Is this block plane worth restoring?

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Forum topic by Vindex posted 02-25-2016 03:00 PM 1082 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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91 posts in 789 days

02-25-2016 03:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

I am relatively new to woodworking, and after getting comfortable with my no. 4 and no. 5 bench planes, I decided that I needed to get a decent block plane for end-grain. I went hunting on ebay for a low-angle version and got a Millers Falls 56 in very good condition.

In the process, however, I accidentally bid on another plane that I hadn’t even looked at. I won the auction at $4.25 (plus $10 shipping). Suddenly, I found myself with two block planes. The “accidental” plane turned out to be a standard angle Craftsman 3704 BB (a rebrand of the Millers Falls 26, I believe). Unfortunately, I discovered that the lever cap’s lever and the circle that holds it are completely broken off of the cap. Nevertheless, I de-rusted the plane, and the rest of it looks salvageable but not great (see photos).

So here is my question: can this type of plane (clones of the Stanley 9 ½) be used properly without the lever by compensating with extra pressure from the screw, or is the plane fundamentally compromised as is? In other words, is it worth the effort of trying to restore this plane, or should I just consider it a parts donor for a future standard angle block plane that is in better condition?

Thanks in advance.

9 replies so far

View Tim's profile


3784 posts in 1929 days

#1 posted 02-25-2016 04:03 PM

That’s a nice plane with the adjustable mouth and all. I’d try to score a replacement lever cap for it either from the craftsman or MF version. I think it’s possible you could make it work by tightening the screw more, but it’s also possible the threads aren’t tapped deep enough. If you try it, does the lever cap press enough on the front that it holds the blade steady? A washer and some shim might also work in the meantime until you can find a replacement cap.

View bandit571's profile


19743 posts in 2650 days

#2 posted 02-25-2016 04:45 PM

Replacement caps can be found at a Ebay Store.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View HokieKen's profile


4742 posts in 1106 days

#3 posted 02-25-2016 04:52 PM

My Stanley 9-1/2 is probably my most used plane all around. I love that thing. If I remember right, what you have is the same plane, made by Millers Falls for the Craftsman line. Millers Falls’ quality equals and, in some cases, exceeds that of Stanley’s when it comes to planes IME. In fact, I’ve started seeking out Millers Falls instead of Stanleys lately.

So yeah, IMHO, that’s a keeper. I don’t see why you can’t make it work as-is though by shimming the back end a little bit and using the screw to hold it all in place. If it were me, I’d keep an eye out for a junker that’s missing the lever to adjust the mouth – they usually don’t bring a lot. Then you’ll have a replacement lever cap and maybe get an extra iron to boot.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View WillliamMSP's profile


1084 posts in 1572 days

#4 posted 02-25-2016 05:04 PM

The cap lever presses the back of the cap up and uses the screw as a fulcrum which forces the front edge of the cap down, near the blade’s cutting edge. Simply tightening down on the screw isn’t going to replicate that front edge pressure, but shimming the back end of the cap, as others have suggested, might do the trick while you wait on a replacement cap.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2151 days

#5 posted 02-25-2016 05:14 PM

I’ve got an extra lever cap that will probably fit.

From a broken Craftsman block plane. I tested it with my Millers Falls 16, and it fit.

DM me if you want it.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Vindex's profile


91 posts in 789 days

#6 posted 02-25-2016 06:48 PM

Thanks for the great advice, everybody! Shampeon, I would absolutely like the cap, but LJ won’t let me send a DM since I am still new. It apparently will allow me to reply to someone else’s DM. Would you mind sending a DM my way?

Thanks again to everybody for all of the advice!

View HokieKen's profile


4742 posts in 1106 days

#7 posted 02-25-2016 09:10 PM

Very cool Shamp!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Vindex's profile


91 posts in 789 days

#8 posted 02-26-2016 02:55 AM

Yes, very cool! Thanks again!

View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1974 days

#9 posted 02-26-2016 04:08 PM

Nice going Ian !

Paying It Forward is great !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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