Author Topic: Hand Planes  (Read 147661 times)

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Offline Jim C.

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Hand Planes
« on: October 03, 2013, 08:24:29 PM »
Link to Hand Planes Thread Index-  http://www.papawswrench.com/vboard/index.php?topic=10243.0;topicseen

I like hand planes.  They're fascinating tools, having many diverse patterns and functions that are absolutely invaluable to those who enjoy woodworking.  Planes can be used in just about every aspect of working with wood.  They can be set so precisely as to remove a shaving that's nearly transparent and floats (not falls) to the ground, or they can hog off material and dimension stock better than no other hand tool.  A plane can fine tune a joint to create a seamless union between parts and will leave a sheen on the surface of a work piece that cannot be replicated mechanically or otherwise.  Yes, I like hand planes.  I use them, I collect them, and I enjoy learning about them.  To those who already know the utility and pleasure of using planes out in the shop, then I hope you'll join in the conversation.  To those who are thinking about using that old plane left to them by a loved one, or simply the plane they picked up at a flea market for a couple bucks, I hope you'll be inspired to give it a try.

Stanley #4: 

Stanley started making the #4 in 1869 and is probably still making some version of this plane today, although I suspect that the earlier models, made prior to 1950, were superior in overall fit, finish and quality.  The #4 is most likely one of the, or the most popular, and useful planes ever produced.  So successful that it has scarcely changed in design or appearance in all of its years of existence.  Its size and weight make it suitable for a number of tasks to include smoothing, fitting, finish work, and general carpentry, all depending on the user's personal preferences and the project at hand.  The #4 is commonly found at garage sales, flea markets, and online.  They're relatively inexpensive and should be in EVERY woodworker's arsenal of tools.  Even the DIYer should own one of these, and know how sharpen the iron, tune it up and use it efficiently and effectively.

The plane depicted below is a Stanley #4 with a smooth sole.  It's a Type 16, produced between 1933 and 1941.     

« Last Edit: May 10, 2019, 07:24:52 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Papaw

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2013, 07:40:57 AM »
Great post, Jim!
Are you going to continue to educate those of us not so educated on planes?
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2013, 09:47:45 AM »
Great post, Jim!
Are you going to continue to educate those of us not so educated on planes?

I'm hardly the hand plane expert, and would more likely categorize myself as an enthusiastic user and collector.  The best education one can receive is usually self imposed.  If this thread acts as a catalyst for that curious individual to take the next step, then that's great.
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Offline Art Rafael

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2013, 10:29:27 AM »
Hi, Jim C.

I too like hand planes and find them fascinating.  Some would say that I am obsessed with hand planes -- just because I try to build miniature versions of some that I have seen and like.  I have learned how to really appreciate a part as simple as a lever cap by building some in 1/4 scale.  And I have looked at frogs from both sides now - from up and down, and now, somehow, I really understand how frogs work and how to build one.  But I really don't know enough about hand planes at all.  There is so much to know about the #4 alone, let alone the great variety that have been produced throughout history.  Thank you for sharing your views on my favorite (also), the #4. 

Ralph 

Offline RedVise

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2013, 10:49:12 AM »
  Even the DIYer should own one of these, and know how sharpen the iron, tune it up and use it efficiently and effectively.
       

I have seen this expression before, tuning a plane, would like to know the basics.

Thanks

Brian

Online mikeswrenches

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2013, 02:46:42 PM »
For those of you not familiar with planes, more specifically the myriad of planes that were made by Stanley, check out Pat Leach's site called "Stanley Blood and Gore".  There is a wealth of info there on every plane Stanley ever made.

Mike

Offline Branson

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2013, 07:22:15 AM »
Like Papaw said, great post.  Planes can be addictive though.  I can't seem to pass them up.  Going through some boxes just out of storage recently, I discovered I have accumulated something like a dozen block planes over the years -- don't have the faintest idea how I got most of them. 

Even if a plane is not really tuned, if it has a good, sharp blade it is a very satisfying tool to use.  I think I have six wood bodied smoothing planes as well as a couple of Stanleys, a metal bodied Ohio, a no-name my wife pointed out to me in a junk shop (had to buy it to encourage her help...), and a Baker so unused that it still has its paper label.  Got Stanley #5s in plain and corrugated, a pair of #7s ditto, a #5 1/2 that I probably use most.  Recently picked up a #75...  Have several hand made wooden planes made by Viet-Namese carpenters, and a bunch of wooden planes from 5 to 30 inches long, and a selection of wooden molding planes as well as two Stanley #45...

