What to look for when buying vintage bench planes

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Forum topic by Don W posted 55 days ago 745 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don W

14824 posts in 1192 days

55 days ago

Buying a vintage hand plane for the first time can be a little daunting. There are very few folks who buy planes that haven’t unknowingly come home with a dud. You can be successful at finding a good set of vintage planes if you know what to look for. Having bought hundreds of vintage planes from all sources from flea markets to ebay, here is what I’d give for advice. Read more....................

Suggestions welcome.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

18 replies so far

View 7Footer's profile


972 posts in 573 days

#1 posted 55 days ago

Thanks Don, your site is full of great pro-tips!

-- If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did." -

View Tim's profile


1238 posts in 586 days

#2 posted 55 days ago

Wow Don, not just good tips, but with the pictures of what to look for and avoid. Very nice. It took me a while to figure out what a stamped frog meant when you guys said to avoid it, so the pictures should really help.

View Buckethead's profile


1919 posts in 493 days

#3 posted 55 days ago

I enjoyed reading that, Don. I just learned today, about pitting on the back of an iron. Mine was really minor, but it effected the edge when I re shaped then sharpened. I thought I had the back “flat enough” but I did not. Those tiniest of pits (looked more like discoloration to me) showed up as I tried to get a good edge.

I’ve been looking for some time, but still have much to learn. Thanks for shepherding those of us trying our hands at hunting rust.

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

View summerfi's profile


964 posts in 312 days

#4 posted 55 days ago

Don, this is a nice addition to your site and will be very helpful to novice plane seekers like myself. One thing I’d like to see you add to your site (maybe it’s there and I haven’t found it) is a simple list of definitions for the names of different kinds of planes (e.g. bench, smooth, jack, fore, jointer, scrub, etc.). Knowledgeable plane people take the names for granted, but newbies find it confusing I’m sure.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Of all the tools I own, my favorite is a good sharp pocket knife. - My Dad

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Don W

14824 posts in 1192 days

#5 posted 55 days ago

Sure thing Bob. I’m always looking for information that needed we sometimes take for granted. I’m not sure this is exactly what you’re looking for, but its a start.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View AnthonyReed's profile


4543 posts in 1065 days

#6 posted 54 days ago

Excellent! Thank you Don.

-- ~Tony

View WayneC's profile


12260 posts in 2722 days

#7 posted 54 days ago

Thanks Don.

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

View BinghamtonEd's profile


1242 posts in 994 days

#8 posted 54 days ago

Definitely a helpful post! Thanks, Don!

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View JoeinGa's profile


3157 posts in 632 days

#9 posted 54 days ago

Thanks for this Don. I’ve been considering the idea of starting to look for some planes, but as others have said I wasn’t sure what to look for .. this will be a great help!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View bandit571's profile


6810 posts in 1308 days

#10 posted 54 days ago

Might have to add a chapter on someone called Bandit…..

Craftsman #408 BL

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

View darinS's profile


378 posts in 1492 days

#11 posted 54 days ago

Very informative. Thanks Don. One question though, and I’m sure it’s because I am missing something easy and a complete newb to planes, but what is the difference in lever cap between this

and this?

Why is the top one a “nice lever cap” and the bottom one something to avoid?

-- If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you!

View Don W's profile

Don W

14824 posts in 1192 days

#12 posted 54 days ago

These were added. I hope they answer the question.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Brit's profile


5117 posts in 1467 days

#13 posted 54 days ago

Great information as always Don. I reckon you’re one of the world’s leading authorities on handplanes and the restoration thereof with all the hands on experience you’ve acquired over the years.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View darinS's profile


378 posts in 1492 days

#14 posted 54 days ago

I see. That certainly clarifies things a lot more for me anyway. Thanks again Don.

-- If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you!

View TheFridge's profile


689 posts in 111 days

#15 posted 54 days ago

Great info. Thanks for sharing bud.

-- "We build our workshops. Then we enjoy the fruits of our labor by laboring for more fruits." - Me

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