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Forum topic by Sunstealer73 posted 07-10-2015 01:53 AM 1495 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Sunstealer73's profile


192 posts in 3375 days

07-10-2015 01:53 AM

I’m working on a new bench and trying to get prepared to flatten the top when done. I could do the router sled, but like the hand plane option better. I have two older hand planes that I’ve never been able to get working correctly. After reading up on them, I think they are both just crappy planes.

The first one I have is a Shelton No 9. I inherited it from someone. The consensus online seems to be that they were not made very well. This one is in pretty rough shape too, so maybe not worth fooling with any longer?

The second one is a Stanley #5 that I purchased new around 1990 from a hardware store. It has the plastic handles, so I think that makes it the “Handyman” model? It says Made in England, which I think means it is one of the bad ones? I know I have the blade razor sharp, the mouth set correctly, the chipbreaker barely off the edge, but I still can’t get it to plane smoothly. I go from getting no shavings at all to skipping by just barely projecting the blade. Is this one worth continuing to try and tune up?

Assuming neither of those are good options (and new Veritas or LN models being too expensive), should I just pick a decent looking Stanley Bailey #5 off eBay? Looks like they go for $50-75 in decent condition. The Bedrocks go for about double that, are they worth the difference for a “working” plane versus one to display?

23 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5380 days

#1 posted 07-10-2015 01:57 AM

I would also recommend a #7 jointer and #4 smoother. For planes I prefer pre-WW2 planes. Anything with a 1910 patent date (either single 1910 date or with two 1902 dates).

The #5 I would camber the blade and use if for rough work.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View BurlyBob's profile


9399 posts in 3548 days

#2 posted 07-10-2015 03:48 AM

What Wayne said!!!

View Mattyboy's profile


50 posts in 2361 days

#3 posted 07-10-2015 04:25 AM

I can’t help think that the planes you have can be set up to work OK. Maybe not great, but OK. Take a look at any of various videos on rehabing planes or setting them up to see if you can’t get one or both working for you.

For flattening a large bench top, you’ll really benefit from a long plane, like a #7 or #8 as mentioned above. It can be done with smaller planes like the #5, but you would really have to be diligent about checking your work often with a straight edge and winding sticks.

I agree with those above, too, about the new versus older planes. Most of mine are in the post WWII era (‘48-’60 Stanley type 19, I think) and they seem to work fine. I’ve never tried a pre-WWII plane.

Good luck with it. Planing by hand can be very rewarding, but there can be a long learning curve.

-- Matt, Northern CA

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7293 posts in 3776 days

#4 posted 07-10-2015 01:03 PM

For the Bedrocks, I have flat side Bedrocks in #4 and #5, as well as Stanley Baileys in those sizes. The flat side bedrocks are cool, no doubt about it, but they don’t work any better (IMHO) than the Baileys. So if you just want users, as you said the Baileys are a lot cheaper.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Pezking7p's profile


3359 posts in 2934 days

#5 posted 07-10-2015 01:24 PM

Have to agree with Wayne, but I’ll add that newer Stanley’s are fine too, just not quite as sturdy.

With the #5 you have, pull the chip breaker about 1/16” back from the edge…you don’t need it on the #5 and it’s probably interfering with your cut. You should also camber it slightly (or a lot, but a slight camber is easier to do by hand. Just re sharpen with extra pressure on the edges.).

Also keep in mind that very small adjustments make the difference between a no shaving and too-thick shaving.

If all else fails, the iron may not be as sharp as you think.

-- -Dan

View JayT's profile


6438 posts in 3494 days

#6 posted 07-10-2015 01:49 PM

Totally agree with Fred on the Bailey vs Bedrock. I have a user collection of Bedrocks, just because I like them, but in use cannot tell any difference between a well tuned Bailey and well tuned Bedrock.

Your #5 can be made to work as a decent jack plane. If starting from nothing, my recommendation is the same as the others, go for a pre-war plane. That’s because they are usually easier to tune up and a little better quality for about the same price as a newer one. Since you’ve already invested the money in your current #5, all you should need to do is invest some time to get it working correctly. As Dan said, small adjustments and sharp fixes a lot of problems.

Your profile doesn’t say where you live, but it’s very possible there is another LJ within a short distance of you that could help with tuning. Once you’ve successfully gotten one plane dialed in, the next ones are a lot easier.

On the Shelton, depends on the plane. I’ve refurbed a couple that turned out to be really good users. I’ve also seen some that would be a challenge. Maybe post a pic to get more input.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Sunstealer73's profile


192 posts in 3375 days

#7 posted 07-10-2015 01:54 PM

Thanks for the info. I’m going to work on the #5 again today and see if I can get it any better. If not, I’m going to look for a couple of decent Stanley Bailey’s.

View bonesbr549's profile


1589 posts in 4350 days

#8 posted 07-10-2015 02:13 PM

I would also recommend a #7 jointer and #4 smoother. For planes I prefer pre-WW2 planes. Anything with a 1910 patent date (either single 1910 date or with two 1902 dates).

The #5 I would camber the blade and use if for rough work.

- WayneC

+1 I’d add a Low angle Jack, and a scraping plane.

Love my LN’s

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View bandit571's profile


30041 posts in 3966 days

#9 posted 07-10-2015 02:29 PM

Common problems on planes that came into my shop for rehab

90% of the time, iron is installed backwards. A plane this size, the bevel should be down, the chipbreaker should be on the non-beveled side.

Frog has been pushed too far forward. I usually take a small straight edge, lay it on the frog, and sticking out the opening of the mouth. There is usually a short ramp right behind the opening, this is where the straightedge should line up on. I start this way, adjust IF needed later, but the face of the frog and that ramp should be coplanar.

