New tote for an old Stanley No. 8 hand plane, made from Curly Maple

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Project by ic3ss posted 10-21-2010 09:59 PM 6508 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I got this old Stanley No. 8 plane off of Ebay a few weeks ago. It was in pretty bad shape, the handle spur was shaved off, and the handle didn’t fit my hand at all. There was some black gunk that someone sprayed all over the top of the plane, possibly an attempt at refinishing, and the expected rust.

I made up an electrolosys solution and hooked up a battery charger that I found at a garage sale for .50c and it took two days to loosen the japanning from the iron, with no sweat spent wire brushing or fighting to get the japanning off in those corners. It just fell off. After the bath, I taped off all machined surfaces and sprayed three coats of appliance epoxy black to seal it up. The iron, cap iron, and cap lever were cleaned as well enough to read the markings on them clearly, although it is pitted. Lastly, I dug around in the scrap bin of a local granite counter top contractor and found a couple of suitable pieces I could use. One is about 20”x12” that wil lbe used to put sandpaper down on for a “scary sharp” system, the other is 6”x30” and was used to flatten the sole of the plane. I spray glued two 40 grit sanding belts, cut and laying down flat, and ran the plane sole across it until ALL of the old patina was gone, and then sealed it with paste wax to help keep the rust at bay. I didn’t bother with the sides.

Next I found two small blocks of curly maple with some really nice figuring in the grain. I just needed a way to cut the outline of a handle. I picked up a very new scroll saw from a Craigslist ad for $50 and went to work. I layed the tote from a Miller’s Falls No. 604 Jackplane on the maple to use as an outline. The 604 tote has a really nice profile that fits my hand pretty well, albeit it is too skinny to fill up my palm. The maple was 1.5” thick so I only had to carve it down to size. The new scroll saw was slow going, but I was astonished at how smooth the cuts were, like it was sanded finish smooth. I really like this saw. Then I put the rough cutout in the vise and beveled the edges with my wood rasp, (.50c at a garage sale). From there, it was rasp work shaping it into a comfortable fit to my hand, and the foot where it mates to the iron. I spent about an hour sanding from 100 to 120, to 240 grit. Once the surface was finish smooth, the grain figuring really started to show. Now I was getting excited. The only thing I had to finish it was tung oil, so that’s what I used, and topping that with paste wax.

Sorry I didn’t think far enough ahead to take pictures of the process, but here are a few of the finished item. It fits my hand really well, and is nice to look at.



I completed the front knob a last week, carving it on my new drill press. I finished it with five coats of wipe on poly, and it looked so good that I sanded the tung oil and wax off of the tote and refinished it with wipe on poly as well. The finished product looks really cool, I can just sit and stare at the 3D effect the grain has in changing light. As an added bonus, the knob had some spalting in it that looks pretty good too.

-- "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

16 comments so far

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3112 days

#1 posted 10-21-2010 10:02 PM

Beautiful plane, and a extremely beautiful handle you have made.
This might just become a favorite of yours.
Best thoughts,

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

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3811 days

#2 posted 10-21-2010 10:30 PM

Nice job and great tip on using the appliance epoxy to replace the japanning. I had never thought to try that. Beautiful handle, enjoy working with it.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View aurora's profile


229 posts in 3275 days

#3 posted 10-21-2010 11:30 PM

just “plane” beautiful !!

View Adam's profile


46 posts in 3176 days

#4 posted 10-22-2010 01:54 AM

Very nice. I have plane envy.


View imallchalkedup's profile


393 posts in 3004 days

#5 posted 10-22-2010 03:48 AM

Well i’ll give to you plane and simple, that is just one beauty of a plane. Seriously, very nice job on the handle.

-- RStadler

View gary351's profile


97 posts in 2819 days

#6 posted 10-22-2010 12:40 PM

I guess woodworkers didn’t like that spur getting in the way, my old bailey is the same way. Thanks for the inspiration and process to make something even better with age.

-- A poor man has poor way's

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3484 days

#7 posted 10-22-2010 01:13 PM

Very nice restoration of a classic plane. I am reminded of a tune by John Prine called, Grandpa was a carpenter. One line in the song goes, He shaved even every door Happy planing

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

View 489tad's profile


3368 posts in 3034 days

#8 posted 10-22-2010 02:25 PM

Nice job. The grain looks amazing.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 3036 days

#9 posted 10-22-2010 02:43 PM

Wow, that grain is awesome. Nicely done and well written up.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3846 days

#10 posted 10-22-2010 04:34 PM

I would love to take it for a ride…nice work all the way around on this restoration. Enjoy your new jointer and thanks for sharing…BC

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2963 days

#11 posted 10-22-2010 08:59 PM

As lover of planes, I say, a tip of the hat to you sir!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3082 days

#12 posted 10-23-2010 12:05 AM

Cool handle. I think that I would have to grab another piece of that wood and make a front knob to match. I have a couple of planes that I might have to do something like this with. Very cool.

For those interested, I can’t remember if it is the Lee Valley or the Lie Nielsen website, but one of them offers free downloadable templates that can be used for making handles for Stanley planes. If I can find it again, I will post again with the link.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3082 days

#13 posted 10-23-2010 12:08 AM

With a little help from Google, it was easy to find. Here is that link.

You can download templates for a good starting point to make a handle for your planes.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4110 days

#14 posted 10-23-2010 02:08 AM

Just “plane” nice

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View Doug McPherson's profile

Doug McPherson

114 posts in 3178 days

#15 posted 05-17-2011 03:28 PM

Amazing! Love it so much. I know what you mean. I took the little block plane I just refinished to work with me and set it on my desk (just so we didn’t have to seperate) and then brought it home again at the end of the day. You should be very proud of that tool.

-- DullChiselDoug,

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