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Introduction and are these planes good for a first restoration attempt?

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Forum topic by Pendragon1998 posted 02-02-2014 12:47 PM 1832 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Pendragon1998

74 posts in 1041 days


02-02-2014 12:47 PM

Hi y’all,

Since this is my first post, I guess I’ll briefly introduce myself. I’m in my early 30s, a grad student studying avian landscape ecology, and recently became a dad. My own father has never been afraid to tackle a new project, and is willing to learn any new skill he’s needed to do aircraft maintenance, classic car restoration, carpentry, woodworking, painting (watercolors or vehicles) – you name it. I think I take after him in that way. Especially over the last 10 years, my interests have led me to things like working with clay, auto repair, building a workbench, birding, DIY stuff – any project that presents itself, I’m interested in learning how to do for myself. I have a fondness for made in the USA tools.

Since I was young, I’ve had an interest in woodworking (I’ve watched Roy Underhill since I was a boy). Before Christmas, I was set to have spinal surgery for a badly herniated disc. I’ve been wanting to build a dovetailed box for years, but never had the tools or the money to really put into them. Looking at the (minor, but non-zero) possibility that I might have an adverse outcome in surgery, I decided I was not going to die without having ever made a dovetail! So I mought some tools, and the night before I went to the hospital, I made a really bad dovetail joint in some poplar scrap (but boy was I proud of my first attempt!)

After I recovered enough to move around, I’ve decided I’m serious about this hand woodworking thing. I’ve since picked up a set of decent new Stanley sweetheart chisels, a new Stanley sweetheart smoothing plane (an X-mas gift I’m growing into), a Veritas dovetail saw, and sundry marking and layout tools (Christmas was good to me). I’m teaching myself to do dovetails by hand, taking the approach of a dovetail a day for a month, but it’s taking longer really, because of work and the baby). I’m seeing improvement, I’m developing modest skills, and I’m looking to expand my tools as I can afford to.

My next project will be Paul Sellers’ shooting board. I’m thinking some of the next tools I want are a jack plane, crosscut and rip saws, and a front vise (I’m currently using a mechanic’s vise rigged with wooden jaws I made). Ok! Enough about me!

QUESTION:
So, I hit a couple of antiques shops this afternoon and found a couple of older planes and saws, but nothing made it home with me. The two planes were a (I believe) #3 and a #5, neither was numbered, and neither was a stanley. They were in rough shape, so I wasn’t sure if they were good starter restoration projects.

The #3 (and I might be wrong about the size) only had a ‘U’ in a circle in front of the tote and ‘PAT’ something and ‘USA’ – hard to read. The tote was a bit loose, but nothing seemed cracked or damaged beyond rust. The adjustments were stiff, but they moved. They wanted $17.50, not much, but I was hesitant to pull the trigger on that. Am I right that this is stamped steel, thus lower quality? Here’s a few pics:

The larger one (a #5, I think) was a Wards Master plane. I didn’t have a square, but it seemed like the sole might be a tad warped near the front. The tote was original, but must have been loose at some point, because someone shimmed it with cardboard aeons ago. The adjustment knob was surprisingly smooth. Asking price was $20, IIRC. Pics:

Also saw a brace for around $7. The chuck was rusty, but tightened down well. Wood was fine, but I don’t have one so I wasn’t sure if these things get bent, or what else to look for in an old one.

I saw two saws that initially looked like they had restoration potential, but one had some missing teeth near the front, and the other was being stored blade down in a large crock, and the blade was bent a smidge. Both were $6-15. No pics, sorry.

I figure most of this stuff will still be there later if I go back, so I’m not in a rush to drop some green. My feeling is I can do better for my money (or a little more money) and get some nicer old Stanley planes on ebay that are closer to being ready to work with. I’ve been reading about restoring old saws, so that’s on the menu, but I don’t want my first one to be a morale killer project, so I’m continuing to look for a nicer one.
Does anyone have an opinion on any of this? Sorry this was such a long first post!


28 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

17968 posts in 2033 days


#1 posted 02-02-2014 01:02 PM

Welcome to LJs. Restoring these old tools can be a pretty slippery slope. Welcome to the ride.

you were right to stay away from the stamped steel plane. Wards Masters were typically identical to Stanleys, so they make good users once properly tuned.

There are lots of helpful blogs here. I’m on my phone so links will come later.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

17968 posts in 2033 days


#2 posted 02-02-2014 02:36 PM

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13734 posts in 2083 days


#3 posted 02-02-2014 02:47 PM

That #3, stamped-frog plane is a $2 paper weight, not a user in any way. Run from that one for sure.

Check out the resources Don provided. Few have more experience than he does with these tools. Your gut instinct was right. Good luck!

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

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Bobsboxes

1107 posts in 2129 days


#4 posted 02-02-2014 02:56 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks, Good luck on the restore.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1275 posts in 1400 days


#5 posted 02-02-2014 03:34 PM

This is going to be long, stick with it though.

Smitty is right on that #3. It is a stamped frog and will not be a good user. I’d pass on the #5 too, I’ve never heard of that brand, and it is likely not the best.

