The Worst Plane Blade

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.

Repairing a Rosewood Knob

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.

Stanley No 5 1/4 Plane

A few weeks ago, I stopped by an antique store in New Paris, OH across the state line from Richmond, IN and bought a Stanley No 5 1/4 plane strictly for the parts. The plane was missing the blade and lever cap but the price was right so I took it home.

When I cleaned up the plane a little bit, I noticed it was stamped Cincinnati Public Schools. I thought that was pretty cool since I live in Cincinnati, even though I went to Sycamore High School and not CPS. After thinking about it, a light bulb went off in my head.

I’ve owned this Stanley No 5 1/4 ish plane for years however, the plane is not marked 5 1/4 on the bed. I think it was either a Four Square plane or maybe a plane that came with a tool cabinet kit. I use it from time to time and it works well, it just sucks that it’s brazed on one side. I’m not sure where that lever cap came from as it looks like a transitional plane lever cap.

I ended up deciding to take the blade and lever cap from the old plane and put it on my new 5 1/4 plane and keep this one in my tool cabinet bidding the old brazed bed goodbye. After I cleaned all the parts, the plane came out pretty nice.

I used the plane right away to see how it cut. It worked okay but I decided to see if the bed needed to be fettled so I gtabbed some sandpaper and an old window sill to act as a surface plate and went to work.

After several minutes of fettling and changing the grits, I was happy with the outcome. Some people fettle their beds until there are no pits left on the bed and it obtains a mirror finish, but I don’t have the patience for that. As long as the front of the bed, the front and back of the mouth, and the back of the bed are co-planer I’m happy.

I went back to the board to see how the plane cuts and it works like a dream. Now I have a new Stanley No 5 1/4 with the provenance from my back yard.

Some people may wonder what the intended purpose of a 5 1/4 plane is, and for that, I’m not entirely sure. It’s a little too big to excel as a good smoother and a little too small to be a good jack plane. If I had to guess, I think Stanley made this size plane as well as a No 2 size plane for kids. Kid’s hands are much smaller than adults so smaller planes work well for them. The fact that this plane was marked Cincinnati Public Schools, it was more likely used by little kids in shop class. Nevertheless, I still enjoy using this plane in case one of my other planes is not set up right or it’s blade is dull.

Nicest Compliment I ever Received

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.

The Encyclopedia of Shaker Furniture

Yesterday I went to an antique show in Columbus, Ohio when I stumbled upon this book in one of the booths. When I first saw it, I thought the book was huge so, I browsed through it to see what was in it.

After looking through the pages for a few minutes and seeing the book originally sold for $125.00, I decided the $20.00 the guy wanted for it was too good to pass up.

I’ve had several books on Shaker furniture over the years, but none are as comprehensive as this one. The first 85 of 576 pages in this book goes into detail of how the Shakers came to be, their daily life, the tools and practices they used, and the different types of furniture each community made. There were over twenty different Shaker communities during the 18th and 19th century with a few of them only lasting a few years. The book talks about the different design and building practices the Shakers brought to their community as no one was born a Shaker. When you compare the furniture of one community to another, you can see suttle design differences between the two.

There must be over 1000 pictures of furniture along with the dimensions and descriptions of each piece. If nothing else, it makes an excellent reference book on Shaker design.

The book is so nice, it’s no wonder why it still sells for over $100 on eBay and Amazon. If you can find one that’s affordable, get it, you’ll be glad you did.

Here is the Introduction from the author himself to get a better understanding of the book’s purpose.

Lie-Nielsen vs Stanley No 140 Plane

Apparently, Hell has frozen over as I bought a Lie-Nielsen plane. I never thought I would own one as restoring old Stanley’s is my gig but, I found this at an antique mall and couldn’t resist even though I already own a Stanley No 140 Rabbet Plane.

The two planes are very similar to eachother with the biggest difference is that L-N is a low angle plane. The other differences is that L-N has a thicker blade made from A2 tool steel, a cutter on the side to slice the wood fibers when using it across the grain, and a fence. This plane’s fence was missing so, I contacted Lie-Nielsen to see if a replacement fence could be bought. They told me to send them a picture of the plane to make sure it is the current version they produce. After they saw the picture I sent, they informed me that their fence probably won’t work as my plane is the earlier version. Oh well, I never wished my Stanley No 140 had a fence so maybe I would never use it anyway.

The planes are nearly identical in size as well, with Lie-Nielsen being a touch smaller. However, the Lie-Nielsen is a little bit heavier since it’s made of bronze as opposed to cast iron. The Lie-Nielsen feels much nicer in your hand. You can tell the difference in quality between the two as soon as you hold it.

I wanted to see the difference of how each plane cuts, so I grabbed a piece of white pine and chopped a rabbet on the end. I then planed the rabbet clean with each plane.

The Lie-Nielsen cut extremely well as it shaved the wood fibers like butter. Lie-Nielsen planes are extremely well made and worth the extra money if you’re not interested in restoring old Stanley planes.

