Vintage Tool Rehab Projects

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Blog series by Brad updated 10-16-2015 08:18 PM 31 parts 222743 reads 235 comments total

Part 1: Disston #4 backsaw rehab-Part 1-Cleaning, repairing, rehabbing

04-06-2011 04:30 AM by Brad | 10 comments »

Disston Backsaw Rehab-1 Cleaning, repairing and rehabbing I was in Salt Lake City recently on business. After dinner I slipped into my pajamas to watch tv and do one of my favorite on-the-road activities—look for tools on Ebay. Now that my hand plane inventory has reached 7, it’s time to focus on some other tools. Apparently, if you want to build things out of wood, saws can be pretty helpful. It’s not that I don’t have any. I have a modern (read crappy) handsaw along with a 14″ Stanley...

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Part 2: Disston #4 backsaw rehab-Part 2-Sharpening, testing and adding to tool kit

04-10-2011 03:50 PM by Brad | 12 comments »

I’ll be honest. The thought of sharpening all those little teeth, with their attendant geometries has always intimidated me. But so did tuning my first Stanley Bailey Type 11 smoother. And what I’ve learned from tuning my planes is that I understand my tools and the way they shape the wood on a much more intimate level. And that’s made me a better woodworker. I wanted to have that same understanding for my handsaws. And I wanted to have the confidence and skill to sharpen...

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Part 3: Try Square Rehab

07-16-2011 05:36 PM by Brad | 4 comments »

Whenever I visit art fairs and museums, I always find myself standing before the works that use mixed media. Maybe it’s the shiny parts working in concert for artistic effect. To me, the creative aggregation of wood, metal, glass, fabric, paper, and/or paint is more engaging than their one-media brethren. I think that’s why I like vintage try squares so much. In an early 20th century age where quality mattered, try square beams were made of rosewood. To this brass was added-which over the ...

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Part 4: Rehabbing a #18 Stanley Standard-Angle Block Plane

09-08-2011 06:56 PM by Brad | 9 comments »

I have a late-model Stanley #60 ½ low-angle block plane, a hand-me-down from my dad. It’s tuned perfectly and I like it, but there are times when it feels a bit small in my hands. So I’ve had my eye out for a Stanley knuckle block plane. You know, the ones with the cool rounded top gleaming from a nickel coating? The #18 Stanley block plane also seats the iron at a standard angle, and I wanted one to complement my low-angle model. So when a #18 caught me eye recently at a garag...

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Part 5: Brace yourself: the nuanced differences between restoration and rehabbing

01-07-2012 05:33 AM by Brad | 6 comments »

Andy, a prolific contributor to, posted a comprehensive blog series about hand braces. He started his superb tutorial by restoring a hand drill. And his subject was an 8” Skinner brace that he dubbed “Rusty”. A few things immediately piqued my interest: —To my eye, the chuck is beautiful, sporting the lines and curves of a 1960s racecar —I liked the fact that Andy chose to restore the tool versus simply rehabbing it for use. Restoration requires addi...

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Part 6: Rehabbing an English Brace—Before and after eye candy for a 10” Skinner hand drill

01-20-2012 07:31 PM by Brad | 6 comments »

Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. Soon after finishing my restoration of “Dusty” an 8” Stanley brace on Andy’s superb “Humble Hand Brace” series came early to my doorstep. My buddy Andy was kind enough to hook me up with two Skinner braces (10” and 6”). He was tireless in his pursuit, even stopping at a Dutch rest stop to bid on Ebay UK for me while driving home from a consulting gig. The 10” Skinner arrived in decent shape so I chose to rehab it rather than restore it. I named ...

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Part 7: Restoring a Skinner 6” Brace

01-30-2012 05:33 AM by Brad | 9 comments »

Having finished the rehab of the 10” Skinner brace, and practicing my restoration techniques on an 8” brace, it was time to move on to restoring my “new” 6” Skinner beauty. Rather than bore you with repetitive details that you can read elsewhere, “then I removed rust by….”, I’ll focus on the before/after eye candy. I’ll also note any gotchas, or obstacles that were out of the norm. Starting with a diamond in the roughFirst things first. Andy, whose techniques I followed for this restora...

