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Bringing the best out of a bad plane

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Forum topic by sgmdwk posted 07-27-2013 12:18 AM 961 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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sgmdwk

259 posts in 558 days


07-27-2013 12:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane refurbishing

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

A few months back I bought a pair of Stanley planes on Ebay. One was an old low-angle block plane that quickly became one of my absolute favorite tools. After spending some time putting on a good edge I could peel off translucent shavings with incredible ease.

The other plane was a disappointment from the get-go. I thought I was buying an old, U.S made No. 4. What I got was a newer, made-in-England model with the plastic tote. I didn’t spend much, and I have a 1980s No.6 that I like a lot, so I thought it would be useful even without the cool factor. I sharpened the No. 4 up and tried it out. To my dismay, It chattered, it grabbed, it chipped. I could not get it to cut anything like a nice even shaving. I adjusted the frog and that helped a little, but was still a real dog compared to my other planes. I set it on a shelf and there it sat.

Today, I was sitting around looking for something to do I and I recalled a video I saw a while back about restoring old planes. I had a light-turning-on, head-slapping moment and went to work. I disassembled the No. 4 and looked at the frog and the mouth of the plane. Both were rough, uneven, still covered with extra japanning – a far cry from what I saw on my other planes. I went to work with a file for a few minutes and cleaned things up. I took some care trying to get the angle the same on the bed just behind the mouth and the top of the frog and getting the two arms of the frog on the same plane (don’t know if my terms are correct). My thinking was that this would better support the iron. Satisfied with my efforts, I did a quick strop on the iron, reassembled everything and slapped a piece of pine in the vise. Incredible! My worthless No. 4 was peeling off beautiful, even shavings, just like my No. 6.

Maybe I get excited too easily, but little triumphs like this just tickle me no end. And I am happy to say that this old dog has learned something new about caring for the hand tools I am trying to use more effectively.

-- Dave K.


17 replies so far

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69BBNova

337 posts in 902 days


#1 posted 07-27-2013 12:42 PM

I did something similar…

I bought a No. 4 Stanley from Lowes 10-12yrs ago it did all the same things, it was worthless…

Around Christmas last year at some point after remembering what I read on here I took it apart and they really are crap…

I did what you did but I used my drill press (big ass bench 16-speed Jet)and cross slide vice (6” Wilton), chucked up an end mill and had at it, it works great (at least a lot better).

A week or two later I bought the Buck Bros No. 4 and 5 (Home Depot), and did the same things but they needed a lot more done to them…

I got both of them to work well also, but while I was sleeping they threw themselves into the Dumpster…

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

10034 posts in 1304 days


#2 posted 07-27-2013 12:54 PM

^ I love happy endings. ;-)

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

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DocBailey

390 posts in 1046 days


#3 posted 07-27-2013 02:47 PM

69BBNova’s post points out the sad truth—it’s time for a frank discussion on a seldom-discussed topic: TOOLICIDE.
Wherein, tool-shaped objects, useless for their intended purposes, sense the futility of their own existence and end their lives.
When the Toolicide representative calls, please give generously.

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RussellAP

2959 posts in 972 days


#4 posted 07-27-2013 03:41 PM

That’s great Dave. I have an old Craftsman that I simply cannot make chatter free. I have many planes so it’s in a drawer for when that special mood comes over me.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

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bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#5 posted 07-27-2013 04:19 PM

For all those “problem Planes”, there is a Doctor here in the house!

Send all your Problem Childs to me, and I will see IF it is indeed the plane’s fault…

Include return postage and I will send it back all spiffy and working…

PM for the details…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#6 posted 07-27-2013 04:52 PM

One such plane has just arrived today in the mail.

Should take maybe an afternoon, to get it cleaned up, sharpened up, tuned and ready for smooth plane work.

Not that bad a plane…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#7 posted 07-27-2013 06:55 PM

and after an hour in the shop

Still have to use the oil stones and strop on the edge…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#8 posted 08-06-2013 09:24 PM

Seems to be a clone of a Stanley Victor #1104? Maybe even an early handyman when they had normal totes? Was sold at sears before the craftsman brand came out..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View TerryDowning's profile

TerryDowning

1009 posts in 803 days


#9 posted 08-06-2013 09:51 PM

I had a similar experience with wretched #3 Stanley Handyman. It’s still not great but it can at least be used now. I think I have more work to do where the frog meets the bed. Out of the box, these were all painted over and the frog did not sit flat on the bed.

The handyman’s have a well deserved bad reputation, it takes quite a bit of work to get them working properly.

-- - Terry

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Don W

15217 posts in 1253 days


#10 posted 08-07-2013 11:28 AM

Maybe I get excited too easily, but little triumphs like this just tickle me no end.

be careful man. That feeling is addicting. And the flea market planes are plentiful.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#11 posted 08-14-2013 02:23 PM

Seems those Handyman planes were different as time went on. Depending on which year they were made. IF you find one with a normal tote, wood not a painted one, and with a normal foot, they seem to be more like the Defiance line they replaced. The 1203 I had was almost a normal plane, and I could even get see-through shavings out of it. The later ones were the bad ones, with that stubby toed tote.

Be more than happy to tune up any “bad” plane someone has….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12292 posts in 2783 days


#12 posted 08-14-2013 02:28 PM

It is a difficult choice sometime, fiddeling with tools or actually making something. :)

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#13 posted 08-14-2013 02:56 PM

I fiddle so I can indeed make something with them.

Anyone that can turn a Corsair C-5 with a single bolt frog into a great jack plane with a cambered iron, and use it as a large scrub plane, too….....BTDT

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4123 posts in 1066 days


#14 posted 08-14-2013 06:43 PM

I have one of those British Stanley planes and after some work it doesn’t do too bad but still chatters a bit. I’ll have to take a look at the japanning. Unfortunately I have no really good planes to compare against.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

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bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#15 posted 08-19-2013 02:29 PM

Does the frog rock a bit on it’s base? Might need a bit of file work to level the base out?

Back the frog up a bit, put the chipbreaker within 1mm or less of the edge. That might reduce the chattering. Lay a straightedge along the frog’s face, and into the area the iron rests on the base. Should be a smallish ramp there. You might try to keep the frog’s face and that little ramp coplanar?

Look under thwe frog itself. I’ve had a couple with thick globs of paint where the frog meets the base. Sanded that away to bare metal. Seemed to help set the frog nice and stable. Same with the edge of the frog where it rest at that little ramp, I usually sand it to bare metal as well. As for the ramp, clean it up, remove any paint-like junk from it, and file it smooth.

Try the above out….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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