#4 1/2 Stanley dilemma

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Forum topic by woodenwarrior posted 09-23-2013 10:10 AM 1881 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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255 posts in 2805 days

09-23-2013 10:10 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane question traditional

Okay, here’s the deal. I was given my Great-Great Grandfather’s tool box and what was left of his tools. In it I found a couple of Disston saws from the turn of the 20th century, some odds and ends chisels and such and a Stanley #4 1/2 smoother. The plane is in great shape (considering the age and condition of the other tools in the box) but the rear tote needs to be replaced to be used and I want to replace the iron and chip breaker with a new Veritas one .

Here’s the dilemma: My family thinks its sacrilege to refinish(rebuild) the rear tote and retune the plane back into a usable condition. Their take is that it should sit in some case I make for it as some sort of shrine to my ancestor, which in turn I find sacrilegious. I believe a better “shrine” for the tool would be it’s continued usage by the great-great grandson of the original owner. For my own justification, what do you think?

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

39 replies so far

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 3217 days

#1 posted 09-23-2013 10:27 AM

I have my grandfathers tools, they were given to me as I am the only one in the family woodworking. I do demos and they are the tools I take with me to show how the technology of the past is still very relevant. Use them is my opinion.

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3131 posts in 2783 days

#2 posted 09-23-2013 10:31 AM

Use them

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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Kaleb the Swede

1916 posts in 2580 days

#3 posted 09-23-2013 10:37 AM

I think if your grandfather was a craftsman I think he was he would want them used. He spent money on quality items of his day and they are still quality now. Use them. Hopefully I’m not being to presumptuous of your family member by saying that

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View 69BBNova's profile


341 posts in 2827 days

#4 posted 09-23-2013 10:40 AM

I would restore them so they could be used again, your grandfather would be pleased that someone of his bloodline built something with them…

To leave them as some sort of shrine I do understand, but it would be akin to hanging on to an old vintage car and watch it rot back into the earth instead of bringing it back to life and driving it…

Your family just cant understand its an honer to restore and use the tools left by a long gone family member…

I wish I could tell you what I would say to my family but I would not put it here for all to see, as far as I’m willing to go is they have no say what so ever.

View GMatheson's profile


478 posts in 3580 days

#5 posted 09-23-2013 10:49 AM

100% on your side and I bet your great great grandfather would be too. Just keep the parts you replace in case you want to ever return it to its original condition. Maybe that will keep the rest of the family happy?

-- Greg in Ontario, Canada

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Don W

19441 posts in 3178 days

#6 posted 09-23-2013 10:57 AM

I’d use it. Even if I decided to put it on display I’d restore it. Either way I’m sure your grandfather would want it in usable condition. Who wants a broken display?

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

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 2360 days

#7 posted 09-23-2013 11:33 AM

They weren’t given to the “family”. They were given to YOU. Do what gramps would have done. Fix’em up and keep using them !

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View MikeinSC's profile


65 posts in 2599 days

#8 posted 09-23-2013 12:52 PM

I would restore the tools and continue to use them. What good will it be as a rotten shell of its former self?

-- I am what they call a "rookie".

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1807 posts in 4096 days

#9 posted 09-23-2013 12:59 PM

Restore + Use = Respect

-- Doug...

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2721 days

#10 posted 09-23-2013 01:01 PM

I’d use them.

I’d probably save the original parts, in case I ever changed my mind.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3286 days

#11 posted 09-23-2013 01:02 PM

If your relatives think it looks cool all rusty, just wait until they see it refurbished.

I recently refinished a 4 1/2, a #6 and a #18 for a customer I’ve known for years. He didn’t use them or think much about it other than they belonged to his dad. But they became a nice family heirloom after I cleaned them up and built a walnut box for the 4 1/2 and the #18 with his dad’s name on a brass plaque inside and his dad’s company name engraved on the lid.

Turns out he was a piano builder for the Star piano company who were also one of the first recording studios and provided pianos for several famous musicians like Louie Armstrong.

I put a one page letter in an envelope about him on nice paper with a picture of the Star Piano factory on the header in the original script.

He loved it!

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Mark E.

387 posts in 4353 days

#12 posted 09-23-2013 01:03 PM

Restore the plane. Use it to build that ‘shrine’ for some of the other tools that are too far gone.

-- Mark

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8812 posts in 3187 days

#13 posted 09-23-2013 01:08 PM

Fix em up and use them. Post pictures when you have the time.

Fine restorations and story Reedwood, thanks.

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 2572 days

#14 posted 09-23-2013 01:10 PM

I’d do a careful, minimalist restoration. Don’t break out a belt sander and harsh chemicals and strip it all down, but go easy on it. Personally if I got a ancestor’s tool, I’d buy a book or two on as close to museum level restoration as I could find. I agree with storing the broken tote to satisfy the family’s concerns and lay out a plan for restoring it in a respectful manner. You did get the tool, but it is their ancestor too, so at least take their concerns to heart. After that, I’m in the mind that the best way to honor a family member’s legacy is to put the tool to use the way they would have. A tool sitting around will rust and decay, but one that is cared for carefully will last much longer.

Do build a nice case or tool chest for it or keep it in grandpa’s toolbox. Storage in a reasonably sealed wooden toolbox helps reduce the rust for a lot of reasons including keeping the dust and sawdust off that contributes to rust.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2686 days

#15 posted 09-23-2013 01:11 PM

Use it, use it, use it.
Your family members will surely find something else to grump about…

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

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