My tuned up Stanley No 140 also cut the wood fibers well. Not quite as nice as Lie-Nielsen but well enough to get the job done. You can see the shavings between the two planes are nearly identical. My Stanley No has user made bronze lever cap. It works so I never replaced it with a real lever cap. I’m cheap!

So, which is better? Lie-Nielsen wins hands down however, the price of the plane is nearly triple than that of a Stanley No 140 plane. You can find old Stanley No 140’s on eBay for around $100-150. Lie-Nielsen lists their No 140 for $385 on their website but is currently out of stock. Some used Lie-Nielsen No 140 planes have sold on eBay for over $500.

Whether or not the Lie-Nielsen is worth the extra money is up to you. Honestly, if I was a professional woodworker, I would buy Lie-Nielsen planes and depreciate their expense on my income statements. Being able to depreciate your tools is one of the nice benefits of being a pro. It’s no wonder why Lie-Nielsen tools are on backorder.

I Did It! Quercus Magazine

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.

Wooden Router Plane

Several months ago, I bought an old wooden router at an antique store for $20. The price tag said it was a Japanese woodworking tool. I guess it could be if a Japanese guy used it. Looked like a home made wooden router plane to me. I bought the tool simply for the hardware, and the Stanley router bit it that came with it.

I search online and came up with a wooden router plan and printed it out. Then I measured, drew, and bore the three holes for the body on a piece of 2″ thick cherry.

A few minutes on the band saw I had the new body of the router.

The hardest part in making the body was cutting the mortise for the blade holder. I jabbed at the wood with chisels, knives and drill bits in order for the piece to fit. I ended up getting the piece in the hole and then tightening in the back in order to crush the wood fibers into shape. It took a few attemps, but after a few minutes, it finally fit.

Once the hardware was in, I stuck the blade back in to see how the final fit. Once I was satisfied, I sanded the body and applied a few coats of shellac to it.

The last thing I needed to do was sharpen the blade. The easiest way I have found to sharpen a router plane blade is to grind a bevel on an oscillating spindle sander making sure to take a light touch in order to prevent burning the edge of the cutter. Then, I hone the edge and flatten the back with a whetstone.

I stuck the blade back into the router to see how it cuts. Cuts like butter!

If you’re in the market for a router plane, take a look at the wooden versions. They are much cheaper than their metal counterparts as some of their prices fetch up to $150. I see wooden router planes all the time at antique shows for around $40. They work pretty much the same way, they just don’t have the adjustment mechanism to raise and lower the blade. With a little practice, you can easily tap the blade down with a hammer to lower the blade for the next cut.

Repairing a Stool

Back in the summer, my wife bought a stool for $5.00 at an antique show. I honestly forget which show it was as we go to one every weekend. The stool was in decent shape, it just had a broken rung which is why it was only $5.00. She asked if it could be fixed and I told her I could fix it pretty easily.

The first thing I did was clean out the hole the rung sat in with small drill bits and awls. I then cleaned up a bit of the glue residue with a small wire brush.

I needed a rung that was 3/4″ in diameter so I grabbed my shaving horse and went to work. I hardly use this thing so anytime I get a chance, I jump on it. Shaving horses are a blast to use.

I used my drawknife and spoke shave to get close to the final diameter, then I used a scrap piece of wood with a 3/4″ hole to check final dimension. I could have just bought a 3/4″ dowel, but where’s the fun in that?

I removed the rung from the other side of the chair to determine the length my piece needed to be. I then glued and installed the rungs back into the chair while using strap clamps to hold everything tight while the glue dried.

The seat needed to be reglued a bit as well so some glue and clamps did the trick. When everything was dry, the stool was sturdy as a rock.

I thought Anita might have painted the stool, but she decided to keep it natural. She didn’t even stain the new rung dark to match the other rungs. The stool looks nice as a plant stand and for $5.00, I’m not complaining.

Jorgensen Compound Miter Box

A few months ago I was browsing through my local thrift store when I stumbled upon this miter box. I’ve seen hundreds of miter boxes in my day, but this was the first handtool compound miter box I had ever seen.

It’s a Jorgensen No 64020 Compound Miter Box made during the 1980’s or ’90’s in complete condition with its original instruction sheet. The price at $15 was too good to pass up so I brought it home to play with it.

The miter box appeared to be well made with smooth action on the vertical axis swing, wood support, repetive cut stop, and a hold down clamp. After figuring out how the tool worked, I was excited to put it to use.

I grabbed a piece of pine and randomly set the angles on the vertical and horizontal axes and gave it a go. After a few minutes of cutting, I was finally able to cut the piece off. The blade is either dull or the teeth are set so fine, that it easily binds in the wood. I measured the teeth on the blade and they’re 20TPI. I’m thinking that maybe this tool was meant to cut woods like balsa for model airplane building.

I went online to find a replacement blade, but unfortunately they are no longer made. Craftsman makes a 16″ long replacement blade but this one is 24″. I guess I could make a new out out of old miter box saw blade and use this one as the template. That may be a fun thing to try someday.

So right now, it sits underneath one of my workbenches out of the way collecting dust. What a shame! It looks like a really cool miter box that would come in handy for cutting intricate molding that would be too dangerous to perform on a powered miter box.