Using a Stanley No 1 Plane

Last summer I had the opportunity to buy a Stanley No 1 plane at The Springfield Antique Extravaganza. The price the lady wanted was too good to pass up, so I went to the ATM a few times to get enough money out to buy the plane. I’ve wanted to own one of these planes for nearly thirty years so I was stoked to bring it home.

Everytime I see one of these little guys, they’re usually behind a glass case at an auctioneer’s table so holding one in my hand was a real treat. Stanley No 1 planes are often on the top of the bucket list for a lot of tool collectors. Unfortunately, their prices spiked over the past few decades so finding one at an affordable price is hard to do. I read stories from old time tool collectors that they could buy these planes at the flea market for $10-20 during the 1960’s and ’70’s. Today they command as much as $1000 or more. The odd thing is, is that Stanley never made these planes to be collectible. In fact, they were the most inexpensive bench plane they offered in their catalog. At $2.95, they were 32% cheaper than a Stanley No 3 plane which are still readily available at antique shows around the country. Never being able to use one, I often wondered what the purpose of these little guys were and how they were used.

When I got home I lightly cleaned the plane and sharpened the blade. When I flipped the plane over, I noticed that there were diagonal scratch marks on the bed. This told me that the original owner used the plane at an askew. I know when I use a plane at an askew, it’s either to prevent tear out on difficult grain or to clean up some blemishes on the wood. So I thought to myself that maybe these planes are used just to clean up little areas on the wood’s surface.

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Last weekend I had a chance to test my theory. While making a display cabinet for my wife, I was planing some eastern white pine with my Stanley No 4 plane when I was getting tear out around the large knots in the wood.

The tear out wasn’t terrible as the blade on my Stanley No 4 is sharp and the bed has been fettled flat, but the tear out was still there. I decided that I would try to get rid of the tear out by using my No 1 plane.

Sure enough, after a few strokes, I noticed that the plane was cleaning up the tear out quite nicely. So I thought to myself, this must be one of the purposes of the plane. But then I started thinking about why a small plane like this would do a better job at shaving the wood than a well tuned No 4 plane. The only thing I can really think of is the small footprint on the No 1 helps the user focus on a smaller area on the wood’s surface. Also the mouth on the No 1 is tighter with less of a gap than my No 4 that is set for general planing. Both my No 4 and No 1 are sharpened the same way with water stones up to 12000 grit so it’s not that one of the plane’s blade was sharper than the other.

With how well the plane cleaned up my tear out I’m thinking that these planes were used for cleaning up the work surface and other small tasks. Whether it would be tear out, scratch marks, small gouge marks or even taking labels off of boxes. Remember these were cheap planes that were made for daily use but never took off in the marketplace. Because there’s not very many of them available, supply-and-demand shot their prices to the moon.

I know that one of the most famous tool cabinets in the world, H. O. Studley’s tool cabinet has a Stanley No 1 plane in it. His plane is in the middle left of the left hand door. Studley was a piano maker so he probably used his plane when making and fitting piano keys. I also know that instrument makers use small planes in their work so that’s another group of people that could benefit from a Stanley No 1 plane.

All I know is that it’s a nice little plane to own. It’s not the most versatile plane you can have in your arsenal, but it’s nice to have it when you need it. So do I recommend using a Stanley No 1 plane? HELL NO! They’re too valuable! Buy a Lie-Nielsen No 1 for a couple hundred bucks and let a tool collector stick this thing on his shelf.

My First Speaking Gig

After working with wood for the past 30 years, I have my first speaking engagement this month. I was contacted by a member of the Cincinnati Working Club a few weeks ago who asked if I would be interested in speaking in front of the group. At first, I was shocked and confused. I didn’t understand why he would want me to be a guest speaker, but after reading further into the email, he saw that I restore planes and have a nice tool cabinet full of antique tools. Apparently, he wants me to talk about my journey into antique tool collecting and describe the process of how I clean my tools.

