Plane Restoration

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Forum topic by UrbaneHillbilly posted 02-19-2010 02:23 PM 1315 views 1 time favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View UrbaneHillbilly's profile


22 posts in 3222 days

02-19-2010 02:23 PM

Hi guys,
I dug around a bit in the forums and found some great info on restoring planes (like the post on electrolytic cleaning). I was wondering if anyone can give an overview of the larger process and order of operations. I don’t need a lot of detail, just a logical ordering. I have restored guns so I know how to deal with metal and wood and I know how to get metal flat and sharp. I just don’t know what I don’t know, if you get my drift…

More importantly, what to look for in a good candidate besides original quality. Are there some problems that just can’t be fixed that crop up a lot? Are there some planes where parts are too hard to get or that modern blades don’t fit well?

I can’t afford new Lee-Nielson etc and I love old stuff. I still bird hunt with a pre-war Winchester Model 12. But I am a user, not a put-it-on-the-shelfer.

5 replies so far

View mvflaim's profile


189 posts in 3263 days

#1 posted 02-19-2010 06:29 PM

I wrote a blog on cleaning a Stanley No 7. Hope it helps.

You mainly want to stay away from planes that are extremely rusted or pitted on the bed. There is a very good chance that the blade is also baddly pitted making it unusable.

View WayneC's profile


13776 posts in 4269 days

#2 posted 02-19-2010 07:49 PM

You can also weed throught this blog series

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3959 days

#3 posted 02-20-2010 05:11 AM

Depends if you are looking for a “user” or a “collector”. Cannot talk to “collector”, but if you are looking for a user>

As to what can’t be fixed on metal-bodied planes:

1. Cracked sole, especially around the mouth. Cracks in the side say you will not be able to keep the sole flat. Most are made of ductile or cast iron, so welding them is an iffy proposition for fixing the crack and still maintaining a flat solid sole plate.

2: Severely grooved or worn sole in front of the mouth (the front edge of the mouth is critical to not getting tear out)

3. Severe pitting, especially around the mouth, along the edges, or more than a third across the sole.

4. @If you can look at it hands on, take a straight edge and look for a warped sole. There is only so much metal there to flatten out without the plane warping when you put pressure on it.**

5 @Cracked or badly fitting frog

6. Older models do not have an adjustable frog. Limits your ability to fine tune a cut and what irons you can use for replacement.

7. Broken or missing lateral adjuster (can be fixed if you can find the parts. Does not make plane unusable as does #s 1 thru 3.)

8. Chipped or damaged front edge on chip breaker (possibly can be ground flat or replaced but affects price)

9. broken cap iron, missing lever.

@ if hands-on inspection is possible

If at a flea market, etc, and the seller will not let you disassemble the plane or do it for you, walk away from it.

That said, I got a couple decent buys off E-bay. The planes weren’t as good as depicted, but I got them for minimum bid. I was able to use one for parts and resurrect the other as a scrub plane.


-- Go

View 8iowa's profile


1586 posts in 3933 days

#4 posted 02-20-2010 05:36 AM

Perhaps the best new book on hand planes is “Hand Plane Essentials” by Christopher Schwarz, the editor of “Popular Woodworking” magazine. This book would be a good investment toward the selection of your hand planes.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View WayneC's profile


13776 posts in 4269 days

#5 posted 02-20-2010 07:08 AM

Chris has a new bench plane video out that is pretty good as well. It came out at the end of December and shows how to set-up and use bench planes.

Adding to Gofer’s #4. If your in an antique store, set the plane on the top of a glass display case, you can tell if the sole is flat or not using the glass top as a reference.

Adding to #6 your looking for patent dates on stanleys after 1910. The adjustment point is the screw on the back of the frog that lets you move the frog back and forth. I like the type 13s that have the two 1902 patent dates and the 1910 patent date.

Also, check how much blade life is left. There should be lots of metal left between the blade and the slot the chip breaker mounts into.

Learn to recognize quality construction. There is a big difference between pre-ww2 planes made by Stanley, Union, Sargent and Ohio and the ones made in the 1950s and those made by lower quality manufactures such as dunlap and fulton.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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