Beginner Plane Restoration #6: Stanley No 5 1/2 type 16

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Blog entry by bbasiaga posted 02-18-2018 08:35 PM 1357 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Beginner Plane Restoration #5: Results and Conclusion Part 6 of Beginner Plane Restoration series no next part

Sometimes you want this:

But all that’s in your wallet is this:

So you buy this:

And, with a bunch of sweat equity, turn it in to this:

This is now the 3rd plane I’ve ‘restored’. As you can see, I don’t go full out. I still like them to look old and don’t mind if there is some (or a lot) of patina and missing paint.

So why did I do this? The pictures above tell the story. I saw the LN 5 1/2 at their hand tool event. The LN guy there was high on them, and it felt pretty good. I don’t do a ton of handwork though, and almost $400 worth of plane…I just couldn’t justify. Plus, I already have a low angle jack, and an old no 5 that I got as a gift. So will I really use it much? Even though I could see some advantage in the wider plane, I wasn’t sure I’d get the use out of it to justify even the Wood River version at around $200. But when I found this guy on Ebay, covered in rust for a good price, I thought I’d risk it. A good soak in Evaporust and some elbow grease, and it looks decent. No cracks (aside from the tote) and all the parts are there.

So this restoration was about experimentation – a cheap way to see if I’d get an advantage in use over what I already have. Time will tell on that, I suppose, but I am in this for little enough that I could get my money back if I decided I would never use it. Experimentation has been a theme for me in this area – bought and restored that block plane to see if I would use it at all (I do), then got a pre-restored No 4 for general use. After that I added a No 7 jointer which I wasn’t sure if I would use (I do). And now this no 5 1/2. Money has been an issue as well – this stable of new planes would rival the cost of all but my table saw if purchased new – but the real driver for restoration has been to experiment. I could have lived without these and gotten by with my power tools and sand paper. Thanks to some good finds and a lot of education I have received here, though, I now have a nice little stable of planes that have really helped make some project easier. Perhaps this will be the next one to unlock some productivity.

As far as methods, all I did was soak this in some cleaner/de-greaser, then scrub it with a toothbrush and rags to get the gunk off. After that, it went in to Evaporust for about 4 hours (that stuff is MAGIC). I lightly sanded the metal surfaces with one of those ‘fine’ rust remover blocks to even out the sheen, and lapped the bottom flat on 80 and 220grit paper. I also had to take the finish off the tote and knob – it was gross and flaking. I hit it with a coat of danish oil and will cover that with a coat or two of lacquer once it has had a couple of days to dry. Boom – working plane.

So if you are like me and will remain a power tool user out of convenience but want to see how hand tools can help you work, restoration can be a good way. There are lots of good resources out there, both here on LJs and Youtube and elsewhere. I will say it does help to know what a good plane feels like to use – so if you are starting completely from scratch go buy a quality brand No 4. This ubiquitous plane will have tons of uses for you, and may even completely replace sandpaper in your shop. Another alternative is to buy a pre-restored plane from a trusted member here. After that, all it takes is a little know-how and elbow grease to get some value out of oldies like this one.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

1 comment so far

View twoblacklabs's profile


263 posts in 3846 days

#1 posted 02-21-2018 02:08 AM

Nice job!

-- If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over?

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