Hand Plane Rehab

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Forum topic by smitty22 posted 12-19-2010 07:30 AM 5475 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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694 posts in 2364 days

12-19-2010 07:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane question refurbishing

Hi all, Needing some advice on my small hand plane collection. I am embarking on cleanup of all of these including the electrolytic rust removal process, and I ran across a great blog by David with caution about refurbishing collectible hand planes, something like this – “UDATE: Thanks to Wayne, our own Lumberjocks plane guru, make sure you will not alter the intrinsic value of your plane or other tools by this type of cleaning process, i.e. some planes have high collector vaule and should be left as is with age patina.”

Well, as should be clear in the picture, most of my planes are rich with patina! I want to clean them up as working hand tools, but won’t mess wiith the ‘patina’ if any have high collector value. My planes are: Stanley Bailey #5 with corrugated bottom, more than it’s share of patina. What appears to be a Stanley #5, unmarked, nearly identical to the Bailey but with a smooth bottom. Stanly Handyman, #4 I think. This is my current working plane, just want to spruce it up a bit. Este also #4. Some research on this plane makes me think it’s a Stanley copy made in Germany. Comments? Stanley #4, no knob and unmarked except “Made in USA”, looks like a Stanley but not marked as such.

I realize that the single picture might not show enough detail, so if there’s a sleeper in the bunch will post additional pics. So, after all that, would surely appreciate a heads up if you see a potential high value collectible in this bunch!

-- Smitty

10 replies so far

View Shopsmithtom's profile


787 posts in 3612 days

#1 posted 12-19-2010 08:17 AM

While I keep denying that I’m a collector, mostly because I use my planes, I probably have a few more than I need (about 20 or so) & less than I want. That said, I’ll give you my input…free & worth it. I don’t think you have to worry about cleaning up any that you have pictured…no sleepers. The best one, in my opinion is your Stanley #5. It’s a workhorse when tuned up. The other large one might also be worth a cleanup. I don’t know any #4 size planes that are Stanleys without Stanley or Bailey cast into the body. The Handyman is made by Stanley, but of a cheaper type.
If you’re thinking of either using or collecting planes, check out this site.

Also a great book to have is “The Hand plane Book” by Garrett Hack. Great resource. I have an extra copy that I got as a gift. If you’re interested, send me a PM. I’d make you a deal. Have a great holiday season. -SST

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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7063 posts in 2331 days

#2 posted 12-19-2010 03:59 PM

I have two old hand planes that were my great-grandfather’s, one an old Auburn Tool Co. wooden 20” Jack Plane from the 1860s and the other an old turn of the century Sargent #418 with a worn Stanley Sweetheart blade. While researching these and other vintage planes in general I found out that even the better/best old planes’ values were STILL, on average, LESS THAN buying a new quality hand plane of comparable size/quality.

That being said, IMO, restoring a hand plane to daily use appears to be a good strategy regardless. After all, these are very common tools and as such, meant for daily use. My 2 cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View smitty22's profile


694 posts in 2364 days

#3 posted 12-19-2010 05:22 PM

Mike, thanks, will get the restoration underway today! Can’t stand the rust.

Tom, I’m hoping that the manufacturer of the two unmarked planes will be revealed as I break them down, they just look so similar to and even have some identical parts as the Stanleys.
Thanks very much for the information!

-- Smitty

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2136 posts in 2526 days

#4 posted 12-19-2010 05:32 PM

From what I seen, most of the planes sold as collectibles fetch large values only if the type of plane or manufacture is extremely rare. The ones that have been mass produced and had several runs would not fetch more with the patina on than with the patina off. These make good users and the quality for the pricing can’t be beat. I have an old Stanley no. 5 and I can’t believe how good it feels in my hands. You can look up the model numbers and verify that you are not holding on to anything extremely rare.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View TheDane's profile


4930 posts in 3080 days

#5 posted 12-19-2010 06:03 PM

Dale—I have a mix of planes … two collectibles (a Stanley #3 circa 1892, and a Stanley #45 circa 1910), plus a bunch of ‘users’ (#4, 2 #5’s, #7, #92 (all Stanley) a Craftsman Filletster, plus a couple of wooden ‘slick’ planes).