I’m going to start off talking about my tool cabinet and how it came to be. I started building it in 1999 but didn’t finish it until 2001 as it sat in my parent’s basement unfinished. It’s undergone a few transformations over the years as I added and deleted tools from the doors and back. It actually looks nicer in pictures than it does in person as the oak veneer plywood tore off in places where I removed the tool holders.

From there, I’ll describe the process of restoring this Diamond Edge Jointer. I took a bunch of pictures of the process and will upload them to a thumb drive so I can plug it into their laptop. The group meets in a church basement so I’m not sure if there is a workbench down there for people to work on. The idea of actually doing the restoration while I’m there doesn’t make much sense so pictures it will be.

Bill told me that each meeting has between 65-75 people attendees so this presentation is going to be as big as a session at the Woodworking in America events.

If you’re a member of the Cincinnati Woodworking Club, stop by on Saturday Sept, 14th at Northminster Presbyterian Church 703 Compton Road in Cincinnati, Ohio around 9:00 and watch me be nervous as hell. Just please don’t bring tomatoes to throw at me.

L W Jacobs West Miter Box

Six months ago I ran across this miter box lying on the floor in an antique store. Intrigued by it, I took a look at the price but decided not to buy it. I went back a few weeks ago and the seller lowered the price by 50% so I took it home with me.

I’ve been using a Stanley No 150 miter box for years. In fact, it’s the only hand powered miter box I ever use now since I sold my larger Stanley No 60 1/2 miter box as it was just sitting around collecting dust. What I love about the 150 is its small footprint and ability to cut small moldings safely as opposed of using my Delta powered miter saw.

You can see the difference between the Jacobs and Stanley No 150 Miter Box. The Jacobs looks like Stanley’s bigger brother. The Jacobs actually predates the Stanley by several decades as it was patented in 1889 while Stanley didn’t produce the 150 until 1923. More likely, Stanley simply bought the design from Jacobs or waited for the patent to run out and redesigned it into a smaller version.

I always use a Disston back saw when I use my Stanley No 150 but, apparently this miter box was meant to be used with a panel saw which is why the throat is so deep. Even the patent documents show it being used with a panel saw.

The cut from the miter box is pretty accurate considering it’s age. Both 45 degree positive stops produced a decent cut however, I would still finalize the cut by using a shooting board or miter trimmer as I always use my miter trimmer to clean up the miter when I use my Stanley No 150. This is a neat box to own and I’m glad I found it.

GTL British Plane

Over the weekend, I received a box from The Fine Tool Journal with a couple of planes that I won in their latest auction. I’ve been disappointed with my winnings the past few auctions as I have only won one lot at each auction after sending them two pages of my bids, but apparently that’s my fault for not bidding high enough. Nevertheless, I was happy to get something from them. Inside was a Stanley No 104 Liberty Bell plane and this guy. An odd looking bronze plane with GTL stamped on the lever cap.

Searching online, I discovered that GTL stands for Guaranteed Tools Limited. It was a short lived plane maker in London, England from the 1920-1930’s who marketed to the DIY and amateur carpenter market. Apparently, the makers of these planes were trying to fill a gap between the Stanley Bailey planes that were taking the world by storm and the traditional Norris style planes that British craftsmen were accustomed to using at the time.

The lever cap and frog look rather crude which made me to believe at first, that it was user made. According to guys on UK woodworking forums, these planes were garbage to use. No one liked them as they thought they were too light and the “Norris” adjustment was a joke compared to real Norris style planes.

Intrigued by the plane, I decided to restore it and see how well it performed. I removed all the paint that the previous owner sprayed on the body and handle and sharpened the blade.

The plane cuts, but not very well. The biggest issue with it was because the Norris adjuster doesn’t have any lateral adjustment, I was unable to dial in the cut when the blade was cutting too heavy on one side and not enough on the other. I would have to either play with the setting of the frog or hone the edge at a slight angle for it to take a nice feather like shaving. Neither of which I was willing to waste my time doing.