I have rehabbed 3 or 4 planes, so I am not a master by any means, but I know a little bit. First off, I think the best starter plane is a #4, and then after that, a small block plane. Those are the two planes that I use the most, but if you are strictly doing hand tool work, you may want to do a #5 instead of the #4, because you may be jointing with it. There are a lot of decent brands out there to look for. Millers Falls, Stanley, Record, Union, and some others. I have both stanley and millers falls planes. I have been more pleased with my stanleys, though the millers falls are still serviceable. That said, if you want to go used, I would get on ebay and buy a stanley that is in decent shape. For a #4 or #5 the prices hover around $50 or $60 for a pretty good user that won’t take 3 days of work to get going. (I don’t know about mississippi, but I know that here in texas trying to find a good plane at a yard sale or antique store is not worth the time. I think there is a much richer woodworking history on the east coast from NC up to Maine and over to Michigan and Minnesota, sort of that triangle of the USA.) If you buy one off of ebay, make sure they have pictures of the plane totally disassembled so you can see everything. AND make sure it is not a corrugated sole. You want a solid frog, a pretty smooth bottom, no cracks in the cast iron, rigid tote, and a decent blade that is not pitted. Generally speaking, the older the plane the better. Try to stay pre WW2 era and definitely pre 60’s. Here is a website that is very useful for dating planes. “http://www.hyperkitten.com/tools/stanleybenchplane/” The guys on ebay often actually will put the type (era) of the plane on their description so you can search by type.
There are lots of good resources for fixing up planes on youtube. Here are a few good ones to watch:

“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQyjLV92224”

“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAYcwubAO2E”

The last thing that I’ll say is this. Don’t be surprised if you end up spending around $300 to get your first plane working how you want, even if you bought it for $50 online. You are going to have to sharpen the iron ( so you’ll have to buys stones or at least a flat surface and sandpaper), put in 4 or 5 hours of elbow grease, and you may want a good aftermarket blade, which run around $50 or $60. That said, don’t be shy about getting a Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen. It sounds like you aren’t on a really tight budget and I can assure you that if you buy a high end plane, you will love it and it won’t take much time or money other than the plane purchase itself to get going and be very satisfied. Those planes are in a whole different category. They do the extra 5% that the rest cannot do. If you do go that route, consider a low angle plane, as they are very versatile. The next plane I buy will cost over $200 and it will be worth every freaking penny.

Hope that helps!!!

P.S. When you start sharpening, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE watch this video. This method is quick and easy and produces great results. He uses 3 diamond plates in the video, but I just used one double sided plate. and make the strop he suggests. “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvTcReENk9g”

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Don W's profile

Don W

17968 posts in 2033 days


#6 posted 02-02-2014 03:42 PM

Don’t be to hard on the Wards Master. Its nothing more than a Stanley with another name on the cap. Remove the cap and you won’t be able to tell the difference.

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

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

8121 posts in 1916 days


#7 posted 02-02-2014 03:46 PM

Oyster “AND make sure it is not a corrugated sole.”. Can’t agree with that, have #’s 4, 5, 7 in a C style and no issues whatsoever.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1275 posts in 1400 days


#8 posted 02-02-2014 03:59 PM

Don W: I figured there might be someone out there who had one. Looks like it is serving you just fine. That may be a decent option if you have gotten yours in working order.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Loren's profile

Loren

8309 posts in 3113 days


#9 posted 02-02-2014 04:03 PM

I like the high knobs, so for $20 the Wards plane seems like
a good buy to me since it’s very similar to a Bailey,
as Don says.

I like corrugated jack planes. I don’t have a very good
reason to like them but I do.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1275 posts in 1400 days


#10 posted 02-02-2014 04:07 PM

Corrugated might be fine. Y’all probably both have more experience that I do with planes, but I have often heard negative things about corrugated soles in the past, and I have always imagine that it would sort of screw up when you got to corners. Seems like a wood corner would try to dive into one of the corrugations of the sole if you were beveling an edge. So, for a larger 6 or 7, I could see it being harmless, but it seems like at corners it could mess you up with a smoother or detail plane. Have you guys had any problems with that?

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Don W's profile

Don W

17968 posts in 2033 days


#11 posted 02-02-2014 04:16 PM

The only time I’ve ever seen a difference with a corrugated plane, is when I’m jointing thin stock. And the only thing that happens is the way I reference the stock to the plane, it will sort of pinches my finger in the groove. Not enough to hurt anything, but enough to make my jointer not have corrugations. I’m sure its just the way I hold the plane, because I’ve never heard of it happening to any one else.

They still make bench planes with corrugations, and they cost more to buy. I’m totally indifferent as to whether my planes have a C or not, except as mentioned above. To be honest, other then the 608, I can’t tell which users are or are not corrugated.

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

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

8121 posts in 1916 days


#12 posted 02-02-2014 04:22 PM

Oyster,if you hold the plane on a skew it “should” ride over the grooves. I haven’t had that issue and I have chamfered with my #4 but not on narrow stock.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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Don W

17968 posts in 2033 days


#13 posted 02-02-2014 04:25 PM

I suppose I can see a possible issue chamfering with corrugations, although it could be overcome (as Kevin stated). That’s typically a job for a block plane anyhow.

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

View NoLongerHere's profile

NoLongerHere

893 posts in 2141 days


#14 posted 02-02-2014 04:28 PM

Hi Pendragon, welcome aboard!

Nice intro…you’ll have to copy and paste this into your profile page. It’s nice to know who we are commenting to.

I hope everything went OK with your back surgery. it sounds painful! But I gotta say, this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone say, ” I have to do a handmade dovetail joint before surgery, in case I die!”

Now. that’s a true woodworker in the making! ... Ha! Love it! Roy would be quite proud of you, no doubt.

For 18.00 bucks, that #5 would be a fun starter project to refurbish – unless it’s cracked. how can you lose?

Buying hand planes is like a woman buying shoes, always room for more. Welcome to the matrix.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1275 posts in 1400 days


#15 posted 02-02-2014 04:50 PM

A block plane is definitely better suited for chamfering, but you know how it is, you have the #4 in your hand or it is sharp, so you use it instead of a block plane. That is how i end up using mine for chamfering. From now on I won’t be so biased against corrugations. I suppose in my recommendations I probably should have stated that I prefer no corrugations, but to each their own. It is more of an opinion thing than a gospel truth thing. Just like sharpening systems. But let’s not open up that can. hehe

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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