Category Archives: Rehabilitation of old tools

Resurrection of two cast iron fore planes


I bought the two cast iron fore planes in the pictures below, during our December holiday in South Africa. They have these antique auctions once per month in a little hall less than 100 meters from our holiday house. Most of the stuff they auction off is furniture, but I found these two amongst it.

The plane to the right is a Stanley Bedrock no. 606 circa 1910 from the looks of it. The plane to the left is a Record no. 6, probably significantly younger in age and quite a bit heavier. Both were in a pretty sorry state, but there were no metal parts missing and no pitting or cracks in the cast iron. In other words they could be resurrected. Seeing that I only paid R 400 for the pair (about US$ 36 and £ 22 on 28/1/2014) it would save me a lot of money compared to buying a similar quality plane brand new. Yes, it took me two weekends to finish the resurrection, but I really enjoyed doing it and love working with classic tools that has a story behind it.

When we arrived back home from holiday I took them apart and sprayed all the parts liberally with Q20 as I had to leave town straight away to go and work in Rundu. When I got back 10 days later the rehabilitation started in full earnest.


In these pictures you can take a closer look at the Record fore plane. It’s tote and knob were still in a good condition. It had lost 95% of what is referred to as japanning. It seemed as if it was originally dark blue as most Record tools.


The Bedrock on the other hand had most of the japanning in tact, but in a very poor condition. Both tote and knob needed replacement and the cap iron lost all of it’s chrome plating.


27/2/2014 – Seeing that I already did a post on the finer points of rehabilitating two Stanley Bailey planes, I will not go into exhaustive detail, but rather show what was different about this rehabilitation process.

As these planes both had significant japanning issues and I like nice looking tools I decided to re-do it from scratch. It was quite a mission to remove the original japanning by means of paint stripper and wire brushes mounted on my drill. Then it received a coat of rust converter followed by an anti-rust primer, which is the stage you can see in the pictures below.



While all that was going on I started the arduous process of regrinding the blades, which were both  in a poor condition sporting several chips. I have decided to use the Record plane as a dedicated shooting plane (given it’s nice weight) and therefore ground the blade flat and square. The Bedrock’s blade (pictured) received a substantial camber to be used as a roughing plane. My hand was forced slightly here as the Bedrock’s sides were not anywhere near square to the sole. This meant that my original idea to use it for shooting would mean three years of work on sandpaper and glass, which did not seem particularly enticing. In the pictures below you can also see how I flattened the edges of the chip breakers. Part of the metal work was the flattening of the soles and areas where the frog interact with the plane body and blade.


Both planes were then re-japanned with three layers of high gloss black truck enamel paint. The green stuff you see is masking tape used to ensure that only the areas that needs paint end up with it. Both frogs received the same treatment as you can see.

IMG_9552 IMG_9554IMG_9555IMG_9556


Then I moved on to replace the tote and the knob of the Bedrock plane. If you look carefully at the piece of Assegaai I used, you will see how I was able to get the grain to strengthen both weak areas, which is impossible with a piece of straight grained wood.


The knob was turned from the same piece of Assegaai.


Both knob and tote then received a treatment with a mixture of Tung oil, red Ballistol Schaftöl and mineral turpentine followed by three layers of Woodoc. The planes were then reassembled making sure that every bolt and screw were oiled with light machine oil and every metal surface were wiped with Ballistol. I am still trying to find paste wax in this part of the world to treat the soles with.


Both planes performed admirably during their first post-resurrection planing session. It really is a pleasure to use a tool that is more than a hundred years old, but feels like new and looks even better. I am still trying to find someone to chrome-plate the lever cap of the Bedrock plane but it works like a dream already.



5/2/2014 – Today I received the lever cap of the Stanley Bedrock #606 back from Kenney. He bead blasted it and plated it with something I still need to learn the name of, but it looks brilliant. It is some type of plating they use on aircraft parts that does not rust. They are engineers working on aviation equipment predominantly.



In the photo below my beautiful daughter is posing with the plane sporting it’s new (meaning reconditioned in this particular case) lever cap.




… and a few more photos showing off what a 104 year old plane can look like with some TLC.



