Stanley 45 Combo Plane Overhaul #4: New Tote and Knob

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Blog entry by HokieKen posted 01-28-2019 02:36 PM 907 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Awwww, don't be blue. Part 4 of Stanley 45 Combo Plane Overhaul series Part 5: Just some little bits... »

I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with the #45 this weekend but I did carve out a couple of hours to make a new tote and handle :-) The original handle broke on me when I tried to drill out the pins that held it on. It was dry and cracked anyway so I would probably have replaced it regardless. And I just didn’t like the original knob at all. It’s just a ball:

I did the tote first. There is a web in the cast body that the tote has to hug and flanges at top and bottom for it to seat against.

I took a piece of Bolivian Rosewood and cut it to roughly the size I would need for the tote. Then using the old handle as a pattern, traced the rough outline and determined the location of the cut to hit the back of the cast web. I used the table saw and cut a kerf then roughed the shape out with the bandsaw and belt sander and OSS to get a good fit to the cast body.

Then it was time for my favorite part of making totes and handles :-)

I put my bluetooth ear buds in and put some bluegrass on, grabbed some rasps and files and sandpaper and sat down and started whittling at the tote until it felt good in my hand. I sanded up to 220 grit. That’s about as smooth as I like for tool handles. No finish applied yet but here is the finished part:

The differences between my tote and the original are subtle but make a big difference in the ergonomics for my big meat hooks. The biggest difference is that mine is a continuous curved surface. The original had pronounced flats on the sides:

I also shortened the horn a bit and necked the transition down to make a more comfortable spot for the crux of my palm and thumb to hook in. The original handle was serviceable but nothing more for me. This new one is a pleasure to hold though :-) Replacing old totes and knobs on planes is something that I don’t do unless it is necessary for some reason but that might change. Every time I do it, I find out just how much better a custom fitted tote can feel in use.

Next up was the knob which resides on the fence on my iteration of the 45 Combo Plane. I could have salvaged the original but I wanted to make one from the same piece of Rosewood as the tote so they would match. And I just didn’t like the shape of the round ball of the original either. So I cut a blank and put it on the lathe and started shaping. I tried to keep it roughly the same overall height and diameter as the original but gave it a little more pleasing (at least to my eye) shape. Sanded up to 320 on the lathe. No finish applied yet but it was wiped down with Mineral Spirits before the pictures were taken. Sorry, no in-process shots on this one.

So there we have it! I’m really pleased with how this plane is turning out :-) I also got the piece I was missing in the mail last week :-))

Big thanks to LJ CL810 for sending me his extra. Much appreciated Andy!

In the previous entry, I was debating whether or not to blue this plane. I have decided not. I really like the patina of the original steel so I’m gonna leave it and put a coat of wax or shellac on it to prevent rust. Thanks for all of the feedback on that! And thanks for checking in. Next I’ll clean up some of the smaller bits and pieces and start putting this bad boy back together.

Until then…

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

20 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4514 days

#1 posted 01-28-2019 02:42 PM

Beautiful work. I like the new handle much better than the original. Going to post work on a box or other storage?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View KelleyCrafts's profile


3735 posts in 1156 days

#2 posted 01-28-2019 02:54 PM

Excellent job! You really are making me want to rehab my 45 with a custom tote and knob, and fence for that matter. Mine is newer than yours, not as sexy and started off cleaner than what you started with so it’s probably not worth it but it’s tempting. Excellent work brother!

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#3 posted 01-28-2019 02:55 PM

Thanks Wayne! I like the new handle and the tote much better than the originals myself too :-)

I am planning a box to store this in but it will be a little ways off probably. I have several other projects in process I need to wrap up first. I have been working on getting better at hand cutting my dovetails recently so I’m planning to do a hand tool only build for the storage box. I figure that’s appropriate since I bought this plane specifically to do rabbets and grooves. I’m not sure what it’ll look like or when I’ll get around to it but I’ll add it into this blog when I do!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#4 posted 01-28-2019 02:59 PM

Thanks Dave :-) I would recommend the new tote if you use the thing much. I haven’t cut the first chip with this thing yet but just from handling it, the new tote makes a world of difference in comfort for me.

And as long as you’re doing that, you should turn a knob to match.

And as long as you have the wood off, you might as well give the steel a refresh with a wire brush.

Well, you can’t just do the body, now the hardware looks like crap.