My first plane was a Stanley #5 jack plane the I inherited from my Dad … I don’t use it, but keep it for sentimental reasons. The other #5, along with the #4 and #7 came from garage sales and eBay. They were all in pretty sad shape, so I stripped what was left of the Japanning, and de-rusted them with electrolysis. The soles on the #5 and the #7 were in bad enough shape that I took them to machine shape and had the soles and the sides re-ground. If you go this route, choose a machine shop that can re-grind the heads on car engines … an experienced automotive machinist can get the sole on a plane to within a few thousands of dead flat. For Japanning, I used automotive engine paint.

One thing you will find is that you can improve the performance of any plane with a properly sharpened blade. And while you are sharpening the blade, don’t forget the chip breaker and level cap.

Good quality replacement blades and cap irons are not cheap, but they can be worth the investment. I pulled the original blade out of my #3 and replaced it with a Hock cryogenically treated blade … did the same thing with my #7 jointer. Those two planes glide through the workpiece, throwing off those whispy thin shavings you see in the ads for premium planes.

I just ordered a Pinnacle blade and cap iron set from Woodcraft for my #4 … it will be interesting to see it forms in comparison to the Hock blades in my other planes.

BTW … I agree with Mike with one caveat: If you find a Stanley #1 somewhere and can buy it for anything less than your home mortgage payment, BUY IT! The Stanley #1’s (often referred to as ‘shop jewelry’) are very rare, and are a real prize for collectors. Just make sure it is authentic and do a little research before plunking down your hard-earned cash.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View smitty22's profile


694 posts in 2364 days

#6 posted 12-19-2010 07:56 PM

David, thanks for the input, the Stanley/Bailley #5 will be the first one I rehab. Need to upgrade my sharpening equipment to do justice to the irons.

Gerry – If a Stanley #1 ever crosses my path, at least I’ll be aware that it’s rare. Thanks very much for the reconditioning steps, the machining could be in the future for at least one of the #4’s.

I”m continually amazed at the depth of information shared here on LJ, just a pleasure to be here with you guys and gals!

-- Smitty

View Shopsmithtom's profile


787 posts in 3612 days

#7 posted 12-19-2010 07:57 PM

It’s not uncommon to find “no name” planes with Stanley lever caps & blades since so many planes were so similar and guys might fix one with whatever part would fit. This often causes confusion & sometimes disappointment after a purchase if you wanted a Stanley. I like the Stanleys better than most (Millers Falls are also excellent) because in general, the design & the machining is better than the also-ran brands. Ohio Tool also made some good ones. I do agree, which is why I haven’t bought any of the new planes, that for the money, you can’t go wrong by fixing up many of the older planes. I would also suggest that another good basic plane to have for your shop is a block plane. Either a Stanley 9 1/2 or 60 1/2 (low angle) are good choices. They’re usually on ebay for between $20 and $30, but before buying I’d suggest reading up to get familiar with them.

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

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2591 days

#8 posted 12-19-2010 08:27 PM

I found this site to be chock full of good ideas and information. Maybe there’s something in it that can help you, too. by numbers/Tips.htm

[EDIT: weird link. Copy the whole thing and paste it in your browser’s address window]

-- -- Neil

View smitty22's profile


694 posts in 2364 days

#9 posted 12-19-2010 08:35 PM

Tom, before I forget, I send sent you a pm on the Wade book. I think you guys have already got me hooked.

I’m already looking at the Stanley block planes. Lots of planes on eBay, I need to stay away from there at this time of year. I have a Craftsman block plane that has served well for at least 40 years. It may be a licensed version of the Stanley, looks similar (bottom right in the picture).

Again, thanks!

-- Smitty

View smitty22's profile


694 posts in 2364 days

#10 posted 12-19-2010 08:47 PM

Thanks Neil, I finally found the page, great information.
this is the link where I ended up:

I’m afraid that hand planes could be a whole new hobby!

-- Smitty

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