Oddball Smoothing Plane

I bought this plane on eBay this week. Probably the first plane I bought on the bay in two years. The seller said it was marked 904 and was similar to a Stanley No 2 plane. When I opened the box, I immediately saw that it was actually the size of a No 4 plane. It’s my fault for not paying closer attention to the pictures and not doing my research. I looked over the plane and saw no makers mark of any kind. To me, it looked like it was made by the Sargent Tool Co.

When I took the plane apart, I saw that the frog on the plane was identical to early Stanley Bedrock plane. I knew it wasn’t a Bedrock because it would say “Bedrock” on the bed. The only other plane company that made planes that I knew of that had a Bedrock style of frog was Vaughan & Bushnell but all their planes had flat side walls similar to Bedrock planes.

The lateral adjustment had a twist on the top. It reminded me of a Sargent plane but I don’t think Sargent ever made planes with a Bedrock style of frog.

The back of the frog was similar to all other Bailey style planes on the market back in the day. The one thing I noticed was that the threaded rod for the brass knurled nut was really long like that of an Ohio Tool Co plane. Was this an Ohio Tool Co plane?

The only identification mark on the plane was 904 on the chip breaker. Since I thought it was a Sargent or Ohio Tool Co plane, I researched “904” for each company and came up empty. Sargent’s No 4 size planes were labeled 409 not 904.

The blade had no marking on it. The only unique feature it had has a polygram shaped hole at the bottom. So, I went back to Vaughan & Bushnell and searched “904”. Sure enough, I found an early example on the internet of a Vaughan & Bushnell No 904 with round sides. Mystery solved. Why Vaughan & Bushnell didn’t mark their planes is anybody’s guess but mine would be that they sold their planes to hardware companies who would then label the plane under their own brand name. Similar to that of companies who use to make tools and sold it to Sears to be sold under the Craftsman brand. Maybe this plane was packaged in a box with the hardware store’s brand on it.

I sharpened the blade and put it to use. After a quick honing, the plane performed well. It’ll make a nice user however, I’m still kind of pissed it was sold as a number to 2 size plane. I overpaid for it but that’s my fault.

My $1.00 Plane

A couple of weekends ago, I went on the World’s Longest Yard Sale on US 127 looking for old tools and other things to sell. Sunday, I ran across a guy selling junk just north of Cincinnati and saw this plane on a table. The guy told me that his prices were negotiable so I asked what he wanted for this plane. He told me $2.00, but I countered that I would give him a buck for it and he accepted. I really didn’t need it, but I wanted to buy something during the day. The blade was marked Van Camp which I believe was a hardware store back in the day however, the plane was more likely made by the Sargent Tool Company.

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Every time I restore a tool, I start by sticking the parts in a tub of water with a cup of citric acid. I let the parts soak for about an hour and then wipe them clean once I take them out of the solution.

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I took the time to fettle the bed since the plane’s body was so small. Honestly, I don’t think the bed was that bad to deserve to be fettled, but I was in the mood. I went through a series of wet sand paper grits, from 220 to 500 to 1000 grit.

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You can see the smoothness of the bed when shown through the light. The bed doesn’t have to be completely free of pitting, just flat enough from front to back.

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After the bed was fettled, I soaked all the parts of the plane with my custom solution of mineral oil, orange oil, and melted bees-wax.

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Next, I sharpened the blade by using my Tormek sharpening system and a set of water stones. I was able to shave the hairs on my arm with this blade.

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All tuned up, the plane takes nice curly shavings. Not bad for a buck.

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For years I used this squirrel tailed plane. It works okay but the shavings are not that clean and it’s a pain in the ass to set properly with the screw and cap.

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You can see the difference when you flip the two over. The area of the mouth is a lot tighter on my buck plane than the squirrel tail plane. The tight mouth keeps the wood fibers pressed down just until they hit the edge of the blade giving me a nicer shaving.

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My new plane still fits nicely in the holder where my old squirrel tailed plane sat. Maybe I should have given the guy $2.00. haha

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