To restore or not to restore.... that's the question.

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Forum topic by Alonso posted 01-22-2010 08:32 AM 1766 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3799 days

01-22-2010 08:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: stanley bailey no3 no4 restoration


Today I received one package from eBay with a couple of REALLY nice bench planes

Stanley Bailey No 3 corrugated type 11. 92 to 100 years old

Stanley Bailey No 4 Smooth sole type 6. 118 to 122 years old!!!

They are in a really nice condition for such an old tool. No repairs, breaks or any of the usual damage that we see all the time on this tools. Just the usual wear and the signs of time passing by, whoever was the original owner must have be a truly woodworker that knew how to take care of a tool.

I’ve been thinking to do some work on the brass and polish the Tote and knob, just a light cleaning on the main body and sharpen the blade. Nothing too deep but just to emphasize the little details that make those planes to really stand out.

Here are some pictures,

Please help me decide if I do a real deep restoration, leave them the way they are or just emphasize the details.



No 4 Smooth Sole

No 3 Corrugated

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

10 replies so far

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3668 days

#1 posted 01-22-2010 11:17 AM

Niiiiiiice find!

I think many hardcore collectors prefer to let items show their age, to them thats where the value comes from (I keep thinking of shows where the expert will be all appalled that someone DARED to clean an antique “you’ve destroyed its value you uncivilized fool!” LOL), but if it was me I personally think the best way to show respect to a good tool and its history is to keep it in the best working condition possible and keep using it to do what it was meant to do :D

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View woodworm's profile


14476 posts in 4151 days

#2 posted 01-22-2010 11:35 AM

They look in good condition.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Ole's profile


67 posts in 3637 days

#3 posted 01-22-2010 11:47 AM

This is my first post, so here goes…
I personally have more respect for an old tool versus a new shiny one. I feel like it’s proven its worth by having lasted and still being useful. Honestly, the planes look fantastic! Had I gotten as lucky as you have, I would wipe them off thoroughly and hone the blades. No polishing, anywhere.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3676 days

#4 posted 01-22-2010 01:10 PM

I´m with Ole just hone the blade and sole
it seems that there is a few rust spot in the japaning on the last two picture´s if that is correct
my suggestion is that you use some rust remover but only on the spot´s with an earstick so you
preserve the tools as users and in respect of the earlyer users/owner

just my 2 cent


View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3929 days

#5 posted 01-22-2010 01:17 PM

Someone has already cleaned a lot of rust off those tools. Either use them as is or do a full restoration. Leaving as is as a collectable would not be advisable, the value has been lowered by the amatuerish cleaning they have received.

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3799 days

#6 posted 01-22-2010 05:45 PM


May I ask how can you tell they were cleaned before? I really think they still on its original condition, but I would like to know your point of view, perhaps I’m missing something that you caught.

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4779 days

#7 posted 01-22-2010 07:04 PM

I’m no expert, but I suspect Dan’s thought is that the patina just doesn’t look right for the age. Metal that old should be darker unless it was either a) cleaned up at some point or b) kept in pristine condition over the years. If it had been kept in perfect condition, there wouldn’t be any of the pitting that is evident in the photos, so it must have had some rust removed to get that degree of shine back.

As I said, this is just my thought… I’m not an expert.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3799 days

#8 posted 01-22-2010 10:46 PM

Ohhh I didn’t realized that Charlie, thanks for bringing that up.
You are right, if there is some pitting present, there should it be some rust too…

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


416 posts in 3993 days

#9 posted 01-23-2010 12:44 AM


Sharpen the iron and giddyup!!!!! Plane away!!!

They were made to be used!!!

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View blackcherry's profile


3343 posts in 4384 days

#10 posted 01-23-2010 01:40 AM

I would remove the original blade and store and use another blade in its place. As far as restoration try and keep the dark patina and keep it well oil and clean. Store in a plane sock when not in use for long periods. I have some old plane and I wouldn’t dare remove the beautiful patina of history. Just my two cents but most of all enjoy these treasure hand planes…Blkcherry

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