Refurbished Planes vs. New

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Forum topic by BubbaIBA posted 04-07-2012 11:07 PM 2637 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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387 posts in 2518 days

04-07-2012 11:07 PM

Full disclosure: I have a tool jones, the major reason I have a woodworking shop is so I have an excuse to buy and refurbish old chisels, saws, and planes but I’m not a collector and I have no problem with frankenplanes, chisels with my turned handles or saws with polished saw plates and replacement handles. I like to return a tool to prime working condition and then use it.

That said, with the introduction by Woodcraft of the V3 Woodriver planes there is almost no reason to refurbish a old plane to get a user other than the joy of returning an old tool to usable condition. An example: A few weeks ago I picked up a Stanley 603 (a #3 Bedrock) off eBay, by the time it made it to my shop I had $60+ USDs in it. It is a nice plane but to make it a good user, as good as a new Woodriver #3, it needs a Hock iron and chip breaker, that is a little over $70 USDs. Now I have $130+ USDs invested, not including the time I will need to spend cleaning and fretting the plane. For $125 USDs plus tax I can buy a new #3 Woodriver, it already has a good iron and chip breaker and unless you are unlucky about all it needs to go to work is taking it apart, cleaning the oil off, adjusting the torque on the screws (the factory has some gorillas working on assembly), and a quick hone of the iron.

When all that was available were LN and LV at close to $300 to $500 USDs a pop, refurbishing users made sense….now it is just a work of love.

27 replies so far

View hhhopks's profile


652 posts in 2519 days

#1 posted 04-07-2012 11:15 PM

I have good luck with the blades that came with the planes. Yes, it needs cleaning and sharpening. I guess I just don’t understand what all the fuss about on upgrading the blades. I am too cheap to upgrade the blades.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2518 days

#2 posted 04-08-2012 12:33 AM

Nothing wrong with original iron, in fact usually very high quality steel, just a little thin but will take and hold a very good edge. I prefer thicker irons and chip breakers and was trying to make a apple to apple comparison, not a apple to lime one.

What ever works, Lee Trevino could beat most golfers while playing with an empty Coke bottle and I’m sure empty Coke bottles cost a lot less than a set of Pings :-).

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15565 posts in 2760 days

#3 posted 04-08-2012 12:48 AM

“it needs a Hock iron and chipbreaker”

Unless it was pitted beyond recovery or you’re a Hock stockholder, old planes don’t need upgraded irons. Just my .02. Sorry it’s harsh sounding, not meant that way at all … It’s a good post / topic. Does everyone think they do? Then maybe I’m out of touch…

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

View ShaneA's profile


7032 posts in 2740 days

#4 posted 04-08-2012 01:04 AM

I wouldnt/dont replace the iron unless forced to, due to pitting or shortness. However, you can get a #3 Pinnacle/IBC iron from woodcraft for less than $30. I have both a WR #5 and Bedrock 605s, while I am no expert…i will say they are actually quite similar. But I am somewhat a sucker for the “cool” factor of the vintage stanley, and restoring is enjoyable. However, it takes away from sawdust time. So I think I agree with your train of thought.

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3093 days

#5 posted 04-08-2012 01:26 AM

I have a full fleet of vintage planes—and one new Stanley “Sweetheart” 62. Only on a few of them have I added a newer, thicker blade. I love the way they perform with a new blade, but as others have pointed out, it’s not always necessary. While the Woodriver planes don’t necessarily speak to me, I do think their advantage is that they are made of ductile iron and will not break due to a fall, so they have that going for them. :-)

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2518 days

#6 posted 04-08-2012 02:08 AM

Maybe I wasn’t clear enough….While I change iron and chip breaker on most of my refurbished planes, mostly for the improved chip breaker, it isn’t necessary to have a working plane. What I was trying to do is make an apple to apple comparison, to refurbish the 603 to be as close to the #3 as possible. I think my premise stands, if you refurbish a plane to like condition it will be a labor of love, not a means of gaining a cheaper working plane.

I think it holds true for true for Bedrock planes and while I don’t know enough about Clifton planes to know it they are bedrock type or Bailey type, for Bailey type planes vs. LVs there can be some savings but even there it is mostly an enjoyment of working on the tool.

I’m guilty, there is almost always some hunk of iron undergoing refurbishing in my tool room. As Jessica Rabbit would say, “I’m just drawn that way”.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15565 posts in 2760 days

#7 posted 04-08-2012 02:21 AM

“but to make it a good user, as good as a new Woodriver #3”

Sorry, Bubba, but we’re at that awkward internet stage where we have to ageee to disagree. I haven’t a WR plane in my till (although I’ve tested one) but have to insist I have good users. :-). The WR I tried had a tote design I found physically objectionable, so for those I’d guess I’d insist on a new wood set for them to be good users.

Again, good topic. And argument between hand tool users is bad kama. Know that I consider myself middle of the road re: spending money to get performance, and hardware of any ilk, even Four Square and Hercules, can be made to perform without 3rd party hardware…

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

View knotscott's profile


8129 posts in 3517 days

#8 posted 04-08-2012 02:29 AM

I think the stock blades on many of the older planes are very good, and shouldn’t need an upgrade to hold their own against a Woodriver plane’s stock blade.

