Handplane Restoration #3: Selecting Planes for Restoration

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Blog entry by WayneC posted 03-23-2007 05:11 AM 6800 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Preparations for restoring a hand plane Part 3 of Handplane Restoration series Part 4: End of a long week »

Again I am plagued with long work days. I’m on a dinner break with one more work meeting tonight. Given this, I thought I would continue the discussion from yesterday. I’m really longing for some shop time. There are a number of factors that you should consider before you decide to purchase an old plane and once you have purchased it if you should restore it.

Old hand planes can be found be found in a wide variety of places including garage sales, flea markets, antique stores, ebay, craigslist, etc. One of the things that greatly affects the plane’s value (monitary and usefulness) is it’s condition. Before you put any money towards an old plane you should consider the following:

  • Flatness of the sole
  • Presence of any cracked parts
  • completeness
  • Condition of the plane’s mouth
  • Amount of blade that remains
  • Pitting from rust
  • Are the parts original to the plane
  • Condition of any handles

Before I buy I normally ask the price prior to inspecting the plane. Once I understand the price I carefully inspect the plane considering the factors above. I find that if you spend a lot of effort inspecting the plane before asking the price, the price may be higher.

I evaluate if it is better than a compariable plane I may already own. Also, if the plane is very low in cost, I consider the parts value of the plane. For example, does it have a good rosewood tote and nob? Those can be quite expensive to replace. What about the blade/chipbreaker? etc.

As Paul pointed out in my last post another factor you should consider is the value of the plane to collectors. I only recommend restoration of hand planes if you know that they are commonly available. Restoring a rare plane can greatly decrease it’s value to a collectior. Always check the value of the plane using ebay and prices guides as a guide. If your unsure hold off until you can validate the value of the plane.

Well, I’m out of time for tonight. Time to talk to some people in Asia about learning management systems…

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

6 comments so far

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4561 days

#1 posted 03-23-2007 07:00 AM

Wayne – Thanks for a great blog entry. I am leaving for vacation soon and have plans to be checking the antique malls and junk stores for old planes.


View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4519 days

#2 posted 03-23-2007 07:50 PM

Your most welcome and thanks for the positive feedback. Happy hunting on your vacation.

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

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4516 days

#3 posted 03-24-2007 04:15 AM

I’ve had really good luck on ebay. The one exception would be a Stanley 112 that I won. The body and sole are in immaculate shape but the screw that tightens the handle is stripped. I have some ideas but have not fixed it. I’ve gotten all my planes there as a matter of fact. The price range has varied and been commensurate with the type of plane and shape it was in. I have a couple of #4s (one worker and one in very nice shape); a great #8 (I got it really cheap); a #5 that needed no tuning other than the blade being honed; #90 that was in good shape.

Just be sure you ask many questions before bidding, shop from people who can take apporpriate photos, and don’t get carried away in the bidding process. Either bid early with your maximum bid or set up notifications for auctions that are ending in like six hours or less. That is when all the activity will take place.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Matt's profile


119 posts in 4838 days

#4 posted 03-24-2007 04:24 AM

Great insight Wayne. When I bought my first used hand plane, still a favorite in my shop by the way. I bought another one with it, luckily at least one of them was worth the money. Your tips are greatly appreciated and in hindsight make total sense. Flea market season is just around the corner here in Michigan so I think I might put together my Wayne pack and head out for a good plane hunt.

-- Straight grains & sharp blades

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4519 days

#5 posted 03-24-2007 04:42 AM

Good advise Jeff and thanks Matt. I’m still about 7 or 8 podcasts behind Matt. And one or two on the woodwhisper’s as well. I’m sure I will be caught up by the time I get to Houston on Monday.

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

View vanislescotty's profile


9 posts in 1941 days

#6 posted 09-19-2014 10:21 PM

Good thoughts and I am really enjoying this series. In terms of considering a plane’s value to collectors, I think I view it differently. Most all the planes available at Ebay are fairly if not considerably available in number, even when they are an antique. I am looking for planes to use in my shop, not sit on my shelf. I don’t have the money to be a collector of planes (or I probably would be). So my view is collectors can get in line just like me and bid on the planes or search the flea markets just like me.

I appreciate history so I am not cavalier about this. I buy older planes for three reasons:
1. To use them
2. Because I can get them cheaper than planes of equvilant quality made today
3. Because older planes are much better than most planes on the mass market today.

I recently bought a Stanley No 28 Transition plane. I plan on using it in my shop. It’s in awesome condition and most certainly a desired example for those looking to collect transition planes. I plan to do the least amount I need to in order to make it useable in the shop as my jointer plane, but I will use it.

Of course, if I stumbled onto a plane from the 1600’s somehow, I would most certainly treat that as a valuable antique and give it the care it deserves. However, 95+% of the planes out there for bid or buying are out there in number and are truly not ‘endangered examples’.

Just my thoughts on the matter. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series of articles. Now I’m off to restore that ole No 4 Stanley for shop use.

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