Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods #13: Old woodworking square restored... A little break from the planes

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Blog entry by Dan posted 04-05-2011 04:50 PM 8057 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Stanley Bailey #4 Restored w/ new premium blade & chip breaker Part 13 of Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods series Part 14: Stanley Bailey #4 1/2 cleaned, tuned and upgraded to super user plane »

I have restored mostly just hand planes but I do sometimes find other old tools that I will restore. Somewhere along the road of searching for old planes I found this square and picked it up. Any old tool with Rosewood and brass is worth restoring IMO.

I have no idea who made this as there are no markings other then some hand cut markings on the metal rule, maybe previous owners stamp idk? That really does not matter though, what matters is that another old tool has been rescued, given new life and will now serve me in my shop.

This restoration only took me a couple hours which is quick compared to the planes. I cleaned the metal rule up with oil and wet/dry paper. I removed the brass parts which was the biggest challenge due to the small screws and their condition. Once removed I lapped the brass plate flat and polished the rest. I spent a little time tuning it all so that it would be fine tuned for using.

The Rosewood part was sanded and finished with a couple coats of tung oil.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

11 comments so far

View swirt's profile


6506 posts in 4181 days

#1 posted 04-05-2011 05:39 PM

Very nice restore Dan. I have a similar try square but the brass fence is not held on with screws. I am actually not sure what is holding it on.

How did you remove the brass clover? Mine seem to be held in place by the three peened rods that secure the blade.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4090 days

#2 posted 04-05-2011 06:01 PM

I removed the clover by slightly hammering the three pins that hold it in. From what I saw they were just set in there so I used a nail set and hammer to knock them loose. I did NOT take the pins all the way out. I only punched them out enough to remove the clover so I could sand the handle w out scratching up the brass.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Tom Willis's profile

Tom Willis

12 posts in 4824 days

#3 posted 04-05-2011 06:20 PM

Well done, Dan!
I must say you have peaked my interest!
Where does one find such old tools?
I never see anything like it at the garage sales near where I live.
What would say is a fair price to pay if I could find an old try square
like yours.

I dare say that it would be preferable to own a restored vintage try square than a new one.(Subject to accuracy of course.)

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4090 days

#4 posted 04-05-2011 07:48 PM

Tom – You can find them anywhere that sells used items like garage/estate sales, thrift stores, pawn shops, flea markets ext ext.. However the easiest way would be to fine them online. Ebay pretty much rules the market as you can find just about anything on there. Goodwill stores also has an online auction that I find has a lot of cool antique tools.

As for fair price I go with the theory that something is only worth what you are willing to pay for it. I also visualize what the tool will look like when restored and I ask myself how much would I pay for the item in restored condition. I think I paid 5 dollars for this try square. A lot of people might have thought 5 dollars was expensive for such a dirty and rusted tool but if you see the item restored before you buy and restore it then you know that 5 dollars is a steal.

Also, as far as the accuracy is concerned, in most cases you can tune the old tools so that they are just as accurate as any other. As I described in the blog I sanded and polished the brass plate on this square flat and I also sanded the metal rules edge square with the brass. So I have this square tuned to be accurate or at least as accurate as I will ever need.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3903 days

#5 posted 04-05-2011 08:07 PM

She’s a nice looking square. I’ve restored one just like it!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4325 days

#6 posted 04-05-2011 08:41 PM

niiiiice restoring of the square Dan I have one that looks nearly the same old dirty and rusty
that has been put aside to when the planes is done :-)
so thankĀ“s for the hint about removing the plate

take care

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 4150 days

#7 posted 04-05-2011 09:18 PM

Good work Dan! I have tuned up a number of old squares in this way and made them true again. It might be that I have a bit of a square fetish since I own way too many!

Swirt, on a large cabinemaker’s square I have, the brass fence is held on by pins brazed to the back of the brass plate, thus no screws or any way of fastening is visible.

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

View swirt's profile


6506 posts in 4181 days

#8 posted 04-06-2011 03:55 AM

Thanks Dan.

And thanks Div. I think the pins brazed to the back is probably the case with mine too. I appreciate the tip.

-- Galootish log blog,

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 4996 days

#9 posted 04-06-2011 07:02 PM

It looks like an older Stanley?

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4050 days

#10 posted 04-07-2011 02:40 AM

Very nice refurb Dan. The clover could have been made with a Passer drill, or at least the middle part of it.
Keep them coming Dan. I have a few coming in from eBay and cant wait to start. And I do refer back to your blogs for information. Good stuff.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View PaBull's profile


969 posts in 4875 days

#11 posted 04-14-2011 02:20 AM

Nice post, this square came out looking very good.

-- rhykenologist and plant grower

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