Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Hidden Detail of Wooden Bench Planes

I've written before about details of wooden planes, details that aren't apparent until you study them.  Here's another one that I recently stumbled upon.  Maybe I hadn't noticed it before because until recently I didn't have any old wooden bench planes - I only had the ones I've built.
Smoothing plane built last year
Jack plane built in early 2019
When making the wedges of these planes, to form the back end (where you tap with a hammer to tighten) I square a knife line all around, then cut off the excess and plane the end grain smooth before angling the sides and smoothing the edges.
Back end squared to the front surface (and back surface) of the wedge
But I noticed that in the old woodies that I recently got at an auction that the back end of the wedges is angled forward.
Greenfield Tool Co. jack plane
Close-up of the wedge shows the back end angled forward
Auburn Tool Co. jack plane
Close-up showing top of wedge angled forward
Then there's the J. Pearce smoother that I got in that same auction.
Not as easy to tell, but this wedge is also angled forward at the top
And finally, my only other woodie that's like a bench plane: an old A. C. Bartlett's Ohio Planes toothing plane.
This plane clearly has the back of the wedge similarly angled.
In all cases, the angle was between 8° and 12°.  One can guess the function of this little detail: to enable easier access with a hammer and avoid hitting the iron at the same time.

Just another little nugget about wooden planes.  The old plane makers really knew what they were doing.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Rehabbing the Stanley #29

This post turned out quite long, so the words are kept to a minimum and pics tell the story.

Last time I wrote about the #29 transitional plane that I bought in an auction.  I had to try to get this thing working well if I wanted to experience it.  So here we go ...
As found

Disassembled (screws are elsewhere in a vinegar bath)


Sole has some checking

Owner initials on the top?
Unfortunately I got rid of that bit of history when I planed the body true.  Top, sole and sides were planed - as little as possible - to clean up the top, get the sole flat and the sides reasonably flat and square to the sole.
Used a #8 and a #4 to clean up the body

Knob had some minor checks and many signs of age / use ...
... but I scraped off the old finish, then chucked in a drill and sanded 
The shape of the tote was markedly different from that of my metal planes.  In the picture below, I've placed the tote next to the tote from a Stanley #4 1/2.  There's a large difference in the heights.
Transitional #29 tote sitting on #4 1/2 tote

Tote scraped and ready to fix

Planed a flat where horn was broken off

Good gluing surface

Glued on some beech

Sawed out the shape

Refined with rasps and files

Re-established the hole by drilling 1/4" hole from below

Then enlarged the top of the hole to its original size with small gouges and rasps
Some of the wood at the tote's base had worn away and this allowed the tote to swivel a little bit in the depression where it resides.  I added about 1/8" of new wood to the bottom of the tote.  The extra wood lifts it up a little (there was plenty of vertical space to allow this) and makes it more stable.
Planing the bottom flat - it was not even close to flat as found

Gluing on 1/8" of beech

Shaped the new bottom to match the tote
My hands are average size, but the tote was quite small for me and was uncomfortable at the pinky.  So I used a rasp to remove some wood in that area to make it more comfortable.
Shaped this location for comfort
When the woodworking was complete, I gave the wooden parts a thorough drenching in boiled linseed oil.  That darkened up the knob quite a bit, but the new wood on the tote still stands out.  But the highlight was the plane body.  Look at this grain on that chunk of beech - it's gorgeous!
Wet with oil, the rays on the plane's side really popped!
I gave the wood parts two coats of BLO, a day apart and let them dry for several days.


