Slow Days at the Shop. #3: Bench Planes!

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Blog entry by fatman51 posted 10-10-2015 10:40 AM 2006 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Repairing my antique basswood drawing board. Part 3 of Slow Days at the Shop. series Part 4: Making my own backsaw »

With over 100,000 avid or prospective woodworkers on this site, I would not be surprised to learn that there are fifty thousand blogs about bench planes. We love our bench planes, we like to use them and we want to talk about them.

As of recently, I have 8 of them in use, which is 2 more than normal and 6 more than I usually need. While I learned about making cabinets and furniture young, I have done far more general carpenter work in my career. In my truck I carry a 9 inchish smoothing plane, a 14 inch jack plane, and two block planes, often the Millers Falls no 75 and the venerable Stanley 60 1/2. I also carry a belt sander and a power planer but I use the bench and block planes when the task is better suited for them. Used to using them in the field, I fell out of the habit of using anything else in my shop. Lately, I have been doing a lot more in my shop and I have found myself dusting off the others enough that I decided to put them into shape.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my power planer collection too, but there are a lot of things that are better done, and done better, with a bench plane.

The spiral cutter of the old Stanley door planer does a nice job for jointing, but they are a door planer and they came in a door hanging kit along with a router base and hinge templates. (my little one came with a spare base and a second router motor with base) Planing doors is where they excel. They can’t smooth because of the way they are made, but I digress.

In the last blog of this series I fixed my drafting board so that I could sit at my bench and draw a bench plane tote, based off of the schematic that I downloaded from The end result was a hybrid between the Stanley design and the Fulton, with a couple of changes to fit my big fat hands because it is no fun to run a jointer that you can only grip with two fingers.

I did not draw the knob, but I based the fore plane knobs on the Fulton design because they were Fulton made planes. I made a Stanley-ish knob for the jointer. Somewhere in the middle of this process, I went and dug around in my old truck(it has a work shell and things can get lost back there for years) until I came up with an old Stanley no 5C that needed some restoring. after some cleaning it proved to have a very pretty rosewood knob and a like tote that I can’t even grip because it is too small.

Here are a few pictures of the work. I used Ipe.

I traced my drawing and cut out a pattern. I traced out the totes on my piece of Ipe that is 1 1/16 inches thick. (the finished totes are 1 inch thick) I cut out the totes on my bandsaw and sanded them to shape with my spindle sander. I routed the edges with a 1/2 inch round over on my router table. I sanded and polished the totes by hand down to 500 grit, oiled them with mineral oil and polished them dry with cotton and saw dust, finishing them with watco cutting board oil. The finished pictures follow the knobs.

I had to glue up pieces for the knobs. I have decided that the best method for gluing Ipe is to let it set outside on a pallet for fifteen years and dry out. If you do this it will glue fine with any wood glue as long as you clamp it tight. I turned the knobs between centers and finished them the same way as the totes.

I had to clean rust and green paint off of the old no 5c. I did not sand all of the varnish off of its knob and tote and I am still deciding if I want to coat them with cutting board oil or wait until I build a tote that I can use.

the old stanley with it’s original rosewood knob and tote

More pictures of my humble collection. There are no fancy bench planes here. I have honed medium to no camber on the no 4-sh smoothers, medium and light on the Jacks, heavy camber on the fore, very lite on the jointer and almost none on the 3-ish smoother. From 3 to 8 the makes are Shelton(8 1/2×1 3/4, screw adjust on frog), Stanley Defiant No 4c(thanks to fellow lumberjocks for helping to identify this in the forum), Craftsman(9-1/4 inch), Fulton(10 incher), Stanley(No 5c, patent applied for 9-92 on iron), Craftsman/Fulton no 05, Fulton No 06c, Stanley/Bailey No 8c(screw adjust on frog, pat applied for 9-92 0n iron, patented (looks like) April 02, Aug 02 on body behind frog.

The knobs and totes that I replaced.

If you made it this far, I thank you for indulging me. I would welcome any educational pointers and suggestions from all of you wise and knowledgeable bench plane using and restoring folks out there.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

4 comments so far

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2971 posts in 2553 days

#1 posted 10-10-2015 11:19 AM

John, don’t throw the old ones out. You’ll think of some use for them.

-- Mark

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4113 posts in 3742 days

#2 posted 10-10-2015 12:30 PM

Nice job on the new totes! You could use the old totes as handles for push sticks.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View BurlyBob's profile


10757 posts in 3756 days

#3 posted 10-10-2015 04:22 PM

Yes, Thank you John. I’m in need of several totes. I appreciate you posting this.

View fatman51's profile


335 posts in 3327 days

#4 posted 10-10-2015 06:17 PM

Thanks for the encouragement. Thanks for the idea with the push sticks, Don. Certainly BurlyBob, I am glad if i posted something helpful! I wish I had taken more pictures of the build.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

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