|Project by dfdye||posted 03-22-2010 03:31 PM||1596 views||2 times favorited||11 comments|
A little bit ago, I posted a review of a #4 Footprint that I had spent some time tuning up, and in the comments WayneC challenged me to restore an old Stanley to get a feel for the difference in build quality. Well, it was put up or shut up time, so I accepted the challenge, and Wayne was kind enough to give me a great deal on an old #7 jointer he had in his garage awaiting restoration.
The second picture shows the condition in which I received it—fully disassembled for shipping, and as dirty and grimy as you could ask for! I blogged about the restoration and included a ton of pictures documenting the process, but the end result after a new blade is a fantastic “user” plane. I purposefully decided to keep the patina of the old metal and not re-grind the sole and sides of the body, save flattening with sand paper. The result is that there are a bunch of pits from rust, a lot of discoloration of the metal, and a piece that looks like what it is—an old plane that has been around the block a time or two! I personally love the look of the end result, and, more importantly, am VERY happy with how it works. I am getting amazingly flat board edges, even with the pitting in the sole that I decided not to grind out. The way I see it, a lot of people like corrugated soles on long planes, so I’ll just think of the old rust pits as “micro-corrugation” and that they are intentional to decrease the sliding drag. Yea, that’s what it is! :)
I can say with certainty that the original question of the challenge—whether an old Stanley or a new Footprint or Groz is a better investment—is a resounding nod to the Stanley. The overall cost of the restoration was about what I would pay for a cheap plane plus a premium replacement blade, but there was a lot of extra time and effort that went into stripping and refinishing parts that I wouldn’t have to do with a cheap plane (both would need to have their soles flattened, so I call that a wash). The payoff for the extra time spent with the antique tool was better craftsmanship of the Stanley, better adjustability (yes, even after the years, the depth and angle adjustments were still in better shape than the new Footprint) and the satisfaction of restoring an old, abandoned piece of wood working history (as best I can tell, this plane dates from between 1920 and 1927, but don’t hold me to that!).
Regardless of the cost vs. quality issue, I had a fantastic time restoring the plane and learned a TON about working with hand planes in the process. I would highly recommend restoring an old tool to anyone interested in woodworking—the process helped me learn a lot about the “whys” of how a tool is made, and catalyzed my investigation into a lot of concepts I should have known before, but never bothered to learn (like why exactly consistency of the back bevel angle of a plane iron is so important—I knew angles to use, but never WHY those were the correct angles).
Now, on to building an infill plane from scratch! (Don’t hold your breath for that one to get finished any time soon, though!)
-- David from Indiana --