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Part 8: "Rehabistoring" of a Goodell Pratt Eggbeater Drill

02-18-2012 04:52 AM by Brad | 14 comments »

I was poking around in my favorite tool dealer’s booth when I came across a couple of smaller eggbeater drills. One was a Millers Falls and one was a Goodell Pratt. I gave the MF drill a good long look. The crank rotated very smoothly with the merest sound of hummingbird wisps as gears interlaced at high speed. Unfortunately, the chuck jaws failed to work properly so I put it back on its shelf with a heavy heart and a frown. The Goodell Pratt drill also had a smooth rotating action, ...

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Part 9: Filling a hole in my saw nest: Rehabbing a panel saw and converting it to rip

03-08-2012 02:27 AM by Brad | 4 comments »

I saw a lot of boards in my vise. I also “stub” the toes of my long, 26” hand saws while using them with my saw bench. The bench is the appropriate height for the knee of a 5’ 6” tall galoot. But unfortunately it’s a bit short for my full-sized saws. Long-story-short, I’ve been on the lookout for a panel rip saw. Ask and ye shall receiveFortunately, I came across one while visiting family in Arizona. I found St. James Bay Tool Company on the net...

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Part 10: Rehabbing a Pre-1918 Disston handsaw with a couple of unique curiosities

04-01-2012 02:36 PM by Brad | 8 comments »

Recently, I scored a Disston handsaw for $2.00 at an estate sale along with some other finds. The more refined shape (yes the horns have long since broken off) of the handle told me that it was an older saw. As did the Disston medallion , marked H. Disston & Sons…Philada. (That dates the medallion to between 1896-1917) When I got it home, I took a closer look. It was wrapped in a Denver Post front page dated September 27 1995. From the yellowed packing tape holding the bundle togeth...

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Part 11: Rehabbing a Stanley #3 smoother

05-15-2012 01:18 AM by Brad | 4 comments »

For years now, I’ve been lusting after a #3, so I bit the bullet and picked up a Type 11 to go with my other Type 11s (8, 7, 5, 4). It’s been in my shop getting acquainted with its friends and waiting for me to show it some loving care. Sunday (this was last March mind you) proved to be a beautiful break from the wicked wind and snow. The rehab followed my usual routine. —Sand iron and chip breaker up through 400 grit.—Flatten the iron back and tweak the f...

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Part 12: How to (and not to) repair that tote: My Stanley Bailey #7 Type 11 journey.

06-07-2012 02:46 AM by Brad | 0 comments »

When I first got back into woodworking, there was a period where I scoured Ebay for hand planes. Along the way I picked up a Stanley Bailey #7, Type 11 jointer for $61.04. At the time, I thought it was a really good price. But with some experience behind me, the main reason it was so “affordable” was that the beaver tail on the rear tote was broken off. Still, I didn’t give much thought to it…until I built my saw bench and used the #7 to dimension the legs. I got a nas...

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Part 13: Learning to Remove a Bow: My new, old favorite crosscut saw

06-13-2012 09:56 PM by Brad | 2 comments »

Here’s my favorite user crosscut saw. You astute sawyers out there will immediately recognize that the nib and medallion are incongruous with the handle. I didn’t pick up on that at first. The saw first came under my view as I was helping a friend get ready to run an estate sale. A number of gigs made me pass on buying it, even at the $3.00 affixed price. —-the blade had a bow in it—-the handle was boxy, uncomfortable and had one rusty steel/nickel-plated nut...

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Part 14: Tuning My first Drill Press-An invaluable education.

07-21-2012 03:04 PM by Brad | 13 comments »

“Does it run?”, I asked the goatee-wearing college kid working the estate sale. “I don’t know, let’s plug it in and see.” So we did. And it ran. But it made a loud rumbling sound. “Could be the bearings,” goatee-boy said. “How much you asking for it?” “Make me an offer.” “25 bucks work for you?” “Sold,” says he. So I borrowed a dolly, backed up my Mini Cooper to the garage—you’d be surpris...

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Part 15: Stanley #5C-Restoration Before/After

08-14-2012 01:12 AM by Brad | 5 comments »

Here’s a SB #5C I picked up at an estate sale. I actually had a frown on my face when I first spied it because I had just finished looking at some overpriced saws in very sorry condition. The eight dollar price tag changed that and I was absolutely beaming when I discovered the three patent dates behind the frog making it a Type 11—the very type I collect. When I first got into rehabbing vintage planes, I sanded the hell out of them. Did my best to make the sides square to the bottom...

