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Restoring Handplane Totes

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Blog entry by poopiekat posted 02-01-2015 12:16 AM 1757 reads 3 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch

There’s lots of planes in my workshop that need a refurbished tote to make them usable. They are all projects for a later date, I keep telling myself. This is a typical tote, found on a transitional #27 on one of my hunting trips:

Here’s what I do: To fix the broken horn, I first bandsaw off the stub, leaving as flat a surface as possible.

Then, after confirming a nice flat surface, I select a little block of wood of similar grain, and glue it on. I keep exotic little cutoffs around, just for this reason. Simple walnut will suffice, and it rasps easily. I’ve tried bubinga, padauk, bloodwood, nahhh, don’t spend money on exotic wood unless your shooting for a world-class restoration.


Use any kind of fixturing necessary to get a good clamping pressure.
Then, trace an outline of the new “shark-fin” or sketch it freehand, and bandsaw it out::

Using rasps and files, rough in the new horn to the contours of the tote:

Photos are of several different totes in various stages, in case you wondered.

A bit of sanding, for ‘fairing in the contours to the original tote, and some finishing:


Hey.. don’t use ancient shellac like I did… it won’t lie flat, and took too long to dry.

Oh, well a bit of fine sanding, and fresh shellac over the Minwax dark red mahogany stain, kinda makes the wood look like rosewood.
Big thanks to DonW, whose writings taught me that broken totes are not only repairable, but can be beautiful utilitarian works of art!!
ps Apologies to those who commented before this thread got re-posted!!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!



40 comments so far

View racerglen's profile

racerglen

3112 posts in 2244 days


#1 posted 02-01-2015 12:54 AM

Nice work PK !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View MNclone's profile

MNclone

187 posts in 1047 days


#2 posted 02-01-2015 01:35 AM

What kind of wood are you staining to match the rosewood?

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

4225 posts in 3198 days


#3 posted 02-01-2015 01:55 AM

Thanks, Glen!!

MNClone: Typically, I’ll use walnut, for darker totes, because it takes a dark stain well. It forms well with rasps and files. I use dark minwax one-step, with shellac over and under.
I’ve tried bubinga, padauk, and some mystery tropical, flooring cutoffs with some success. But mostly walnut for the darker woods, red beech for the lighter colored totes. If grain representation is of paramount cosmetic importance, I’d buy something that matches the original rosewood… if I can find any. Mostly I’m repairing my soon-to-be user planes, and I’m not overly concerned with whether the grain matches perfectly. If that’s the case, I have brand new tote blanks cut, waiting for planes I have that do not have totes. That’s the best way to achieve a tote with all matching grain and no tan lines.

[Edit:] Most of the totes pictured were finished in Minwax “Bombay Mahogany” satin, and a shellac overcoat. Not really my first choice, it was bought for a rocking chair repair project. But it is a high-pigment stain, good for disguising mixed wood repairs.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Don W's profile

Don W

17962 posts in 2031 days


#4 posted 02-01-2015 02:04 AM

dark red mahogany stain seems to hide the fix well. I’ve been experimenting with some ebony stain as well.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

4225 posts in 3198 days


#5 posted 02-01-2015 02:18 AM

Don: I’ve been hoping to find somebody who can do that new-fangled “3-D Printing”, I’d be more than happy to give them my good original totes for cloning. In any color we wish!!! Ye-haw!! The day will come!

What’s your opinion these days, Don, about species selection for repairs?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Don W's profile

Don W

17962 posts in 2031 days


#6 posted 02-01-2015 02:47 AM

Matching is hard. I just try to keep pieces of possibilities around. Some beech, some mahogany, some indian rosewood!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View MNclone's profile

MNclone

187 posts in 1047 days


#7 posted 02-01-2015 03:12 AM

Interesting, so you are using Walnut with the red stain.

View terryR's profile

terryR

6317 posts in 1772 days


#8 posted 02-02-2015 04:30 PM

Great info, PK!
especially liked the photo of ancient shellac…looks like my finish work of late…guess I need a new rattle can?

A year ago, I though replacing these busted totes was the way to go…WRONG! Keeping our vintage tools with original parts is much harder and more appropriate IMO.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

4225 posts in 3198 days


#9 posted 02-02-2015 04:46 PM

Absolutely correct, Terry!
Yeah, I gotta pay more attention to the “Use By” date on the can, which I now see as Jun 2009. LOL!!
I like shellac, and indeed this feathered right off with stearated #320 paper. They all look better with a fresh coat of newborn shellac. Oddly, the old shellac attracted those pesky fruit flies that got in the house! They’re gone now.
I’m glad I saved all the broken totes, because I too feel better about restoring the plane to ‘all it ever was’. Jeez, I roughed out 8 new totes out of rock maple, took me two weeks on and off to get ONE about right. There’s really only one tote, among my herd, that really can’t be saved, IMO. But I also got a lot of planes that came to me without totes…and I just can’t walk away from them at flea markets and antique shows… can I?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Paul M's profile

Paul M

95 posts in 766 days


#10 posted 03-13-2015 09:37 PM

Great work!! I am practicing tote repair on an extra tote from a garage sale spare parts plane. Any suggestions for hiding this glue line? I got it well aligned, and is a strong repair, but is (obviously) a bad choice of epoxy color.

thanks

-- Paul M

View Don W's profile

Don W

17962 posts in 2031 days


#11 posted 03-13-2015 09:49 PM

Looks like it need more sanding

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View Paul M's profile

Paul M

95 posts in 766 days


#12 posted 03-13-2015 11:16 PM

Don: I have been hand sanding for a while, started at 220 , then 320, now 400. Even tried wet sanding with BLO at 400 (just turned the tote black, another lesson learned). It is an older tote (from type 11 plane), with alot of dings and scratches (which is ok for me). I just want to get rid of the epoxy line and then shine it up a bit. The epoxy had to fill quite a bit around the edge, so I don’t think I can sand my way out of this. If I had sanded the break areas flat on both sides, I would have lost about 1/4” of material. Maybe I should have done that.

Note that the lighter brown area at middle right on this pic is (wrong shade) wood filler I tried to fill a gap above the epoxy fill. Yet another lesson learned.

I have no problem hand sanding more, I just think the epoxy line is fairly deep.

Thanks

-- Paul M

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

4225 posts in 3198 days


#13 posted 03-14-2015 01:05 AM

Well… you can use epoxy, but I never do. You have to think about the site of the break. You have to cut the broken ends off, flatten them as precisely as possible, and slip in a piece of matching wood and glue the whole works together. Make sure that the glued-up tote is pretty close to the height it was originally…

Avoid thinking that a glue of any type will make an air gap disappear. That beech-colored tote at the beginning ended up with an unsatisfactory line, I cut it away and inserted 1/4” stock of the same species, with mating surfaces as flat as possible. No need for filler.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Paul M's profile

Paul M

95 posts in 766 days


#14 posted 03-14-2015 01:36 AM

Thanks PK: I will be trying the wood piece insertion route next time. I actually thought about that when I started, but saw a few people that were able to successfully glue only. Another experience gained.

I think I will sand this some more, and maybe try in the future to cut open the crack and insert some fresh wood. Here it is after about an hour of hand sanding (different lighting, but is improved).

Can you tell me what type of wood this is? Time for me to start acquiring and saving wood scraps.

-- Paul M

View Don W's profile

Don W

17962 posts in 2031 days


#15 posted 03-14-2015 11:04 AM

I also color the epoxy. It helps hide the line, but like PK said, if you need to fill a void, wood works best.

Finding wood to match these old totes can be a challenge though.

Its probably east Indian rosewood.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

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