Did I say addictive?   

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2013, 02:15:23 PM »
........Going through some boxes just out of storage recently, I discovered I have accumulated something like a dozen block planes over the years -- don't have the faintest idea how I got most of them.......

You make an interesting point.  It's so easy to accumulate tools over the years, and the circumstances behind their acquisitions is often forgotten or obscured over time.  At some point in the future, our loved ones will be blessed, or saddled, with OUR tools.  Unfortunately our prized possessions may not have the same sentimental value to our heirs.  Keeping that in mind, when I started buying planes about twenty years ago, I kept track of my acquisitions.  EVERY plane that I bought was accounted for on a handwritten list and on a duplicate 3"x5" card.  I've since started keeping the same information on a computerized spreadsheet too.  The information I keep on each plane includes, the manufacturer, it's age, condition, date acquired, how I acquired it, and how much I paid for it.  Although I probably overpaid for a few of them, at least when the time comes, my kids will know approximately what they're worth and will hopefully realize their value if they decide to part ways with them.

Jim C.   
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2013, 08:08:43 PM »
Every tool box, whether it belongs to a serious craftsman, or an "average Joe" homeowner, and everyone in between, should have a simple block plane in it.  They're so versatile and absolutely perfect for so many jobs.  Set properly, with a super sharp cutting iron, they can trim end grain for the perfect fit, or knock the edge off long grain for a smooth finish.  Any time I'm working with wood, there's usually a block plane on my bench within reach.  Block planes were manufactured in several different patterns, some more useful than others.  The basic block plane is usually about six or seven inches long, with a fixed non-adjustable throat, and an iron bedded at approximately twenty degrees. 

Stanley #9 1/4:

Over the years, Stanley and others made dozens of different block plane patterns, and literally sold millions of them.  The #9 1/4 was about as simple as they come.  It was most probably marketed to the homeowner as an inexpensive, easy to use, handy tool.  Although one could use it for fine woodworking, it is probably more suited to DIYer applications.  Sturdy and dependable, it can handle most general woodworking jobs and deliver acceptable results.  Stanley manufactured the #9 1/4 from 1947 into the early 1980s.  The #9 1/4 is a relatively easy plane to come across at garage sales, etc., and not really expensive.  If you've never tried a plane and wanted to get the hang of it, this is a good one to start with. 

The plane depicted below is a Stanley #9 1/4, Type 23, produced between 1956 and 1959, at the end of Stanley's truly golden age of hand plane production.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 07:30:45 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Branson

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 07:01:14 AM »
Every tool box, whether it belongs to a serious craftsman, or an "average Joe" homeowner, and everyone in between, should own a simple block plane.  They're so versatile and absolutely perfect for so many jobs.

Amen to that!  It's probably the reason I have picked up so many.  There are three next to my bench, and there's one that lives in my go-to window tool box.  Endlessly useful.  The one in the window box is a 60 1/2.  Wide enough for window sash.  The ones next to my bench now are the newest versions of the venerable block plane, and I have found them very satisfactory.  They have a good weight in the hand and definitely do the work.  One I picked up a year ago in a box lot of tools, and it has the non-adjustable mouth.  The other two are adjustables, one narrow like the 60 1/2, the other wider.  (What I like best about the adjustable mouth is that closes enough to protect the edge of the blade when it's bouncing around in a tool box.)

For planing end grain, that 20 degree angle makes it tops.  For one handed use, it's the champ, and it takes up just about no space in a tool box.

Stanley now makes a holster for these, by the way.  Makes them even handier on the job. 

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 10:00:42 AM »
  Even the DIYer should own one of these, and know how sharpen the iron, tune it up and use it efficiently and effectively.
       

I have seen this expression before, tuning a plane, would like to know the basics.

Thanks

Brian

Hi Brian,

Tuning a plane is term that basically means "perfecting" the plane so that it performs at its highest optimal level.  Contrary to popular belief, most planes are not ready to use right out of the box.  That was particularly true of the antique planes that I plan to show you in this thread.  They were mass produced items that needed a little more work on the part of the final consumer to get them cutting and functioning correctly.  One of the first things a new plane, and most garage sale/flea market planes need is a super sharp iron.  A REALLY sharp cutting iron is half the battle.  Although it might seem sharp, the irons on new planes are about half as sharp as they need to be in order to cut properly.  Old plane irons usually need to be re-ground/re-shaped (depending on its intended use) and definitely re-sharpened.  Then there's the matter of the plane's sole.  Many were not actually flat from the factory, and may need some lapping to get them to where they are truly flat.  Moving parts need to work freely.  Sometimes that's just a few drops of oil to loosen things up.  Other times it's more involved rust and crud removal.  The union of parts, for example the joining of the cutting iron and the chip breaker on a bench plane, need to fit perfectly, so that wood chips don't jam between them.  The same can be said of the union between the frog and the sole of the plane,  sometimes some light filing is necessary.  For more information about hand planes, I highly recommend checking out a book called "The Handplane Book" by Garrett Hack.  It's a great book that discusses the various types of planes that were manufactured over the years, as well as how to "tune" them and use them.

