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Forum topic by Mark Burton posted 05-07-2014 03:17 AM 1259 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark Burton

13 posts in 1445 days

05-07-2014 03:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane question

This is my first post, so I’ll introduce myself before asking questions.

My name is Mark Burton, I currently reside in Salt Lake City, Utah, just a stone’s throw away from the LDS Temple (literally). I’m an Engineering Technician for a medical device manufacturer, which is just a fancy way of saying I’m a wrench-turning knucklehead. A couple of years ago I took a studio class at the University of Utah where we spent the entire semester working with wood. I was hooked immediately. Sadly, once the semester was over, I no longer had access to their shop. My desire to work with wood went unquenched for the better part of 2 years, until I stumbled across a video by Paul Sellers. That beautiful Brit showed me that I can square a piece of wood AND make the best kindling in the world at the same time! I immediately decided to go out and pick up a couple of garbage planes from the Home Dee Pot just to give hand planing a go. I loved it. The smell of the wood, learning the technique, the weight of the plane in my hands, all of it. Of course, I’ve returned the aforementioned planes to the HD because I know that quality counts, especially when it comes to hand tools. Even at $40, they aren’t worth the space they’d take up in my garage (or garbage, for that matter).

So, here I am, planeless, sad, and in a quandary as to which planes to buy and where. I think a block plane and a no. 4 Smoothing plane will work for my first project; a small workbench for my apartment. I know HD and Woodcraft sell new Stanley Bailey and SH planes, but I have a strong feeling they just don’t make ‘em like they used to, and I’m not willing to drop $450 on a pair of L-N planes just yet, even if they are the best. I not ready for the best. I just need some good planes that are ready to go, though I’m not afraid of truing the soles, honing the blades, and dialing them in. I know there are threads dedicated to what to look for in a used plane, so I won’t bother asking. What I wasn’t able to find right away (sorry, short attention span) are any threads discussing the difference between old and new Stanley planes. i know there are other brands of planes, but there’s so much more information available on Stanleys and they seem to be the standard plane across the board.

Are the new Bailey and Sweetheart planes so much worse than older planes that searching for and restoring an old plane would be preferable?
Is the Sweetheart so much better than the Bailey that it warrants it’s more than double retail price?
Would I even use the Norris adjuster, or would I just wind up with a few different planes for different types of wood?

Also, if there’s anyone in the SLC area willing to knock back a few and talk shop, I’m always up for it.

12 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15280 posts in 2582 days

#1 posted 05-07-2014 03:42 AM

Mark, welcome!

I het what you’re saying, there’s an overflow of talk buy not a lot of info to fit your situation. I was there, too, about four years ago. A couple points to consider…

- vintage Stanleys fall into one of five categories: pre-war users, truly vintage, post-war, specialty planes and bedrocks
- consider pre-war (that’s WWII) your target area
- bedrocks you may covet someday, but not for objective reasons
- truly vintage includes bench planes through Type 9 or so. Basically pre-1900 is where you might compete in the collector vs user space
- specialty planes are joinery and weird (see #196 and #444 on Patrick Leach’ Blood and Gore site)

And contact LJ Don W as a seller of wonderful vintage tools. He can set you up for reasonable $

And keep reading! This is just a tiny piece of the puzzle to get you started. Good luck!

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

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1529 days

#2 posted 05-07-2014 04:33 AM


I would spend a little more time honing that buck bro’s. Sharpen hone, sharpen hone etc. Getting to know how to properly hone a hand plane will take many many hours as you are learning. I learned on a buck bros plane. It’s a terrible plane but if you can get the sole flat and the iron semi sharp your well on your way.

Until you can get satisfactory results on a bad plane I personally feel that dropping a lot of cash on a premium plane will leave you frustrated.

Send some pm’s to those around your area, I recently reached out to an experienced LJ on this site via pm and we had a great afternoon talking in his shop.

Non plane related – I offer my time for free as a new woodworker to look over the shoulder of someone more experienced than myself. The way of the apprentice has been lost.