Chipbreaker has gaps between it and the iron. Back of iron should be flat, at least in the area where the chipbreaker will call home, does help if the iron hasn’t been bent. Then hold the chipbreaker and iron together, holding it up so a light will try to shine through. If there is a light shining through, there is a gap for wood to get in and clog things up. Sand, grind, or stone a backbevel on the part of the chipbreaker that almost touches the iron. Try for a knife edge there. Keep checking as you go, until no light shines through. Then add the bolt that holds these two together.

Two finger test fot jack planes and the like:

Set the plane on a known flat surface, even a countertop in the kitchen will do. Have the cutter retracted so it doesn’t come through the bottom, and have things all clamped up like you would be using the plane.
Pace one finger at each end of the base, and try to rock it up and down ( in case there is a hump near the mouth opening) then move the fingers to the corners, diagonally from each other. Any rocking? switch corners, and try again. No rocking? sole is as flat as needed for work. If it does, note where the high spots are. Coarse sandpaper on a flat surface, keep the plane set up like the finger test. “Plane” the sandpaper until it no longer rocks.

Have a sharp edge, bevel down, chipbreaker within a 1/32” of the edge, on the back(flat) side of the iron. Iron/chipbreaker should fit on the frog without any gaps. make sure the lateral lever is in the slot on the iron. Turn plane over, have a light shining on the sole. Looking down the sole, adjust until a thin black line shows. This is the edge of the iron. Check to make sure it is a straight line across, lateral lever to adjust.

try this set up out, first few swipes won’t shave anything but air. Adjust depth until it just start to cut.

have a plain candle handy. Make a bunch of squiggle lines on the sole, and hang on, as the plane will fly across the wood a lot better.

Anything else?

This is my Sargent #414 type 5 jack plane…done according to the steps listed above

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Hammerthumb's profile (online now)


3131 posts in 3258 days

#10 posted 07-10-2015 03:28 PM

I agree with Bandits tutorial and will add another item that is sometimes overlooked. Iron adjustments should only be made advancing the iron incrementally. If the adjustment made is taking too deep of a cut, back the iron out until it is not taking any shavings at all and start over. Incremental adjustments backing the iron out will only lead to frustration.

Good luck

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View Sunstealer73's profile


192 posts in 3375 days

#11 posted 07-10-2015 04:50 PM


That was excellent, thanks. I worked on the Stanley again this morning after gluing up the next section for my bench top. I still cannot get it working right though. After getting frustrate again, I started on the Shelton. I was successfully able to get it producing decent shavings. The frog won’t tighten up as nice as it should, so it is tough to keep the blade square, but it worked pretty well otherwise. I’m planning to hit some antique places this weekend to look for a couple of decent working planes using the information here and from other places I found online.

View bandit571's profile


30041 posts in 3966 days

#12 posted 07-10-2015 04:53 PM

As for the frog staying “loose” adding a lockwasher under the bolt heads seems to work nicely. Replace the flat washer with the lockwashers. The ones that look like stars…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

517 posts in 5251 days

#13 posted 07-10-2015 05:04 PM

Jason, it sounds as if the sole of the Stanley #5 is not flat, with a hollow at the mouth. Consequently, the blade does not project correctly. See my reply on SMC where you posted.

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

View Robert's profile


4783 posts in 2764 days

#14 posted 07-10-2015 10:32 PM

Before you throw in the towel, I would pursue the flat sole like Derek said, because this is likely what’s wrong.
A few strokes on 80 grit sandpaper will tell you what you need to know. Make sure you have the blade/cap iron clamped (and retracted!) so the plane is in tension when you do this.

The Stanleys produced post 1950-60 (termed the “Stanely downgrade” by some) have just about destroyed the name, IMO. Really a shame whats happened to this plane. This is why everybody goes for the WWII era or Bedrock planes. Starting in the 50’s the marketed them to the guys with home shops, not ww’ers and ended up producing a cheap “carpenter’s plane” meant for planing a door edge, not fine ww’ing.

I’ve tried to recondition a several of them and the soles are usually out of flat, and often hollow in the mouth area which is a really bad thing. I’ve run into some so bad they would need the sole machined to be usable (good $$ badly spent). Not so with the preWWII or early 1900’s planes, except the really early ones don’t have adjustable frogs.

If the sole and mouth are flat, then is could be another problem those Stanelys have which is too much back lash and/or a loose advance screw that is losing its setting. If you have to constantly fiddle with it that’s probably the problem. Also, on any plane you have to make sure the blade advance screw is always engaged toward or down tensioned or it will back off and you will lose your blade setting. (They are bad about doing it anyway even with the advance screw engaged).

If you’re getting good shavings one minute and the next not getting them, this is probably what’s happening.


My advice is avoid the aggravation and get a Wood River plane (sold thru Woodcraft). I think you can pick up a #5 for around $160. They are modelled after the Stanley Bedrock but with a much better blade, cap iron, and frog. My experience with them has been very good. I think they are very comparable to even a LN.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View bandit571's profile


30041 posts in 3966 days

#15 posted 07-11-2015 12:27 AM

Most of the newer stanleys I’ve had go through the shop….the toe (front end) was worn down. Users were bearing down so much on the front knob, they wore it down. Sometimes the back end as well. That is whay the two finger test.

If the toe is worn too much, and you start the cut with a light shaving setting, when the back end come onto the surface, it will raise the front end up, changing the setting. In other words, the sole is shaped like a banana. Plane the sole on the 80 grit belt. But, first off, make a bunch of squiggly lines across the sole with a black sharpie. Plane the sanding belt for a bit, then check where the lines still are. That will give you a better idea of what the sole is like. Where the low spots are? Look for the black lines.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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