Tools and tool troubles. #4: THE PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF HAND PLANES?

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Blog entry by Roz posted 01-07-2011 12:15 AM 7013 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Clamp storage ideas.....have any? Part 4 of Tools and tool troubles. series no next part

Recently I received the entire gang box and hand tools that belonged to my uncle whom I barely remember. He was a carpenter and worked during the great depression as a CCC camp carpenter working and teaching young men the carpentry skills needed to perform their work. He repaired shoes and worked in the field judging from the tools he had. I am making a wall display with most of the tools and plan to use them occasionally.

I particularly want to learn to tune, sharpen and use the hand planes. I need to get them off the floor and stored. I have six at present and am thinking of some sort of wall rack that will stand them on end at an angle.
Is there a correct way to store or shelve hand planes? Can improper storage damage them? I would really like to hear your suggestions and recommendations.

Thanks, Roz

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

12 comments so far

View Dwain's profile


621 posts in 4867 days

#1 posted 01-07-2011 12:38 AM

I would definately suggest creating some sort of plane till for those planes. First and foremost, plan. Will you buy more planes in the future? Make sure you have space for future planes. I have read on several sites where people have made cabinets for their planes. I dont’ think I am getting that tricky. I will simply create a till so I can rest my planes at a slight angle, such that they stay put. I have hear that you should like the bottom with cork so the plane iron isn’t dragged across whatever wood you use…I know, I know, the plane cuts wood, why should I bother? Because you don’t want to wear your plane iron down prematurely.

Anyway, you can create some type of holds to keep them solid. Fine Woodworking had a plane till plan recently that called or tying boot strings to the knobs of the planes to keep them. Whatever works for you.

Good luck building your till. I too will be building one soon. I look forward to seeing you progress. So what type of planes did you inherit?

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4681 days

#2 posted 01-07-2011 12:44 AM

That looks great!

View STL's profile


68 posts in 3840 days

#3 posted 01-07-2011 12:47 AM

Congrats! I inherited a #4 smoothing plane that was my grandfathers; I cleaned it up, sharpened it, used it, and I was hooked! Now I probably have about 20 or 30 planes. They’re beautiful and efficient tools.

I tried all different sharpening methods, but settled on the ‘scary sharp’ method that uses various grits of sandpaper laid on glass. The initial lapping process takes a while, but once it’s done I can touch an iron up in a couple of minutes max.

I built a till that holds the planes at a 45 degree angle that hangs on the wall. A small wooden lip at the bottom keeps the planes from sliding off. I’ve never had one fall (knock on wood).

Congratulations; I know it would mean a great deal to your uncle to know that you appreciate what he used, and that you wish to get them tuned up! Let us know if we can help!

-- Dan Siggers, Alabama,

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4782 days

#4 posted 01-07-2011 02:07 AM

That is really neat that you got all those old tools. I have never gotten into hand tools. To many years of dead lines and mass production. I am sure you will enjoy using these older tools. Thanks for sharing.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4005 days

#5 posted 01-07-2011 03:24 AM

From an avid plane collector. TWO THUMBS, UP HURRAY !
If you live in area with high humidity. Use a wax or coat them to keep the soles from rusting.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4123 days

#6 posted 01-07-2011 05:13 AM

congrat´s with the toy´s :-)
and welcome to the slipery slope of handtools …LOL

if you place them on a wooden shelf or different shelfsystem in wood
then there is some that say ceep the sharp edge from the wood
by having a little strip of wood under one of the ends on the sole
other say doesn´t matter
and some say lay the planes on the sides evry time the lieve your hand when you use them at the bench
others say doesn´t matter as long its wood the stand on

well I don´t take the chance and lay them on the side as well as have the sharp iron lifted op
in the toolholder

and learn your self to ceep them lubricated by using a greasebox ain´t a bad idea either :-)

then there is the isue of refurbing , sharpening and tune them before you can start to use them
well thats a leaning curve just like the learning curve of using them correct you have to go thrugh :-)

good luck in your new venture and enjoy it :-)


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4342 days

#7 posted 01-07-2011 12:31 PM

A great blessing to get all those planes. I just store mine on their sides on wooden shelves, but letting them sit on the sole on wood is ok too really. I do agree that a plane till is a good way to go. I find that I have been using my hand planes more and more as my sharpening skills and planing technique has improved over the years. I mainly use them when they are the quickest solution. I don’t really obsess on them, but I do find them very useful tools. Good luck with your find and I hope you get a lot of enjoyment from them.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4794 days

#8 posted 01-08-2011 12:52 AM

Wow, this is a lot of information. I really appreciate you all taking the time to offer your tips and advise. This will help me tremendously. Now I have to find out what a Plane Till and a grease box are.

I have been cleaning them with a rust remover I got at the auto parts store. It really cleans them up. I have read something about lapping the base and sharpening the blade and chip breaker, but as Dennis said I have a learning curve and it will take some time.

Thanks guys.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View draaierjozef's profile


11 posts in 3993 days

#9 posted 01-08-2011 01:08 AM


There are several very helpful articles in past issues of Fine Woodworking magazine on tuning up old and antique hand-planes. Very detailed, very helpful.

In each case, start with an evaluation of the plane as a whole, (i.e. is it rusted on the base, or the blade (not good), or was the tool well kept and protected from moisture? and then carefully dis-assemble each tool, keeping track of the screw, frog, chip-breaker, and blade. Clean each carefully, with a stiff brush, and with the exception of the frog and blade, clean and protect the metal a little (light grease or oil) to prevent further rust. If its supposed to move or be adjusted (like the adjustment screw/nut assembly between the rear handle and the blade) make sure its not “frozen”.

There also a great article in a book called “sharpening” that I recall goes over tuning/sharpenin instruction for hand planes.

Finally, when you use the plane, do yourself a favor and when you set the plane down (i.e. on your workbench, on the floor, on whatever) set it down on its side so that the slightly extended blade does not touch things its not supposed to, that can ruin the cutting edge – like other tools, concrete, grit,... get the idea?

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4794 days

#10 posted 01-08-2011 01:41 AM

Thanks Draaierjozef, I’ll look for those articles. They sound like what I need. I have cleaned a few of them. Canadianchips recommended protecting the metal with wax. I suspect I will need to do this or the grease as I am in HUMID Alabama. Great stuff, thanks.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4123 days

#11 posted 01-08-2011 04:13 AM

hey Terry :-)
this is were to start learning about grease box´s on Mads´s blog serie

Fww and you-tube has alot vidio clips about sharpenig and tuning handtools
but don´t forget to surch on L J either :-)
there is several blogs about refurb/restore handtools too
Dan (at the moment I can´t find his link ) has started a serie about it and is running at the moment

L Js has made many different planetills and toolchest/toolcabinets you can be inspired from tomake your own

and if its the dayly used planes those we call benchplanes a simple surgest is to have them
on a shelf/little cabinet under the bench or on the wall at the bench if it up against a wall

the other more speciellised you can store in a toolchest or toolcabinet

hope it can help you further

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4794 days

#12 posted 01-09-2011 06:59 PM

Thanks again Dennis. I had no idea.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

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