A few hand plane questions

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Forum topic by Dan posted 11-23-2010 08:26 PM 3436 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3361 days

11-23-2010 08:26 PM

I have a few misc questions on hand planes and was hoping I could get some help/advice from you guys.

First question- I just bought a Stanley #3C plane off ebay. It was covered in rust and looked like a fun restore project. However the top part of the frog that holds the lateral adjustment lever? is broken off. There is no adjustment lever and no way to put one back on the frog. The rest of the frog and plane are in good shape. My question is will the plane still work decent if I don’t replace the frog? Do I need that adjustment lever on there or can I just adjust the blade by hand? I do plan on replacing the frog as soon as I find one but till then I was hoping I could use it as it is?

My next question is in regards to another plane I recently got. I picked up a Stanley #103 block plane for a dollar and started getting her tuned up. The sole on the plane was far far from flat. I spent about 3 hours lapping the sole and I finally got about 90% of the sole flat. The very back of the sole is the only part thats off. From what I understand as long as the area around the mouth of the plane is flat then it should be good. Do you think I should continue to work on the sole to get that back end flat or is it good enough to go now? The whole sole is flat front and sides, its just the very tail end thats still off.

My last question is about replacement blades. I am thinking of getting a IBC Pinnical replacement blade and chip breaker. Do any of you have these blades or used them? Are they really worth the price? How different are they from Hock blades? I have just used the original blades so far so I am new to after market blades.

Any feedback advice would be great. Thanks

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

13 replies so far

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3676 days

#1 posted 11-23-2010 08:31 PM

Hey Dan,

For #1, I think because the blades usually have a groove to accept the adjustment lever and keep the blade locked in place, without that groove filled for support I dont think the blade will stay in one adjustment at all. It might move on you frequently. However, you can find replacement frogs on some restoration sites. I dont know about the quality of these, but Highlandwoodworker(known for the Woodslicer bandsaw blade) has repair kits that will fit the #3c if you cant find original replacement parts:

#2, As long as the front of the plane is flat and area behind the mouth is flat, you shoudl be ok. Those are the parts that matter most.

#3, I was wondering the same thing when I purchased the HOCK ones. They look similar. Both would be a great improvement though over the stock blades and chipbreakers.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3361 days

#2 posted 11-23-2010 08:44 PM

Eric – Thanks for the links. I think your correct on the lever supporting the blade. I was going to keep checking ebay until I found the part I needed but I will check the links and see what they have.

I figure I will be replacing both the blade and chip breaker and I like that the IBC blades include the chip breaker but I just want to make sure its worth the price.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3676 days

#3 posted 11-23-2010 08:47 PM

There are some no. 3s on ebay. It may be cheaper and easier to buy another old no. 3 than try and find an original replacement though.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View knotscott's profile


8325 posts in 3857 days

#4 posted 11-23-2010 09:52 PM

Dan – Both of Eric’s suggestions for a frog replacement are good ideas. You might find a basket case #3 with a perfectly good frog for peanuts (plus s/h).

Learning to sharpen whatever blade you choose is at least as important as which one you choose. I’ve only got one replacement blade in my whole collection of planes…that’s not to say the aftermarket blades aren’t better, but so far I haven’t seen much need to upgrade yet.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3361 days

#5 posted 11-23-2010 10:28 PM


I do sharpen my own blades and I have been able to get some really good results from the original blades. The problem is they don’t seem to hold a sharp edge that long. I have been practicing my sharpening skills a lot as of late and hope to get better. I was thinking of doing like you did and only having one good quality replacement blade and using it in my smoothing plane. Seems like it would be best used there.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View swirt's profile


4146 posts in 3453 days

#6 posted 11-23-2010 10:41 PM

That little block plane (if it is the same from one of your other posts) can do just fine without being perfectly flat. Especially if you are just using it as an apron plane.

I have a Hock blade that I really like in a No4. I have no experience with the IBC blades.

Regarding the broken lateral adjuster, I’d say give it a whirl without it first. It may be that the blade may be a little too loose to hold a setting, but I think it will become apparent pretty rapidly. Give it a whirl and see if it works and then come back here and let us know ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3361 days

#7 posted 11-23-2010 11:03 PM

Swirt – Yes its the same one I posted a pic of last week. I had no idea the sole was so far from flat. I spent more time on it then most people probably would have. The back is still a ways off and I was hoping that would be ok because I really don’t want to put much more time into it. I make a lot of smaller projects so I am thinking this will come in handy for the small detail stuff.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3676 days

#8 posted 11-23-2010 11:32 PM

Dan, the hock and IBC blades will DEFINITELY stay sharper for a much longer period of time than the stock one, but type of wood and number of passes do affect that time.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3525 days

#9 posted 11-24-2010 03:35 AM

Dan, you might just try the plane without the adjuster and see what you think. The thumblever on the lever cap should keep the iron in place laterally, and if you want to tilt it to one side or the other, use a small brass hammer. You will get a much greater improvement, IMHO, in upgrading the iron and chipbreaker than replacing the frog. Lateral adjustment isn’t done too often, so you shouldn’t miss it. consider LV blades – they come very well prepared so it will take no time to put them to use.

