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Stanley No 8 Hand Plane #1: Acquisition

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Blog entry by DevinT posted 03-27-2021 07:39 AM 674 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Stanley No 8 Hand Plane series Part 2: The Auction »

My local MacBeath Hardwood store had a pile of ugly lumber that seemed neglected and passed-over for quite some time. My local store has been in business at that location for 60 years and so I asked how long the rough lumber had been sitting in a pile in the rafters. The answer was about 12 months.

I mentioned the name of the wood, Bocote, to my dad and he said it was good stuff. I researched online and it looked nothing like what I saw at the store which was dark, muted, and rough. You could tell the boards were band-sawn and they put a dark wax on the ends to protect the end-grain from drying out. After seeing that S4S Bocote can fetch high dollar amounts, I was convinced that the mere $8/bf they were asking for this wood was a steal.

Which left me with a problem. I didn’t have the tools, nor the skills/knowledge to turn rough lumber into dimensioned S4S lumber for projects. I was determined however to take advantage of this neglected lumber at a great cost.

I explained my situation to my neighbor and shared a prototype for a surfacing jig I designed. He helped me create it by allowing me to use his power jointer/planer (2 separate units; both made by Cutech; wonderful machines by the way). He also used one of his chop saws to cut me 4’ of steel angle stock. I was super thankful because currently the only saws I own are a 5.5” Ryobi circular saw, a Ryoba-style Vaughn pull-saw, a small coping saw, and a hacksaw—none of which would have cut through that angle stock.

Once the surfacing jig for my router was complete, I was now able to take rough lumber like that wonderful Bocote and create one flat face. The quality of that face was not perfect and had “router tracks” and so I did some research on what tool can clean those up.

Enter hand planes.

I went back down to MacBeath and asked to see their hand planes. They had in their cabinet a Shop Fox brand No 4 smoothing plane and a No 5 jack plane. I purchased the latter and was very excited walking back home with it.

That excitement was not to last.

It was sharp but I had to return it for two reasons. After planing with it for several hours, I found the tote had pinched my pinky in such a way that I suffered nerve damage and lost nearly all feeling in my pinky for a month. However far worse was the effort to try and simply square the blade AND fully retract it out of the mouth. Upon inspection the yoke appeared to be cast at such an angle that made full-retraction impossible. Planing results were horrible.

I explained my new dilemma to my neighbor and he graciously lent me his entire Veritas line of hand tools. A card scraper, burnishing rod, apron plane, flat spokeshave, and No. 4 smoothing plane. He said I could hold onto them as long as I like, but I already have a figure in-mind on what I want to pay him for them. We discussed a good price but he said he’s not hurting and that I can take my time.

I was really blown away, to be honest.

I really fell in love with the Veritas No. 4, but I feel like I need to get this story headed in the right direction (this blog series is about the Stanley No 8, after all, which I have barely mentioned).

So I sat down and took inventory of what I have and what I need.

Did I need a jack plane?
Did I need a jointer plane?
Did I need a try plane?

ASIDE: For me, a “jointer” plane is longer than 24” and is made of wood. I feel that the metal body “jointers” from Stanley (No 7, No 8) are actually what Moxon would call a “try plane”—which is perfectly fine by me, because that’s exactly what I want to use them for—trying a large surface to be flat.

I am leaving router planes, moulding planes, spill planes, sliding dovetail planes, combination planes, and other sundry planes alone right now. I want to focus on milling rough lumber. That Bocote was still calling to me. The Veritas plane allowed me to go from the surfacing sled to a glass-like smooth surface in minutes. I was hooked and I needed more.

One of the limitations of my approach so far was that I was forced to surface the Bocote using width-wise strokes with the router, slowly advancing down the length of the board to achieve the best results. Instead of doing the more optimal approach of taking length-wise strokes and slowly advancing over the width of a board.

