Old Stanley Sole Flatness

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Forum topic by rbterhune posted 03-07-2010 04:24 PM 1308 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 3190 days

03-07-2010 04:24 PM

Continuing with the last of my series of plane questions, this newbie asked the following question of a seller on ebay.

Q: “Is the sole flat?”

A: “Sole is typical, which is flat from the tail to about 1 1/2” from the nose, where it starts to rise a few thousandths. I Checked a few other Stanley planes I have and they are all like that. So this plane is typical.”

Is the seller’s response true?


8 replies so far

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3494 days

#1 posted 03-07-2010 05:48 PM

If you are talking about a large plane like a #7 then yes. For a smaller plane, not really but they are easily flattened with some sandpaper and a plat surface.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3190 days

#2 posted 03-07-2010 05:52 PM

The question was asked of a #4 1/2.

View screaser's profile


4 posts in 2971 days

#3 posted 03-08-2010 04:21 AM

Good news is, it’s not terribly hard to make it dead flat if it starts out close (which this sounds like).

A thick piece of dead flat glass (or granite) and some fine wet sandpaper should get you there.

In my limited experience, nothing is flat (enough) or sharp (enough) or perpendicular (enough) out of the box—takes just a bit of effort.

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3190 days

#4 posted 03-08-2010 04:30 AM

I probably have less experience than you but my gut feeling here is that if the toe is out by as much as .003 (“a few”, as he says), that means I have, according to him, about 8 1/2 ” or so to knock down by that much. That seems like a lot. There is a lot of knowledge in the brains of those on this site and I’m hoping they will tell me if I’m wrong.

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3207 days

#5 posted 03-08-2010 08:13 PM


In my personal experience, I had never worry about how flat the sole it is, all of my planes came either from eBay or flea markets, I’ll do the whole restoration process and just try to “flattened” the sole on a piece of granite with some 220 wet/dry sand paper, I won’t stress out on this, just a quick run on the sand paper, I see very hard that .003” will affect on anything at all, after all we are working with wood and not making highly precision machinery.
If you need something to be dead flat, perhaps you need to look on the premium planes.

I know a guy (from another website) who grinds them off and claim to hold a tolerance within .0005” of flatness on a No8, I haven’t use his services yet so I can’t verify if this is true, but again I don’t worry about that, perhaps a crack will be a red flag to me.

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

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176 posts in 3190 days

#6 posted 03-08-2010 09:48 PM

Alonso…you make some sense there…about not making precision machinery. You also bring to light a new question. How flat is flat enough?

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3756 days

#7 posted 03-09-2010 03:57 AM

You asked if the seller’s response is true. May be, but if his experience is that this is typical, he has had some great fortune in selecting planes. That is much better than mine.

.003 is flat as far as planes go. Look at all the planes on e-bay, in garages, at yard sales and antique stores. Most are worn much more than that, and they were making a living for the guy that used them. You can buy ones ground to the 1/2 thousandth tolerance, and you will pay upwards of $300. Unless you are extremely skilled in its use and the art of sharpening the iron, you will not achieve an appreciable better end product between the two.

Precision ground granite will give you a tighter tolerance. Float glass won’t, and it is still a great medium for flattening soles. When you consider the distance from the front of the sole to the iron, you will affect the depth of cut less than 1/ 100,000th of an inch if you have a .003 difference between the front of the toe and the mouth.



-- Go

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3190 days

#8 posted 03-11-2010 04:30 AM

Gofor…thanks for putting it in perspective. I ended up going for it…and lost it. I was a hair late on the submit bid. Ill look for the next one.

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