Vintage Tool Rehab Projects #28: The elusive #5 ½ T11 finally finds a home-Part 2

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Blog entry by Brad posted 10-12-2014 04:12 PM 2759 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 27: The elusive #5 ½ T11 finally finds a home Part 28 of Vintage Tool Rehab Projects series Part 29: Record 043 Grooving plane for my Dutch tool chest »

In the last post, I completed the cleaning and tuning of the #5 ½. In this, Part 2, I cover three common repairs to the mangled tote.

Most tote repairs are straight forward. However, I’ve found that replacing a beavertail is very tedious, exacting and time-consuming work. That’s why I’ve described it in detail below. Still, by bother? I have four reasons.

1. I’m a woodworker and there’s a deep satisfaction that comes from repairing my own tools.
2. It can take a while to find a vintage replacement tote. And when I do, they are usually expensive.
3. I get blisters in the web of my thumb when I use totes that are missing beavers. So I find it necessary to repair them to make them users.
4. The main reason I fix totes, however, is because I want to keep as many of the original parts on my planes as I can. In so doing, my repair becomes a part of the tool’s history for some future craftsperson to enjoy. I am after all, only a custodian of these tools for they will surely outlive me.

Repair #1: Fixing the break
After removing the tote, I looked at the broken halves. The edges showed signs of wear, meaning that they were slightly rounded. That suggests to me that it got a lot of use after the break. So I used a wire brush to remove any gunk and dirt that may have seeped onto the surfaces over time.

Then I drilled 1/8” wide by 1/8” deep holes in each half to receive epoxy, and glued/clamped the two halves. There were two repairs yet to complete, so I waited until they were all done before sanding everything smooth. After sanding and staining, the glue lines were barely noticeable.

Repair #2: Filling the nail holes
To fill the nail entry/exit holes, I jammed rosewood sawdust into the cavities followed by some CA glue. Yes, you can see them in the final pictures if you look for them. But after being sanded flush, I don’t feel them at all.

Repair #3: Adding a beaver tail

Step #1: Prepare tote to accept replacement blank

The roughened break at the top of the tote doesn’t offer an acceptable gluing surface.

It needs to be flat so that it can bond concrete-tight with the replacement blank. It also needs to be parallel to the tote bottom so that a clamp can hold the glued pieces without squirting out the glue-covered blank like a watermelon seed.

I have found that the most accurate, and blood-free way do this is with a shooting board.

I clamped a combination square to the fence so that the tote bottom could register square to the sole of the shooting plane. Then I placed a shim between the fence and tip of the tote and took light passes so as not to break anything. With that done, I turned my attention to the blank.

Step #2: Prepare & glue the blank

My shorts pile included a block of East Indian rosewood that I got from Rockler. I believe it’s worth spending the money to get rosewood because the grain blends in quite well with the original tote after staining it. But before cutting it up, I needed to figure out what size to make it.

That I did by “superimposing” my beaverless-tote over a #5 tote template from Lee Valley. It wasn’t an exact match, nor did I expect it to be because of variations in tote manufacture over the decades. Still, all I did was align the tote’s leading edge with the template and mark the location of the break.

Using that as a baseline, I drew parallel and perpendicular lines to form a rectangle around the template beavertail.

It is oversized, allowing for 3/16” excess to the left, right and top. That gives me sufficient stock to work with during the critical shaping, smoothing and blending operations to follow. The end of the tail looked too short so I modified the template to be longer.

From the rectangle, I computed the blank’s dimensions. To determine the blank’s thickness, I measured the thickness of the tote at the break and added 6/16” (3/16” to either side.)

After cutting the blank to size, I took passes with a smoother until the blank seated perfectly flat against the tote’s prepared surface. Then, I secured the tote in a bench vise and drilled 1/8” wide by 1/8” deep holes in both it, and the blank, so that five-minute epoxy could make a strong bond. A bar clamp fit between the vise jaws to secure the blank to the tote. It held firm with no slipping due to the opposing pressure being applied in parallel between the top of the blank and the tote bottom.

Step #3: Rough-shape glued blank
Next I cut out and glued the template to the side of the blank.

A backsaw quickly removed a lot of excess material.

While some rough shaping with a coping saw produced this.

Step #4: Drill tote bolt hole and nut recess

At this stage, I like to drill through the top of the blank so that any tearout will disappear during the shaping process.

