Stanley type planes #1: Plane handle repair and a jig to make the fix

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Blog entry by mafe posted 09-16-2011 12:42 AM 16640 reads 11 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Plane handle repair.
and a jig to make the fix.

In this blog I will show how I repair a Stanley type handle that is broken or with a missing piece, and how to make a jig to hold it together while it’s being glued.

I think I better show a before and after picture first, here before the fix.
I feel almost sad, that poor plane, it is like the fairytale of H. C. Andersen with the one legged soldier.
So we have to help him!
The truth is he has been like this for quite a while, I never game it the priority, but when I had my Korean friend here I felt sorry for this plane when we looked at the planes, the handle was broken it was never cleaned up since it worked quite well even with its marker number on the side – and so it was time.

And here after a flattening of the sole and sides, but most of all with a repaired handle with a little extra curve.
As you can see, I also removed the old lacquer from the front and rear handle and gave them a new surface treatment.

First step was to cut of the stumpy top so I had a flat surface, this I did on the band saw.
Next step was to find a piece of scrap wood, I did not have any wood that could match, so I ended up with a piece of beech wood, this because I know it is strong in all the directions of the fibers and this is a weak spot on a handle.
So this is where we start.
(You can see that this handle has been fixed before by someone else).

The handle on top of the new piece and a long drill down the handle to get the right angle, I did this freehand.

Then time to work on a jig for glue up.
A piece of scrap wood with an end cut of perpendicular to the hole in the handle so there will be no twist when the bolt is tightened.
A piece of threaded rod, a nut, two washers and a wing nut, this is the basic jig and all you really need, but I will improve it later in the blog.

To make it easy to remove the threaded rod later I put painters tape around it before I glue.

Then mix some epoxy, and apply it to the surface.
(Ok this is I guess not difficult even if you are six years old).

Put the new handle piece on top, then a washer and tighten the wing nut.

Check you have a good fit and glue comes out evenly.

Here you can see the future lines while we wait for the glue to dry.

Ok let’s spend the waiting good.
Here the front handle, a nut and a threaded rod.

Fix the rod in a drill and tighten the nut by running the drill.

It can be done really easy in a drill press.
And then sand it down.

I start with 80 and end with 400 and try not to clean it up, just strip it for lacquer and most color.
This because I want the patina to stay when I continue.

Glue is dry so take it apart.
(I used the fast glue, and had a coffee).

Now cut of the rough form, stay outside the lines so you have room for correction.

As much as you can with a saw first, this can also be a hand saw but I’m lazy.
Now it starts looking like something yes!

Then I roughly shape it up on a sander, this can also be done with a rasp.

Here compared to a standard Record plane handle from that period.
I want it to be more ‘proud’, more strong, and that the curve goes a little more up since they tend to annoy the top of my hand, so this is what I came up with.

Now time to go closer, this can be done in many ways, here I try with great joy a rasp on a flexible shaft.
You need to hold your hand and the work piece steady, but then it is fast and easy.

Now a file.
(If you are awake, you will have noticed I have actually turned the direction of the fibers wrong… Bad luck, but I try to beat it and it seems strong, at least I can’t break it, so it was good I choose that wood).

Then I peal of all the lacquer and sand it down.
I try on this one to stop at 120 since I want it to be a little rough for a good grip as an experiment

So I promised an update on the jig!
An extra hole so the front of the handle can be fixed also and a bolt, washer and wing nut to hold it.

Step one.

Step two.

And a couple of scrap wood to help with a firm grip.

Give the thing a name so you remember in five years what the heck it is…
Throw it in a drawer and hope you can find it when needed.

Clean your files, then they are so much more effective.

I use a file brush.

Back to the handle.
Now we need to find a drill that match the brass nut that hold the handle in place.

I have plenty, but none that match…

Then make a hole that is a little deeper than the nut.

And here you see the nut in the hole.
As you can see too deep in the hole…
This because the old hole was lower and so I have a new challenge…

A dowel, same size as the hole.