Egg beater drill rehab

2/12/2013 – We had our staff’s end of year function on 28/11/2013 at the best Coffee Shop/Pizzeria  in Namibia. It is a wonderfully ambient establishment by the name of La Brocante. What makes it even better is the fact that they also have a treasure cove of old furniture, tools and just about everything else that you could wish for in a historic hotel dining room next to the pizzeria. I found a few old tools in need of basic rehab, one of which was this old egg beater drill. It was still in perfect working order, but needed new handles and knobs.

In the picture below you can see how I turned the three parts needed out of a single piece of leftover beech.


Here it is sporting it’s new limbs.



The final product after a light coat of tung oil.



File handle mania

28/10/2013 – As you might have noticed, my files recently found new accommodation. Now I want to replace their handles with shop made ones. For this task I found the Witpeer board as pictured below.


The board was a bit wavy so the first step was to chop it up into shorter bits. These were then ripped on my bandsaw into strips ideal for turning handles. I used the whole board for this purpose which would give me quite a few more handles than what I need at present, but I thought that I would just make heaps so all the handles look the same when I buy more files in future.



Before turning any handles I switched lathes as the grey one developed a wobble and is therefore now ear-taged to become a disc sander.


This is the first set of handles I turned and realised in the process that the stock is too thin to to turn such a long piece. I will turn them individually from now on.


In the pictures below you can see the process of tapping the ferrule over the end of the handle. The leading edge of the copper ferrule is chamfered in order to slide without digging into the wood which was turned to be ever so slightly bigger than the inside diameter of the ferrule. I first lubricate the wood and inside of the ferrule with epoxy, then tap the ferrule over by hitting the back of the handle with my dead-blow mallet, while the ferrule is pushed firmly against the bench hook. I wrote an entire post on how I made this and a number of other mallets. The post is titled “Mallet Mania”.

The design of the handle is my interpretation of the Lie-Nielsen handles made specifically for the Auriou rasps they sell. This design feels comfortable in the hand and gives me several different grip options while doing different filing tasks.



I hope to be able to turn the bulk of the handles this weekend and will update the post with the result of my efforts next week.

3/11/2013 – On Saturday I turned 5 more of the large handles and furnished them with ferrules.


On Sunday I decided to see how many of each size handle I actually need.


Then I took the stock that was cut for the handles and marked out the different handles to correspond to the the numbers needed of each size. For this task I used the ruler on my assembly table with the ruler stop pictured. It is as simple as butting the stock against the ruler and marking the different lengths with a pencil and square. I will write a short post on how this stop was made in the next day or so. You will find a whole series of posts on how I built the assembly table under the category “bench”.



Here are the fruits of my labor ready for the next step.


As I explained already, it became apparent that one can only turn one or at most two handles from a length of stock before it becomes wobbly. I assume this is because it is too thin. I therefore had to shorten the stock that was prepared last weekend. I took this opportunity to get plenty of hand sawing practice. As you can see, my Lie-Nielsen carcass saw and shop made mitre box came in handy.


Then came the prep work for the lathe. I used my shop made Dead-blow mallet ( and scratch awl ( together with a Lee Valley centre finder for this purpose.


In the pictures below you can see how my medium sized handle turned out. This would become the handle for the bulk of my files. In the second picture you can compare it with the large handle and in the last one with the small handle.


Then came the small handle.


After a hour or so of turning, I needed to do something else. So I seated four large files. In order to know which file to grab devised a code which goes on the heel of the handle. In the first picture you will see the halve round shape with XL inside. This means it is a halve round extra large file. The SC-S refers to it’s double cut smooth grit. The second photo shows a square shaped extra large double cut bastard grit file. Hope you get the idea.



Four extra large files, seated with the information on the heel of the handle.



Here they are after a coat of tung oil.



11/11/2013 – During the past week I continued to turn, seat ferrules, oil and seat these handles.



Here you can see how the Witpeer handles are slowly replacing the horrible plastic ones.



2/2/2014 – This weekend I made a concerted effort to finish the file handle project. In the pictures you can see the last crop being processed.


