W. & S. Butcher

Stanley Planes

English Braces


Restoring Chisels, Turning Gouges and Other Edge Tools

  Free blades! by Scott Grandstaff  

Here is my annual reminder that you can have many kinds of blades, free, with only a little work, anytime you want.

I got a Stanley 55 spokeshave for Christmas. I never had one and always kind of wanted one. This one is so clean from japanning and such good rich patina to the iron. No way will I even mess with it! I love it!

It's a Rule and Level period so the backside of the handles is fairly solid. In case you never noticed, you can tell the age of any Stanley spokeshave (and everybody else mostly copied Stanley) by flipping them over and looking at the backside of the handles.

This one has very thick handles, only slightly hollow.  An excellent tool! But it has a bad blade. It had never been used, but it had been seriously neglected. I could have lapped out the pits, but that takes a lot longer than just making a new blade. Stanley's blade idea is .060, slightly thinner than 1/16". After I get to the bottom of the pits I don't even know how much would be left.

So, I looked at my pile of old blades. Solid steel circular saw blades were and still are made for ...wait for it, .....cutting wood!!

So I grabbed an old 12" blade from the 50's/early 60's. The "plywood" blades, the ones with a gadzillion little teeth, are some of my favorites. They are flat ground with no taper to worry about. The little teeth means you get more blade to work with. A sharpie works well enough for layout. Just lay the old blade down and mark around it. Remember, you will be removing the --entire line--!!

My weapon of choice for this is the paper thin Dremel cutoff wheels. These are so thin you can cut without disturbing the temper of the steel at all, if you're careful. They are fragile and you will break one or more, so wear your safety equipment! The thicker and larger wheels on the market cut slower and generate more heat. There is still nothing better than the paper thin wheels for this job!

I start a cut at the far edge away from me and work toward myself. The sparks will obscure your cut line otherwise. Make a light but steady cut. Then go back over it several times until you are over 1/2 way though.

This will take some practice. But the steel is free and the disks come in a tube of 36 (except the newest Dremel brand wheels. There is less in the package now, but the competitors are just as good, so save yourself a few pennies.) When you are over half way through, you can clamp the work in a vise just below the cutline and wallop the blade with a hammer. It will snap at the line.

Drilling holes in saw blades takes a harder bit than a standard twist bit, but cheap masonry bits are carbide tipped and drill though just fine. Drill a hole in each end of the slot and cut the middle out with the cutoff disk. You will have to work from both sides and there will still be a tiny bit left to snap with a pin punch and hammer.

OK that's it. Take it to the grinder and even it up. Grind your edge freehand and guess what? Nobody really cares if it "exactly" matches the profile of the tool.
If its close, its close enough. My blade is .080. The extra thickness is not such a big deal, but Stanley left the throat a bit too far open on many of their tools, and I like mine a little tighter.

Here is where it started, and how it ended, in one picture!

Honed and stropped? What's that? You don't know how to strop a curved blade??
Awwww geeze too bad nobody ever showed you that... heeheheheheeh

Effortless cutting! And it's free! You got to love this!

yours, Scotty
in Happy Camp, CA
January, 2013

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Stanley Chisels


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