Hand Tool Finds #1: An Old Plane with a Story

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 03-19-2014 01:26 AM 2793 reads 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Hand Tool Finds series Part 2: My First Estate Sale »

In my corner of Green Valley Az., I am the woodworker, the guy who always has the garage door up and is in there making something. I guess this is why one of my neighbors from down the street came into the shop today to interrupt my play by presenting me with this lovely old plane.

It is a Sandusky Tool Co. #18. The logo is still discernible in the front of the body and the iron is original (I assume) as it has the same logo. It is a little the worse for wear but seems to have an excellent blade with a good solid and well fitted chip breaker.

There is a heavy taper in the blade providing a nice meaty cutting end and the edge was completely without nicks. A couple of passes on a 600 grit diamond block followed by about five minutes on my abrasive films 40 micron to .3 micron and she was “glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife” and she cut some fine fluffy shavings.

The bottom is pretty good for flat but the mouth is about a quarter inch so I’m thinking of inserting a bit of mesquite or osage orange prior to re-flattening the sole.

The tote was broken but when I straightened the retaining bolt it lined up quite well so I think a dab of good old HHG will make it almost new.

Now for the story. When my neighbor told me the story of how he came to have this plane I just had to smile because all of these old tools have stories but how often do we get to hear them?

Back in the forties his father and uncle were mechanics and owned a garage. One day an old carpenter, down on his luck happened by needing car repairs but, short on cash, asked if the brothers would accept a couple of his tools as trade. They had no real use for the tools but agreed. Since that time this plane has been in his family. It has occasionally been used but my neighbor believes that last time it was sharpened or tuned was probably by the old carpenter.

My neighbor has noticed me many times, working in my shop and we have spoken several times. The other day he decided that this old plane deserved to be in the hands of someone who would respect and use it and so today he showed up unannounced and presented me with it. We spoke for an hour or so while I sharpened it, repaired the bolt and reset the chip breaker before taking a few shavings. I think he almost cried. When I sincerely thanked him for this gift he surprised me by thanking me for giving it a real home after all these years.
I think I almost cried.

The plane was accompanied by this marking gauge. Very bad condition but with a wooden threaded key and a lovely patina. The sides of the block are stamped J.W. KIRK. He thinks it came from the same transaction over 60 years ago.

I know the operating era of the manufacturers but would love to know if there is any way to date these tools more accurately.

I hope this brings a smile to you as it did to me. Thanks for looking in.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

30 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19893 posts in 3579 days

#1 posted 03-19-2014 01:44 AM

Nice old plane with a story.

Here is some Sandusky info,

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

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3852 days

#2 posted 03-19-2014 01:53 AM

Lovely story and I am sure the plane is happier being back in service.
Thank you for sharing.
My Sandusky refurb. It has a little history I dug up.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20270 posts in 4688 days

#3 posted 03-19-2014 02:06 AM

Kool! One of life’s present surprises ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17235 posts in 3630 days

#4 posted 03-19-2014 02:09 AM

Love the story, and the plane is lucky to have you!

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

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4315 days

#5 posted 03-19-2014 02:10 AM

oh you bet this brought a smile, and warmth to my heart, it was a transaction that brought happiness to both sides, and now its in the hands of a real woodworker who will love it and use it for what it was made for, a wonderful story to read just before i go to bed, thanks Paul, this was terrific…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 4132 days

#6 posted 03-19-2014 02:10 AM

Great find. Great story. Almost brought a tear to my eye too

-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View MrFid's profile


908 posts in 2916 days

#7 posted 03-19-2014 02:25 AM

Very nice story, and very nice plane! I enjoy hearing those stories as well when I can. I have one of my grandfather’s saws, which is rarely used but still treasured. Hope you’re well. When do you head back up north?

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Karson's profile


35270 posts in 5412 days

#8 posted 03-19-2014 02:28 AM

Great story to continue on it’s life. You’ve now added to the planes story.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View greg48's profile


630 posts in 3769 days

#9 posted 03-19-2014 02:29 AM

Thanks for the story Paul. I always work with the shop (garage) door open mainly for the light, but you never know what may come wandering in. A lot of folks drive by and wave; I often wonder who they are; maybe I should hang a visitors welcome sign from the open door,

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View tyvekboy's profile


2106 posts in 4025 days

#10 posted 03-19-2014 02:41 AM

Thanks for the story Paul.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View sras's profile


5878 posts in 4141 days

#11 posted 03-19-2014 03:07 AM

Great gift, but the story tops it off!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3946 days

#12 posted 03-19-2014 03:19 AM

It’s very hard to part with tools but he must have thought highly of you.

Great story.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5064 days

#13 posted 03-19-2014 04:08 AM

Very nice, Paul!

What a wonderful story to go with it… and I’m sure your neighbor appreciated watching you sharpen the blade, adjusting it, and getting some nice shavings… He knew the plane was is Super Good Hands which really touched him nicely.

That is a very cool plane… and I’m sure you will make it purr like a kitten… next thing you know, you will be “hooked” on Old Wooden Planes and join the Hand Plane Enthusiasts here on LJ.

Thanks for sharing the experience…


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4936 days

#14 posted 03-19-2014 04:09 AM

Very sweet story no one deserves it more, treat it well.

View TheBrokeYoke's profile


10 posts in 2548 days

#15 posted 03-19-2014 04:59 AM

This is a beautiful story. Thanks…

-- Greg, from the Broke Yoke workshop

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