The reason for that is because the further away the sled risers were from each other the greater the dip I was seeing in the middle of the sled with the weight of the router. The sled itself is reinforced with steel angle stock, but even that will flex 0.002” at the center of a 4’ span when you set a router on it (actual measurement). This naturally creates an imperceptible but not-perfectly-flat surface with a hollow in the center when using long strokes. Conversely, when traversing the with short strokes and having the risers pulled-in tight gives superior support and eliminates any hollow along the length of the board but creates many more tracks (occasionally dust gets under the router’s sub-base and can create slightly higher or lower passes in the thousandths of an inch range).

The No 4 smoother cannot remove the length-wise hollow but does an amazing job at removing the small tracks mentioned above.

So, to be able to surface my rough lumber very fast, I have decided to invest in a try plane. After much research, I settled on going after a Stanley No 8 and I will explain why.

So far in my surfacing journey (determining how to best mill using a hybrid approach for efficiency), I really don’t have a need for a jack plane. I have my compact/portable surfacing sled for scrubbing up, so no need to grab a jack, open the throat, and hog material away. This also means I won’t be clamoring for a scrub plane either. Right now I am focusing on “straight, square, and smooth.”

Ultimately, having so many Veritas tools, I want to stay with the line. I really like the Norris adjusters. Even more detailed than that, I specifically prefer the Norris adjusters on the standard (read: non-Custom) line of bench planes which have much longer down-rods which helps exaggerate the angle of the angle adjuster at the knob. Both the Custom line of bench planes from Veritas as well as the bevel up planes (including the BUJ) have much shorter down-rods which means your adjustments must be much finer to achieve the same results.

So, I have not-only a clear preference for my hand planes that I want to own specifically for surfacing, but there are only 2 bench planes that Veritas makes that meet my requirements of being bevel-down as well as having the longer down-rods for the Norris adjuster. Numbers 4 and 6 bench planes. Remember, I have no need for a jack plane.

Suffice it to say, I decided that the Veritas No 6 fore plane would be a great daily driver as a mini try plane.

There’s just one problem with that. You can’t buy one right now. I think the wait time is 5-6 months.

So what did I decide to do?

I foresee this turning into a large collection, so let’s work that angle. If I am going to own a non-Veritas, I want it to be something that Veritas does not make. Enter the No 8 try plane.

  • WoodRiver does not make a No 8.
  • Veritas does not make a No 8.
  • Stanley stopped making their No 8 in 1961.

In fact, I think Lie-Nielsen is the only company mass producing No 8 planes right now.

ASIDE: Does Holtey make a No 8? LoL, I haven’t even looked because I know based simply on the name, if he did make a No 8 sized plane it would be astronomically expensive, making Lie-Nielsen look like a toy in comparison.

But there’s a problem with Lie-Nielsen too… like the Veritas No 6 fore plane, you cannot currently buy a Lie-Nielsen No 8. I guess I could go for a No. 7 but I want my tools to be the biggest, baddest, or most-appropriate for the job as they can possibly be. It seems silly to not go for the extra 2”, wider blade, and extra weight offered by a No 8.

ASIDE: After-all, it has been said that the length of a board should not exceed that of 2x the length of the plane for trying/jointing operations. That doesn’t mean you cannot flatten a 72” panel with a 24” plane, it just means that you’ll have to work a little harder at it, use a bit more planning, and stop-and-check more often. However, when the board/panel is 2x the length of the plane or shorter, getting a flat surface/edge is dead-simple. You almost don’t even have to think about it as it becomes an almost purely mechanical procession.

So, this is how things are shaping up:

It looks like I am set to become some strange hand tool woodworker that prefers even-numbered planes. Give me a 2, 4, 6, 8 sequence please.

I quite like this burgeoning idea of evens. It’s something I want to try running with. It is at least I think a unique concept that I have not seen tried before.

Back to the Stanley. So if we’re going to do this (“evens-only”), we’ll need an 8 and we have established that currently Stanley is the only game in town during the pandemic. But which Stanley No 8?

