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Stanley Cap Iron Restoration Help?

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Forum topic by CaptainKlutz posted 03-13-2018 09:14 AM 417 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CaptainKlutz

276 posts in 1516 days


03-13-2018 09:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: trick plane sharpening refurbishing

Rant mode on:

Is it just me, or does every used Stanley plane have poorly fitted or disfigured cap irons?
Really, I want to hear from others!

I always spend more time trying clean up rust, fix heavy handed damage, or repair poorly fitting cap irons than I spend on blades! I can clean up & sharpen an old rusty old blade in 10-15 minutes after it comes out of an Evaporust bath. But it takes me 30 minutes or more to fix up cap iron?
Am I crazy?
What I am doing wrong?? (other than trying to use old cap iron)

Rant mode off:

Below are some pictures of what I commonly found when dealing with old cap irons on Stanley planes. This one particular cap iron was so bad, I decided to take pictures and ask for help!

Example #1
Clamp edge is not flat and allows shavings to climb underneath the cap iron during use:
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If you look at edge, I used blue sharpie to mark edge and help judge when it is flat. Had spent 15+ minutes with this cap iron when picture was taken. First step was using a dowel rod and hammer to reshape the curve. Next used a bastard file to flatten front edge, then used 240 grit stone to clean up filing marks. The above image is taken while working on a 400 grit stone attempting to get it flat.

Example #2
Entire cap iron has edge burrs and is crowned from dull stamping die. In the picture below, cap iron had stamping kerf on top edges; and I used the file/stone process attempting to de-burr edges and flatten the iron.
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I understand that cap iron screw will pull the cap flat, but this increases the torque required to anchor the cap to iron. The extra pressure can also pull the cap forward or side to side and makes setting cap iron position much more difficult. :(

Example #3
Magilla Gorilla who owned this plane before me didn’t bother to try and fix the cap iron problems and decided best fix was more pressure on the lever cap. What happens? The cap iron is dented. :(
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If you look closely at my fuzzy phone picture you can see where the extreme pressure from lever cap dented the cap iron on left hand side as one user attempted to overcome bent cap iron. :(

The above cap iron is still not working right. It does have a flat clamp edge, but the crown makes adjusting the 1/32” between end of cap and iron impossible. I returned the cap iron & blade to “needs sharpening”
basket, and dropped a sharp PM11 iron/cap set into plane.

Of course, no plane post is complete with thin shavings in progress.
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Does any one else have these kinds of problems with cap irons?
Can you share some tricks/tips to make using old cap irons easier?

Thanks for reading, and special thanks to those that share.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!


9 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2589 days


#1 posted 03-13-2018 09:46 AM

The chip breaker is the most over looked part of tuning a plane.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1693 posts in 2011 days


#2 posted 03-13-2018 12:13 PM

Sounds very typical of what I find. A few years ago I purchsed new blade/breaker sets from Stanley (@ $3.50 each 2”) for spares. All of the breakers and blades needed work. Just part of using hand planes. Once tuned up properly they work great.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

9603 posts in 1507 days


#3 posted 03-13-2018 12:47 PM



The chip breaker is the most over looked part of tuning a plane.

- Don W

Ditto.

I’ve never come across a cap iron that fit perfectly yet.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View John Smith's profile (online now)

John Smith

989 posts in 184 days


#4 posted 03-13-2018 01:27 PM

Captain ~ thank you so much for posting this !!
I thought it was just me me experiencing these problems.

-- Graduated Valedictorian from the University of HardKnocks --

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2956 posts in 1502 days


#5 posted 03-13-2018 01:32 PM

You could opt for an upgraded cap iron/blade ;-)

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

9603 posts in 1507 days


#6 posted 03-13-2018 03:59 PM

i stone The face to 80degrees and keep flattening the bottom until it’ll sit screwed against the iron with no light coming through all the way across. If you can see light then it’s not close enough.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2589 days


#7 posted 03-13-2018 04:11 PM



i stone The face to 80degrees and keep flattening the bottom until it’ll sit screwed against the iron with no light coming through all the way across. If you can see light then it’s not close enough.

- TheFridge

And don’t forget to polish and wax. If you don’t think it makes a difference plane with it as you get it, then tune and see how much easier the plane pushes. It’s as much of a difference as waxing the sole.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

9603 posts in 1507 days


#8 posted 03-13-2018 04:24 PM

Ditto. Be careful. It might get away from you.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

276 posts in 1516 days


#9 posted 03-13-2018 04:43 PM

Thanks for letting me rant a little,
keep comments coming. :)

The worst part about the ‘problem child’ cap iron in the pictures above is this:
Appears to be “modern” replacement cap. There was almost no rust, and plane blade has newer “Made in England” Stanley stamp found on current generation replacement blades. Plus even the plane blade had stamping burr on upper edges! Sad state for modern hand tools…..and reason I stopped buying Stanley new/old stock replacements from flea bay.

Regarding replacements:
I live on fixed income, but am slowly allocating money to replace my everyday user planes with new matched cap iron & blade sets. Have a couple IBC A2 sets, Veritas A2 sets, and last couple replacements have been Veritas PM11 blades with A2 cap iron. Only reason I even bother to clean up old Stanley irons/blades any more is because I use them on my back up planes when the sharpening stones are not set up, and the bench strop can not fix an edge.

@DonW – I always sand my cap irons to a course polish up to ~800 grit paper. But have not done full polish on buffer or tried using wax on them. Will have to try that one. Thanks!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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