Reply by Alin Dobra

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Posted on Plane restoration - the right thing to do?

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Alin Dobra

351 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 12-06-2007 07:12 PM


The minimum amount of time, unless you are lucky, it takes to restore a plane to acceptable condition is 4-5 hours. In that time, I can make a wood box or bowl that is worth about as much as a new Veritas plane that is better than an old plane even if in pristine condition.

About your point 3, it turns out that only planes that were not used much (or at all) have chances to be restored to decent condition. The ones that were used are so worn up that they are not worth the trouble. I got an almost new Stanley #5 two years ago (build before 1940 for sure). I could tell immediately that the person that owned the plane had no clue how to sharped the blade or tune the plane. My guess is that he tried to use the plane once than promptly put it in the attic. Even this almost new plane needs a lot of work. The reason is the fact that Stanley did not do the tuning in the factory (to keep the price low). The woodworkers were expected to tune the plane after purchasing it (lap the soles, set the frog properly, etc.). A modern Veritas comes ready to use (maybe less a 2 minute lapping of the blade) out of the box, is dead flat (modern technology at work), very precise and has a number of little innovations that make is a much better plane. The same goes for Lee-Nielsen. My restored old planes are unused since the Veritas Jointer is so versatile and good.

Purchasing anything other than a block plane and the #4, #5 and maybe #7, unless you are very lucky, is a bad idea since they are rare enough to be worth close to the price of a Veritas plane. This is especially true for shoulder planes.

If you do enjoy restoring tools/machinery, than the story is different. There is a lot of pride in taking a rusty piece of metal and making it produce fine shavings (after 5 hours).


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

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