Stanley #5 Tote Restoration

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Blog entry by Mattyboy posted 08-12-2015 08:58 PM 1622 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve had these two Stanley #5’s for a couple years now and use them often. But both had broken horns (not certain if that’s the right term) on the handle/tote, making it uncomfortable to hold. I’ve been using a glove when using these planes.

Finally I got around to fixing them. I don’t happen to have any rosewood, so I used the darkest wood I had – walnut. On the first one, the fix is very obvious so I stained the walnut part on the second one and it’s a bit harder to tell a repair has been done. Also, as long as I was repairing them, I scraped and sanded off the old finish and refinished the whole thing.

I had to plane off the broken area of the tote and I made a little “sled” to plane the top off cleanly and close to parallel with the bottom. The sled was just two equal sized scraps of pine, on which I made identical rabbets on one edge. In the vise, I clamped the tote in between the two boards, with the amount of tote that I wanted to remove showing above the shoulder of the rabbet. The two rabbets made a ramp or sled for a block plane and it was quick work to clean up the broken area of the tote.

After gluing on a walnut piece, I drew a horn pattern to guide my shaping with saw, chisel, rasp, file, scraper and sandpaper.

I finished with two coats of BLO, then 3-4 coats of a BLO/Tung oil/poly blend and a coat of paste wax. On one of the planes, I also refinished the front knob.

I’m so happy with how they turned out. Incredibly comfortable now. Wish I hadn’t waited so long. One challenge was in getting the hole in the top the right size. Since I covered the existing hole with the new wood, I carefully drilled small holes and used a round rasp to widen the hole to match the original.

-- Matt, Northern CA

8 comments so far

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3938 days

#1 posted 08-12-2015 10:38 PM

Verry nice work Matt !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View John's profile


246 posts in 2739 days

#2 posted 08-12-2015 10:56 PM

Nice job. I actually just replaced the knob and tote on one of my no 4’s with cherry. Very Lie Neilson. :) Anyways, if you decide you want to replace those totes the pattern for Stanley totes is available on Lee Valley for free.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3118 days

#3 posted 08-12-2015 11:30 PM

Even if you can see it on the one, you did a nice job. The sled is a great idea to get a perfect fit, I’ll have to steal that.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2643 days

#4 posted 08-12-2015 11:36 PM

Yeah buddy. I use a router bit in a drill press with the tote in a cross slide vise.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4048 posts in 3409 days

#5 posted 08-13-2015 12:18 AM

Great idea on the planing sled, Matt. I might steal/leverage that idea myself.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Brad's profile


1147 posts in 3897 days

#6 posted 08-13-2015 02:27 PM

I like the “ramp” idea to prepare the tote to receive the beavertail blank.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Mattyboy's profile


50 posts in 2235 days

#7 posted 08-14-2015 02:54 PM

Thanks all. This really was an interesting small project. The shaping of the tote horns was not as tough as I expected. Maybe I’m getting a better eye for this stuff.

-- Matt, Northern CA

View jakhtar's profile


47 posts in 4563 days

#8 posted 08-14-2015 03:44 PM

Well done! I have a newer Stanley No. 5, with the plastic tote and knob. Next time I have some scrap walnut or cherry I plan on making wooden ones.

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