Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods #18: Keen Kutter KK5 Restored.. New Redwood Tote & Look at blade thickness

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Blog entry by Dan posted 08-04-2011 07:10 PM 11279 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 17: A welded Stanley #4 restored to a great user Part 18 of Restoring Hand Planes.. My methods series Part 19: An Extremely Rough Stanley #22 brought back to life... »

This was a fun plane to restore and tune for several reasons. First of all when I got this plane I took it apart to clean and right away I could see that the iron and chip breaker were both much thicker and heavier then the traditional bench plane iron/breaker. It was as if someone had replaced the original iron and breaker with a new Hock Iron and breaker. This is the first and only antique plane that I have purchased that had a blade and breaker of this sort. Another fun but difficult task of this restoration was to build a new tote. The original tote was with the blade but it was broken in several spots and even though I tried I was not able to fix it. So I decided to make a new tote.

The knob and original tote were both made with Rosewood but to make the new tote I used a scrap piece of Redwood. My choice to use the Redwood was because I had a scrap of it on hand that was the right size and thickness. Its also soft so MUCH easier to shape by hand. I had many failed attempts at making totes in the past so I was not looking forward to doing this but it ended up turning out. I just traced a tote from one of my stanley planes and then lined the holes up as best as I could with the broken tote. I cut it out and shaped it all by hand.

Back to the blade… I did some checking online and found a few other cases of discussion in regards to the thicker Keen Kutter blades but I found no official information from the company’s stand point as to why they decided to make their blades and chip breakers so much thicker when all the other companies had the standard blades and breakers. Today companies like Hock and Pinnacle make and produce thick after market blades and breakers at a premium price. I find it very interesting that Keen Kutter was doing this long before these companies and I wonder why the thicker blades didn’t take off back then.

Here are some photos of the Keen Kutter iron compared with some of my other blades…

I cant say the thicker blade and breaker is any better. I only find it interesting that the concept of a thicker iron was around long before Hock and Pinnacle and other companies produced them.

I don’t have any before pictures of the plane but here are the after pics. Its a fine working plane.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

9 comments so far

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 3856 days

#1 posted 08-04-2011 07:43 PM

I am looking for one of these. Nice job.

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View Don W's profile

Don W

20152 posts in 3777 days

#2 posted 08-04-2011 08:00 PM

prices of keen cutters seem to be on the rise. Nice job on this one. I restored a solar a very similar blade.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 3848 days

#3 posted 08-04-2011 08:15 PM

Great find and a great job on the restoration. That new tote looks amazing.

If I remember correctly (that’s a mighty big IF), Keen Kutter didn’t actually make the items that sold under their brand name. If that is true, I wonder who actually made the plane?

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4090 days

#4 posted 08-04-2011 08:16 PM

There are a couple types of Keen Kutter planes that I know of. There is the K series planes and the KK series. The K series planes are designed like the Bedrock planes where you can make adjustments to the frog without removing the blade. The KK series are based more on the Bailey design. I know the K series sell for a bit more due to them having that frog adjustment.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4090 days

#5 posted 08-04-2011 08:19 PM

Bob, I believe you are correct. From what I have read the Keen Kutter K series planes were made by Stanley with the Bedrock frog design and the later KK series were made by Sargent. There may have been another company in there at some point. I have also seen some Keen Kutter planes with the thinner standard sized blades so I have no idea what the story is with that.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3978 days

#6 posted 08-05-2011 04:59 AM

That looks great. Do you know why the totes were designed curving back over the hand? Maybe I don’t hold them correctly, but my #4 1/2 and #7 fit my hand the other planes #3,#4, #5 & #6 just feel to small. I’ve got one old plane that came with a broken tote. The top curved part was broken off. It actual seems like a better fit. I think my palm is about average, it’s 4” across. I thought about cutting the totes on a couple of my others, but I kind of hate to modify them.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4498 days

#7 posted 08-05-2011 03:07 PM


-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 3856 days

#8 posted 09-30-2011 03:39 AM

I got one. But a KK 5c. Just waiting on it to arrive.

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View John G.'s profile

John G.

26 posts in 2416 days

#9 posted 02-07-2015 09:25 PM

Thank you for your blog, Dan! This one is an interesting find, and a great job! I found a KK5 in a fleatique store last weekend. I started working on it this weekend. basically, all I’ve done so far is to disassemble it and clean some parts to see what condition it is in. Definitely not a rustbucket, but a fair amount of surface rust and pitting, and the blade has some nicks on the edge. The blade still has the E.C. Simmons/Keen Kutter logo etched into the top part. If I understand correctly, the KK5 is an early 20th century tool, manufactured for about 10 years. I’m excited, because this looks to have been taken care of over its life – to date. The tote is broken near the bottom, but it is a clean break – looks like some epoxy might fix it. The tote appears to be newer than the knob.

-- The next brick house on the left. Montgomery AL

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