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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Another Tool Auction

If you follow my blog, then you know I have an addiction to going to tool auctions and buying a boatload of planes. Well, not much has changed over the years except this auction was online a couple of nights ago. Today I went to the house to pick up my winnings to see what I won in person. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the tools I bought.

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When looking on the lots, the auctioneer was very vague with their descriptions. They just grouped about ten to fifteen tools together and listed them as “Stanley Metal Planes”. One of the lots was nine Stanley Bed Rock planes with only four pictures of the total lot. I took a chance that they were in good shape so I placed my bid until I outbid all the other bidders. When I picked them up, I noticed that six of the nine were corrugated which put a big smile on my face.

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The other planes I ended up winning were a couple of Stanley circular planes. Theses planes work really well and come in handy when properly tuned.

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They had this Stanley No 77 Dowel Making machine as a “drill”. These machines are sweet to use. I only wish I could afford the extra heads they came with as they usually sell for over $100 a piece on eBay.

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I also picked up this Stanley No 150 miter box with a Cincinnati Steel Saw Co back saw. I’ve owned one of these for twenty years and work great cutting small moldings.

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Here are a couple of Stanley No 112 scraper planes. Another tool that you’re glad you own when you need it.

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A couple of Stanley No 10 Rabbet planes. The one in the back has been welded as that is a common repair for these when they break in two.

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I ended winning six pre-lateral Stanley bench planes. One of them has the wrong lever cap and a couple others have the wrong style of tote, but all have the proper blades which is good as usually these are found with an improper blade.

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Most of these tools will eventually be restored and sold in my eBay store. http://stores.ebay.com/mvflaim. The pre-lateral planes are too collectible to be restored. Just a light cleaning will do. The tools in the bottom photo are the tools I’ve been working on the past few weeks and will be listed for sale soon.

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A Saturday Afternoon at an Estate Auction

Not much has been going on lately with woodworking, but I have been picking up some more tools. Yesterday I went to a local estate auction and scored some serious tools. I saw the auction on AuctionZip a few days ago, but they only had a couple of pictures of a few tools. When I arrived at the auction and took a look around, I nearly crapped myself when I saw all the tools that were sitting on the tables.

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I have a blast at auctions as you can see with my winnings. I always try to remain reasonable and not get too carried away with my bidding. Fortunately, there weren’t a lot of tool collectors at the auction, so I was able to buy a whole bunch. In fact, most of the time I was bidding on several tools at once in one box.

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At the end of the day, I brought all the tools down to my basement and tried to calculate how many tools I actually bought. I had to separate the good tools from the junk that was packed in the boxes. I won a about a dozen junky block plane beds that ended up in the garbage can.

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In the end, I bought over 150 tools with nearly 100 planes. I’ll be busy over the next few months cleaning all these babies up.

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My first winning bid was for a box of steel wool for $8.00. I use a lot of steel wool when cleaning tools and I’m sick of buying those little packs for $5.00 at Lowe’s. I should have enough steel wool here to last me a couple of years.

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Probably the best buy of the day was this old BedRock 605 plane. It should be cleaned up and for sale in a few weeks.

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User vs Collectible Stanley Planes

Sometimes I’ll see people ask the simple question on woodworking forums on whether or not an old plane they picked up at a garage sale is worth anything. While chances are it’s worth what they paid for it, every once in a while they found a real gem. The key is finding out what Type of Stanley plane you have.

About twenty years ago Roger K Smith wrote a Type Study on the different features of Stanley planes through the years.  It was originally printed in Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America Volume I and then later used in John Walter’s book Antique and Collectible Stanley Tools Guide to Identity and Value. Unfortunately both books are out of print and tough to acquire but fortunately for us, some people have uploaded the info to the internet. Below is one of the links. http://www.tooltrip.com/tooltrip9/stanley/stan-bpl/bailey-types.htm

This Type Study is considered to be the most accurate information to date on the manufacturing of Stanley planes, however it should be noted that Stanley Works never built planes based on these Type Studies. They simply build planes with whatever parts they had lying around. So it is quite possible to have a plane that fits all the criteria of a certain Type Study but may have a part or two with an earlier or later Type to it.

