Stanley Bailey No.3 Restore

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Blog entry by Justin posted 10-12-2012 12:55 AM 2933 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been quite busy lately getting into plane and antique tool collecting. But the real joy of mine is getting a plane that is in rough shape, and restoring it into well working order. I will be writing a more detailed blog this time on restoring this Stanley No. 3, and explaining my methods of cleaning up plane parts, removing paint, painting etc. These are only my methods that have worked for me, they are defiantly not the best methods but different things work best for different people. Or you use what you got, heh.

Here are some pictures of what the plane looked like when i first got it.

The first thing I did was strip everything off it to see what I was dealing with. After taking everything apart, I could start stripping all the paint. Heirloom gel formula has seems to work well for me, I simply brush on a thick coat, let sit for 15 min and then take the part outside and scrub while running water over it with the hose to remove as much paint as I can. Then I quickly dry it with a rag, and repeat this process 3-4 times until all the paint is almost removed. Any spots still with paint on them I clean up with wire brush attachments that can be used in a drill or drill press. I used the same process for removing the paint off the frog as well. Here are some pictures with the paint removed.

Next, I cleaned up the sides and bottom of the plane sole. First I took any rust off with a fine wire brush wheel for the bench grinder. The fine wire brush wheels are great cause they are gentle enough to not scratch any of the metal but take any rust, paint and dirt off quite easily and quickly. Once the sides and bottom are somewhat clean, I tape pieces of emery cloth to a nice flat piece of glass starting from a coarse grit, and work to a fine grit which should leave no scratches.This helps to take remove any dirt, or pitting as well. Finally I polish the plane sole sides and bottom by hand with Autosol or Blue Magic metal polish until I am satisfied with the look.

Taping off the plane, and frog to paint is probably my least favorite part of restoring a plane. Mainly because taping off the frog can be quite tedious and time consuming for me. Here are some pictures of the frog taped off.

In the past with I have had to tape off part by part of the plane or frog as I painted it. This gives great results, but also takes more time. With this No. 3 frog I managed to tape it off in a way so I could paint everything at once. Then I could just do a second or third coat as needed. After removing the tape, a scalpel or sharp knife tip is great for cleaning up any paint that has managed to get places where you do not want it.

After painting the frog and plane, I cleaned up every piece of hardware, adjusting knob, screws and washers with the fine wire brush wheel for the bench grinder. The wire brush attachments for drills and drill presses also work great. I also clean the cap iron and blade with the same fine wire brush wheel before polishing by hand and sharpening the blade.

The final step in my plane restore was to clean up the handle and tote. I sanded them both with sandpaper by hand, this does take longer but you can be careful not to ruin any curves or details. After sanding to a fine grit where they both felt nice, I stained both the handle and tote with a rosewood stain. Sadly the handles were not rosewood, not sure exactly what wood it was but they still look much better now. After I was happy with how the stain looked, I sprayed 2 coats of semi-gloss polyurethane. Lightly sanding in between coats.

Some pictures of everything nice and clean:

And with it finally put back together:

Looks like this one side of the plane must have grazed some grinding tool or something in its past cause some of the scratches were quite difficult to take out. But other then that I am happy with how it turned out.

10 comments so far

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 4317 days

#1 posted 10-12-2012 01:27 AM

Nice job – one recommendation would be to lap the sole (and the sides to a lesser degree) before the painting stage. I also would not recommend using a polish on the sole, unless you are absolutely sure of the contents.

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 2653 days

#2 posted 10-12-2012 02:26 AM

Here I was thinking that it didn’t look that bad to begin with…but you managed to make it look spectacular. Great job!


View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3112 days

#3 posted 10-12-2012 02:55 AM

It looks great, really nice job on the wood. The non rosewoods are difficult to get to the poitn/look that you have. Real good job on those.

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3322 days

#4 posted 10-12-2012 03:38 AM

Nice ! I wish you would come do mine !

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 4300 days

#5 posted 10-12-2012 11:40 AM

Bravo! A really nice save. That plane looks ready for the next 50 years.
Does it make nice shavings? Any pics?

View Justin's profile


37 posts in 2576 days

#6 posted 10-12-2012 11:55 PM

Thanks alot. Thats what I love most about it, clean them up once nice and they should last me the rest of my life; besides sharpening the blade. Yeah, it makes quite nice shavings. Haven’t taken pictures yet, but will this weekend and post.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19341 posts in 3081 days

#7 posted 10-13-2012 12:34 AM

Nice restore.

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

View Justin's profile


37 posts in 2576 days

#8 posted 10-14-2012 08:48 AM

View AgentTwitch's profile


631 posts in 4010 days

#9 posted 10-15-2012 05:44 PM


Awesome restore job! It came out looking/functioning great!

I am about 25% done a Stanley 4-1/2. I hope that it comes out as nicely as yours did.

-- Regards, Norm

View Justin's profile


37 posts in 2576 days

#10 posted 10-18-2012 04:37 AM

Goodluck with your restore! Hope to see pictures when your finished.

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