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Part 16: J.H. Noble No.1 Backsaw rehab-Why two carcass saws?

09-04-2012 07:20 PM by Brad | 6 comments »

Not long after I finished rehabbing my Disston #4 backsaw, I stumbled across this little beauty on eBay. Some of you might be wondering ‘why would he need two 12” crosscut backsaws?’ Truth be told, I didn’t. But at 11 ppi, my Disston leaves a rough cut relative to the Noble’s 15 ppi. Or at least that’s the rationalization I made to place my conscious-free bid. Mostly, I was curious to experience the differences between the manufacturers. So I ponied ...

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Part 17: Rehabbing a SB Router Plane #71 Type 8

09-19-2012 02:48 AM by Brad | 14 comments »

My tool kit has longed for a router plane for some time. Why? • Because my dados need their bottoms flattened to a consistent depth.• Because my rabbets need to be trued—and to the same depth.• Because my tenons need to be trued too.• Because I wanted to do these functions accurately by hand versus a power router.• Because my Stanley family was anxious to add a new brother to the mix. But where to find one?In the year I’ve been combing estate and garage sales I̵...

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Part 18: How to doctor your saw handles

01-13-2013 04:19 PM by Brad | 6 comments »

“We’re going to have to cut out a big chunk to save her,” I could hear the saw-handle doctor saying. “We’ll also have to deal with that cheek chip.” I swallowed hard before he continued. “The horn repair is pretty straight forward, but the other two things add up to major surgery.” After waiting a moment to let that sink in, he added “As her ward, you’re going to have to make the decision one way or the other.” My heart sank...

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Part 19: Rehabbing a Coffin Smoother For Use In My Shop

02-14-2013 03:56 AM by Brad | 23 comments »

History, curiosity, performance. Those are the three things that motivated me to add a coffin smoother to my tool kit. I got this plane at an antique mall in Scottsdale last summer. It had air conditioning and I reasoned that it was a great place to escape Arizona’s 113-degree oven. One booth caught my eye and soon I held the smoother, noting the New York Tool, CO. maker’s mark plus the Auburn Tools Thistle Brand iron. At first, I was put off that the iron didn’t seat fully ...

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Part 20: Restoring a 19th-Century Disston Backsaw

05-18-2013 01:57 PM by Brad | 11 comments »

The Craig’s List ad said there were some old woodworking tools. That’s it. No pictures, no heart-throbbing prose. Still, the garage sale was in an older neighborhood. And close by in case it was a bust. So I fired up my Chili-Red Mini and motored on over. Five minutes and $5.00 later I walked to my car clutching a Disston 16” backsaw, some brass screws and brass l-reinforcing thingies. The saw cost me 300 pennies. A bit of sleuthing on the Disstonian Institutes Website re...

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Part 21: Rehabbing a Millers Falls No. 9 Smoother-And comparing it to my trusted Stanley No. 4

10-17-2013 02:00 AM by Brad | 9 comments »

You’d think that Kay’s cooking would be enough to land her the title of “Life-long Friend.” And you’d be right. Her Thanksgiving spreads are legendary in our social circle. But then she shows up one day with a nice Millers Falls No. 9 smoother from an estate sale. In my book, that earned her a hefty deposit into her Karma account…plus my beaming and grateful smile. But this is the real world and I’m a woodworker addicted to vintage hand tools. So what was Kay’s reward when her back was tur...

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Part 22: A Problem-child Stanley Transitional #26

02-09-2014 05:33 PM by Brad | 6 comments »

While meandering through an antique store, something toolish and vintage wooed me into a stall. It was a Stanley #26 transitional jack plane. Not that there’s anything remarkable about them. But what set this one apart was its just-came-off-the-assembly-line looks. Even the tote and knob were intact with but one chip to show for its long life. Here’s what I brought home, $20.00 the poorer for it. It had no checks. And the Stanley logo dates it c. 1909-1912. So it fits rig...

