Destoration of a Stanley #80 Cabinet Scraper

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Brad posted 02-01-2014 04:41 AM 4105 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A couple of years ago, I was rummaging through a dusty box of vintage tools at an estate sale. My wish list at the time included a Stanley #80 cabinet scraper. I wanted something for wily-grained woods. That’s because my smoothing planes did as much tearing out as they did smoothing of those species. So when I saw this beauty, I dug deep in my pocket for the $3.00 dollars we agreed upon.

It had a few peculiarities. Like this homemade “iron” that obviously came from an old sawplate.

And a sole that clearly was out of flat.

Still, there was nothing to do but clean her up…

…and lap the sole.

After sharpening and burnishing the iron with a screwdriver, I set it in and put a piece of pine in my vise. And got crap results. A shallow depth setting made dust. A thick one left gouges in the wood surface. A bit deflated, I set it aside. Then, off and on for the next few months, I would fettle this abomination some more in the vain hopes of restoring it to working condition.

No dice.

The not-so-flat sole bugged me. And since I couldn’t lap out the 1/8” of difference between the front and back of it, I figured that I would bend the cast iron sole into flat.

And I must say. This approach worked perfectly…to break my prize.

As Forrest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” I think that it took a whopping 0.0005 foot pounds of pressure to snap the sole. And the sound of the iron breaking, that high-pitched “pink”, made me sick to my stomach. Not to mention how the knowledge that I had destroyed a vintage tool with decades of history etched upon its soul gnawed at me.

I tried to put it out of my mind, but found that the only thing that would ease the feeling would be to buy a new one and start from scratch. So it was to Ebay I went, where I picked up this honey for 10 times what I paid for my original.

I’m fond of Stanley type 11 planes made around WWI. I believe that this time period represents a zenith for tool makers. Those were the days that they combined patented tool features, superior materials, and craftsmanship to give birth to millions of quality tools. Implements of such excellence that three generations hence they still sit atop woodworkers’ benches amidst shavings and sawdust. Well, except for the one I got ahold of…

So when I saw the V-logo on the back blade retention strip, I knew it dated this plane to around 1912-1918. I had to have it.

It didn’t come with a blade, but that suited me just fine because I purchased a LV replacement blade for my now broken tool. And of course, I still have the user-made-sawplate blade that came with the original.

The new #80 sole responded well to lapping.

Excellent. That removed one potential variable from the reasons-I-can’t-get-a-decent-shaving-with-a-cabinet-scraper list. The next variable that came to mind was burnishing. Chances are I wasn’t turning a decent hook. My reading on the subject suggested that I was using burnishers that were too soft to affect today’s hardened steel. So to eliminate this as a possibility, I picked up a harder-than-steel, carbide burnisher.

After using it I was, miraculously and suddenly, able to take decent shavings.

Decent, but not great so there’s room to improve my technique. But at least now, I have a tool to reach for when the wood’s grain gets to tricky for my smoother.


-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

12 comments so far

View OSU55's profile


1630 posts in 1954 days

#1 posted 02-01-2014 05:44 AM

Try the #80 on some hardwood. Scraping doesn’t work so great on softwood, so you must be doing something right to get shavings from pine. It will work much better on hardwood. Burnishers – many think an old screwdriver will work, and as you have found, not really. I have the same carbide burnisher (as well as some made from broken carbide mills) and it works great. I love my #80. I have an LV scraping plane, so I use the #80 for glue removal mainly, but it’s a great tool and will scrape a very nice finish.

View OSU55's profile


1630 posts in 1954 days

#2 posted 02-01-2014 05:47 AM

One thing you could have tried on the sloe of the other #80 – JB Weld or similar epoxy. It will fill in deep dings and holes on soles. It might have held up in that application.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3450 days

#3 posted 02-01-2014 08:38 AM

I too found out the hard way that the word “ductile” doesn’t appear in discussing about old Stanley cast-iron hand planes. They don’t bend, period. I was just messing around with an extra slim saw file and snapped it in two. The file was made of (very!) brittle high-carbon steel, which can snap like cast irn. I dropped one of my saw files on the concrete floor and it shattered into two pieces. Neither a total loss in function or financial, but still. I waffle back and forth just how flat the sole really needs to be. I’ve come to believe the thought of lapping a metal sole flat never much occurred to craftsman 100 years ago, save the worst-case examples of twisted, gnarled casting. But they would have tested before buying and why settle for a wacked bottom casting. One of the first planes I bought was an old #220 block with at least 1/8” of twist in the sole. I didn’t even know to check. Fun times. Regarding the scraper shavings, I believe some folks just grind and hone to 45 degrees and start scraping. For me it’s all about the burr. The plane body is just a jig to hold the iron at the correct angle. Garrett Hack has a youtube video showing some fine curlies using a #53 or #54 spokeshave. A thing of beauty to watch, see youtube link below.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#4 posted 02-01-2014 12:01 PM

that high-pitched “pink”,

Reading it is almost like fingernails on a chalk board.

I think you could epoxy a hardwood foot to get the first one back in service. I agree your way worked best though.

