What to look for when buying vintage bench planes

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Forum topic by Don W posted 06-26-2014 11:21 PM 1256 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don W

16660 posts in 1606 days

06-26-2014 11:21 PM

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


1799 posts in 987 days

#1 posted 06-26-2014 11:41 PM

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

-- Known agitator --

View Tim's profile


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#2 posted 06-27-2014 12:30 AM

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


3099 posts in 907 days

#3 posted 06-27-2014 12:42 AM

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.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View summerfi's profile


2314 posts in 726 days

#4 posted 06-27-2014 12:45 AM

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 -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works

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Don W

16660 posts in 1606 days

#5 posted 06-27-2014 12:56 AM

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


6518 posts in 1479 days

#6 posted 06-27-2014 02:02 PM

Excellent! Thank you Don.

-- ~Tony

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12635 posts in 3136 days

#7 posted 06-27-2014 02:04 PM

Thanks Don.

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

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2018 posts in 1408 days

#8 posted 06-27-2014 02:59 PM

Definitely a helpful post! Thanks, Don!

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

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5444 posts in 1045 days

#9 posted 06-27-2014 05:16 PM

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

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10138 posts in 1722 days

#10 posted 06-27-2014 06:21 PM

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


599 posts in 1906 days

#11 posted 06-27-2014 06:55 PM

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?

-- Rule #13: Never, ever involve lawyers.

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Don W

16660 posts in 1606 days

#12 posted 06-27-2014 07:22 PM

These were added. I hope they answer the question.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Brit's profile


5717 posts in 1881 days

#13 posted 06-27-2014 10:44 PM

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."

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599 posts in 1906 days

#14 posted 06-27-2014 10:50 PM

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

-- Rule #13: Never, ever involve lawyers.

View TheFridge's profile


3069 posts in 524 days

#15 posted 06-28-2014 04:02 AM

Great info. Thanks for sharing bud.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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