Glue roller

A problem I have encountered as a result of the very dry climate (ambient humidity 30-35% in my shop during winter months) and frequently needing to laminate heaps of small pieces of wood together has been the short open-time of the PVA glue I use. The reason why I need to laminate is the nature of the hardwood boards I have. There are very few of these boards that one can use as is. For most of them I need to cut a whole heap of smaller pieces to make up bigger ones by lamination. If you have a look at the post I wrote on my “Legvise with a twist” you can get a better idea of what I mean.

The problem then becomes one of trying to apply adequate amounts of PVA to all these surfaces and clamp before the glue dries. The first improvement  to my technique was to use a paintbrush to apply the PVA, rather than the off-cut (shaped like a spatula) of wood I used to use. Then I saw someone using a roller and it seemed so much more efficient. Problem was that the only ones I could find to buy was the ones supposed to be used for paint. They are soft and would absorb more glue than apply.

As per usual I then decided to modify an old paint roller to serve my specific needs to a tee. I turned the cylinder in the pictures below out of witpeer wood. In order to create an area that would be very resitant against wear I epoxied a penny-washer to both ends of the cylinder, as you can see below.


Once that was set I tested the cylinder on an old paint roller handle. It seemed to work well.


I then treated the wooden cylinder with more than ten coats of floor varnish thinned with mineral turpentine. This was an attempt to keep the worse of the moisture on the surface rather than in the wood, as using and cleaning a tool like this will inevitably expose it to lots of H2O.


The final product has sped up my glue application with a vengeance.



In action on a plane to be.


11/11/2013 – Over the past week or so I improved the glue roller by removing the horrible plastic handle and replacing it with a shop turned witpeer one. If you are interested, I wrote an entire post on how I made these handles (mainly as file handles) under the hand tool category. The only way I could get rid of the plastic handle was to cut it away using my bandsaw. I then cut thread into the stainless steel rod that was left and screwed it into the handle with epoxy acting as cutting fluid.


Here you can see how I applied a thick layer of epoxy to prevent any moisture from getting to the end grain.


In order to hang the roller I lined a hole with this thin piece of copper pipe. After the epoxy dried I tidied up the protruding pipe and Bob’s your Uncle.





Old Stanley Bailey handplane rehabilitation

My father gave me most of his tools some years ago when he decided to downscale and pursue other interests. He was very much a powertool woodworker as apposed to a hybrid woodworker (someone who uses both hand tools and power tools) or a handtool woodworker. I never even knew that he was as his way was the only way I knew, until I started reading American woodworking magazines and listening to podcasts such as the one by the Modern Woodworkers Association (my favourite) and Wood Talk (highly recommended). Now I realise that there are other ways to approach woodworking conundrums.

It is not as if I am not grateful for everything I learnt from my Dad, as it certainly got me hooked to woodworking in a big way, but I am finding myself gravitating towards quality handtools with a vengeance. I guess that would make me a hybrid woodworker with fairly basic handtool skills at present.

This is really a roundabout way to get onto the primary purpose of this post, which is the rehabilitation of the two old Bailey handplanes my Dad handed down to me. It is a no. 4 Smoothing Plane and no.5 Jack Plane that really needed serious attention. I never even knew that one should sharpen the plane irons as my father and I never did. Probably, in hind sight, because we never used them. For this reason they never seem to work very well, which did not encourage any further scrutiny.

That was until I watched the DVD on Plane Sharpening by David Charlesworth and using a sharp Lie-Nielsen No.4½ Smoother. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that it was an epiphany. A sharp handplane is poetry in motion. It is psychotherapy for a shrink … literally in my case. David also explains very clearly in his DVD what comprises a functional and well tuned (apart from a sharp iron) handplane, which is all very useful to any woodworker, but especially to plane rehabilitators.

Armed with this new knowledge I set about to rehabilitate these family heirlooms. In the first few pictures you can get an idea of the state they were in. It used to be toilsome to slice Parmesan cheese with these planes, to be honest.


First step was to flatten the soles of these planes and it turned out that they were in some serious need of this particular ministration. An added bonus of doing this is that it makes the shiny parts of the plane body smile with a rewarding gleam. I have to warn you that this is hard work that can take time and perseverance from a woodworker. You do not have to get it 100%, but the toe, the area behind the mouth and a reasonably large area towards or at the heel all needs to be in the same plane.