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

View NormG's profile


6251 posts in 3145 days

#9 posted 04-08-2012 02:36 AM

I have hand me down Stanley’s that are over 100 years old and they work just fine. I would not know what to do with a new hand plane

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2777 days

#10 posted 04-08-2012 05:44 AM

I refurbished an old Stanley #4 and there is definitely more chatter then I would like with the original blade. Haven’t gotten around to replacing it but for comparisons sake, the thicker blade will make a considerable difference.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18959 posts in 2709 days

#11 posted 04-08-2012 05:13 PM

I have to agree with Smitty. I’ll take a refubed 603 over a WR anyday.

rockindavan, I’ve also refurb’ed many #4s. If you have chatter, there is something else wrong besides the blade. Make sure the frog is flat, and everthing else is tuned. A stock Stanley blade will not chatter. Thats not to say buying a thicker blade won’t fix the issue, and its also not saying that its not the only way to fix the issue, but I’m just saying something else is wrong and you may have the same issue with the thicker blade.

I’m not knocking the windrivers. I’d just take a Bedrock if all else was equal.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 3894 days

#12 posted 04-09-2012 10:00 AM

The WoodRiver’s have added a well made alternative for the people who do not have the funds to purchase a LV, LN, and just do not like working on older planes. I went with restoring 3 old Stanley’s which will put the cost near what 3 WoodRiver’s would cost after adding Hock blades. I am enjoying the process of restoring the Stanley’s, and I am learning a little troubleshooting along the way. A previous owner really “jacked up” (excuse the pun) my #5 Bailey, and it took a lot of time to work out the frog seating area. The little things that I have learned in the restoring process will always be with me, and that in itself makes it worth while. I can see where you are coming from Bubba, but the idea of “value” doesnt always come from the cost of things.

Some things I have learned over the past 5-6 weeks:

1. The older Stanley blades seem to cut just as well as a new “Hock”.
2. Most chatter that I have experienced was do to improper setup, or from the frog not be seated correctly.
3. Getting .0000000001 shavings doesnt make me a better woodworker.
4. The totes are very important. If they are uncomfortable… probably wont use that plane very much.
5. I have learned 25 different ways of how NOT to sharpen blades.
6. I have learned 2 different ways of sharpening that do work for me.
7. Sharpening “freehand”. It was worth the frustration and 500 hundred sheets of paper. J/K
8. Hock blades are easier to sharpen “freehand” due to a larger bevel surface.
9. Parts are cheaper for old Stanleys. It is worth buying junk planes for parts if the price is right.
10. A2 vs. 01…... I could care less. They both have thier pro’s and cons.
11. Scary sharp vs. Stones. Toss up. I just bought new stones this weekend. They seem to be easier to use while sharpening freehand. Stones take up little room in the shop. Stones are easy to gouge if you are not carefull.

I have had alot of fun with these old Stanley’s over the past month. The tips and ideas that I have recieved from alot of you LJ’s have been greatly appreciated. I could have been just as happy purchasing the new WR, LN, LV planes, but it would have taken me a couple of years to learn what I have in the past 5-6 weeks. Thanks guys.

V/R….... John

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2518 days

#13 posted 04-09-2012 01:21 PM


You learn a lot working with older Stanley’s and refurbishing old tools is my major reason for having a woodworking shop. Your 11 points brought a smile, so very true. It is amazing how some tools have been abused and how much work it is to correct, the “ruler trick” or something simular on irons is most common, another is bad rust removal while getting the tool tarted up for eBay photos.

At this time I have the 603 that started this thread, a couple of type 11 and 12 Bailey #3s, a type 14 Bailey #4, and a couple of post WWII #4s (not a clue how I ended up with ‘em, for the most part I try not to buy post WWII) and three bare soles looking for parts, along with a dozen or so chisels and a couple of backsaws in my refurbish que.

Refurbishing is great, it can teach new skills along with history and in the end you may have a very good working tool but it is not a way to save money on your tools in the long run.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18959 posts in 2709 days

#14 posted 04-09-2012 01:52 PM

John, that’s a great list. I like the way you put that together.

Bubba, I believe refurbishing is a great way to save money on tools in the long run. You need to be able to buy the tools right, acquire the right equipment, and like to do it, but I’ve saved loads of money. You also need to be able to buy tools as you find them, not so much when you need them.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15565 posts in 2760 days

#15 posted 04-09-2012 07:28 PM

John, I too love that list!

I did some checking in my shop book and on line. The five bench planes in the Woodriver line run $575 via Woodcraft. I have those five (two as C models, not available as WR) and haven’t spent a dime to refurb as they’re ready-to-work, 20s-era Stanley SWs and spent $262.50. And they’re (at the very least) comparable to WRs in quality.

Someone willing and able to do refurbs spends considerably less than that, I think. FWIW.

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

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