Plane Refurbishing

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Barnaby, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    Hey guys...

    Hope you don't mind me posting a thread on this. I thought it might be of interest/use to some. Maybe you have an old plane that needs fixing up, or maybe you want to buy one cheaply and try this. Maybe you want to try it out on a cheaper new plane.

    I think that planes are deeply beautiful tools and something that every aspiring luthier should be able to use. When tuned and sharpened properly, they give a cleaner finish than any power tool, are virtually silent, are extremely satisfying to use and create elegant curls of wood instead of tons of annoying sawdust. They're also very quick - probably more so than power tools in many cases.

    A week or two ago, I bought some planes on eBay. They were older, made in England and a little knocked around. The idea is to refurbish them and get some good tools at the end while learning more about planes in the process.

    Why do it this way? Well, from what I have read, most serious woodworkers spend some time working on their planes whether new or old in order to get them into decent working condition. I'd rather learn on older planes without significant vintage value but good enough to be worth the effort. Here they are:

    The smallest is a block plane by Record - #0120 and about seven inches long. Probably 60s or 70s at a guess, although it could easily be earlier.

    [​IMG]

    Next, a really beautiful Stanley #4 smoothing plane. 1950s, I would guess. Nine inches long and a nice tool.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, the best of the lot from my perspective. This is a #6 jointing plane. Eighteen inches long and post WWII, I'd guess this is a plane from the late 40s.

    [​IMG]

    All three have scored/pitted bases and are a little beat up, but they are also all in decent condition. I plan to get all three tuned over the next week or two and post the process/results on here.

    DISCLAIMER:

    This is the first time I have done this. Take anything I say as a suggestion only, as I'm very, very far from being an expert. I have simply compiled techniques based on the ideas of others and come up with a process that works for me. I would also strongly suggest that you try this on a cheap plane first and have a good look at other people's techniques online. Don't do this stuff to an expensive plane or to a rare vintage model. I would also welcome feedback from experienced plane restorers (if any read this).
     
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  2. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    OK...the first victim is the Record #0120 block plane. This has the advantage of being both the smallest, most common and cheapest of any of them, so, if I ruin it, it's not a tragedy. Still, a good block plane is a treasure, so I hope it goes well.

    Here's the plane's underside. Some deep scoring here!

    [​IMG]

    First off, I disassemble the whole thing and have a good look. I clean and oil the parts. It's a simple, elegant design.

    [​IMG]

    Here are the things I will be using for the bulk of the work - a granite block, some 3M 77 spray adhesive and sandpaper.

    [​IMG]

    Because the scratching is quite deep and the sole is relatively warped, I am starting out with 80 grit. I've read advice to start with anything from 60 to 220, so I'll see how it goes...:hmm:
     
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  3. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    I lean into the work and start to get a nice surface. I check periodically for flatness with a ruler and for trueness with a set square. Slowly but surely, the scratches begin to vanish.

    [​IMG]

    After about thirty minutes or so of careful work, the bottom and sides are now smooth, flat and true. :thumb:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I work now through different grades of paper - 120, 180, 240, 320 and 400. Here I am at 240 grit.

    [​IMG]

    You can see the parts I am working on laid out. Once I get to 240, I start on the blade and the chipbreaker edge (integrated into the handle). I want the latter flat against the top of the blade to eliminate possible chatter. It actually has crappy enamel paint on it, so I anticipate this making a much better mating surface. The blade will be worked on the paper at 25 degrees to get a clean edge. I'll put in a 30 degree secondary bevel on the waterstones.

    I should also mention that I periodically wipe everything down with oil to protect it as I work. It's a hot day and a drop of sweat on a newly sanded surface could really mess it up!
     
  4. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    After going through to 400 grit on the plane itself, I turn my attention to the blade. I have flattened it on the paper and made a good, even 25 degree bevel. Now, I polish that on the 1000 stone, then reset to 30 degrees and put in the secondary bevel. I work it until I have a good edge with a slight burr on the back, then take that off.

    [​IMG]

    I switch to 3000, then 6000. Here, I am using something called a nagura stone to create slurry on the waterstone. I was advised to do this by a friend here. It really makes the waterstone cut well. It's like night and day!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Success! I can shave with the edge!!! :dude:

    [​IMG]

    I reassemble the plane and try it out. Immediately, it produces beautiful, paper-thin curls of wood.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    I oil everything up and try some more planing. It cuts well at different depths, leaving a really good surface. For a few dollars and a few hours, I now have a plane that should serve me well for years. I oil it again carefully and put it away with the blade retracted.

    I'm a happy Barnaby right now...:D

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    One other point I should mention when flattening the sole/sides...

    A tip I read was to keep the blade and the rest of the furniture on the plane and tightened up during this process. This means that you are basically replicating the tensions on the base during use. A flat plane untensioned may be slightly different from one with the blade in place.

    Dunno if it's true...but I did it anyway...:D
     
  7. VictOr358

    VictOr358 Senior Member

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    Great tutorial, Barnaby! :thumbs:

    I guess, I gotta check and tune my planes soon, so, you're just in time with another portion of wisdom :applause:
     
  8. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    Thanks, man!

    Hope it's of some use...and that you don't try this and ruin a perfectly good plane. :wow: I would only suggest the 80 grit if there are really deep scratches in the sole. Otherwise, start maybe at 180 or even 220 to be safe. Make sure the surface you use is super, super flat - a granite block, a thick piece of float glass or a metal table saw table are all possibilities.