Below are two Stanley No 5 planes that to an untrained eye, may look quite similar to one another but are worlds apart as far as value. The plane on the left is a Type 2 which was made from 1869-1872. The one on the right is a Type 13 made from 1925-1928.

The easiest way to tell if your plane is collectible or not is to see if there is a lateral adjustment on the frog. Planes without this lever are known as Prelateral planes. There are four Type Studies that were Prelateral planes, Type 3 being the most rare. If you come into contact with a Type 3 plane, don’t do anything to it. It’s gold to tool collectors.

The second easiest way to see if you have a collectible Stanley plane is to see where the round hole on the plane’s blade is. If it’s on top like the blade on the left, it’s a Prelateral plane blade. Why Stanley changed the position of the hole from the top to the bottom, I have no idea. The hole is there to put the cap iron nut through the blade without having to fully remove it. Seems like a silly feature  to me but that’s just me. Every plane blade ever made has this feature so I’m obviously missing something.

Another feature that distinguishes really old Stanley planes from the users is the lever cap. If your lever cap is solid without any recesses, it’s rare. I guess metal was a precious commodity back then and every ounce counted. Do the solid lever caps work better? I doubt it. It’s just a lever cap.

The fourth feature that separates the collector from the user is the brass adjustment knob in the back of the frog. I guess Stanley was trying to save money anyway they could back in the 1870’s and putting a recess in the adjustment knob saved them $.001 in brass. But hey, $.001 was a lot of money back then.

A fifth major feature is the shape of the tote. It was still being made out of rosewood but the shape on later Stanley’s became more streamed line. Stanley probably heard complaints from customers about the totes being uncomfortable so they redesigned  the shape. But that’s my guess. It wasn’t cost savings because they didn’t switch to birch hardwood until the 1940’s.

Now it’s your call of you want to use one of these old planes in your shop on a day-to-day basis. All I know is I sold the Type 2 on eBay for $175.00 while the Type 13 commonly goes for $40.00. With the economy the way it is today, if I had an old collectible Stanley plane, I’d sell it and buy a later version with a little bit more bells and whistles for a quarter of the price and fill up my truck with a tank of gas and take my wife out for dinner with the remainder of the money.

Making crown molding with a complex molding plane

While in the process of building a Bourdonnais French style bookcase I needed to make some crown molding for the top.

I wasn’t about to go out and spend money on some pre-made crown molding. That would be the easy way out. I have a boat load of antique molding planes in my shop, so I decided to put one of those bad boys to use.

The first step in make making crown molding is to get the stock prepared. I ripped a couple of pieces of straight grained poplar 5/8″ x 2″ x 6′ long. It’s important to get wood with grain as straight as possible to avoid tear out caused by the plane’s blade.

I then chopped off a section of one of the boards to use as a test piece. Placing the piece in my sticking board, I began running my molding plane over the board to create the Roman ogee profile. After a few strokes, the shape was completed in about five minutes. By the way, my sticking board is similar to the one based off of Jim Toplin’s in the book “The New Traditional Woodworker” by Popular Woodworking Books.

The next step is to create the angles on the board so that is works as crown molding on the case. I took the board over to the table saw and set the blade to 30 degrees. Once I set the fence to the proper location, I ran the board through and then flipped the board over to rip off the same 30 degree angle off the other end of the board.

I then took the molding back to the bench to finalize the profile. I used a block plane and just knocked off the top corner. This corner should be 90 degree to the 30 degree angle cut on the table saw so that it will lay on the case properly. (It’s really helpful to have a small sample piece of crown molding laying around so that you can use all the angles on the molding as a template for your piece).

Once the profile has been completed, a light sanding with 120 grit sand paper helps clean up any chatter left by the molding plane. I use a styrofoam sanding sponge and some sticky sand paper to sand the profile.

After sanding the only thing left to do is attach it to the case. Always make more molding than you need. There may and will be parts of the molding where the plane falls out of line a little bit and the profile won’t match the rest of the board. You simply cuts those parts off and use the rest.