I am not a fan of corrugated bottoms. I think the statement that it helps push the plane over resinous woods is hokum. I have never had to stop and clean my sole mid-planing, but I do tend to work with exotics for the most part. Perhaps somebody out there has found that a corrugated sole works better in some situations, but I haven’t found that situation yet. Not to mention that if you’re going to try and joint the edge of a thin board, those corrugations can either lead to plane-tipping or leave a nice track on a softwood that you won’t be able to remove until you switch to a smooth-bottom plane.

I am not a fan of the tall knobs on Stanley planes. Truth be told, when they were introduced ala Type 13 they were introduced in such a way that they were weak and broke easily. Type 14 they introduced a raised ring to prevent cracking of the high knobs. Low knobs never really had a problem with cracking, regardless of whether the raised ring was introduced.

This is where things get amazing.

I found at auction a 1910-1918 type 11 smooth bottom Stanley No 8 with all original parts accurate to the type. Low knob? You bet. Stanley “V” logo? Absolutely. Triple patent dates behind the frog? All there.

I didn’t stop at the plane though.

I had new handles made for it out of Bubinga. I hand finished those handles and brought out the chatoyancy. I purchased a rare hardened iron to replace the worn down iron it had. The replacement iron having the same exact Stanley “V” logo specific to the Type 11 No 8 plane, found — amazingly — as NOS that is over 100 years old.

Of course, nobody can come out of all this planning and effort completely unscathed.

When the auction for the plane closed and I was the winner, I failed to see the shipping method was FedEx SmartPost, and so here we are almost 2 weeks later and the new love of my planing life has yet to arrive.

-- Devin, SF, CA



14 comments so far

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

4451 posts in 3432 days


#1 posted 03-27-2021 10:56 AM

Pictures – we need to see pictures, lots and lots of pictures!!!!

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

2130 posts in 685 days


#2 posted 03-27-2021 11:13 AM

Sounds like you have a very kind neighbor that gets a kick out of your woodworking. Hand planes are just plane fun! I am glad you are enjoying them.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7463 posts in 1666 days


#3 posted 03-27-2021 12:24 PM

Looking quickly at the title of this before I was awake this morning, I thought it was going to be about acquiring a Stanley #1. :-0

I have a #2, multiple #3 equivalents (including a scrub plane made from one of the cheap #3s I scored last year), two #4 equivalents, a low angle jack, a 5½ jack plane, and a 7. Oh, and a passel of block planes. A few Lie-Nielsens, a few Stanleys, one wooden home-made, a Bench Dog, and a couple Veritas. The 5½ and the home-made wooden smoother, plus two of the block planes are the most used.

The 5½ has a radiused blade, set fairly heavy, and gets used most often for putting a 45 on the edge of a board to hang something on a cleat. I’ve been doing that enough in the past year that I’m usually within a degree or two of correct doing it freehand, which is plenty good for a pine cleat or hanger, since the pine will mash a bit anyhow.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View DevinT's profile

DevinT

796 posts in 50 days


#4 posted 03-27-2021 03:29 PM

LoL, thanks Dave! I have corrected the name of the series so people don’t think I acquired the most valuable Stanley ever made ;D

-- Devin, SF, CA

View pottz's profile

pottz

16899 posts in 2068 days


#5 posted 03-28-2021 05:07 AM

im just pissed that i didn’t score that bocote stash you found for 8 bucks a bd foot!!! un heard of? im giving you a lj’s (you suck) award,congrats!