    Something else worth mentioning is how far you sand in terms of grits. Conventional wisdom states that much over 400 is overkill...and that once you get past a certain point, you are basically begging for the wood to damage the surface you have created. What I did was sanded to 400 and then actually used the StewMac Medium polishing paste on a cloth to polish the steel. Don't know if that's a good idea or not. I cleaned and oiled afterwards in case there was anything in the paste that might damage the metal in the long term.
     
  9. ptate

    ptate V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Got my planes out and checked to make sure they chip and gouge timber like they used to....They're fine....May have to sharpen the blade on one of them so it takes more lumps out of the timber though...:D:naughty:

    Man, anyone that can use a plane correctly, I'm envious of...:applause::thumb:

    I can refurbish the bleeders, but have a propensity to take thick shard-like spikes out of the piece I'm working on....Suppose that's why I use power tools :D
     
  10. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Barn,
    There is surely a sympatico connection here. This is what's on my bench right now :wave:

    [​IMG]


    Yes I can verify that is true. A long time ago I tuned a plane that was disassembled and when I put it back together it went all wacky. Now I always tune them in their normal state of assembly, just with the blade backed off.
     
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  11. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    I make no claims as to being able to use one of the damn things properly...but I'm trying, I'm trying. :thumb:

    I still remember the first time I dragged a plane across some wood. What it did to the surface should be banned by the Geneva convention.

    :applause::applause::applause:

    Serendipitous post of the day! :D

    Glad to hear this - I will always do it this way in future now. :thumb:
     
  12. stmfitr636

    stmfitr636 Senior Member

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    Very nice. I, personally put a very slight camber on most of my irons... moreso on my jacks (which I keep a spare, flatter iron on hand) to keep the corners from digging in and leaving pecker tracks. At the very least, I break the corners a bit.

    You can easily add a hair of camber (or roundness to the edge) by putting finger presssure at the very edges of the iron (while in the honing guide) for a specific number of strokes. Same number of strokes with pressure on the opposite side. Then moving your finger pressure towards the center a bit, a less amount of strokes... repeat on opposite side. Then just a few in the center.

    This can be done on your finest stone just as you are finishing.


    [​IMG]
    Wheras the red X requires 12 strokes the blue X requires 7 strokes and the yellow X requires 4 strokes.

    This is described in detail on Chris Schwarz dvd entitled "Course, Medium and Fine"


    There is a website that can put a date to your planes based on certain things (should you be so inclined):
    The Stanley Bench Plane Page
     
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  13. stmfitr636

    stmfitr636 Senior Member

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    Also, you would be suprized what a scribble of canning wax on the bottom of your plane will do. Hold on tight the first time.

    I have no clue how that may effect finishing... but has none on traditional furniture and any of their finishing techniques. But if you are removing excess material... a swipe on the wax every half dozen srokes or so will work wonders. I use the parrafin wax in the canning section of the grocery store.

    You stuck a chord with this post Barnaby... I have a passion for handtools and am an avid collector/maker and afficianado.
     
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  14. Rex Stallion

    Rex Stallion Junior Member

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    Try finding yourself a low angle blockplane with an adjustable throat. You will be extremely happy with the results.
     
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  15. ievans

    ievans Senior Member

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    If your plane is rusty, a bath of citric acid dissolved in hot water will remove the corrosion. You can find citric acid in health food stores or home-brewer's supply stores--I got a giant bag online for like $8.

    Just take apart the plane, put all the rusty metal parts in the bath, and let it soak overnight. As long as there are small bubbles coming up, the acid is neutralizing the corrosion. After it's done, remove the parts from the bath, then rinse and quickly dry and oil the small parts.
     
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  16. dickjonesify

    dickjonesify Senior Member

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    :applause::h5::cheers::h5::applause:

    :wow::applause::dude::applause::wow:
     
  17. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    Brilliant! I put a slight camber on the block plane blade, but was unsure of the best method to use. This is exactly what I needed to know about sharpening...and I will follow this advice when I do the blades for the next two. :thumb:

    I'll give this a try as well - it would seem to be a great idea. Especially when removing large amounts of material. I am thinking of setting up my no. 5 plane as a scrub plane. It's a cheaper Groz. Therefore, I could use it to remove material more easily and any hassles with the wax would be planed away when the surface is smoothed by the no. 4 or 6.
     
  18. Barnaby

    Barnaby Senior Member

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    I would like to get one for endgrain - I'm thinking it would be good for squaring up the neck heel on guitars. Is there a particular vintage version you would suggest?

    Awesome tip! I'll see if I can get some citric acid here in Japan. It must be possible. That would really help with some of the smaller parts of the parts of the 4 and 6 planes.

    :thumb:
     
  19. Claymore

    Claymore Senior Member

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    Most excellent!
    Had not heard of cambering the irons before - it is now firmly in my bag-o-tricks. (Along with the Vitamin-C bath....)
    Thanks for getting this started Barn - I love my Veritas low-angle block plane, but have my eye out for a vintage jack - if only for joining acoustic tops. Now I know what to do when I get one!

    Rob
     
  20. ihavenofish

    ihavenofish Senior Member

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    in canada we have lee valley, who makes nice high end planes like the ones you have. $200+ for most of em though. i have the low angle smoothing plane with adjustable throat. its awesome. but noone else sold anything but the bottome end crappy stanleys around here.

    the tool store near me has started selling the high end stanley stuff though like what you have there. the have the super long jack plane for about $180. i keep drooling over it :)

    amazing how much a little block of iron and a blade can cost. you are doing well refurbishing these.
     

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