Making a Roubo Style Workbench Part 5 – revisited

Well the bench is all done. I am really happy the way it has turned out. A few mistakes here and there but it’s just a workbench so in time it will be beaten to pieces anyway.

I finished up the base cutting through mortise and tenons through the front and back legs for the side stretchers. The front and back stretchers I cut slot dovetail joints so it won’t rack from front to back. No where on the bench (other than the top) did I use any glue. If and when I move out of my house, I need to be able to disassemble it and carry it out of my basement.

After the base was built I had to focus my attention back onto the legs. A couple of the legs split  down the sides as they were drying in my basement. I cut some 3/4″ thick butterfly keys out of red oak and pounded them into place. I then took some polyurethane glue and poured into the cracks to help stabilize the material. Honestly, I  don’t think the poly glue did anything other than make me feel better as I hear polyurethane glue doesn’t have any gap filling properties anyway.

On the bench leg that I installed my leg vise on, I needed to cut out and insert a southern yellow pine wedge. ACQ lumber is very corrosive to metal and because my leg vise hardware is made out of cast iron, I needed to insert a wedge so it wouldn’t corrode. I attached the wedge to the leg with wax coated screws designed for the ACQ lumber.

Once the bench was put together, I applied some deck stain to the base and then worked on the accessories like the crochet, the deadman, leg vise jaw and the drawer. On the curves of the crochet and deadman, I used my Stanley #113 circular plane. The plane’s bed can flex to a concave as well as a convex shape with the turning of a screw on top of the plane. I planed both sides of the crochet with ease however, you could also do this with an oscillating spindle sander if you don’t own one of these planes.


When I originally drew the bench, I didn’t incorporate a drawer. My old bench had a tool tray where I laid my bench dogs and hold fasts in. The tray worked fine but every time I planed or sawed something, the bench would rack and the tools in the tray would vibrate annoying me. It was only after I built the bench, that I realized that there was no way for this bench to rack, so I quickly built a drawer 12″ long x 3″ tall x 16″ deep. Even though in the picture the drawer looks like it’s in the way of the deadman, it can be pushed back so that the deadman can slide by.

I drilled 3/4″ holes down the front of the bench top for my bench dogs. In the back I drilled four 5/8″ holes to accommodate my hold fasts. I made they hold fasts while taking a blacksmith class from Don Weber in Paint Lick, KY in January. He showed me how to take an old car spring, heat it up, hammer it straight, then pound the pad and bend the curve to make a hold fast with incredible holding power. Spring steel hold fasts work far better than the cheap cast iron ones you find in woodworking stores because the steel has the ability to flex. The class was a lot of fun and Don is an honory gentleman filled with Welsh chair bodging and blacksmithing knowledge. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to take his Tool Making for Woodworkers class in April.

After the bench was complete, I applied a coat of shellac to the top. It gave it some protection but also it raised the grain a little bit so that the top wouldn’t be so slick. Having a top with a little bit of grip is a good thing so tools won’t slide off.

Using the Emmert Pattermakers Vise

Some people say that owning a pattermaker vise for cabinet work is a little over kill as you will never really need all the versatility that the vise offers. I say, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”. Actually I have found one major advantage of using the vise.

Often the biggest disadvantage of building a bench that is designed low enough for planing is that when it comes to cutting joinery, the work piece is too low making it uncomfortable. Some woodworkers build a smaller bench that sits on top of the bench or simply switch over to a taller work bench when cutting joinery. Because the Emmert vise face can turn 360 degrees, I swing the jaws up making the the top of the jaws 38″ from the floor. Now it’s a lot easier on my back cutting dovetails.

I’m sure there is a lot more useful things I can do with this vise but I’ll need some more time to experiment to find out what they are. I plan on making chairs some day and the jaws ability to angle 10 degrees will come in handy when I’m working with tapered legs.

Making a Roubo Style Workbench Part 3 – revisited

When I went to Woodworking in America Conference in Berea, KY last year I saw Roy’s Roubo bench. The bench’s back legs were splayed out because he had a tool tray at the back. When I went to shake the bench, it was a solid as a rock and I knew right there and then that I wanted to incorporate that feature into my bench even though I didn’t want a tool tray on my bench.

