Reply by upchuck

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Posted on Where do you draw the line with tool restoration?

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540 posts in 2338 days

#1 posted 07-11-2014 04:06 AM

So really, what I m asking is: At what point would you consider a plane not worth the effort to restore?
When is a chisel too far gone to bother with? And what are some key things you look for under all that gunk before you make a purchase?


I am a “bottom feeder”. By that I mean that I have a very limited budget and I am willing to spend some time fixing up tools rather than spending the money that I don’t have. I too have become more particular over time.
Planes: I want a plane with good bones. I don’t have the ability to repair broken or cracked cast iron. If it is a small chip out of the side rail near the toe or heel that doesn’t crack further and I want the plane then okay. Otherwise no flaws in the sole/body or frog. I might make an exception if the plane was something that was unusual, was something I wanted to study, was something I could strip the other parts from, or was just something I wanted that day. I’d note carefully all of the missing parts and try to remember where the parts box back home will fill in missing pieces. Wood I can repair so if I want a plane that is missing the tote or knob I can replace or repair those. I will also buy broken down dogs just for the parts if the price is right.

Chisels: Bellied faces/backs (the “flat” non-beveled side) suck. There are ways to correct this but it is a pain and time consuming. Deep pits are also a pain. If the pits take on the depth of craters then it is usually scrap metal as far as I’m concerned. But even badly pitted steel can be given a bevel on both sides and used for carving. I like socket chisels. Many times the socket has been pounded down to deform the socket. Files can reshape the exterior. Cone shaped stones chucked into a drill can correct the interior. Some are so badly abused that they are beyond my abilities to make into useable tools. Chris Pye has a book, Woodcarving: Tools, Materials, & Equipment Vol. 1 that is excellent for describing chisel flaws and their corrections. Handles, again, I don’t worry about.

I have made some mistakes. I’ve bought tools that on closer inspection were beyond my abilities or not worth the time to fix up. I think of those mistakes as tuition for the lessons learned. Lastly consider what you are going to use the tool for. Jack planes don’t need to be tuned up to be super smoothers. Ugly chisels can be used outside to pound a mortise in a rail road tie or fence post. Sub-par tools can be loaned to neighbors.

Welcome to LJ. Good Luck.


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