Last weekend was the Springfield Extravaganza. It’s one of my favorite antique shows that happens in May and September in Springfield, Ohio. The fairgrounds is full with over 2000 dealers selling all sorts of antiques and the occasional junk. I look forward to it as much as the World’s Longest Yard Sale up and down US127 in August.
Luckily, I found some planes this time at the show. Many times in the past, I would only be able to pick up a Stanley plane or two, but this year, the Antique Tool Gods were with me as I ended picking up almost ten Stanley planes. None are exceptionally rare but all will make nice users. In fact, the rarest plane I bought was a Union X6 vertical post plane.
Ironically, the only tools I bought this weekend were planes. I was looking for drills, chisels and saws but there weren’t too many available. The one saw I had an interest in was a Disston Thumbhole D8 rip saw that was in a barrel with 50 other saws. When I asked the guy what he wanted for it, he replied “$50 per saw, unless you want all of them, then they’re $7.00 each.” I quickly put the saw back and walked away.
I’ll spend the next few weeks cleaning my planes up, but I’m not too sure how long that’ll take me as I just started my new job today (I got promoted) as I may end up working more hours with this new gig than I did before. However, I’m optimistic I’ll get back in the shop soon.
You can follow me on Instagram to see how the planes end up looking. I’ll remove the rust and sharpen the blades so that they can be put back to work. In fact, I just posted a couple of pictures of a Stanley No 71 Router Plane I restored after finding it at a yard sale earlier this month.
Every once in awhile I’ll come across a plane blade that is so heavily pitted and corroded, the best thing to do is to simply throw it away. This blade that came off a Stanley No 6 plane was no different. The problem was that I didn’t have a replacement blade to go with the plane I was restoring, so I was forced to see if I could get the blade to work again.
The first thing I did was take the blade over to my 8″ speed grinder and grind the face and back of the blade to remove the corrosion. I paid special attention not to heat the blade up too much so, I occasionally cooled it off in a bucket of water. Fortunately, the blade’s face had about a 1/4″ of metal at the bottom that wasn’t pitted, so I was hopeful I could still get a good edge out of it.
I took the blade over to my Tormek and ground a 25 degree bevel on it and honed the face flattler on the side of the Tormek grinding wheel the same way as I did with my 8″ speed grinder.
After the grinding was finished, I took the blade over to my water stones and sharpened it just as I do with any other blade. When I was done, there was a clean line of light at the tip of the cutting edge so I was hopeful it could achieve a nice cut.
Placing the blade back into the plane, I tuned it up, and sure enough, this crappy blade cut pretty well. I took out my dial calipers, and the shavings measured .002″ thick. The blade will eventually need to be replaced, but at least the plane can function properly now.
The plane performed so nicely, I used it to flatten my workbench.
Sometimes when buying a plane, all the parts will be in good shape until you look at the front knob and see a big chunk missing from the bottom. I’ve repaired dozens of totes over the years, but I’ve never really tackled a knob as it looked like a big pain in the ass. So, I decided to give it a go and see how it turns out.
The first thing I did was shave the broken area smooth with a bastard file. It didn’t have to be completely clean, just good enough to hold some glue.
Then I took a piece of cocobolo scrap wood and glued it to the surface of the break. I paid careful attention to the orientation of the grain so the repair would look nicer. I used Gorilla Super Glue Gel as it works well gluing all type of rosewood woods together.
Once the glue dried, I cut off the excess with a dovetail saw and shaved the thick areas away with some chisels and gouges.
I wanted to shape the new area perfectly round with the rest of the knob so I created a little holding jig to be used on my lathe.
I measured the inside diameter of the knob’s mounting hole with inside calipers and transferred that measurement unto outside calipers, then turned a tenon to the measurement. Then I stuck the knob onto the tenon and stabalized the top of the knob with the lathe live center point.
With the knob spinning nice and true, I carefully used a round scraper and gently turned the new piece of wood concentric with the knob. After a few minutes, and a little bit of sanding, the knob was finished.
I noticed that the knob had split just a little bit while it was turning, so I applied more super glue gel to the bottom of the knob to stabalize the wood.