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View DevinT's profile

DevinT

796 posts in 50 days


#6 posted 03-28-2021 05:21 AM

Looks my memory played a trick on me. I went in today to see about the stash, and it’s $8/lb, not $8/bf lol

I still think it’s a good deal. A 40” board cost me less than $40 if memory serves (though we know that can’t be trusted).

https://twitter.com/freebsdfrau/status/1375875810003853317?s=21

-- Devin, SF, CA

View pottz's profile

pottz

16899 posts in 2068 days


#7 posted 03-28-2021 06:46 AM



Looks my memory played a trick on me. I went in today to see about the stash, and it’s $8/lb, not $8/bf lol

I still think it’s a good deal. A 40” board cost me less than $40 if memory serves (though we know that can’t be trusted).

https://twitter.com/freebsdfrau/status/1375875810003853317?s=21

- DevinT


if it’s good quality your still a winner. you gotta post it though-ha!!

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

17547 posts in 2222 days


#8 posted 03-30-2021 01:24 PM

Hand planes are quite a journey and it seems your well on your way. Your still in the early stages though seeing how you’re limiting your selection to even numbers. You’ll likely amend that later to be any integer. Then only mixed numbers ;-)

In all seriousness, I would normally say that the jump from 4 to 6 is too big but if you intend to continue using your router jig for the initial scrubbing, it should be a perfectly functional aresenal. I’ve never read the rule of thumb about the board being no more than twice the length of the plane but I think you’ll find that’s subjective. You’ll find your own preferences for which planes do which jobs the best. We all do. Nobody’s right (well, I’m always right but some people just fail to accept it) so don’t get too hung up on the opinions of others. Even Joseph Moxon ;-) It’s invaluable for having a “jumping off” point but don’t worry if the opinions you form along the way don’t conform to the expectations they give you.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View DevinT's profile

DevinT

796 posts in 50 days


#9 posted 03-31-2021 05:15 PM

Hah, I definitely see things going that way. “only non-imaginary numbers”

Hmm, ...

I’m going to make a hand plane and call it √-1 just for the hell of it.

I don’t know entirely about the rule of thumb either (2x plane length as max panel/edge length). I’ve heard one other experienced professional that works entirely by hand say that the rule is in-fact 3x the plane length. I actually think that is a better estimate, but there were far more people out there (albeit, those who are NOT life-long pro’s that dimension lumber by hand daily) that espouse the 2x rule, so that’s what I tend to say because it’s perhaps more accepted.

(goes to YT and browses history to see whom it is that is being mentioned above)

Joshua Farnsworth (sp?) as seen here https://youtu.be/Ojeul33vXL4

NOTE: I think that’s the video where he shares his 3x rule

-- Devin, SF, CA

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

17547 posts in 2222 days


#10 posted 03-31-2021 05:58 PM

Any such rule is personal in any case. Paul Sellers maintains that one can do everything with nothing but a #4 if need be. And proves it often. But it does stand to reason that the closer the plane is to the length of the board, the easier it will be to flatten it :-)


...

I m going to make a hand plane and call it √-1 just for the hell of it.

...

- DevinT

Sorry. Just can pass up the opportunity to share my favorite shirt.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View DevinT's profile

DevinT

796 posts in 50 days


#11 posted 03-31-2021 06:15 PM

I know one can flatten a board with a No 4, as I have done it, but it takes a lot of patience. Stopping, checking with winding sticks, marking high spots, spot planing, and repeating. From what I understand, if you are flattening many boards you just don’t have time for that and a bigger plane makes the task rote and mechanical to the point that you don’t have to stop and check as often. Not to mention the wider blade in a No 8 making shorter work by way of wider passes.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View DevinT's profile

DevinT

796 posts in 50 days


#12 posted 03-31-2021 06:16 PM

I need that shirt now. If I cannot find it I will make it.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

17547 posts in 2222 days


#13 posted 03-31-2021 07:11 PM

Amazon has it ;-) My wife says I can’t have one. Not because of offensive language but because I’m already dorky enough…

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

3032 posts in 3722 days


#14 posted 03-31-2021 07:24 PM

Well, I’m sure you’re going to realize you need a Stanley 444 and a Miller’s Patent Plane in gunmetal too.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

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