Bench planes worth restoring.

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Forum topic by SgtRed posted 11-21-2013 04:07 PM 1496 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1955 days

11-21-2013 04:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane hand plane bench plane restoration restore

Hello everyone,

I am new to Hand planes. I only own a cheap harbor freight No. 33, a Stanley flat spoke shave, and a small Stanley plane for detail work. I am loving playing with hand planes and I feel like an idiot for wasting so much time with other surfacing and shaping methods. I am looking to know what would cause a plane to not be worth restoring. I have been scoping out some old Stanley bench planes at thrift shops and such, just want to know what the limit is, when it’s no longer worth the amount of work that might be required. Thanks for the help.

5 replies so far

View UpstateNYdude's profile


917 posts in 2161 days

#1 posted 11-21-2013 04:12 PM

If there is a big break of chip in the sole or mouth its pretty much junk other then for parts at that point unless you’re good at welding, the totes break a lot but a new one can be made or bought fairly easy or if its a clean break DonW is quite skilled at epoxying them back to new. Beyond that unless its a certain type most plane parts can be found on eBay for cheap prices the hard part is typing it and finding a match to that type (if you want to keep it genuine anyways).

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 2139 days

#2 posted 11-22-2013 01:10 AM

Yeah chipped out mouths and cracks through the cheek’s are pretty fatal unless you have really good brazing skills. You’ll eventually figure out the difference between pitting rust and surface rust. The deeper the pits the more work you’re going to have to put into rehabbing it. Pitting rust on the flat, not bevel, side of the iron (blade) pretty much means you need to grind all the way back past the pitting or replace the iron, which often makes the plane not a good deal. Similar for pitting on the chipbreaker especially where it meets the iron, but it’s not as serious as when on the iron. Rust pitting elsewhere on a plane is more about looks than function.

Try to find planes that are complete since that’s usually a better deal then trying to replace parts on them. Just turn down any plane missing anything or with it broken worse than you want to keep unless it’s a cheap enough to keep for parts or you can identify it’s old enough or valuable enough to be a good deal, like a cheap bedrock or type 1 or #1 or something.

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3176 days

#3 posted 11-22-2013 01:31 AM

Look for signs of abuse. Bent adjusters stripped out screw slots and threads. Can be a moderate indicator that can go either way depending on how equipped you are to handle them.

Looks like it has been in a fire? Walk away quickly.

Deep rust pitting? Probably not worth messing with.

Other than that, they are pretty fool proof. Even some of the cracks and chips can be either dealt with or ignored. But unless you are set up for metal work as well, better to leave them to others to fix up.

Unless you are really into collecting, don’t mess with the “Handyman” line of planes. They are not good quality. For bench planes, you want an adjustable frog (the part that the iron sits on), probably want an lateral adjuster (The lever that shifts the blade left and right).

If you have a choice, the Bedrock series has a bit better machining but really is overkill, the standard Bailey planes work well.

Unless you are comfortable in evaluating them, stay away from planes that have had obvious repairs. A good repair should be just about invisible. If it is a brazed casting, the only thing you should see is a color change.

Don’t mess with the more modern ones. They are not as nice. Easy tell: The totes (handles) will not be fully shaped and have flat sides. Also don’t mess with the ones that have plastic handles as a general rule.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3537 days

#4 posted 11-22-2013 04:23 AM

Much of it depends on how much work you’re willing to put into them. I have no problem scrubbing rust off, lapping the sole (assuming its not waay out of flat) or straightening a bent lateral adjuster. Others don’t want to get into that level of rehabbing. When I look at a plane I check the mouth for chips, the sole for anything more than very minor pitting, cracks in the cheeks, and whether the frog is broken. If I don’t find issues with any of those areas, I buy if the price is right. I’ll even sometimes buy planes with a busted up body if the knob and tote are good. If we’re talking about Stanley/Bailey, I can almost always scavenge parts for a different plane.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

18992 posts in 2745 days

#5 posted 11-25-2013 01:29 PM

The limit is up to you and how you value your time. I’ve put way more time into a plane than its dollar value is worth. But I enjoy the work. If all the metal parts are there, in restorable shape, then I say go for it. As stated, the most important part is the mouth. The sole should be reasonably flat. Almost everything else can be fixed, rebuilt or replaced.

Take a look at some your fellow LJ's have done.

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

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