Another big issue with the plane was the screw on the bottom of the bed that holds the tote in place stuck proud of the bed’s surface leaving gouge marks on the work piece when I used it.

Obviously, when I took the plane apart to clean it, I removed the screw so when I went back to install it, it wasn’t in the exact position it was before I removed it. This left a little nib of the screw head sticking proud of the surface which I had to file back down.

The oddest thing about the plane is that the frog is bent for some reason making the blade and cap iron not seat fully on it. I’m not sure if it was manufactured that way or if it got damaged some time during it’s life. No way would I try to bend it back straight. Knowing my luck, I’d end up cracking the frog in half.

All in all, it’s a fun to look at, but not the best to use. If the idea of a Norris style adjuster on a modern bench plane appeals to you, just buy a Veritas or even a new Stanley plane and avoid all this nonsense.

New Tools Listed on eBay 6/18

I listed a few tools on Ebay tonight. You can see them here.

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I normally don’t blog when I list tools but, I’ve been selling on eBay for years. I’m small potatoes compared to the big tool sellers like Jim Bode or Patrick Leach but, I only do this in my spare time.

I buy tools that are often passed up by tool collectors because they’re not in the best shape. However, to me, part of the fun is to see if I can get them to work again. I make sure all the parts function properly and fix broken totes so they feel good in your hand. I’ll even sharpen the blades when I have time. If I buy a plane that can’t be brought back from the dead, I’ll sell it in parts so someone else can bring their tool back to life.

I normally have more than 100 tools for sale in my store but, I haven’t had time to restock it in the past few weeks. But that’s a good thing. It means that my prices are fair and they sell. I don’t want to own an antique tool museum.

The World’s Longest Yard Sale 2018

This weekend, my wife and I went back on the World’s Longest Yard Sale. If you’re not familiar with the sale, it runs the first weekend in August on US 127 from Michigan down to Alabama. In years’ past, we would head down to Chattanooga, TN to stay the night, then work our way home staying another night in Lexington, KY, but this year we decided just to make day trips and head back home at night.

This banner hangs in Mainstrassa Village in Covington, KY just a few blocks from the Lost Art Press. Many years ago, the yard sale started here, but in recent years Ohio and Michigan started to participate.

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Heading down US 127, there will be areas set up every few miles down the road with vendors. Since we’ve done this sale for years, we know where the good stops are, but some of the smaller areas may have some of the best deals as those are true yard-salers selling their crap and not professional antique dealers selling their prize possessions for top dollar.

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You’ll get a bit of everything at this sale. From antiques, to used tires, to baby toys, to a whole bunch of used clothes. It is after all a yard sale, so take your normal Saturday afternoon yard sale and times it by 690 miles.

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Since we stayed away from the antique dealer mega stops, I didn’t see many antique tools from collectors. I did spot this old scroll saw in central Kentucky with a $350 price tag on it. Probably not a bad buy, but I wasn’t in the market for one, so I passed on it.

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The most unusual piece I saw was this picture frame miter saw box just north of Cincinnati. There was no manufacturer’s name on it but it looked professionally made. I assumed it sat on top of a three-legged stand because of the length of back, but that is just a guess.

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It came with a Disston saw, but there was no way for me to date it. If I had to guess, I’d say it was late 1800’s early 1900’s from the look of the screws.

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The weather was nice, hot but nice. Every year it usually rains as we have to walk and drive around in the mud which is no fun. Everyday this weekend it was in the 90’s and humid as hell. We started at 8:00am and by 6:00pm we were suffering from the three B’s. Beat, Burnt, and Broke.

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At the end of the weekend, this is what I came home with. A few Stanley planes, a veenering plane, Langdon miter box with a Disston saw, a set of Stanley No 105 forstner style bits, Millers Falls eggbeater drill, and a 2 1/2″ wide Ohio Tool Co chisel/slick. Not too bad considering what I paid for everything. There are a few hard to find tools in the group.