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Part 23: Into each life a #4 must fall: Stanley #4-T11-pictoral essay and rehab

04-04-2014 02:34 PM by Brad | 9 comments »

On a recent rust hunt, I happened across a Stanley #4. The very reasonable price and three patent dates behind the frog motivated me to have the nice lady open the display case. Once it was in my covetous little hands, I started ticking off the distinguishing characteristics of a vintage Type 11. I’ve been burned before. So before forking over good tool money, I made sure that all the parts were present and in good working order. Check, check, check and—here’s my check. At...

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Part 24: Into the Beech: My first foray into molding planes--Rehabbing a side-bead plane

08-03-2014 05:49 PM by Brad | 3 comments »

Don’t get me wrong—I like my router table. But moulding planes offer a silent and safe alternative to add decorative details to projects. So rather than continue pouring money into the router-bit pit, I decided to dive into molding planes. But which ones? An article by Joshua Clark helped answer that question. My foray began with a 3/8” side bead plane that I got for $21.00 off Ebay. It was made by W. Greenslade, a planemaker that operated in Bristol, UK from 1828-1937. Now that’s interest...

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Part 25: Tuning a try plane woodie for use

08-15-2014 08:33 PM by Brad | 4 comments »

It takes a lot to get me up at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. But the “Barn sale. Tools…” ad worked like three cups of coffee. Still, my lady doesn’t share my enthusiasm for rust hunting, so to entice her, I described it as an adventure. And if by “adventure” you take that to mean that I promised to buy her breakfast along with the hope of finding vintage treasure that would appeal to her, then you’d be right. Three people entered the sale before us and damned if one of them didn’t ace m...

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Part 26: New Life for a Harvey Peace No 45 Panel Saw

09-27-2014 03:25 PM by Brad | 12 comments »

I found this Harvey Peace saw buried under a bunch of rusty ones at an estate sale. The nib and handle lambs tongue set it apart from the others. So even though it was covered in rust… …and caked with what appeared to be glue… …it came home with me. I’ve never owned or used a Harvey Peace sample before. This 8ppi specimen measures 22 inches long. Good. I can always use another panel saw. I took a minimalist approach to my rehab, choosing to sand off decades of g...

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Part 27: The elusive #5 ½ T11 finally finds a home

10-12-2014 04:02 PM by Brad | 3 comments »

One snowy day, I found this while rummaging around a used tool store in downtown Denver. I was so gold-fever blinded by my desire to fill the #5 ½ hole in my collection, that I overlooked the fact that it had lived a hard life. And the fact that it wasn’t a Type 11, my chosen user collection “model.” The cold must have dulled my senses too, because when I got it home, I found this. Cracks don’t work for me. So the plane went back. The owner’s “we only give in store credit...

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Part 28: The elusive #5 ½ T11 finally finds a home-Part 2

10-12-2014 04:12 PM by Brad | 9 comments »

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...

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Part 29: Record 043 Grooving plane for my Dutch tool chest

12-06-2014 04:30 PM by Brad | 5 comments »

My Dutch tool chest was made for traveling. And when I’m on the road, I won’t have access to a router table. So to make grooves, I needed a plow plane. Yes, I could take my Veritas small plow plane. But that would violate my rule to only take tools that I could accept—though grudgingly—being lost or stolen. So I researched vintage (i.e. affordable) plow planes and settled on the Record 043 to serve my box grooving needs. Record is an English company, so it’s not surprising that I found my ...

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Part 30: An Ode to Panel Saws

12-27-2014 05:37 PM by Brad | 5 comments »

Most of my projects trend towards the smaller side. Boxes and such. So using a full-sized saw (26” or so) to cut out their parts is overkill. Add to that the incongruous fit between my shorter arm reach and long handsaw tooth lines. I stand at five-foot six inches and my saw bench is customized to accommodate my stature. That means it’s shorter. So that when I use a full-sized handsaw, I smash the tip into the ground from time to time. I’d rather not do that to a 100 year old saw. Enter th...

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Part 31: Adding a Stanley #45 to the Till

10-16-2015 08:18 PM by Brad | 4 comments »

I’ve always been fascinated by the Stanley #45 contraption—with all its knobs and screws and accessories. It was tailor-made for folks who love gear and accoutrements. And to justify its purchase, I reasoned that I would put it in my Dutch tool chest for when I travel. It was after all, billed as “45 Planes in One.” An eBay foray delivered a Sweetheart model to my door for $158.35 shipped. A bit rusty…The initial inspection revealed a tinsy amount of rust… Add to that some missin...

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