The hardware came out looking great after a vinegar bath.  Don't remember how long I kept them in the vinegar, but probably overnight.  A wire brush in the drill completed the process.
The cleaned up hardware
The depth adjuster knob was looking pretty ugly.  A toothbrush and degreaser got rid of a lot of crud.  Wire wheel did the rest.  A tiny wire wheel in a dremel tool got the inside of the wheel where it revealed the unseen patent dates.
Wheel looking rough

Inside of wheel loaded with crud

Cleaned up.  "Bailey's Patent, Aug 31, 1858, Aug 6, 1867"
In preparation for cleaning up the frog, I removed the yoke by tapping out the pin.  First time ever attempting this and it worked out fine.
Frog in vise, pliers holding nail which is used as a punch to remove the pin
The frog, yoke, lever cap and casting were first cleaned up with a degreaser and brush.  I scraped off as much of the japanning on these parts as I could, except for the "mottled" top surface of the lever cap.
Removed japanning with blunted crappy chisel

My makeshift spray booth

Gave the parts about 6 coats of paint

They came out looking great, though it is easily scratched

The paint I used

Replaced the yoke, making sure to tap the pin back in the way it came out
I didn't take pictures of rehabbing the iron and chip breaker, but I did the usual: flatten the iron's back (it had a HUGE belly and took a LONG dang time), sharpen it, get the front of the chip breaker to mate well with the iron.
Back of iron showing corrosion and pitting to be removed
But it was all worth it when I reassembled the plane, set the iron and took my first shavings.
Shhhnick!  Oh man, that was sweet!
And here she is, all gussied up.  So far, it seems like a real user.  I've put a small camber on the iron and will use it as a try plane.  It's a beauty!  And it was practically free!
Glamour shot

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Stanley #29 Transitional Plane

When I bought a box of wooden planes during an auction at my PAST old tool meeting in January, it included a Stanley #29 transitional plane.  I've never had a chance to check out these planes and have been curious about them for a long time.
The Stanley #29
There is some good information about the transitionals at Pat Leach's supertool site, though he doesn't seem to care much for the #29 (at least not as far as collecting is concerned).
Stamp on the toe
As you can see in the first picture, the plane body is wood, and there is a metal casting that supports the frog assembly, knob and tote.
Casting on wood body
The casting is attached to the wooden body with two screws - one behind the knob (seen in the next pic) and one behind the tote (seen in a pic further below).  As we'll see below, the screws that hold the knob and frog to the plane further affix the casting to the wooden body.

The knob is screwed directly into the wooden body through a hole in the casting.
The tote is attached to the casting in a manner we're more accustomed to with metal planes - a rod that is threaded on both ends screws into a brass nut at top and into a boss in the casting at bottom.
Tote securing rod
The iron assembly is very similar to all-metal planes with an iron, cap-iron and lever cap.
Iron assembly
The frog is screwed directly into the wooden body through two holes in the casting.
Frog screwed down
Frog unscrewed
The brass depth adjustment nut sits very low in the plane.  You can see it in the picture of the tote above - you can't get a finger under it.  Because of its position, adjusting the plane is a little more challenging.

Another very interesting thing about this depth adjuster knob - it has a right hand thread, as opposed to the adjuster on every metal plane I've ever used.  So to advance the iron, you turn the adjuster counter-clockwise.

In trying to date this plane, I came across a post on the Time Tested Tools website entitled "Roger K. Smith's Stanley Transitional Type Study".  Near as I can tell, my plane is a type 9, produced between 1888 and 1892.  This plane has right hand threads for the depth adjuster and the type study said that a left hand thread began with type 10.  Also, the trademark stamped on the toe started with type 8.  My lateral adjust lever is equipped with a round disc and that started with type 9.

One thing complicating this is that there is no marking on the iron whatsoever.  No "Stanley", no "Stanley Rule & Level Co.", nothing.  Maybe it's a replacement iron.  There are also no patent dates on the lateral adjustment lever and there are supposed to be three for a type 9.  The lever also has a double bend in it just above where the iron ends so that it can more easily clear the top of the tote (see the picture of the tote above).

There are probably other things that don't jive with the type study, but I think I'll just go with it being a type 9.

A couple of statistics:

Length:                 20"
Body Width:         3 1/16"
Body Height:        1 5/8"
Iron Width:           2 3/8"

Next time I'll write about restoring this plane.