Flatten Stanlye #7c sole

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Forum topic by giser3546 posted 09-08-2014 06:46 PM 774 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View giser3546's profile


179 posts in 891 days

09-08-2014 06:46 PM

I have a pretty nice but slightly abused pre WWII Stanley #7c hand plane I use constantly. Yesterday I used my band saw table and a feeler gauge to find out the sole was cupped by about 0.0015”. I used some 320 grit wet/dry sand paper on that same band saw table and tried to flatten it out just slightly but ended up making it worse and adding in a slight twist (0.0015”). As soon as that happened I stopped knowing I would only make it even worse from there. I was able to flatten my Woodriver #5 just fine with the same method so I’m betting the extra length of the #7 is causing my issue. What are the usual methods of flattening a 22” long plane sole? I would be willing to bring it to a machine shop to have it done but would like to be able to do this myself if possible. I have seen the granite slabs at the local Wood Craft but don’t know if they would work for such a long sole.

-- "If you wait for it to rain, It will"

9 replies so far

View Ocelot's profile


1458 posts in 2057 days

#1 posted 09-08-2014 06:59 PM


I’ve recently aquired a couple of those 7c. I would not think that 1.5 thousanths of an inch cupping would make a significant difference. I personally would leave it alone.

On thing is that your sandpaper might not be perfectly uniform. In any case, if I were doing it, I would use sandpaper that comes on a roll – and use a piece considerably longer and somewhat wider than the plane. Then, I would make sure that the thing I was sticking the sandpaper on is truely flat. Then I would figure out a way to slide the plane back and forth while applying pressure perfeclty uniformly. I think gravity alone should provide the down force. Even then, if the center of the sandpaper strip has more grit than the edges, it will still cup the sole.

I have a 12×18 granite surface plate, but if I try this, I’ll only do it on planes shorter than 18” – probably nothing bigger than a no 5.


View JayT's profile


4671 posts in 1630 days

#2 posted 09-08-2014 07:09 PM

A perfectly flat sole is overrated and overhyped, IMHO. As long as the sole is reasonably flat, it should be fine. I’d be surprised if any of my planes other than the smoothers are less out of flat than 0.0015” and they all work just fine. Heck, a decent sized piece of wood is going to move more than that when a cold front blows through.

All that said, my method for flattening, when it is required, is a granite slab and sandpaper—you could use a jointer bed or table saw table, instead. The keys for me are making sure the plane is tensioned before flattening (iron on and lever cap locked down) and reversing the plane periodically.

It’s possible to find flat granite without spending very much. I have exactly $0 invested in two pieces.
Find a countertop fabricator and ask about purchasing a cutoff. That’s how I got my first piece. The shop manager just pointed me to a pile of scrap and said to take my pick, it was all going to be dumped anyway. Found a nice 12×28 inch piece and took it home.

One piece of advice I heard from Roland Johnson at The Woodworking Show is to try and get a piece they have ground flat, but haven’t polished yet. The polishing actually takes it just a bit out of flat.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Ocelot's profile


1458 posts in 2057 days

#3 posted 09-08-2014 07:14 PM

Now I learned something too. It makes sense that tensioning would make a difference! I would think, however that the tightness of the frog attachment screws would be the main factor.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4405 posts in 3379 days

#4 posted 09-08-2014 08:47 PM

+1 on the granite off-cuts from the counter top fabricator.
That’s what I did.


View Hammerthumb's profile


2513 posts in 1394 days

#5 posted 09-08-2014 09:08 PM

Make sure it is granite and not marble. JayT is right about a fabrication shops polish. If it is a polished slab, it should be factory polished as this is done on a machine rather than by hand. I prefer Absolute Black granite, with a factory polish. Some stone will warp with moisture, so be careful what you use.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3516 days

#6 posted 09-08-2014 09:40 PM

I’m in agreement that amount of variance should not be an issue. If you are lapping. as Ocelot says, retract the blade and flatten with the frog installed as it would be in normal use.

Another flattening option would be a jointer bed or a table saw surface in lieu of granite or plate glass.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

17872 posts in 1986 days

#7 posted 09-08-2014 10:45 PM

I agree with the previous. Don’t go crazy. If you’ve been using it, then it must be working.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View giser3546's profile


179 posts in 891 days

#8 posted 09-08-2014 11:46 PM

I have been using it but had been having problems with far from flat edges.

-- "If you wait for it to rain, It will"

View Don W's profile

Don W

17872 posts in 1986 days

#9 posted 09-09-2014 12:11 AM

If you were measuring your cup in 16th I’d say it was your problem. I doubt .0015” is your problem. Think of trying to get and keep a wood bodied jointer to those tolerances, and I know there are a lot of guys out there using wood jointers successfully.

If you describe (pictures speak a thousand words) what you mean by having problems with edges far from flat, there will be somebody here who can help.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

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