The final step was to apply a couple coats of shellac to the knob and stick it back on the plane. Because the piece of cocobolo was a little lighter in color than the rosewood, I colored the cocobolo darker with a black Sharpie marker then wiped off the excess with some fine steel wool.
The end result came out fine. The knob looks complete and you can only notice the repair if you really look at it. In fact, the knob on the right was also repaired the same way, and you can hardly see it. Looks like I’ll have to start repairing more knobs from now on.
Last week I received a message in my Instagram messaging page. I’m small potatoes on Instagram as I only have a few thousand followers, so I don’t get many messages. The ones I do get, the majority of them are some sort of spam bullshit trying to hack my account, so I usually don’t pay much attention to them.
However this time, the message was from one of my followers. Johnson21800 sent me a couple of pictures of his Great Grandad’s Stanley No 32 Jointer Plane. He said he was so inspired by my posts on restoring tools, he decided to restore his Great Grandad’s plane.
Here’s the plane all cleaned up and restored. I think Peter does a better job than I do!
The fact that Peter would send me pictures of his plane that he restored after watching my feed humbles me. It makes feel good inside that I inspire people to restore and use these old tools that just sit around collecting dust. It’s pretty much the reason I post so many antique tools on Instagram.
Well, I finally wrote an article for a woodworking magazine. It’s called Quercus and it’s based in the UK. I was asked by the editor Nick Gibbs through Instagram if I would be interested in writing an article about how and why I restore old planes. I jumped at the chance as writing for a woodworking magazine has always been a dream of mine.
I restored an old Stanley No 5 plane and documented my progress, then wrote out my article the same way as I write a blog, then sent him the file along with the pictures. It took a few months for the article to get published but, I’m in the magazine along with Paul Sellers.
When I received my copy, I was amazed by the content that was in it. The magazine features woodworkers from all around the world and their process of how and why they work with wood. There’s not too many “How To” articles and the magazine primarily focuses on hand tool woodworking so, don’t expect an article about “Building the Perfect Router Table” in it. The only other magazine that I would compare to it would be Mortise and Tenon magazine.
This is the plane that I restored for the article. I was planning on selling it, but now it carries sentimental value to me. I asked Nick if he would like for me to do another article but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. This may be a one-off, but maybe not. Maybe I could be a constant contributor to the magazine. Wish me luck.
This past Saturday I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Cincinnati Woodworking Club. I arrived at the church around 9:00 am and Bill, the gentlemen who originally contacted me, told me I’d be the last speaker around 10:45 am. I thought to myself “Oh God, I’m the headliner. I hope I live up to their expectations.” There was about 50-60 people at the meeting which was way more than I thought would be there. I kind of hoped I would only be speaking to around twenty to calm my nerves.
Like any club, the meeting started off with some administrative stuff and talking about building toys for a toy drive. A few members spoke before me demonstrating projects they built or woodworking classes they took. There were a few really nice pieces that members brought in to show off.
I started off talking about how my Grandpa got me into collecting old tools as a kid when he gave me his jewelers drill press. Then I talked about my tool cabinet and how it came to be. I’ve been collecting antique tools since I was a kid and the tool cabinet was born out of necessity as a place where I could store all the old tools I used. When I was young, living at my parents place, my tool collection was on the other side of the basement being displayed on book shelves. I had to walk outside the shop to the other side of the basement in order to pick up a tool I wanted to use. My idea was the tool cabinet would separate my “good” antique tools from my users. I told the audience that my cabinet looks a lot nicer in pictures than it does in person because every time I reorganized the inside, I tore the veneer from the oak plywood where a tool holder was attached to the wood. If you examine the cabinet in person, you’ll see a bunch of tears and mismatched stain where I couldn’t remember which stain color I used the last time.
I then went on and talked a little bit about my work bench and described how it’s based on Chris Schwarz’s benches in the Workbench Book and Roy Underhill’s Roubo bench he built on his show. My bench is a user and is dirty from years of use. Once in awhile, I’ll clean the top off with a hand plane or belt sander just to give me a fresh surface.