Stick it in ad mark.

Now subtract the deepness of the nut.


Push it down.

Once dry you can drill a hole through again.


So time to play with color!
All over the table and my fingers… Idiot Mads.
I recommend you are focused while playing with dye.
I spend some time on the dye job since I have to correct the difference between the new and old wood.

Linseed oil, plenty until it is full.

Sanding away dye…

Once the linseed oil has soaked up, it is time for wax, I use an antique wax here to give it more deepness in the color.
And this is where I will stop the finish – this to try and give it a good grip and see how it will become in time compared to the lacquered surfaces.

I like that color!
Warm, silk, sweet.

And here we are!
Ready to go, now I think it is a proud plane, perhaps the other planes will even be a little jealous.

I think that is a sexy curve.
(And not so easy to see the fix).

What you saw in the background is some wonderful vintage screwdrivers soaking in linseed oil, but this will be for another blog.

The end.

How to make a front handle on a drill press if you don’t have a lathe:

Hope this blog can inspire others to give pride back to some hand planes with broken handles,

Best of thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

25 comments so far

View peteg's profile


4273 posts in 2788 days

#1 posted 09-16-2011 01:01 AM

Mads, I have had that exact problem with one of my planes for more years than I like to remember, & every time I use it I thinkI should fix the dam thing, now you have managed to make me feel guilty – guess what :))

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2467 days

#2 posted 09-16-2011 01:13 AM

Mads, you have such a nice way of explaining every step along the way. A delightful blog to read and packed with informatiion. Thanks mate.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2952 days

#3 posted 09-16-2011 01:31 AM

Great pictorial Mads. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#4 posted 09-16-2011 02:20 AM

Mads, as usual great job on the blog. I have a jig similar to your first section here. I sometime have a problem with the top part of the handle wanting to slide backwards. I wind up clamping it sideways to stop it and keep it lined up.

Also when I chuck the knob I use a fender washer and another nut. I never thought of just spinning it up into the chuck. I’m going to try that.

I may have a plane or two I can test it on. :-)

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4062 days

#5 posted 09-16-2011 02:25 AM

Nice jig and repair mads… Lots of folks can use this.

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

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2891 days

#6 posted 09-16-2011 02:26 AM

Well done! Now I have no excuse to fix mine.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 09-16-2011 03:58 AM

Mafe, you make me want to run out and buy a plane to try this. lol Great tutorial, as always. Rand

View PaBull's profile


956 posts in 3630 days

#8 posted 09-16-2011 05:58 AM

Mads, you did the plane a great favor. I looks like new again.

If you wanted to make a tote from scratch, here is a nice plan:


-- rhykenologist and plant grower

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3080 days

#9 posted 09-16-2011 07:57 AM

goood job on the tote
niice jiiig Thank´s
great picturebook as usual :-)

well done

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2899 days

#10 posted 09-16-2011 08:01 AM

If it wasn’t for that spill it would have been perfect… Focus! not the camera.

well I can tell you that my planes are still in the original box so they won’t be needing any repair soon.
but it sure is nice to know how to do it.


-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2745 days

#11 posted 09-16-2011 12:44 PM

Great work !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2742 days

#12 posted 09-16-2011 01:40 PM

Very very nice

-- David in Damascus, MD

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 2603 days

#13 posted 09-16-2011 01:42 PM

Mads, you always do such a wonderful job with the tutorials.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View woodzy's profile


418 posts in 2644 days

#14 posted 09-16-2011 02:02 PM

They don’t get much better than that. Nice handle.
I am slowly learnig that i must embrace dyes.
This makes me as nervous as it excites me.
Thanks for sharing your work.

-- Anthony

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3426 days

#15 posted 09-16-2011 02:48 PM

I’ve done this bit appreciate that you would take the time to do this blog, Mads. Nice repair! You continue to insire us to keep those vintage tools in good repair. That plane is all dressed up and happy to get back to work.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

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