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

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

533 posts in 3216 days

#5 posted 02-01-2014 12:13 PM

Hey Brad, great thread. The cabinet scrapers are great tools. I have a Veritas model and a vintage Marsh M80, a rare tool indeed, and love them both. The real trick is in sharpening the scraper blade correctly. It’s very important to joint and smooth the edge of the blade as you would a plane blade, with the exception of adding the hook. I use a nice vintage Disston made burnisher on both new and old blades. But let me tell you this, after restoring LOTS of planes, I can say that lapping the sole is greatly over rated! Sometimes, good enough is good enough.
I use the granite top of my table saw to judge flatness of my plane soles. If the plane doesn’t rock when I press from side to side and back and forth, then the sole doesn’t need to be flattened. Even on my finest infill smoothing planes, I almost never lap the soles. When I do, I use the granite top as a flat reference. On your scraper, it was most likely not the sole giving you problems.
I also agree with Dave Roberts, scraping soft woods is not an ideal indicator, try a piece of cherry or walnut and you’ll get a much better perception of how well your scraper is functioning. :)

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

View chrisstef's profile


17305 posts in 2971 days

#6 posted 02-01-2014 01:09 PM

The finnicky #80 …. When it works you wanna hug it when it dont you wanna body slam it. Ive just come to love mine after a year of frustration and chatter.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View johnstoneb's profile


2866 posts in 2137 days

#7 posted 02-01-2014 02:27 PM

I think some of the #80 had the forward edge turned up sligthly when cast. I know the #80 I have the forward edge is turned up slightly. I have a problem with chatter on mine. I think the problem is the the back of the blade is not fully supported by the plane body. Still working on that with a file and prussian blue. The blade works very well when pulled by hand out the the body. but as soon as I put it in it chatters. I’m with David I don’t think the sole need to be absolutely flat. I just need to make good contact behind the scraper blade and fairly good contact on the rest of the sole behind the blade. Some pitting and dips are to be expected on these old tools. You just need good contact behind the blade and around the edges.
Too much lapping will thin out and weaken the tool. Cast iron does not bend even with heat.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View ToddJB's profile


7910 posts in 2095 days

#8 posted 02-03-2014 02:14 PM

Brad – good post. I’m getting ready to dive into restoring my #80 and there a few good warning to heed in this blog.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2804 days

#9 posted 02-06-2014 01:14 PM

Brad I was reading the “Oh NO”
That’s a bummer.
Mail me the broke one and I’ll braze it back and let you try again.
The new one is shaving wonderfully.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15280 posts in 2583 days

#10 posted 02-06-2014 01:29 PM

Good stuff, Brad, and a great post. Love the education, I’m with Stef on the love-hate. A proper burnisher is another controlled variable, well done.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View OSU55's profile


1630 posts in 1954 days

#11 posted 02-06-2014 08:40 PM

johnstoneb – the chatter you are experiencing may be depth of cut. Set the #80 on a piece of glass or granite and tightn the blade clamps (bow screw backed out). Test on wood – should be nothing or a little dust. Start bowing the blade a little at a time until you are getting just wispy shavings. Play with that awhile. Keep adding some bow to the blade a little at a time and make test cuts. If this doesn’t work, your burr angle may be too far off or the blade just isn’t sharp.

The blade bed doesn’t have to be perfect. Something to try is JB weld or similar to fill in rather than file everything away.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3450 days

#12 posted 02-11-2014 04:32 AM

Reminiscing back to days of yore when I had 20/20 vision, could see in the dark, had steady hands, nimble fingers and equally nimble reflexes, I tried my best to turn a burr freehand, with limited success. But those days are long gone, and besides I’ve since reconciled and depend on jigs to cover up my lack of muscle memory, and many other woodworking skills, in general. Just saying. Fortunately there is no lack of dirt simple, shop-made jigs on the interweb that take the guesswork out of turning a consistent, workable burr, and for that matter sharpening/honing the blade to 45 degrees.

And just to let you know you are not alone, a few years ago I bought a #80 off the bay and when received I noticed the blade had teeth. Being a neophyte I thought – use for aggressive scrapping? I still chuckle, ha ha. They looked like saw teeth. Could I have won a #80 scraper with a rip-off chunk of hand saw blade? Well yes, and come to find out, this is a common practice, and not just for the frugal woodworker (is there another kind?). The metal is hardened spring steel, sometimes better than or at least equal to store bought blades. I ended up shortly afterward buying a store-bought replacement because I made more dust than shavings using the piece of saw blade. After more trial and error I determined operator error was the culprit, as in not knowing how to sharpen, hone and turn the burr, and not blade quality. Experience before wisdom.

I agree with OSU55 that the blade should be placed in the scrapper body while the body is on a flat surface. Someone please correct me if I’ve mangled this a bit, the blade is made to protrude beyond the mouth by tightening the screw which puts a radius on the blade. Small radius = small protusion, larger radius = you get the picture. I also agree with sneaking up on the amount of protusion, just like adjusting the depth of a hand plane iron.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics