPhone photo of it. It is accompanied by a few files and 2 chisels, both of which are quite rusty, but, serendipitously, fill gaps in my bench chisel collection. The big question is: wrap it up and let it continue to rot and die in plastic, or Frankenstein it and make it as nice as possible and put it back to work? I’m sure my grandfather would approve of the latter…