Options for repairing/replacing lever cap on Stanley Bailey No. 4 plane

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Forum topic by Brett posted 04-02-2011 06:46 PM 7182 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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660 posts in 2652 days

04-02-2011 06:46 PM

I bought a No. 4 Stanley Bailey plane yesterday that came with a lever cap with some chips in the front edge:

I’d like to know what options I have for repairing or replacing it. I’m mainly interested in the plane as a user, so I don’t care if all the parts of of the same vintage.

The plane bed has three patents on it, so the plane is evidently a Type 11 or 12. Can I buy a replacement lever cap from an earlier or later type? Should the replacement lever cap have the snow-man shaped hole, or I can I use one with a kidney-bean hole?

It has been suggested that I file down the chip edges so that wood shavings don’t get caught on the edges. Is it possible to get the chips filled with a weld or other metal repair, and then file them down so they are flush? (I don’t have metal-working experience, so I’d have to get that done by someone else.) Are there other options, like Bondo maybe, that I could use to fill in the chips?


-- More tools, fewer machines.

5 replies so far

View bigike's profile


4050 posts in 3258 days

#1 posted 04-02-2011 06:54 PM

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2967 days

#2 posted 04-02-2011 09:45 PM

JBWeld would be a better choice than bondo as this is a pretty high stress point. It needs to be a structural repair. Still, the forces that caused the chips are going to pop off poor repairs. JBWeld might be strong enough, maybe not. I wouldn’t mess with it.

Here is what happened: Someone had a plane and didn’t know how to set it up. The back surface of the lever cap was rough and had some pieces sticking up and it didn’t hold the iron well. Instead of filing the lumps off the back face of the lever cap to ensure a smooth and even fit, they just tightened it harder and harder until the lumps concentrated enough force that pieces popped off. Happens all the time.

Anyplace that does brazing can fill it in a bit. Drop in a welding shop or a muffler shop and you can probably find someone that will fill it in with a bit of brazing for a couple dollars. It’s about a 5 minute job. It doesn’t really effect the function as long as the chips come out freely. Look at it as an opportunity. Go to home depot and buy a mapp torch and some brazing rod and give it a whack. It’s not magic. You really can’t hurt it. Worst case scenario is you spend a few dollars on a replacement levercap. Its actually a lot of fun. Brazing is basically a high temperature, metal hot glue. Just clean off the part, heat it a bit, bring in the rod (It usually comes with flux on it already) and melt the end of the rod onto the piece you are working on. When it is hot enough, the brazing metal flows out a bit over the surrounding metal. Kind of like spreading jelly, but hotter. Repeat until the hole is overfilled and once you are done and it has cooled, file it down to make it smooth and pretty. Practice on piece of angle iron or something to get the feel for it. Good fun and it opens a whole world of opportunities for picking up tools on the cheap that others are afraid of.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3757 days

#3 posted 04-03-2011 03:28 AM

I would suggest you first try it and see if it causes you a problem. Odds are it won’t. I have one that is close to that shape (on a #6 with a wider iron) and it performs well. I haven’t had any problem with chips catching that far back from the iron cutting edge. Clearing the chips is the chip-breaker’s job, not the lever cap’s.

However, if it is a problem or you really don’t like the looks, then grind it square and then flatten the underside so it makes full contact with the chip breaker. The lever cap only has to hold the iron/chip-breaker assembly snug to the frog across the face. A chip or two in the center area (common since some people try to use them as screw drivers to loosen the chip-breaker screw) is not a problem for users. It will decrease the plane’s value if you re-sell it, but so will grinding it down.

Don’t grind it back any further than needed, though. It needs to ride on the chip-breaker curve to apply a constant pressure across the blade to prevent chatter. Safest bet is to leave it alone as it appears in the picture like it will put pressure close to the center and, more importantly, at both sides.



-- Go

View knotscott's profile


7985 posts in 3345 days

#4 posted 04-03-2011 06:52 AM

Highland Hardware has replacement parts.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2652 days

#5 posted 04-03-2011 01:52 PM

Thanks, everyone. I’m learning a lot of great stuff here on LJ.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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