tuning up an old plane #1: The plane..

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Blog entry by Camper posted 08-11-2010 01:46 PM 3063 reads 3 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I am planning on documenting how I will tune up an old plane. I know nothing about planes and sharpening so there may be a lot of mistakes on the way. I have learnt a lot by looking around the web and reading blogs on LJs. So here is the plane. It has no brand name on it, but in 2 locations it says “Made in USA”. I picked it up for $5 from a garage sale. Anyone know more about this guy?

I found the following links useful on LJs:

Link 1

Link 2

I also picked up a package of assorted sand paper from Autozone, they one with 4 sheets from 220 – 1000 for under $5 (Good find I think). I have lower grit laying around the garage so except for a honing guide I think I got most of what I need for flattening the sole and sharpening the blade. I am just not sure about what to do for a honing guide, I may try to just free-hand it. Thanks for your suggestions and comments.

-- Tampa-FL

11 comments so far

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4085 days

#1 posted 08-11-2010 02:01 PM

You know…. I went garage saling last Saturday for the first time in over 10 years purposely looking for exactly what you found. For 5 bucks I think you found a nice snag. I am just now getting into planes myself so I don’t have much info to share unfortunately…

However I did come across this Sharpening System from Rockler and just got it in the other day. I have not had a chance to give it a try yet, but with the reviews and price… Well I didn’t think I could go wrong.

I also seen some good info on Fine Woodworkers web site when it comes to planes. You may be able to find more helpful stuff there as well. Sorry I couldn’t be more help…

P.S. After reading this…. Well looks like I may hit a few more sales this weekend…lol

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3875 days

#2 posted 08-11-2010 02:29 PM

Hi, Camper. I’ve bought a lot of planes on Ebay over the years. If you want to start collecting planes Ebay is a good place to go. I’ve done a little cleaning up and tuning of all of them; however, I’m surely no expert at it. I just sort of used my common sense for most of it so I could have made a few mistakes. I’m not really a collector of tools. If I see an old tool that is a user that is what I am mostly interested in. However, if you run across an old plane that you think might be a collector’s item be careful with how you do it. If you make it look too new you may be destroying some of it’s collectors value. Do a search under restoring antique tools and you will find some good info. There’s some really good antique tool sites out there. Also I believe Garret Hock wrote a good book about planes. I have it – just can’t quite remember the title. Good luck with your restoration project – you’ll enjoy it. Fiddling with old tools is fun!.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 4247 days

#3 posted 08-11-2010 02:51 PM

The book is “The Handplane Book” by Garret Hack.

Maybe my blog can help you with some tips on how to clean it.

As for the kind of plane that you got, its kind of hard to say what brand it is, since there’s no more markings on it, but for sure it does not seem like a Bailey/Stanley, even though my first guess was Stanley Defiance just because of the color of the knob and tote, but that’s just a guessing and still I doubt it.

Good luck and let me know if I can provide any help/guidance


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

View DenverDave's profile


41 posts in 3859 days

#4 posted 08-11-2010 04:52 PM

Hey Camper, I have what looks like the same plane and it’s little brother.

Mine needs sharpening too. I’ll be interested to see your technique.

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4005 days

#5 posted 08-11-2010 06:02 PM

I have collected a few planes.
I wouldn’t be to concerned about flattening the sole. A lot of old planes were not flat when they were made. The OLD woodworkers still built great things using them. As far a sharpening the blade. I have tried a few different methods. The plate glass one works well. Chris Shwartz has a video about how to. I believe the best way to learn how is by doing. This plane you picked up is an excellent way to practice. These old planes work well when tuned. Sadly some of them don’t hold the edge as long as new irons. (Which gives you more practice at sharpening them). My regular user is an old stanley #4. The sides were chipped. I use this to do the start scrub of old boards, if I hit a piece of nail that I missed removing, OH WELL, (And this does happen)
Keep buying those old tools and putting them to work.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View swirt's profile


6008 posts in 3980 days

#6 posted 08-11-2010 06:44 PM

Get a cheap ~$10 roller jig. it will make the process easier, consistent and repeatable.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Chris Pond's profile

Chris Pond

63 posts in 4055 days

#7 posted 08-11-2010 07:45 PM

Alonso has the right thoughts when you want to refinish Old plans read & read some more. There is a good read in Fine WoodWorking. Then it well be time to get dirty & sharpen the planes. For me I only sharpen by hand.

I fine you can get a better handle on what is happening. I will start out sometime with my father old “oil stone”which is very course then move my way thew. When doing the plane bottom I use a piece of glass. Which has three or four piece of sand paper glue to it. A little honing oil & you get the plane to be new.

Remember to have fun this is not to be hard work.

Chris P.
Summerland BC Canada

-- Chris, Fernie, BC

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3949 days

#8 posted 08-11-2010 08:56 PM

Welcome to the world of rhykenology Camper! I think you did plenty OK for 5 bucks. Definitely not a Stanley/Baily but so what. I agree with Canadianchips, don’t worry about flattening the sole, unless it seriously rusted. It is not important at this stage. I would just clean her up a little and work on the blade. I don’t like making old tools look new. I prefer that they show the patina of age, each mark tells a story. Imagine the stories this fellow can tell, if only we understood plane talk!
Whichever method of sharpening you choose, the best way to learn is by DOING. If you could learn to do it by hand, even better. It is not difficult and it is not a religion!
Above all, enjoy and keep us posted on your progress!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 4247 days

#9 posted 08-11-2010 09:38 PM

Just remember that with proper cleaning you can go from


to this

and I just spent 2 dollars more than yours!!

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

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 3864 days

#10 posted 08-11-2010 11:12 PM

Thanks for all the input guys…very motivating…at least I know that I will not be destroying a collectors item :)

Alonso, your blog is fantastic..should be a lot of help.

After work I stopped by some local stores but could not find a honing jig and given the encouragements I am going to take a stab at sharpening the blade by hand.

I found a great article in ShopNotes No 47 about restoring a plane. Armed with information I think I am ready :)

I am not sure that I will be following a particular method, it seems like moving through various grades of sandpaper (coarse to fine) stuck to a hard flat surface and some elbow grease should do the trick, at least that’s what I gathered from looking around. Hey if it shines an helps me flatten some boards, at least its progress…

will keep everyone posted…thanks again for the inputs

-- Tampa-FL

View BradJacob's profile


36 posts in 4008 days

#11 posted 10-28-2010 05:18 PM

Hey Camper – welcome to the wonderful world of plane restoration! Alonso got me hooked with his VERY informative blog. Here’s mine to add to the list. Hope it helps and motivates ;-)

-- - Brad

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