I use an extended-length, ¼” bit mounted in a brace to carry the bolt channel through the tote from the bottom.

That’s followed by drilling the nut recess with a 7/16” drill bit.

The bit didn’t cut well, so I had to clean up the recess with sandpaper wrapper around a dowel. Once the nut seated properly it was on to finish shaping the beaver tail.

Step #5: Mid- and final-beavertail shaping

A four-in-one rasp roughed out the beavertail shape. Then a drill-press-mounted drum sander helped shape the design further. That was followed by finer rasps, then sandpaper (60, 120, 220, 330,400 grits,) and finally, a polishing on the buffing wheel (no compound.)

Step #6: Finishing

The baby-smooth surface received a coat of Minwax Jacobean stain. After drying overnight, I added two coats of amber shellac, using 0000 steel wool between coats.

The final product is both functional and pleasing to the eye. Not bad for a mangled tote.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

9 comments so far

View upchuck's profile


540 posts in 3001 days

#1 posted 10-12-2014 05:52 PM


I’m glad that you finally found your type 11 #5 1/2. It looks like you have restored a winning tool. Like you I have learned to restrain my enthusiasm, but I am sure I’ll have to relearn that lesson. The more I want a tool the more I’m likely to overlook it’s flaws; even it’s fatal flaws.

Also thank you for the detailed description of your procedure for repairing totes. Some months back I asked about materials for adding to tote beavertails for repairs and you recommended Indian Rosewood. Your repair with I. Rosewood is smooth, well matched, and commendable. But I haven’t been able to do it.

Instead I have scraped and scrounged every slinter and piece of Brazilian Rosewood I can find and stacked them up to create pieces large enough to do what you did so easily. I wonder if I’m being foolish.

I have found broken totes, bevel gauges, knife handles, squares, brace pads, and any other scrap of B. Rosewood I could use. I think that there are 8 pieces of scrap to repair that knob and 3-4 or so on the tote with at least 2 more to go to complete that repair.

Nice work.


View Brit's profile


8463 posts in 4178 days

#2 posted 10-12-2014 10:34 PM

That is really impressive Brad. One of the best repairs I’ve seen.

Chuck – I applaud you.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brad's profile


1148 posts in 4076 days

#3 posted 10-13-2014 12:16 AM

Ah Chuck, a stickler after my own heart. Nothing wrong with seeking out the original species for a repair. I look forward to seeing your “laminated” B rosewood solution.

I think that by using the Minwax Jacoba Bean stain on my repaired totes that it helps mask the color differences in the wood (and closely mimicks the original look) while the Indian Rosewood grain matches the B rosewood quite well to mine eye. It must be close because it doesn’t set off the OCD alarm in my head :)

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Tugboater78's profile


2796 posts in 3527 days

#4 posted 10-13-2014 04:32 AM

Real nice job, good seeing how you fixed the problem if I ever come to that point of needing to do the same. I have a t11 and a t13 5.5 (I think, haven’t been using my planes much lately) but I love that size.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View upchuck's profile


540 posts in 3001 days

#5 posted 10-13-2014 01:26 PM


Yeah, I’ll admit to being a stickler. But I am neither a purist nor pure. One of the finest sets of knob and tote I have ever seen was made from Holly. The light color stood out and screamed, “Touch Me.”

I just think that Brazilian Rosewood is such an endangered and rare species in my neck of the woods that it is worth my time and effort at using up the scraps I can get my hands on.

I also admire the field repair with an ugly broomstick. Lots of different ways to skin a cat.


View ToddJB's profile


8836 posts in 3466 days

#6 posted 10-13-2014 01:32 PM

That is really impressive Brad. One of the best repairs I’ve seen.

- Brit

+1 – I cannot imagine that coming out better. Great job.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17677 posts in 3954 days

#7 posted 10-13-2014 02:11 PM

Exceptional work, Brad!

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

View terryR's profile


7694 posts in 3644 days

#8 posted 10-16-2014 02:05 PM

Brad, thanks for the tips on Beaver tail repairs…that one is seamless! :) Using a shooter is an excellent idea!

I enjoy making new knobs and totes when none is present, but get lots more satisfaction from repairing the original wood, and keeping the plane ‘all matching parts’ if possible.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17677 posts in 3954 days

#9 posted 10-30-2014 05:01 AM

I keep coming back to this blog and repair… It’s great stuff. Is there an action shot of the plane on the way soon? How you liking the #5 1/2?

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

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