Now, with all that being said, if you come across a collector quality plane, you would be GROSSLY de-valuing it if you did anything to it like I just described above.  Leave it in "as found" condition.  Don't try to clean it, never use a wire brush or wheel on it, do not try to enhance the japanning or finishes on it.  Just leave it alone.  There are soooooo many user quality planes on the market that it would be a shame (almost a crime) to destroy the tool's originality.  The two planes I've depicted above are mint, collector quality planes.  Using them at this stage of game would de-value them.  Although they're very common planes and easily found in used condition,  finding them in superior, NOS condition, is rare.  If you plan on using planes, which I hope you do, go for the ones that are in "user quality" condition.  You'll pay a lot less for them too.  Just as an example, the Stanley #4 above, in the same NOS condition is probably worth approximately $75 - $100 to a collector.  The very same user quality plane could be had at a flea market for $5 - $10.  If a plane is super rare, even the user quality examples can command big money, just like any other collectible tool.

Jim C.   
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 10:06:06 AM by Jim C. »
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Offline scottg

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2013, 10:55:55 AM »
  Jim is absolutely right about "collector quality" planes.
 There are people willing to pay a lot of money for 100% factory paint on a tool.
 Not almost new, but perfy perf perfect, new new new.  Nobody can explain why, but old things that are still new is the biggest appeal in the world to many people. These are also the people willing to spend far and away the most money to get it. They don't want to do anything with them. They just trade them back and forth as commodities of value.
  Boxes are worth even more. A simple cardboard box meant to be tossed when you got home with the tool? These are often worth more than the tool inside, by a wide margin.

    So if you find a crispy new looking box from 1860, that has never been opened, with a new plane inside, it will buy you a house.
 Well almost that much.

         90% paint?  Not so much.
90% is not enough paint for them. It has to be 100% or nothing.
 90% is often not worth a nickel.
 Or any one of 100 other little things, that don't mean anything to a guy cutting wood, qualifies a tool for scrap, in the collectors' world.
    Perfy perf perfect, remember. Nothing else counts.
   
  This means only 1 in 1000 planes you see are tools that collectors might really go after.
  The rest you get to have cheap.  As many as you want.

  999 to 1?   I liked these odds. :)  These were good odds for me for a long time.   

Unfortunately the odds are changing as more and more people are starting to restore old tools and put them back to work and finding out how good they are to use.
  I was once considered a felonious vandal for restoring old tools, in the collector's world. But that is steadily slipping away. Pretty soon the fine cheap tools will be gone. So get them now if you want them.   
    yours Scott

 

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2013, 01:17:40 PM »
  Jim is absolutely right about "collector quality" planes.
 There are people willing to pay a lot of money for 100% factory paint on a tool.
 Not almost new, but perfy perf perfect, new new new.  Nobody can explain why, but old things that are still new is the biggest appeal in the world to many people. These are also the people willing to spend far and away the most money to get it. They don't want to do anything with them. They just trade them back and forth as commodities of value.
  Boxes are worth even more. A simple cardboard box meant to be tossed when you got home with the tool? These are often worth more than the tool inside, by a wide margin.

    So if you find a crispy new looking box from 1860, that has never been opened, with a new plane inside, it will buy you a house.
 Well almost that much.

         90% paint?  Not so much.
90% is not enough paint for them. It has to be 100% or nothing.
 90% is often not worth a nickel.
 Or any one of 100 other little things, that don't mean anything to a guy cutting wood, qualifies a tool for scrap, in the collectors' world.
    Perfy perf perfect, remember. Nothing else counts.
   
  This means only 1 in 1000 planes you see are tools that collectors might really go after.
  The rest you get to have cheap.  As many as you want.

  999 to 1?   I liked these odds. :)  These were good odds for me for a long time.   

