The Pursuit #3: Tuning a Buck Bros smoother

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Blog entry by sansoo22 posted 06-02-2020 10:02 PM 440 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Paul Seller's plane sound continued Part 3 of The Pursuit series Part 4: Rehab, back bevels, and horse butts »

I hadn’t intended to blog about this because we’ve all seen it numerous times on YouTube I’m sure. Someone takes the cheapest plane they can possibly find and attempts to make it perform. However on another forum I saw it mentioned that a particular plane model was not worth tuning because it was intended for the home user and thus it was junk.

I will be the first to admit I have blamed a tool or two on their performance. I like to always think its the craftsman not the tool but sometimes the tool just sucks at performing the job it was designed to perform. For all intents and purposes though a bench plane is just a flat chunk of metal that holds a blade. As long as it can do that and keep the blade in alignment then it “should” work.

To that point here is a dusty Buck Bros plane my dad had in his toolbox and was always complaining about it. Since the COVID thing is abating just a tiny bit I drove out to there house to help with some yard work. While I was there he had this thing on his bench and all take apart.

Here it is back at my shop put together to get a feel for it in its stock state.

The first thing i noticed is she is pretty darn light compared to my Stanley’s. I’m not a fan of super heavy planes like the Woodriver line but a little heft never hurts. The next thing I noticed was the bottom had A LOT of milling marks in it still but to my surprise she was super flat. Felt more like 320 grit sand paper then a proper smoother. And lastly I noticed the mouth on this thing is HUGE…more on that later.

All right so here is a close up of the mouth after smoothing, getting scary sharp, and reassembly. If you look at the red arrow you will see the lever cap is way too long and doesnt make strong contact with the chip breaker. Next to the red arrow is a dark line. That is the lever cap over hanging the chip breaker.

I did some test, with no pics unfortunately, with the stock lever cap and the plane would skip or get clogged pretty quick. My next step was to compare it to my “Cadillac” Bedrock 604 and compare to see what could be going wrong.

This is where you can really see how HUGE that mouth is compared to a Stanley. We also see the frog looks more like stamped steel than solid cast iron. No biggie as it seats flat and co-planer. The chip breaker is the same rough design with a lager hump at the end so the extra long lever cap really doesnt make any sense now.

Since all else failed i went to the parts drawer and grabbed a Stanley lever cap. This one has a chipped corner cuz its going on a Buck Bros but it still functional. Sorry no pics again until testing but she is now working nearly as smooth as the Bedrock.

So there you have it. A crappy junk drawer bottom of the barrel Buck Bros pulling shavings nearly as thin as the almighty Bedrock. Is the Buck as fun to use…oh hell no…my Bedrock glides over the wood almost effortlessly but the Buck is most definitely serviceable now.

If you read all of this you like planes as much or more than I do so give yourself a cookie…you deserve it. And if you’re thinking of jumping into hand planes as a novice I implore you to buy an already refurbished solid user before trying to restore your own. It will save you a ton of time. I drank all the hand plane Kool-Aid I could find and spend hours tinkering and restoring. It probably took me as long to tune that Buck as it did to write this post but I attribute that to my OCD when it comes to my planes.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

2 comments so far

View HokieKen's profile


14485 posts in 1939 days

#1 posted 06-03-2020 11:57 AM

Sometimes it’s worth it just to see if you can ;-) Most any plane “can” work in my experience. Here’s some proof ;-)

It’s probably just the pictures but, it looks to me as if that BB plane is pitched higher than the Bedrock. Is that an optical illusion or is it?

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View sansoo22's profile (online now)


996 posts in 455 days

#2 posted 06-03-2020 03:55 PM

I think its just bad camera work from me. When i was comparing with the Bedrock side by side they were pretty darn close in all dimensions.

I also should have mentioned my dad is quite happy with the plane now. He’s not a precision wood worker by any means and just wanted something to smooth edges or shave drawer/cabinet door to fit.

I would give him one of my Stanley’s but he doesnt take care of his tools all that well and it would most likely turn into a yearly restore effort for me. The Buck will probably need the same care but it wont make me sad to see it get beat up.

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