Plane restoration #1: Vintage Stanley/Bailey No 3 SW--first plane ever restored

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Blog entry by Alonso posted 12-26-2009 10:33 AM 24828 reads 2 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Plane restoration series Part 2: Stanley/Bailey No 6 is done!!! »

Ok so the title says it all.

This is my first plane ever restored so I will appreciated any kind of criticism that can help me improve on this endeavor


This blog contains 32 images, I do this to provide as much as detail as possible.

I got a very old ( at least that’s what I can tell from the condition I bought it, can anyone help me to find out how old this plane is by looking at the pictures?) Stanley No 3 on ebay for the incredible price of $7.04 !!! last week.

At first when I got it I thought that I had waste my money on a complete piece of junk!!

The japanning was almost none due to the heavy corrosion I think?

Can you see the gouge on the iron blade!!! it measured almost 1/8” !!!!!!

After evaluating what I had on my hands I decided to take all the parts away and see if anything was on a working condition.

Yes the tote was broken into not 2 but 3 pieces!!!

To my surprise everything seem to be okay but the tote and the gouge on the iron blade, also I had it to figure out how to fix the japanning issue.

I talked to my dad, who is the manager of a company where they process all kind of military and commercial aircraft parts (also call as a “finish house”) They basically do all the finish processes of the aircraft parts such as anodize, cad plating, primer and painting etc.
He told me that he could take the “junk” with him and dedicate someone to strip all the rust and will also give it to one of the painters so he can apply some special paint to work as the japanning.

This is what I got after the “special treatment”

As you can tell from the pictures, all the bolts, washers, chip breaker, iron blade and brass hardware was treat it with a special mix of of nitric/hydrofluoric acid follow with a bath of cad plating to restore some of the “metal look” the main body (the inside area) and the back of the frog were sandblasted, then a flash dip on the alkaline clean bath follow with 1 coat of primer and 2 military grade glossy coats of black paint with baking at 400f for 1/2 hour between coats. To be honest I actually laugh every time I think of having “military grade paint” on such an old woodworking tool but what the heck!! as long as it serve its purpose of protecting the plane from rust its all that matters. Sorry no pictures of all this processes, they are totally prohibited within company premises. :)

All that “special process” took place on Christmas eve

And today after playing for a while with my kids with their new presents I decided to get back on track and do some work on the plane

This is how it look before I lapped the sole, sides and the frog

After a few minutes of lapping the sides I was able to get this result

but that wasn’t enough

Time went by and with the help of my dad who took care of the tote and ball this is the final result and I will say that I’m very pleased with this restoration, now this plane is priceless to me and now I’m ready to start on the No 6 which I will blog it too, on that one I will use evapo-rust, we’ll see how it works. I want to thanks my dad for the great job he did fixing the tote and restoring the beautiful natural color of the wood which was taken care with 4 coats of poly with 320 sanding in between coats.

The gouge on the blade is not longer present and now the blade is scary sharp!!

Just a quick comparison



Thanks for reading and for your criticism too.


-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

25 comments so far

View treeman's profile


208 posts in 4010 days

#1 posted 12-26-2009 10:42 AM

I love these kinds of restorations where a classic tool is saved from the scrap heap and put back in service. You did a great job and I think the plane will return the favor and do a great job for you on future projects.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4383 days

#2 posted 12-26-2009 12:01 PM

This is a nice post, Alonso. I enjoy seeing abused planes like you bought getting a new lease on life. The restoration job that you did on it makes it look better than it did when it was new, I am sure.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View woodworm's profile


14476 posts in 4151 days

#3 posted 12-26-2009 12:51 PM

Great restoration job – very nicely done!
Though the broken handle looks much better now, don’t you want to try to make a new one?

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View gizmodyne's profile


1784 posts in 4651 days

#4 posted 12-26-2009 01:22 PM

It looks much improved. What a great project to work on with your dad.

Since you didn’t mention it, did you work on the chip breaker? If not, make sure the chip breaker is polished and that it meets the iron evenly.

My other thought: I notice a lot of pitting from the rust on the iron. If that extends to the cutting edges of the iron, it will reflect in the cut as an almost serrated surface that will leave tiny scratches on your wood. If you can lap or grind past the pitting to a fresher surface you will solve this. Otherwise you can order a new iron for it.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1590 posts in 4126 days

#5 posted 12-26-2009 01:47 PM

Wow! great looking plane now. Add another to the “saved” list, should be good for a few more generations.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View lumberdog's profile


245 posts in 3828 days

#6 posted 12-26-2009 03:29 PM

I like to see these older tools restored, There is a great lesson to be learned here, in the throw-away society we live in.

-- Lumberdog.. Morley, Michigan

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3657 days

#7 posted 12-26-2009 04:03 PM

It’s interesting that you’ve posted about your plane. I got stopped yesterday with my table project because I needed a dowel from the hardware store and too lazy to improvise, so I decided to resuscitate an old Stanley jack plane I inherited from my father several years back. I had left it out in my garage, as he had done, so it was in sad shape with rust and caked on dirt. I don’t think the blade could have cut warm butter. Now it’s looking and working, pretty spiffy. I never thought to take before/after photos. There are still a couple of boxes of his old tools in the garage. I should dig through them again and see what’s there.

-- John from Hampstead

View DonDA's profile


179 posts in 3792 days

#8 posted 12-26-2009 04:05 PM

A No. 3 was my first restored plane also. It is still my favorite for putting on a fine finish. After evertything is flat with my #7 the 3 makes a piece of wood look just perfect. You sure did a fine job and I hope you enjoy yours as much as I do mine.

-- Don, Saginaw Mi

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3944 days

#9 posted 12-26-2009 05:13 PM

Great job. My first restoration was on a #3 too, but mine wasn’t nearly that old. I believe yours is from the 1920s. The reason I say that is you have what is called the high knob on the front which they started around 1920, not the earlier low one, and you don’t have the raised ring that the knob seats on, which they started around 1930. Here is a link to one of the sites that I used when dating my plane.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3799 days

#10 posted 12-26-2009 06:33 PM

Thanks everyone for your comments


Making a new tote will be a nice project, I already have the sketches from Lee Veritas thanks to Sharon (aka PurpLev) who was very kind to share them with me. But I will try to keep every single plane that I restore as original as possible, I will make another tote or knob just on extreme situations where one of them if either missing or severely abused, I’m really happy with the final result of this one, and also it has that special felling that was my dad who gave it a second lease on life.


Thanks for asking about the chip breaker, no is not polish but that will change today after I stop at my local HF and get my buffer/grinder and I’ll make sure about meeting the iron evenly.
About the iron pitting, there’s no visible marks on the edge of the blade even though there’s a lot of pitting on it, once I try this plane for the first time guess I will know for sure if it needs a new blade or not.

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3799 days

#11 posted 12-26-2009 06:52 PM

One question.

How can I protect the lapped faces from getting rust again? what’s the most effective method? I’ve heard of hot wax but how does it work?

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3657 days

#12 posted 12-26-2009 07:13 PM

I’d like to know the answer to Alonso’s question too. I had thought of just wrapping the whole thing in an oiled cloth.

-- John from Hampstead

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

356 posts in 4577 days

#13 posted 12-26-2009 07:38 PM

Nice save on that plane! Great Job!

-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop - and NO not the one from Ohio!

View gizmodyne's profile


1784 posts in 4651 days

#14 posted 12-26-2009 08:11 PM

In my classes we just use paste wax on the non moving parts and oil or wd-40 on the moving parts.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View lou's profile


343 posts in 4003 days

#15 posted 12-26-2009 11:01 PM

well done.whats next.

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