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The prize of the bunch is the Stanley 5 1/4 C corrugated plane which is one of the rarest planes Stanley ever made. I found it in booth in Ohio from a young couple who were just selling random stuff. It was the only tool they had in their booth so I have no idea where they got it. They told me they looked up its value on the internet, but they were just trying to get rid of it, so I gladly took it off their hands.

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I already spent the last couple of days cleaning it up. I already own a Stanley No 5 1/4 so I doubt I’ll use it. It’ll more likely be one of my top shelf tools.

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Restoring a Stanley No 10 Carriage Maker Rabbet Plane

Several months ago I picked up a Stanley No 10 Carriage Makers Rabbet plane with a welded sole at a local auction. I wanted to restore the plane and make it usable again so I took it all apart and soaked everything in a citric acid solution for a few hours.

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Even thought the weld was done fairly well, the plane’s sides were no longer straight. Not the best situation for a plane that needs straight sides in order to cut a clean rabbet.

Fortunately, because the plane cracked only on one side, the bed was still relatively flat when it was welded back. If the bed would have been out of whack, I may have resorted to the garbage can as it would have been too much work to fettle flat.

I wanted the black removed from the sides as the previous owner painted the sides to cover up the weld. I spread some paint remover on it and let it sit for a few minutes before removing it with a putty knife. I then needed the sides to be straight so I started to fettle them with sandpaper on a marble base. Rubbing the bed back in forth, I could see the high and low spots on each side.

There was a lot of metal to remove, so I decided to take the bed to my stationary disc sander and carefully grind the bed using 80 grit sand paper.

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Using the disc sander saved a lot of time, but it scratched the hell out of the surface. I made sure I moved the bed back and forth so that I wouldn’t do more damage than good.

Because the disc sander made a lot of scratches on the sides, I took the bed back to my marble base and used a variety of sand paper grits to remove as many scratches as I could.

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I then focused on the bed, fettling it flat. I used a variety of sand paper from 150-400 grit. I worked on it for a few minutes until I was satisfied with the results.

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Once the bed was done, I sharpened the blade using my Tormek sharpening wheel and water stones.

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Since I ground some of the thickness of the sides away, you can see where the blade protrudes farther out of the side than normal. I could grind away the sides of the blade, but I wanted to wait and see how it performs first. If I was able to cut a clean rabbet with the way it was, I would just leave it alone.

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Here she is after all the work has been done. It looks a lot better than the way I bought her, but I still needed to see if she works.

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After setting the blade to the right depth, I tried it out on a scrap piece of wood. It cut nice little shavings with ease and can now be put in my arsenal of planes for use. Even though I spent a good day tuning this plane up, it gives me great satisfaction resurrecting an old tool back to life. Plus it saved me a ton of money versus buying a new rabbet plane.

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Updated Tool Cabinet

I built this cabinet nearly fifteen years ago and every few years I end up updating the tools that go inside it. It’s been about three years since I updated it, so I decided it was time for a change.

As you can see in the photo below, at one time I loved MicroPlane rasps. I stuck everyone I owned onto the left door. While they are nice rasps to use, I decided to delegate them to a nearby drawer instead. The Stanley short box handsaw had to go as well. I never used it, so it was pointless to have it take up so much valuable space.

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This is how the cabinet looks today. Over the years I’ve been learning a lot more about hand saws, so my collection of usable hand saws that I have restored has grown. I knew I wanted to incorporate them into the cabinet somehow which is one of the main reasons I decided to redesign the tool cabinet.

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Hanging on the top of the left door, I have a E C Atkins rip saw that I made a new handle for it out of cherry, and a short Superior panel crosscut saw. In the middle is my original Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw I bought twenty years ago. Below it is another dovetail saw and two Disston back saws, one filed to saw rip and the other filed for crosscut.