The legs of my workbench are made from 6 x 6 pressure treated post. I planed them down in a surface planer to about 5 1/4″ square as I wanted to remove as much of the wane form the post as I could. After surfacing them, I check to see how square the legs actually were. It turns out they weren’t square at all but rather each one was a rhombus. So I took each leg over to the jointer and squared one side to a face then returned to the planer to true them up to 5″ square.

I measured the back legs by laying a framing square flush to the top of the leg and measuring up 90 degrees to the top to mark where the leg hit 33 on the tape measure.

Now I was ready to cut them to length. The bench will be 33″ tall so the two front legs will be 33″ long since they will protrude through the top. I cut each leg using my circular saw flipping it at each pass and cleaning up the end using my low angle jack plane. I measured the back legs by laying a framing square flush to the top of the leg and measuring up 90 degrees to mark where the leg hit 33″ on the tape measure. I cut the leg to size with a pass on each side finishing up in the middle with a handsaw.

Back leg tenons are 2x 3x 4 long and are cut at a 20 degree angle. 

Bench top is upside down. Layout the mortises as accurately as possible.

I used a bevel gauge to align my drill and cut out the mortise with a 1 1/4 forstner bit. Drill half way through then flip the top over and finish.

I then laid out the tenons and cut them to size with my bandsaw finishing it up with my handsaw and chisels. Once I made the tenon I laid out the mortise on the bottom of my bench top. I used a 1 1/4″ forstner bit and drilled several holes at a 20 degree angle. Then I flipped the top over and finished the mortise from the other side. I pared to the line with chisels until the tenon slipped into the mortise with ease.

Once the back legs were cut, I laid out the rising dovetail on the front legs and cut to the lines using a back saw and trimmed to the line with a chisel. I then laid out the dovetailed mortise on the bottom and top of my workbench top and cut on the waste side of the line with a backsaw. Then I chopped away the center with chisels the same way you would chop out the waste material on a half blind dovetail joint. The trick in making a rising dovetail work is for the ability of the top of the dovetail to fit at the back end of mortise on the bottom (if that makes any sense). In order to truly understand it, you need to read Roy’s book “The Woodwright’s Guide; Working with Wedge and Edge” where he describes the joint far better than I can. I read over the details of the rising dovetail in the book but it wasn’t until I actually tried to make the joint did I fully understand how it is done. The best thing about the joint is that it looks impossible when you see it for the first time. The joint can not slide down nor can it pull out due to the double dovetails. The trick is the joint drops down at an angle.

Once all the joints were cut, I fitted them in the mortises and examined how well each leg was level with one another. Luckily they all lined up fairly well. Then, I flipped the bench over to see how well it sat on the floor. There was a little bit of rocking due to my basement floor not being level but when I cut the through mortises in the legs and temporarily fit the side stretchers, the bench became a lot sturdier. Next, I’ll work on the base and install a shelf to hold my air cleaner.

Disclaimer: Some people may be apprehensive working with pressure treated lumber since it contains the harsh chemicals ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary). If you’re uncomfortable working with pressure treated lumber, don’t use it. The main reason I decided to use it was for the additional weight it would give to the base. While building the base I did no sanding so there was no airborne dust present. In fact the only time I experienced any dust from the ACQ pressure treated lumber was when I emptied my dust collector bag from my surface planer.

I used to work for a pressure treated lumber company and have been exposed to CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate) which was supposedly more volatile than ACQ due to the arsenate in the material. I handled CCA lumber on a daily basis for years yet I experience no side effects. I also experienced no side effects from handling the ACQ lumber i.e.; rashes, sneezing, congestion, etc. while building this bench as well as building my deck a few years ago. However that doesn’t mean you won’t. Use your best judgment if you decide to use pressure treated lumber.

As far as being in constant contact with the ACQ lumber, I believe it will be minimal at best. My top is built with regular southern yellow pine which is where I will be doing much of the handling of the bench. The base will just sit there undisturbed. I will have very minimal contact touching the base for any reason.