View realcowtown_eric's profile


608 posts in 1901 days

#3 posted 05-07-2014 04:46 AM

I’m not in SLC but way back when I started out in the pre-inteweb era in an apartment.

A #4 and a block plane is an excdllent way to start.

Set of basic chisels, marking guage, and yer off to the races. Upgrade later.

Sharpening? lots can be done with a few pieces of sandpaper (scary sharp)

On a budget, scope out the flea markets. 10-15 bucks for a good block plane, maybe 16-25 for a #4 (really a common plane.

best wishes



-- Real_cowtown_eric

View Tim's profile


3781 posts in 1925 days

#4 posted 05-07-2014 06:42 PM

Mark, welcome.
“Are the new Bailey and Sweetheart planes so much worse than older planes that searching for and restoring an old plane would be preferable?”

Maybe not so much worse, the new ones are passable but a bad value for the money. For the about the same money as the garbage planes from HD you can get a nice quality vintage plane. I don’t agree that spending time tuning up a garbage quality plane is worth it. You can learn the same things tuning up a vintage plane in poor shape and end up with a better quality plane and pay less. As an engineering tech you should have good skills working with your hands and should be able to pick up the tuning skills pretty quickly. For me with none of those skills it took quite a bit of effort just to figure out the basics of cleaning up a vintage plane.

I second the recommendation to talk to DonW or one of the other LJs that sell planes such as Dave (sikrap) or Mark E. You might not have much luck finding vintage tools near you and buying from one of those guys will save you a lot of time anyway.

View Mark Burton's profile

Mark Burton

13 posts in 1445 days

#5 posted 05-07-2014 07:35 PM

Thanks for the replies, fellas. Tim, I came to that exact conclusion about buying new vs. old. I also came to the conclusion that I was over-thinking it, like I do. Since I have access to an entire machine shop, I know tuning the plane will be fairly simple. Learning to use it will probably be another story.

I checked out Don W’s blog, but I haven’t sent him a PM yet. I just talked to my grandfather today and he said he’d send me the planes that he’s had for decades. I’m pretty excited about it, even if I have to put some serious work into them. I’ll post pictures when I get them.

View TerryDowning's profile


1076 posts in 2081 days

#6 posted 05-07-2014 09:21 PM

Many of my hand tools were from my father and both grand fathers. You will love the family connection to those old tools as well. I know I do.

-- - Terry

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4061 days

#7 posted 05-07-2014 09:47 PM

Lots of advise has been given all over the site…. I highly recommend cleaning up pre-ww Planes. Rule of thumb for your #4. Get a Stanley Bailey with a 1910 Patent date behind the frog (two 1902s and 1910 Date or a single 1910 Date).

Sample type 11 from about 1910

Check the following

Complete – has all parts
Light rust is ok, but no pitting
full length cutter iron
Any breaks to the handles are knobs are clean and can easily be re-glued.
No cracks or breaks in casting.
Cap iron is not damaged on front end.
Lateral Adjustment is not broken
Mouth does not show any defects

For Block planes look for adjustable mouth planes

Stanley 9 1/2
Stanley 18
Stanley 60 1/2
Stanley 65

Good info on Stanley plane models can be found here ...

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#8 posted 05-07-2014 11:28 PM

Welcome to LJs. We’ll be looking for pictures of your grandfathers planes. Let us know if you need help whipping them into shape.

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

View Mark Burton's profile

Mark Burton

13 posts in 1445 days

#9 posted 05-10-2014 01:59 AM

How do you guys like the corrugated planes? I’ve been seeing a lot of those on Fleabay.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#10 posted 05-10-2014 11:16 AM

Same question

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

View Mark Burton's profile

Mark Burton

13 posts in 1445 days

#11 posted 05-10-2014 09:59 PM

Haha, thanks. I just saw that discussion right after I posted my question.

View Mark Burton's profile

Mark Burton

13 posts in 1445 days

#12 posted 05-15-2014 10:18 PM

I got my first plane yesterday. Thanks Don W! I didn’t have my clamps handy, so I haven’t had a chance to really try it out, but I’m very happy with it nonetheless.

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