Vintage Handplanes

I've added a couple of second hand planes to my tool collection this week. The first is a Record 043 plough plane (or 'plow' if you're across the pond). The 043 first came out in 1934 and was made until 1978. This is one of the cleanest examples I've come across, in fact I'm not sure if it's been used at all, as there's no sign of wear to any of the screw slots. It came complete with the original box, all 3 cutters and even the receipt from when it was purchased in 1974.

I sharpened the blade and gave it a try on some African Mahogany, it worked flawlessly, very easy to setup and it's small size makes it fairly comfortable in the hand.

To give more support, I've made a slightly longer wooden fence from an off-cut of Padouk, which is screwed to the metal fence through the two pre-drilled holes. (Click on the thumbnails to view larger).

The other new addition this week is a Stanley no.3 smoothing plane. This particular model is a type 19, made some time between 1948-61.

Along with the original parts, it also came with an additional modern Quangsheng chipbreaker and stainless steel lever cap, as well as a Ray Iles blade, which is thicker than the standard blade. The plane was in fairly good/average condition considering it's age, some rust in the usual places and general wear and tear, it just needed a little work to get it working at it's best.

I began by stripping the plane apart, thoroughly cleaning everything with lighter fluid to remove old dust, grease, etc. The bed has been repainted at some point. Along with the frog, it could do with properly stripping and repainting at some point, but for now a clean and polish will suffice.

The edges of the bed had some corrosion and flaking paint on them, so I cleaned them up with a Scotch-Brite/sandpaper flap wheel. All the screws and fittings cleaned up well, the only parts I replaced were the two rusty washers. The brass thumb wheel and handle fittings also polished up very well.

The sole and sides were flattened on sandpaper attached to a flat piece of cast iron. I marked the sole with a Sharpie to check my progress, starting out at 80 grit and working up to 240 grit.

The knob and rear handle were a little rough but I didn't want to strip them back too much as they had a nice looking patina to them. After some sanding, a couple of coats of oil and some wax polish, they felt great and still retained some of that vintage look.

The back of the Ray Iles blade was nice and flat already, it just required a little polishing with some wet and dry paper on a piece of granite. I use the David Charlesworth 'ruler trick', which involves placing a thin ruler underneath the blade, therefore raising it up so that only the front edge (the only bit that matters) is being flattened... simple but very effective, it can save a lot of time.

Once I've got a flat, polishing strip on the back edge of the blade, I switch to my whetstone grinder to hollow grind the bevel. The first bevel is ground at 30 degrees, then a secondary or 'micro' bevel is ground at 35 degrees (with a slight camber) and then honed to a razor sharp edge.

With everything assembled, I gave it a test run on a Walnut and Maple neck blank and then on on a larger piece of Black Walnut. A little wax applied to the sole and the plane was gliding across the wood, producing nice thin shavings. The surface left behind on the Walnut was silky smooth.

If you want a good a plane without spending a lot of money and don't mind getting your hands dirty, then I highly recommend finding an old Stanley, there's no shortage of them on eBay. This one cost me just £36 plus a couple hours of work.