Making a Roubo Style Workbench Part 2 – revisited

Well after letting the wood acclimate and dry in my shop for about a month, I finally had the time to assemble the top. I took each board and planed them down to 1 1/4″ thick. Be prepared to have a boat load of shavings coming from your planer. I ended up filling four garbage cans with planer shavings. After surface planing, I straightened the boards the best I could with my transitional jointer. The boards were just too long for me try to joint them over my 6″ motorized jointer so I clamped each one to the bench and did it with a hand plane. It didn’t take that long at all and honestly I wasn’t looking for a perfectly straight edge anyway. I just wanted to get rid of the crook in the board so I could rip them to size on the tablesaw. After each board was ripped to 4 1/4″ wide, I laminated them into sections using five boards per section. The shorter part of the bench was laminated with seven boards.

After each section was dry, I ran them through the surface planer and planed them to 4″ thick. Then I glued two sections together. After that section dried, I glued the third. Then when that dried I glued the forth (you get the idea). I did my best to dry fit and line up the sections to minimize any hand planing once the top was formed. However, even after all the careful planning, I still ended up with an 1/8″ bow in my top. I’m not entirely sure why that was but if I had to guess, I say the bowing of my pipe clamps played a part. I’ve always heard of the limitations of pipe clamps and I think I found one of them. Clamping this massive behemith of a top was no easy task. I had to apply an extreme amount of pressure to get each section to bond tightly with one another. It was times like these where I wished I owned twice the amount of pipe clamps!

Once the top was glued together I grabbed my Stanley No 8C jointer and No 5C fore plane and went to town. I planed across and diagonal to the grain to level out the top as easily as possible. The 5C worked well to remove a lot of stock quickly. The No 8 was effective in leveling the high and low spots. Periodically I would check my progress with a straight edge (the side of my No 8 plane) and plane where necessary. I also used winding sticks to make sure the top did not twist from one end to the other. It took me an hour and forty five minutes to plane down the entire top but the funny thing was that I actually enjoyed all the planing.

Next I’ll make the legs and build the frame. I’ll keep you posted.

My Tool Cabinet is Ten Years Old

Ten years ago I finished up my tool cabinet that I built based off of Greg Radley’s tool cabinet in the Taunton Press’s book “The Toolbox Book”. Made out of red oak and walnut the cabinet stands 77″ high by 32″ wide and has served me well over the years but has repeatedly taken on a different look inside.

As you can see, when it was done in 2001, it stored a modest amount of tools. I had a few saws and chisels with a small amount of hand planes. The cabinet was complete but to me it was somewhat bare inside.

Fast forward ten years and you can see the transformation it has taken. A lot of the tools are still in the same place but a lot more have been added.

Today the cabinet stores a lot more hand planes. A symbol of my expanding woodworking knowledge. As my skills increased over the years, so too has my collection of specific hand tools. Today I understand the difference between using one type of plane versus another so my collection of old planes has grown. I’ve added scraper planes, rabbet block planes, infill smoothers, low angle bench planes, beading planes, specialized spokeshaves, microplane rasps, etc….

I usually update the tool cabinet about once a year pulling out tools I don’t use very much and hanging up tools that I will use more frequently. Removing old tools from the cabinet is no easy task as I am often left with the scars of where the old tools use to be. Cleaning out the cabinet you can see old holes where pegs once stood, ripped veneer where the block of wood holding up a tool tore of the face of the plywood and mis-tinted stain as I forgot what color stain I used to originally finish the oak.This is one of the reasons I used red oak for the carcass of the cabinet. Had I used a more expensive wood like cherry or mahogany, I would have been too apprehensive to change the design of the interior ruining perfectly good wood.

Today I use a lot of rare earth magnets to hold up tools and keep them in place. It’s far easier to drill a hole and super glue a magnet in it than to design some sort of holding system to hold up a tool. I wish I would have used rare earth magnets ten years ago when I designed the interior. It would have made it a lot easier to redesign the interior.

How the cabinet will look ten years from now is anyones guess. I will never call the cabinet complete. To me, this tool cabinet is like a website, it’s never done just updated with more usable content.