Plane-iron mini-mystery

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Forum topic by Brett posted 11-21-2011 08:03 PM 999 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2679 days

11-21-2011 08:03 PM

My parents are visiting for the Thanksgiving week, and over the weekend my dad presented me with an old Stanley Bailey No.4 hand plane that used to belong to his dad (and maybe his dad’s dad before him);

Even though it’s a Sweetheart plane from the ‘20s or ‘30s, the top end of the plane iron is heavily mushroomed, as if someone had repeatedly used a hammer to adjust the depth of cut. On the other hand, the plane iron appears to be full length; the iron cannot be raised any higher by the brass adjustment wheel, so it appears to have been sharpened very little.

So there’s the mystery—the iron length indicates very little usage (and the whole plane shows very little wear), but the mushroomed end indicates it may have been used a lot.

Any possible explanations?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

4 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15349 posts in 2615 days

#1 posted 11-21-2011 08:14 PM

One theory:

- Iron was removed and used as a chisel at some point. Might only have been one task, but you never know. In a pinch, your ancestor(s) used what’s available.

Mushrooming the end of a mostly full iron via hammer taps alone isn’t very likely. So I definetly share the ‘mystery’ conclusion.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View ShaneA's profile


6929 posts in 2595 days

#2 posted 11-21-2011 08:19 PM

I am with smitty, it was probably used as a chisel in a pinch.

View drfunk's profile


223 posts in 2673 days

#3 posted 11-22-2011 03:40 AM

Interesting. I have a couple planes like this and I always thought it was from the poor habits of users of wedge based planes. Smitty’s explanation is much more logical.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2777 days

#4 posted 11-22-2011 02:08 PM

Ditto Drfunk, even worse I’ve got a couple of irons that way that were also sharpened with an angle grinder..both sides…and that wasn’t ancestral damage !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

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