Edlerly Stanley #5 - How flat is enoough?

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Forum topic by DrPuk2U posted 04-20-2014 05:14 PM 1100 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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70 posts in 2802 days

04-20-2014 05:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane sole flattening sandpaper stone stanley no 5

Long ago I came into possession of an old (but not classic) Stanley #5. Says Stanley #5 but there are no patent numbers or anything. I think my father bought it for some purpose. No idea why – he was a wonderful man but had two left hands when it came to tools. Anyway, this plane has been kicking around in my toolbox for 30 years or more, slowly getting rustier. Recently, I decided to refurbish it and try hand flattening some shelves (5/4) and seat (6/4) of a hall bench I am making.

So I took it all apart and soaked all the parts in Evaporust for a couple days and that did take most of the rust off. Then I read that a good way to flatten the sole is to glue some sandpaper to glass or stone that is flat and rub it till it is flat. Before I started it was NOT flat, it would rock very slightly on my table-saw’s top. So I got a piece of milled granite scrap from a local counter-top place ($25 for a piece 24×15x2”, milled perfectly flat and smooth.

I sprayed adhesive (3M 77) on the granite and laid two sheets of 60 grade sandpaper on it perfectly flat and started sliding it back and forth. And back and forth and back and forth. After the better part of an hour (and many vacuumings of the paper) the sole is flat in the sense it no longer rocks in the slightest on the saw’s top.

However, I marked the bottom with a sharpie before starting and one can faintly see a few marks in the very center of the sole – like it has the shallowest of declivities there. Not near the mouth though. Also, right at the very toe there is an area about a 3/16” that is untouched.

Here are some photos

This is #5 that I will be using to flatten boards. I have a Lie-Nielsen #4 for smoothing so this plane doesn’t have to be perfect. Is it worth trying to get it flatter? I don’t think so but am I being lazy?


-- Ric, Western Oregon, "Design thrice, measure twice, cut once... slap forehead, start over"

7 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16190 posts in 3128 days

#1 posted 04-20-2014 05:25 PM

It’s more than fine for a jack plane, looks great!

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

19331 posts in 3077 days

#2 posted 04-20-2014 05:28 PM

Put a slight camber on the iron and call it good.

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

View bondogaposis's profile


5541 posts in 2861 days

#3 posted 04-20-2014 05:50 PM

No need to get a jack plane perfectly flat. What you have is more than adequate.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View DocBailey's profile


584 posts in 2870 days

#4 posted 04-20-2014 06:11 PM

Agreed as to more than sufficient flatness (especially for a jack)

BUT – in the future, (especially as regards finishing planes, such as a smoother) be sure to assemble as in actual use, then retract the blade, THEN flatten using your preferred method.

View DrPuk2U's profile


70 posts in 2802 days

#5 posted 04-20-2014 06:14 PM

Doc, is this because the assembly may warp the sole, I assume?

-- Ric, Western Oregon, "Design thrice, measure twice, cut once... slap forehead, start over"

View lateralus819's profile


2243 posts in 2399 days

#6 posted 04-20-2014 06:22 PM

Yes Puk, I do it as well, and have never tried otherwise just because why not? But I’m curious how much stress is put into the casting due to the lever action.

View DrPuk2U's profile


70 posts in 2802 days

#7 posted 04-20-2014 09:32 PM

Many thanks for the feedback. The good news is that I re-assembled the plane and it is still flat. I’ll touch it up a little but my goal is to stroke up the sides (just to clean them up) and start the finish work.

BTW, the sides of the plane aren’t, unfortunately, completely square. Maybe a half-degree off? But that’s OK as I wasn’t planning on using it as a shooting plane. I’ll use my #4 for that.

-- Ric, Western Oregon, "Design thrice, measure twice, cut once... slap forehead, start over"

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