You gonna leave those cutters with all that discoloration now that the plane and hardware look so nice?


-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View EarlS's profile


2870 posts in 2765 days

#5 posted 01-28-2019 04:27 PM

You got me interested in restoring something like this so I’m talking to Mos to see what he has in his stash that he would be willing to sell to me. I think I’m going to make a trip to the local junk stores and also see if my Dad will keep an eye out for one in his part of the country.

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

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#6 posted 01-28-2019 04:38 PM

Well, you’re going to HAVE to get a lathe Earl. I mean, there is no possible, feasible way to restore one of these without making a new knob. It just can’t be done. You have to buy a lathe Earl. (Not really ;-) but seriously – buy a lathe)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#7 posted 01-28-2019 04:41 PM

FWIW Earl, I did a blog series on restoring a bench plane a while back. It covers a little more of the science like rust conversion and metal working and a little less of the art like making it pretty and customized handles. Might be worth a read though if you’re interested in diving into some restoration work ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

3871 posts in 999 days

#8 posted 01-28-2019 04:43 PM

Looking good, Kenny. You’re evolving into a galoot, perhaps? ;-)

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#9 posted 01-28-2019 05:06 PM

More like a buffoon if you ask my wife Dave ;-) But no, I’m still a hybrid guy :-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View JayT's profile


6226 posts in 2628 days

#10 posted 01-28-2019 05:20 PM

Nice work, Kenny. Totes on 45’s are not the easiest to replace. Now you just need to start using the thing!

Edit: BTW, if that is your rasp assortment, you need to upgrade. It’s amazing how much difference working with a really high quality rasp makes.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#11 posted 01-28-2019 05:55 PM

Your right JayT, this wasn’t the easiest replacement tote to fit. It was worth the effort though :-)

Sure, you can supplement my rasps! :-)) Actually, some nice rasps are on my list. I just don’t use them often enough for them to be high on the priority list. One of those rasps is a Corradi and it is a great tool for shaping small-ish details. The Shinto rasps kick ass for fast and fine removal of lots of material. And you’ll have to pry my 4-in-1 rasps from my cold, dead hand. Cheap or not, those things are handy ;-) But yeah, I’d love to add some nice hand-stitched rasps to my collection.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16141 posts in 3035 days

#12 posted 01-28-2019 06:37 PM

re: that knob, it looks great! How did you approach the coarse threading that’s on the plane, so the knob screw down tight? Or did you epoxy that and the tote?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#13 posted 01-28-2019 07:06 PM

re: that knob, it looks great! How did you approach the coarse threading that s on the plane, so the knob screw down tight? Or did you epoxy that and the tote?

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

My plan was to do a combination of both Smitty. I drilled the hole so it was about .030 smaller than the large diameter on the threaded boss and gave it a generous lead-in chamfer. My plan was to use the boss to cut the threads in then add epoxy. But after I got the threads cut in and screwed the knob all the way down, it’s on there so darned tight that I’m just going to leave it. If it ever loosens up, I’ll take it off and add the epoxy then. For now, I thinks it’s in good shape.

The tote, I think I’ll just epoxy on. I was debating whether to peen some stainless pins, epoxy it on but add some pins just for looks or just go with epoxy. I think I’ve decided on just epoxy. I’ll rough up the cast web and file some grooves inside the slot in the wood to give more tooth for the epoxy. I just really like the grain and color in that piece of Rosewood and don’t want to interrupt it with pins :-)

I welcome any advice you have (or anyone else for that matter) concerning attaching the knob and/or tote. Since this is my first dance with this plane, it’s entirely possible I’ll screw the pooch somewhere along the way ;-) I have found that with knife scales, a combination of epoxy and peened pins is the way to go. But in this case with the tote being a single piece and force only being applied in one direction, I feel like just the epoxy will be sufficient.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View builtinbkyn's profile


2939 posts in 1357 days

#14 posted 01-29-2019 12:40 AM

Wow Kenny. Didn’t see this blog you got going on here. Looks like you’ve made a lot of progress in cleaning and repairs. Tote and knob look great. But what I want to know is, what are you going to do with a tool like that? It’s used for woodworking ;p

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View HokieKen's profile


9918 posts in 1555 days

#15 posted 01-29-2019 01:38 AM

It’s like me Bill, it’s for lookin’ pretty not for workin’! ;-) It’ll earn its keep as a quick way to cut dadoes and rabbets if nothing else :-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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