Unfortunately the odds are changing as more and more people are starting to restore old tools and put them back to work and finding out how good they are to use.
  I was once considered a felonious vandal for restoring old tools, in the collector's world. But that is steadily slipping away. Pretty soon the fine cheap tools will be gone. So get them now if you want them.   
    yours Scott

 

I guess it's all a matter of opinion that I won't debate, but for the sake of clarity, I want to make sure that we're all on the same page when it comes to the actual finish on an antique hand plane.  They weren't really "painted," but rather "japanned."  The process involved coating some of the plane's surfaces with a black material consisting of natural asphaltum resins, dissolved in linseed oil and thinned with turpentine.  The substance was then hardened onto a surface by means of baking it at high heat.  The process of japanning falls somewhere between painting and enameling.  It was very commonly used in the metal wares industry, and thus was an easily obtainable, relatively inexpensive way to provide a protective coating to a variety of items including hand planes and other tools.  As a user and collector of old planes, I've found that various companies, like Stanley and Sargent, must have had their own secret recipes and processes for japanning tools.  When comparing two planes that were manufactured in the same era, by the two different companies, I've found that the quality and consistency in their applications is different.  Generally speaking, the japanning on the Stanleys seemed a little more durable in my opinion.

Jim C.         
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Offline RedVise

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2013, 04:39:40 PM »

Hi Brian,

Tuning a plane is term that basically means "perfecting" the plane so that it performs at its highest optimal level.  Contrary to popular belief, most planes are not ready to use right out of the box.  That was particularly true of the antique planes that I plan to show you in this thread.  They were mass produced items that needed a little more work on the part of the final consumer to get them cutting and functioning correctly.  One of the first things a new plane, and most garage sale/flea market planes need is a super sharp iron.  A REALLY sharp cutting iron is half the battle.  Although it might seem sharp, the irons on new planes are about half as sharp as they need to be in order to cut properly.  Old plane irons usually need to be re-ground/re-shaped (depending on its intended use) and definitely re-sharpened.  Then there's the matter of the plane's sole.  Many were not actually flat from the factory, and may need some lapping to get them to where they are truly flat.  Moving parts need to work freely.  Sometimes that's just a few drops of oil to loosen things up.  Other times it's more involved rust and crud removal.  The union of parts, for example the joining of the cutting iron and the chip breaker on a bench plane, need to fit perfectly, so that wood chips don't jam between them.  The same can be said of the union between the frog and the sole of the plane,  sometimes some light filing is necessary.  For more information about hand planes, I highly recommend checking out a book called "The Handplane Book" by Garrett Hack.  It's a great book that discusses the various types of planes that were manufactured over the years, as well as how to "tune" them and use them.

Jim C.   

Jim C.  Thanks for that info!

Brian

Offline scottg

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2013, 05:30:52 PM »
         Again 1000% true
 Japanning is a very early form of hardened enamel paint. Not quite the fused glass enamel jewelers use, but certainly harder than regular paint.
         And its a pain in the butt!!

  Its as thick as molasses in the wintertime.
 You paint it on, air dry overnight, and then fire it. Not once, but at least 3 times to truly harden.
 If you try to bake it all the way up to final heat in one pass, it bubbles on you..... (grrrr)

 [Regular paint can be fired too btw. Any traditional oil based alkyd enamel (rustoleum etc).
  But you have to fire even longer, and more times working up to final heat. (bake for 1/2 hour, ...cool it down. Bake again for an hour, ...cool again.  and so forth, until final heat and hardness occurs)
 It takes --a lot-- more coats because true japan paint is so thick.
 But in the end it will harden to a very durable finish itself. I have done it a number of times and Wiktor does it everyday on his restored-better-than-new Millers Falls hand drills. ]

 The factories did this by just dunking them (once for most companies, twice for Stanley, I think) and then firing after. The bright parts, or bare metal parts, were sanded off smooth afterward.

  They used a form of precision sanding called linishing. Its still in use today.
 If you drop off your cylinder head to get milled at the machine shop, they actually sand it.
 True milling or high precision surface grinding takes too long, and its overkill.
  Linishing is close enough and its a whole lot quicker.

 The plane companies were going to machine these surfaces anyway, so why not just wait until after it had been painted?

   I am pretty sure Stanley did all this twice.  Nobody else comes close to the thickness of finish Stanley used before WW11.

    I have some alphaltum japan, made to the original recipe (as good as could be anyway) and even though it is thick enough to stand a brush up in, it still takes at least 2 complete fired coats to make a finish as thick as Stanley used. 

    Neither Sargent, Millers Falls, Auburn or Ohio are anywhere near as thick.   
      yours Scott