Then I started to discuss how I restore old planes. This is a Diamond Edge Jointer I picked up on The World’s Longest Yard Sale this summer. The plane was a good candidate since it was made by the Sargent Tool Company a competitor of Stanley Tools.
Anytime I buy and old tool, I roll the dice that I’ll be able to restore it. Most times I win, but once in a while I’ll buy something that needs additional work. I didn’t notice at the time, but this plane’s yolk broke off the frog and needed to be replace.
Luckily, I had the proper replacement parts in stock from other planes I couldn’t restore. The yolk and the brass adjustment knob from an old Stanley plane worked as replacements.
To fix the frog, I simply punched out the pin that holds the yolk in place and inserted the new yolk, punching the pin back in place to repair the tote. It took literally five minutes. Once the brass adjustment knob was screwed back on, the frog was as good as new.
Once I determined the plane could be restored, I told them I dip all the plane parts in a citric acid bath. I allow the parts to sit in the bath for a couple of hours making sure that they don’t sit too long or I’ll get acid burns on the metal.
Wiping the rust off the metal with a drywall sanding sponge, the plane was looking in good shape and ready to be buffed.
I took the parts outside to use my wire wheel to buff out the metal. I told the audience I have this machine outside because the little wires fly off the wheel. If I use the machine in my shop and this happens, I’ll walk around at night and get a nice little wire stuck to the bottom of my foot. So, outside this thing stays.
I then discussed my tool solution I make to coat my tools. It’s made up of a slice off of a beeswax candle, one part orange oil, and one part mineral oil. I take the slice of beeswax and melt it in a pot on a hot plate. Once the wax is melted I add equal parts of mineral and orange oil and stir it up. The solution works great and works just as well as Kramers Antique Improver for pennies of the price.
This is the plane put back together. If I wanted to just put this thing on my shelf, I would be done but I want to see if I can get this guy to work again.
Here’s the plane blade when I bought it. Many people think that when you buy an old plane, you have to buy a new blade because the old one won’t work anymore. I always try to see if I can get the original one sharp first.
Using my slow speed grinder, I flatten the back of the blade to remove as much of the pitting as I can. I only care about cleaning up 1/4″ of the bottom of the blade as this will be the only part of the blade that needs to be tuned.
Then I use the plane jig and grind a 25 degree bevel to the edge using my Tormek slow speed grinder.
After that, I’ll hone the edge of the blade using 4000 and 12000 grit water stones. At this point, it’s sharp enough to shave the hairs off of my arm.
Setting the cap iron back on the blade about 1/8″ behind the cutter, I stick both back on the plane to see how it cuts. With a little bit of work, I was able to get whisper like shavings from the plane without buying a new blade or even worrying about flattening the bed with sandpaper. I brought the plane with me to the meeting and used it on a scrap piece of poplar to show how the plane performs. I then passed the scrap wood around the audience so that they can see how smooth the plane made the wood.
I told the audience that it basically took me an afternoon to transform the plane to make it work again as it will make a nice user for the next 100 years.
Hopefully, I inspired a few of the them to hunt for old planes to see if they can tune them up themselves. All I know is that I really enjoyed giving my presentation and a few of the members came up to me after the meeting to tell me how much they enjoyed me speak. And no one threw tomatoes at me.
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.
Life has been busy lately with my wife and I working around our house, but I have found some time in the shop to restore planes. Below is what I have listed tonight.
One of the planes I have for sale is this Sargent No 4 1/2C . Nice and hefty, it will perform well in the shop.
Ohio Tool CO No O5 1/2C Corrugated Plane is well made and and has a thicker blade than comparable Stanley planes. These Ohio Tool planes are some of the most under appreciated tools in the hand tool world.
I also listed the GTL plane I blogged about last month. It’s a nice plane but I really don’t need it.
The workhorses in most shops are the classic Stanley Bailey planes. I have a few available in my eBay store at reasonable prices.
Since you guys are following my blog, I’m offering a special 15% discount until the end of July only available to my blog followers. You can access the discount by clicking on the link. It’s a simple thank you for following me all these years.
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.
I listed a few tools on Ebay tonight. You can see them here.
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.