Brass side rabbet planes restore

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Blog entry by mafe posted 12-04-2014 03:37 PM 3541 reads 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Brass side rabbet planes restore
New life to old tools.

Once in a while we stumble upon a tool that calls us.
Yes that call us, even it’s not our name written on it.
Most of the time I don’t buy a tool I already have, at least never one that are the same model, but once in a while we see something we have and don’t need, we know we will use on rare occasions, but that have this special message that calls your name, this special feel to it, this hidden message of having been used and even made with hands that cared, yes I will even sometimes say I can see it was made or / and used with love.
This blog is about one or actually two of these.

The picture on E-bay, where I saw them while looking at something else.
The text was: Vintage Brass side rebate planes for L & R hand use (Pair).
I made a bid and got them for 13 GBP or 20 USD, this I think was a fair deal.
The front can be screwed of so they can be used for stopped rabbets.
They are with no doubt homemade, have something that looks like grinder tracks by the mouth and the irons are of doubtful condition, so even they might work as is, I bought them with the plan to bring new life to them.

First step was to make new irons.
The old once were not the same, on did not fit too well and the other were short.
So a little grinding with a shaft tool to begin with.

A block plane iron is cut to size.
The good thing about these small grinders is they don’t make the iron over heat if you go slowly, so you will not lose the hardening.

Then the last bit is sanded of for a perfect fit.

Like this I got two irons out of one, and even have some left over for another project.

Then I used the old blades as guide for shaping the new blades skewed cutting edge.
Just freehand shaping and lots of dipping in cold water, to avoid the edge getting too hot.

Then final shaping on the wet grinder.

Now some metal work was again required, since I made new irons none of the iron holders was fitting.
So I needed to solder a little extra brass under them, using silver solder.

Here you see one, while it’s still red hot.

And here sitting on the iron, before I adjusted the height and polished it.

That’s it!
Now there are two fully functional planes.

The only wood here, are the wood around them and this project is posted as made of wood!
Shame on you Mads!
(On this photo you can see the front can be screwed of them so they can be used for stopped rabbets also).

Ahhhh looking at the old types, I can see something is missing…

Wooden knobs of course.
I choose to look at my sweet 62 for inspiration, while playing on the lathe.

So some hardwood, this is actually a piece from a local harbor pier, someone had left a pile of offcuts.

Yes, something like this…


Giving it some darkness, think it will be good with the old brass.

Soaking a while in Danish oil.



Carnauba wax.

Testing how it looks, before drilling holes in the planes.
Want them a little higher, so I will have to reshape the base of the knobs a wee bit.

Ohhh yes, while I was out shopping glue, I saw this on an antique shop, the price tag was 5 USD, so I had to bring it home with me…
Yes I do have several braces, so this one was just one of those tools calling my name. ;-)

Threading the knobs.

Then drilling holes in the planes for them.
Used a punch to mark the exact spot, so the drill will stay where it’s supposed to.

Threading the holes with a tap.

Here we are.
Finally I can say it’s a project made of wood…

But the story have one more non wood part.
This time we start with a sheet of brass on my table saw, with an aluminum cutting blade, works fine and I go slowly.
Depth stops are the goal here.

Marking up for the long holes, each are different due to the handmade planes.
Again using a punch to make exact marking for the drilling.


Waste removal.

With a file opening up the hole.

Tuning in to fit the wonderful knurled brass screws I bought in Paris some years back.

Cutting them to length.

Testing sizes and fit with a washer.

Shaping a wee bit.

Testing in place.

Now time again for silver solder, I kind of like this.

Use a brass rod to strengthen the corner joint.
The three parts now soldered together.

Workshop looking like a silversmiths place.

Cutting, shaping and sanding.

Getting back the glow and removing the solder from surfaces.

Now shaped and clean.

Polished on the wheel, before and after.

Now just one thing remains.
I was never happy for the shaping of the plane bodies, one had a curve on top and the other nothing…
I want curves on both, this to make a better grip and to give it that sexy curve.

So my Supersander got to work some brass.
Freehand and with the eye and heart as guide.

So before I put the planes back together, the blades need a final sharpening on the Waterstones, since I am not happy with the whet grinder finish.

Grid 8000, this gives that wonderful mirror finish.

So the final test!
Making shaves.
And yes they pass the test.

Nice curl.

So here they are.
Back to life, still with their original life intact I think, but now with better grip due to the shape and knobs.

New depth stops a reality.

In my eyes a lovely pair, that can hopefully make shaves for many generations to come.
It sure were a good time I had bringing them back to glory.

Hope this blog can inspire others to bring back life to old tools.

Best thoughts,


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

20 comments so far

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4161 days

#1 posted 12-04-2014 04:14 PM

Wow, those are sweet!!!. Great work bringing them back to life and improving them!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4007 days

#2 posted 12-04-2014 04:51 PM


Beautiful work as usual.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View patron's profile


13716 posts in 4350 days

#3 posted 12-04-2014 05:14 PM

busy busy busy mads

excellent restore
well worth the work
should give years of enjoyment

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View lew's profile


13317 posts in 4765 days

#4 posted 12-04-2014 05:26 PM

So glad two old tools will continue to give life to new project for a long, long time.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View kiefer's profile


5812 posts in 3676 days

#5 posted 12-04-2014 06:55 PM

Nice to see you care and bring them back to life and usefulness .
Very nice blog and useful info !


-- Kiefer

View Sodabowski's profile


2394 posts in 3842 days

#6 posted 12-04-2014 06:58 PM

I recognize those knurled brass bolts! :D

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View CL810's profile


4107 posts in 3997 days

#7 posted 12-04-2014 11:34 PM

Never a dull moment at Mads’ house! Really nice work.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17225 posts in 3628 days

#8 posted 12-05-2014 12:22 AM

Wow, so much skill on display. I love your work, Mads. It always brings a smile to my face! Excellent job on those side rabbets!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View ronniebo's profile


130 posts in 3674 days

#9 posted 12-05-2014 12:23 AM

Mads,—-Yes you do inspire us to make full use of the stuff we have around the place.
BUT—-is it a strange question to ask you why you use DANISH oil as a finish???
I have just refurbished a pair of Western Red Cedar audio speakets that my Dad helped me make 40 years ago and have been having some inspiration, and a few tears, by listening to Rach 3 up full noise.
Ron in drizzly Hobart.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4007 days

#10 posted 12-05-2014 12:33 AM

is it a strange question to ask you why you use DANISH oil as a finish???

Because he is Danish :)

Actually, it is a wonderful finish. My absolute favorite. Looks good, easy to apply, easy to clean up, easy to refresh if it gets worn off. I really can’t see any downside to it.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View flintbone's profile


213 posts in 4166 days

#11 posted 12-05-2014 12:47 AM

Nice job Mads. Keep up the good work.

-- If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. - Albert Einstein

View ronniebo's profile


130 posts in 3674 days

#12 posted 12-05-2014 12:56 AM

Only having a friendly larff David.\You will see why from my first blog with foto.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19889 posts in 3577 days

#13 posted 12-05-2014 01:34 AM


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

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4007 days

#14 posted 12-05-2014 01:53 AM

Only having a friendly larff David.You will see why from my first blog with foto.

- ronniebo

I was too but I have to defend Danish Oil. :) Mads can take care of himself :)

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View CFrye's profile


11173 posts in 2849 days

#15 posted 12-05-2014 04:50 AM

Wonderful restoration, Mads!

-- God bless, Candy

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