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I stuck my hammer on the right side by my Stanley No 8 jointer plane. By the hammer, I hung a couple of bevels and a Nobex square. Underneath the screwdrivers on the right door is where I hung more measuring tools. Since I’ve updated this cabinet numerous times over the years, if you look closely, you can see where the oak veneer has been torn off the plywood substrate. To conceal the damage, I stained the entire inside of the cabinet with Nutmeg Gel Stain. Thank God I didn’t make this thing out of African Mahogany as I have no qualms about damaging oak plywood.

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The left side of the cabinet is where I stock a lot of my spokeshaves and Stanley No 66 Beader. I’d like to build a little rack for all my blades for my beader, but that will be another project for another day.

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The middle of the cabinet was left untouched as there’s really no room to do any changes. Maybe the next time I update my tool cabinet, I’ll make room for all my Festool accessories. haha

 

The World’s Longest Yard Sale 2014

My wife and I got back from The World’s Longest Yard Sale today which runs down US 127 from Michigan to Alabama. We left Wednesday morning before it officially began and drove down US 127 looking for bargains stopping at dealers who sat up early. We ended up in Chattanooga, TN for a couple of nights.

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When we woke up in Chattanooga, we headed south toward Alabama because last year we had heard that that’s where all the good deals are. Going below Tennessee on the yard sale can be tricky because US 127 ends in Chattanooga. The yard sale continues on the Lookout Mountain Parkway which takes all different routes as it changes onto different state roads.

Once we got into Alabama we didn’t necessarily see a lot of good deals, just a bunch of dealers selling antiques. I did spot tons of anvils for sale. I could have bought 20 anvils if I was in the market for one, but I still have an anvil I bought two years ago sitting in the garage waiting for me to make a stand for it.

After we got back to the hotel we stayed for another night then headed up Tennessee in the morning. Tennessee had a bunch of professional dealers as well. My wife and I were buying a few things here and there, but the prices people wanted weren’t “yard sale” prices.

Everything was going fine until somewhere in the boon docks of Tennessee I got stung by a damn bee. What made the situation worse is that I just got stung in my lip by a bee a couple of weeks ago when I was doing mulch in my yard which made my lip swell up three times its normal size.  Now another son of a bitch comes right toward my face and stings my eyelid. I’ve never been an anti-bee person, but I think I’m going to start pissing on my wife’s flowers so the little bastards can inject my urine into their bodies.

We drove to the nearest pharmacy 20 miles away and picked up some Benadryl and ice to prevent the sting from swelling up. I put ice on it all day, but sure enough when I woke up in Lexington, KY the next morning, my eye was swelled shut. We considered calling the trip and just head home, but I told Anita that I was fine and it’s best for us to just keep moving along.

Photo: I got stung again!!!!! Twice in three weeks. This is bullshit!

Kentucky had the most tools. However, a lot of dealers were around selling their tools at retail. There’s nothing wrong with selling retail, I’m just a picker so it needs to be a good deal for me to buy it. I found the best places to buy tools were the little road side sales with only a couple of yard sales. Not these big tent cities where there are 150-200 vendors in one spot.

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We got back home last night and headed out this morning to check out Ohio. Ohio had the best deals on items. They were true yard sales with “yard sale” prices with very few dealers. When we were all done this afternoon I got a few tools. Nothing major considering we did it for nearly five straight days.

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Out of all the tools I bought, the neatest was a panel raising plane I bought in Tennessee. It appears to be of German descent so it’s quite possible that a German immigrant made the plane when he came to America. There is no makers name on it so it’s definitely an owner made plane.

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The guy who sold it to me told me that it was from the 1700’s, but I highly doubt that. I would guess anywhere in 1800’s. One of the clues that could determine its age is the bore hole made by whatever drilled it. If I can figure out what kind of drill bit that bore that hole, I could estimate the plane’s overall age.

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Another nice find was this Disston stair case saw. I believe these little guys are somewhat rare so I was happy to pick him up at an extreme bargain.

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The yard sale is a lot of fun and you should definitely do it if it’s ever been on your bucket list. I’m not sure if we’ll go all the way down to Alabama next year, but we are already planning our next trip.