Just plain (plane) handles

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Project by SST posted 01-19-2008 04:24 AM 6135 views 2 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Just plain (plane) handles
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Lately, I’ve added several new (old) wood planes to my not-yet-built tool box. A lot of older Stanleys can be had for reasonable prices via E-bay, but many have broken/repaired totes, so I decided to try my hand at making them for one of my planes, a Stanley # 4.
I got the idea to try while at a Rockler store where they had a bin of various wood cutoffs that were pretty cheap. (for anyone who might have seen any of my previous projects, you’ll remember that cheap seems to the place I come from…heck, I think I was born & raised there, actually)
I bought a couple of blocks of kingwood that I was told was in the rosewood family, cost about $4.00 for both pieces, and thought I’d try some plane handles.
I traced the general shape of the rear tote and band sawed it out, then used a drum sander bring it down to shape, followed by hand sanding. The drilling was done using the old Shopsmith and making a jig by running my drill through the Stanley handle to get the correct angle, then locking it in place. I then made a small jig/block to hold the new piece in that position. I backed the drill out, and put my piece in & locked it down and drilled.This would have been just great, except that the drill I used wandered some and exited about 3/8” off center.
At this point, after taking several long, deep breaths, I resisted the urge to throw the handle against the concrete wall and then jump up & down on it until it was a pile of splinters.
Instead, (the aging process must have actually mellowed me out a bit) since I had drilled a 1/4” hole, I glued a 1/4” dowel in the hole and bought a shorter, better drill, and I re-drilled it… and it worked.
The front tote was turned, using a split Stanley knob as a guideline. I used a coat of Varathane cabernet stain, but that looked too red, so I applied a second coat of walnut, and finished with linseed oil.
I wasn’t sure which way to run the grain for the rear tote, and since the Stanley totes seem the have it horizontal, and they all seem to break that way, I thought I’d try it the other way. I like the look better, and if it breaks, I guess I’ll just make another the other way. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

20 comments so far

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4002 days

#1 posted 01-19-2008 04:30 AM

That’s quite an attractive handle.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4366 days

#2 posted 01-19-2008 04:35 AM

Excellent job. a nice set of wooden handles to the used plane.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Dano's profile


222 posts in 3997 days

#3 posted 01-19-2008 04:51 AM

SST, is that a no 3? I have been working on one that was my Great Granddads which is a 3C. I have tried to refinish the totes but his initials are engraved on them and to make them look right I would have to sand them down to far so this gives me an idea to make new ones to use and keep the originals safely away. Nice work.

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

View RobG's profile


71 posts in 3787 days

#4 posted 01-19-2008 05:00 AM

Nice job on the handles, now just add an aftermarket iron and you’ll bee making shavings that make paper look thick!!

-- Woodworking is Life. Anything before or after is just waiting.--S. McQueen sort of

View koolychik's profile


2 posts in 3767 days

#5 posted 01-19-2008 05:12 AM

I like the looks of your handles. Were you able to use the original screws?

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4029 days

#6 posted 01-19-2008 05:29 AM

Super job, I just cheesed out and got the Crown replacement set for a #410 Sargent I’m rehabbing. I’ve been creatively stuck today, even though it’s only metal work that needs doing today. Thanks for the kick in the pants.
Time to get back on the horse.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View TomFran's profile


2957 posts in 3959 days

#7 posted 01-19-2008 05:48 AM

Nice job, SST! Way to recover from a disappointing experience.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4160 days

#8 posted 01-19-2008 05:58 AM

I was able to use the original screws. The rear tote is a bit thicker than the Stanley I used for the model, and I think it lacks a little of the really nice graceful Stanley flow. That’s because I traced the shape a little on the generous side, not wanting to cut too much off my blank. Next time I’ll make it somewhat leaner.
I even thought about trying to make custom fit to my hand, but decided that a more generic style was ultimately a better choice. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3840 days

#9 posted 01-19-2008 12:22 PM

Gorgeous handle!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4126 days

#10 posted 01-19-2008 12:52 PM

beautiful handle
and you got a new drill out of it as well?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4031 days

#11 posted 01-19-2008 12:52 PM

Wow – that really makes that plane look new.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3761 days

#12 posted 01-19-2008 03:35 PM

Great looking tote!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3928 days

#13 posted 01-19-2008 03:54 PM

That is some pretty wood. Well done.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View snowdog's profile


1164 posts in 3948 days

#14 posted 01-19-2008 04:14 PM

That looks great, I need to start looking on ebay.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Hawgnutz's profile


526 posts in 4042 days

#15 posted 01-20-2008 04:34 AM

Very skill full job and a BEAUTIFUL set of totes! You gotta love them “scrap” bins at Rockler and Woodcraft! We all make mistakes, but it takes a skilled craftsman to correct them so they don’t show, or seem part of the design. You pulled that off great!

I agree, I like the grain going up/down on the rear tote, too. Please keep us all informed how that change of grain direction works out.

God Bless,

-- Saving barnwood from the scrapyards

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