A Magic Marker is very useful to demonstrate the areas that needs attention. Drawing a grid (as shown) before taking a few swipes over wet-and-dry-sandpaper fixed to 10 mm thick float glass, would reveal the troublesome spots in no time. Please note that I left the plane irons clamped in their usual position, only making sure that they are retracted well into the plane body in order not to get damaged by the flattening activity. The reason behind this is that the clamping action of the lever cap deforms the sole ever so slightly which means that you want to flatten it while under tension.


The remnants of gridlines clearly indicate the low lying areas as seen below.


Then it becomes a question of elbow grease, burning some midnight oil or whatever it might be called. Here you can see how I used my sharpening jig to do the flattening. If you want to read the post on how I made this jig find the post called “My version of Deneb’s sharpening jig” under the category “Jigs”. This jig clamps wet-and-dry sandpaper on a piece of float glass by means of two cauls.


The final product is well worth the effort I thought.


Next I took the planes apart completely, including removing the plane irons with their chipbreakers, the frogs, the totes and knobs.


Here you can see how I sharpened the new replacement blades I bought from Lie-Nielsen. If you are interested in purchasing replacement blades for old Stanleys, check out Lie-Nielsen’s website, they have the whole range. Their blades are definitely the business. Their blades are prepared at a primary bevel angle of 25º and ground flat as … oh no just remembered this is a family website … but you really do not have to do too much work on the back at all.

I honed a 33° honing angle on my 1000 grid Ohishi waterstone and polished a 35º final cutting angle on a 10 000 grid Ohishi stone. Both blades were sharpened with a cambered edge.

Blade bevels.Blade bevels 2.IMG_6830IMG_6831IMG_6832IMG_6869IMG_6870

In the picture below you can see the Nagura stone I use with the 10 000 grid stone.


Here you can see how the totes and knobs looked like prior to rehabilitation. Clearly some type of varnish left that was starting to look seriously weathered. I removed the the varnish with a card scraper before tidying it up with sandpaper.


A last picture before the frogs came off.


The two screws that fix the frog to the body of the plane is evident in the first picture. In the third picture you can see the screw that helps you position the frog during reassembly depending on how tight you want the throat.


Next step was to carefully remove the worst of the rust from the frog’s surface that supports the blade with a fine flat file.


In the first picture below you can see how I then used a magic marker to blacken all the surfaces that is in contact with the back of the blade. In the next picture you can see the setup I used with 150 grid wet-and-dry sandpaper on a piece of float glass on the edge of the table in order to easily hone the most important front section of the frog. In the third picture you can see how the leftover magic marker indicates the areas that needs more attention after just a few strokes on the sandpaper. The last picture show how it is all cleaned up and flat as … yes you know what I mean.


Here you can see how I cleaned up and flattened the areas of the frog that is in contact with the plane body.


Speaking of plane bodies, here you can see how they look prior to a Ballistol treatment.


One of the most important parts of this rehabilitation operation is the work done on the chipbreakers. You want to flatten the area in contact with the blade at an angle that will ensure that the absolute tip of the chipbreaker sits flat on the back of the blade. This is accomplished by the setup as shown. You can see how the angle created will ensure that only the tip ends up flat on the blade.


Here you can see how I decreased the angle slightly for honing and polishing. In the last picture you might be able to appreciate the perfectly polished and flat area that will ultimately sit on the back of the blade.


The lever cap being made of cast iron is much easier to flatten, but again remember to set it up so that you only flatten the area that matters at the very tip that will be in contact with the chipbreaker. These lever caps were not even close to flat in the mentioned area.


Here you can see the totes and knobs before and after a Ballistol treatment.


Both totes were very wobbly due to very slack tolerance around the two raised cast iron areas on the base. I decided to remedy this by inserting some Epoxy putty and squeeze the tote into position, in order to create a perfect fit.


Finally all the parts were reassembled with the frogs set up to create a very tight throat on both planes. I can really recommend doing this for those of you who do not mind some elbow grease in return for a pleasing precision tool. There can be no comparison between how these planes cut post rehabilitation compared with prior to it. It is an absolute pleasure.



As per usual, the proof is in the pudding. Here are some of the first shavings I took. It is poetry, I tell you!


I think they are ready for another few hundred years of work.