Planes restored - Because I can. #5: #7 - more of the story - fixing the cap iron.

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Blog entry by Don W posted 06-10-2011 01:17 AM 12054 reads 3 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Fixing a tote. Part 5 of Planes restored - Because I can. series Part 6: Typing your plane, oh the dilemma »

So for more of the Stanley #7 story. As I was riding through the foothills of Vermont and collecting a nice #3 and #7, I had bid on another #7 on Ebay. My bid, I thought, was low enough that I just wanted it to show up in my bidding list. When I got home, toting a #7 in my saddlebags, didn’t I have an email telling me I had won the bid. With the price i paid, I was happy enough. I went from no #7s to two #7’s in a single day.

As I started to clean this one up, the one issue with this plane was the very end of the iron and the cap iron was rusted and pitted pretty bad. With the iron, I simply “sharpened” it down about an 1/8”. That got it past the bad spot. I always polish up the cap iron (also know as chip breakers) for a much smoother operation. This blog will show you how I get the cap iron job done.

Depending on the severity of the work needed, I may just wire brush the top side and polish, but in most cases its more severe than that. I will sand this out starting with a grit appropriate for the rust, (this one started with 120, it was pretty bad) and gradually increadse grit size up to 600, then polish on the wheel.

Its only important to get from the tip to the top of the crown. After thats its just cosmetic and i don’t get as fussy. I will clean this one up a little better, but it will not shine all the way to the top.

You also want to make sure there is a tight fit between the cap iron and the iron itself. If there is not a tight fit, wood chips will clog up between the two and just ruin your day.

First grind the tip so its sharp. It doesn’t have to be sharp like your iron, but smooth and straight so a good seal is formed when you screw the two together. I usually do this on my horizontal wet stone, by simply holding the top end lower than the tip.

It usually doesn’t take much. If you don’t have such a grinder, a wetstone will work, as before, hold the top lower than the tip.

Next lets ensure there is some spring in the cap to force it against the iron when the two are attached. Using a straight edge, make sure there is a gap when the straight edge is set tip to tip.

If there is not a gap, clamp the cap iron in a vice and gently push it to create it. Try to keep the pressure low so the movement comes at the bend in the iron. You can also clamp from the other end and tap it with a hammer. Use a block of wood as wide or wider than the iron so the whole width gets bent evenly.

After the iron has been sharpened, here is the results.

I have some more cosmetic work to do on this second #7. I’m waiting to get to tractor supply. At the advise of several other LJ members, I’m going to try evapo-rust to strip this one.

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

3 comments so far

View mafe's profile


13694 posts in 4428 days

#1 posted 06-10-2011 01:39 AM

Beautiful shaves.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Lifesaver2000's profile


556 posts in 4451 days

#2 posted 06-10-2011 04:41 AM

I used Evapo-rust to clean a Stanley #7, and it worked great. That stuff works so well it is almost unbelievable, and very easy to use.

Now, the one thing I ran in to with the #7 was finding a container large enough to hold the plane, where a single gallon would completely submerge it (I’m too cheap to buy two gallons). Now, there is some talk on-line that you can cut the Evap-o-Rust with water and just soak it longer, but my solution was to use a piece of 4 inch Sewer and Drain PVC pipe just long enough to hold the plane, with a cap glued on each end. I then cut out a section of the pipe big enough to be able to put in the plane. I also used a couple of blocks of wood with circular cutouts to hold the pipe.

If you decide to do this, I suggest you put the pipe in a larger container. After the fourth day or so, as I was removing the last plane, I had a little of the Evap-o-Rust on the floor. It may have been because the plastic sheeting I had covering this had dipped into the fluid, but it could have been that after that many days the product had eaten at the PVC pipe cement. A secondary container will prevent any floor damage or loss of product. Remember, it can be used over and over.

If you aren’t used to working with PVC pipe (I did installations for 15 years so it was old hat to me) and decide to try something else, just remember a gallon is 231 cubic inches. At the size of a No 7, getting it completely submerged in any standard container will be difficult. I couldn’t find anything close that I had on hand or could buy. I did consider a wooden box with a plastic liner.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8594 posts in 3321 days

#3 posted 03-29-2013 08:37 PM

Cool Don. I’ve double bought in the same day as well…doh! I admit I’ve been paying more attention to my cap irons after reading some of your stuff. I usually upgrade to O1 hocks blades, but often I just put some work into the existing cap iron and use it.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

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