Just some planes restored #11: Its a 4 1/2

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Blog entry by Don W posted 07-01-2011 03:31 AM 3277 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Another #6, its the worst one yet. Part 11 of Just some planes restored series Part 12: Let's trick out a type 21 #4 »

Today, when I buy tools it will usually be for one of two reasons. The first is the obvious. I need the tool to perform a function. The second reason, not quite as understandable, I like to rehab tools. I relate it to someone stopping after running over a squirrel, and nursing it back to health. I have a need to nurse some of these tool back to health.

Hand planes are a perfect combination of usability, collectability, and rehabability. I never know what I’ll find, or what will need to be done to restore. It can range from a simple cleanup like this 4 1/2 to a total rehab, like some of the previous planes I’ve blogged about. I bought this Stanley 4 1/2 to use. I bid on several on ebay before wining this one, unlike many of the 4’s, 5’s and 6’s, most of these are already cleaned up and go for a higher price than I want to pay. I’m finding a similar situation in trying to find a #2. I’m not sure a #1 can be found in poor condition. I will keep up the hunt.

I usually look for the crappiest, dirtiest, worst condition I can find. Nursing it back to the health is half the fun. I think this next 5 1/4 was one of the worst and wound up being in the best shape. These two are in the same class. Looked really bad, but was just really dirty. Broken totes, missing knobs, even a broken frog won’t deter me.

Cleaned up it looked like this:

But back to the 4 1 /2. This looked pretty dirty, so i was not sure if the japanning needed work. Just like the 5 1/4, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was almost 100%. All it needed was a good cleaning. So if you’ve follow my previous restore blogs in this series, you’ve seen some of my other restores and often different ways of doing what needs to be done.

First I take the plane all apart. The only thing left together is the lateral adjustment lever. Trying to remove this can wind up with a broken frog pretty quick. As I can not always finish a plane in a single shop session, I have a plastic container to hold the parts. After the first or second time fishing around for screws or parts, now everything goes into the plastic tray.

Next I clean the base. I typically use WD40 to clean it up. At this point I’ll decide what I am going to do with the japanning. If the plane needs painting, I’ll need to strip it. I like the sandblasting method the best, but I also use rust remover (still haven’t found evaporust) and electrolysis. The #4 1/2 didn’t need anything painted, so it got a coat of Fluid Film.

I wire wheel all the small parts, the chip beaker and the blade.

I also polish the chip breaker at the tip. This may need sanding if its bad enough. Sand it up to 500 or 600. Even higher wouldn’t hurt. Then hit it with the polishing wheel.

The brass adjuster gets chucked in my drill press. It has already been wire brushed as much as I can. I buy the finest wire brush I can get (by finest I mean not course, not expensive). Don’t chuck it to tight or the chuck will mar the finish. You can also wrap a cloth or tape around it to protect it. I start with 220 sandpaper. Run it up to 500 to polish it

I flatten the sole. I typically do this with some sandpaper on the table saw top. If it looks really bad, I’ll take it over to the belt sander to get it close enough to work by hand.

I wire brush the sides of the base. Depending on the finish, I may sand it, again starting with 220, 320, 500.

The tote needs to be sanded by hand. I start with 120 or 150 and work my way up to 500. On this 4 1/2, I also hit it with the polishing wheel.

For the knob i have a small bolt that will fit through the hole in most knobs. I use a washer and tighten the nut. Then I chuck it in the drill press spin it, and sand it, again starting at about 120 or 150 and work my way up to 500. On this 4 1/2, I also hit it with the polishing wheel.

For both the knob and tote I then use steel wool and add a coat of BLO (boiled linseed oil) Rub vigerously with the steel wool, the wipe most of the oil with a rag. Wait a short while and add another coat. (You can also wet sand it in instead of the steel wool. Another coat in a day or two, and then a third a few days later should finish it nice.

Sharpen the blade. I haven’t worked out the besty approach. It really depends on how much it need to be ground. If you don’t have a method, I’d say the scary sharp technique is the best place to start.

Then make some shavings.

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

8 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5012 days

#1 posted 07-01-2011 05:53 AM

Looks like you got a good one there. Type 11?

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

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2080 posts in 3555 days

#2 posted 07-01-2011 09:56 AM

Nice restore, Don W.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View venicewoodworker's profile


100 posts in 3544 days

#3 posted 07-01-2011 11:53 AM

Nice…..BTW Lee Valley carries Evaporust. That is where I picked mine up.

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4203 days

#4 posted 07-01-2011 11:57 AM

great work I like the 4-1/2 the most, I wish I could find a #5-1/2 in the same year I love that shape for some reason.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3569 days

#5 posted 07-02-2011 10:42 PM

I love the last photo. The users perspective.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2080 posts in 3555 days

#6 posted 07-03-2011 12:55 AM

@venicewoodworker, Evapo-Rust is carried by Tractor Supply both on-line and in local stores in the 128 fl. oz. size for $19.99. I just bought another gallon from my local TSC.

@Don W, Great work and thread. If you ever have or come across for sale a 4 1/2, 5 1/2 or 8 (as found needing restoration or restored by you or others), PM me. I am in the market for these reasonably.



-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 4714 days

#7 posted 07-10-2011 06:44 AM

Looks like you done good. Nothing like a successful resurrection. Congrats. AutoZone carries EvapoRust as well as Ace Hardware in my area. Great stuff. I rehab some too. For the japanning, I use Pontypool Asphaltum. Expensive but it’s the real deal. I also almost always retire the Stanley blade and replace it with an aftermarket blade. L-N, Hock, Ray Iles or Veritas they’re all good. I prefer the Clifton Stay-Set chipbreaker but it isn’t necessary if the original can be tuned. It just makes it easier to touch up the blade.

Again, nice job.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 3553 days

#8 posted 07-10-2011 01:37 PM

Don, nice restoration on the 4 1/2. I’m in the process of restoring one (4 1/2) now. Mine was in fair shape to start with, just a lot of gook and grime and a little rust. The blade and chip breaker were a different story. The blade was bent and both were rusted and pitted so bad that they were not salvagable (IMO the Ebay seller badly misrepresented the condition of this plane). I’ve got a new Veritas blade and chip breaker on the way. I hope that mine turns out as good as yours.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

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