View mvflaim's profile


189 posts in 3572 days

#10 posted 11-24-2010 04:00 AM

The lateral adjustment on planes is a nice thing to have when you need to fine tune the cut. When you have the plane set up and the blade completely sharp, you will find that the blade may be cutting a little too deep on one side. The lateral ajustment makes it easy to fine tune the blade so that the shavings pull from the center of the iron and not from one of it’s side.

Do you need it? On a No 3 plane Yes. The No 3 is a smoothing plane that is designed to take fine cuts for finish planing. Without the lateral adjustment it will be tough to achieve a consistant cut over time even if you set the blade with the tapping of a hammer.

Since your plane doesn’t have the lateral adjustment lever, you may want to try to put a slight camber on your iron so that it will pull more from the center.


View MikeGraw's profile


24 posts in 3403 days

#11 posted 11-24-2010 08:50 AM

Hi Dan,

I have restored a number of planes. Last year I wanted to round out my hand plane collection with just a couple and wound up buying about 20 when it was all said and done. Regarding your questions.

#1 – the lateral adjustment lever isn’t absolutely necessary on the planes. Many of the early Bailey style planes didn’t have them at first. It is critical to have the y yoke going to the adustment knob though. If this is missing it will be very hard to accuately adjust your plane. The bottom of the inverted y yoke does fit into the notch in the blade to make the adjustment.

#2 – No the total of the bottom of the plane does not need to be absolutely flat across the whole bottom. You are right about the area around the mouth being important to be flat. You also want the front of the mouth to be true, not worn away to a crescent shape. Besides the area around the mouth, you want the majority of the sole to be flat. The 103 is only about 5 1/4 inches long so you don’t want more than a 1/4 in or so in the front to be off. The heel can be off a bit more as there is more of the sole behind the blade to register flat.

#3 – For the most part I have only used the original Bailey/Stanley style blade for the plane type that I restored. I just like the authentic look of them. I have researched the blades quite a bit though and thought if I did get a different one it would be the Hock. They just seem like a very well made blade.

Lastly, you mentioned the planes had a bit of rust. I found a couple of products that worked great when I was retoring the planes as some of mine had a LOT of rust. Just regular CLR from the hardware store, or Harbor Freight has a rust remover product. The HF is about $20 a gallon. With either product you just soak your rusty planes or tools in it and it disolves the rust without damaging the metal of the plane. Some of the planes needed to be soaked over night and then I just used a brass brush to remover some of the more stubborn rust. Worked great.

Here are a couple of links for some really good plane information and restoring info.

Patricks Blood and Guts, strange name but he knows his planes:

You can determine your planes age and type at this site:

Great overall site for plane info and restoring.

Have fun.


-- Mike's having fun in Central Wisconsin

View gko's profile


83 posts in 3725 days

#12 posted 11-25-2010 09:34 AM

#2 I’ve been taught that you need the most pressure just in front of the blade and it seems that I get the best shavings when the pressure there. Its like when they make veneers out of logs they have a bar that puts a lot of pressure on the log just before the blade. Rob Cossman’s clinic on rejuvenating old planes said that the most important part is the area in front of the blade and the back end. He said if the area between is not totally flat he doesn’t sand anymore. I took lessons on Japanese planes and they teach you to have only two places that actually touch the wood, just before the blade and the very end. Of course in Japanese planes things are opposite of western planes.

If the end doesn’t touch the wood then you have a shorter plane. Which means the board will not be as flat. Jointers are long to minimize the dips left after planing.

I had an old Stanley where the area just behind the blade was totally rusted out. I sanded the bottom just to the point where the area in front of the blade was totally flat and the same for the back end. The area behind the blade doesn’t touch the board for at least an inch and the rest was spotty. Shavings improved immensely and are excellent.

When I first bought my Japanese plane I flattened the entire bottom not knowing the way it should be shaped. I could never get fine shavings and a lot of tear out on curly grain. After learning about how to shape the bottom I shaved away the area between the front of the blade to the end of the plane about 1/64. Then the area behind the blade completely shaved away about 1/32. Amazing shavings, boards turn to glass and tear out is minimized.

Remember, Japanese planes are completely opposite of western planes. Blade is in the same physical place but points backward instead of forward.

Ok, don’t yell at me but this is what I’ve learned about setting up a plane and I get really fine shavings with amazing looking boards.

-- Wood Menehune, Honolulu

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 3823 days

#13 posted 11-25-2010 03:21 PM

Both blade manufacturers are top notch and yes I truly believe it is worth the money and it makes sense to take advantage of technology currently available from the high end blade manufacturers. I finely tuned plane with a high end blade and chip breaker will give you similar performance to a $200 – $300 plane from LN. I personally use Hock, having both O2 and A2 blades along with the matching chip breakers. It seems to me that I can get a better edge with the O2 and I agree with all in the room A2 holds an edge better as it is a harder steel. This is really of no consequence for me as I quickly hone chisels and plane blades before I am going to use before I start a every project so I prefer O2.

You have the correct info on the sole of your plane. The banana sole where you can see daylight at the mouth is the killer and will send you to power tool land running. While you wait on a replacement frog or adjustment lever you can use your #4, use a small tack hammer and lightly tap the top of the blade to the left or right to fine tune your cut. Have fun!

-- Marc

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