Stanley Planes

Plow Planes USA, LLC

Comb. Planes


Restoring Planes: Metal and Wooden


Stanley Plane Restoration by Will Myers

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I enjoy making a useless tool useful again. Old Stanley hand planes are
always fun to restore.


They are plentiful, low cost and can be made into a magnificent tool with a little time and effort. These planes are well documented, it is easy to find the age and changes made thru their production history at sites like Patricks’ Blood & Gore and Hyperkitten has an excellent plane dating flowchart on his website if you are curious about a Stanley plane you have. There is also a lot written about restoring them and tuning; videos you can buy too. To make one work well is not too hard if you know what to look for and how to deal with the problems you might find.

Try to start with the best plane you can, it will save you time, effort, and money in the fixing up process. Buying individual parts can get expensive, a lot of times you pick up a broken plane with parts you need cheaper than buying an individual piece. On the flipside, I would not buy a NOS in the original box plane for a user, let the collectors fight over those.

There is a lot of talk about individual types of these planes being better than others (particularly type 11). In my experience most any type as long as they were made before late 1950’s will do just fine. My personal favorite smoothing plane I have is a 4 ½ made during WWII, with the ogee or Coke bottle type frog that most seem to think is not as good design as some of the previous designs. I also have type 11 4 ½, I can’t tell any difference in the performance between the two when sharp and set correctly.

The two planes that I will be working on here are both type 6 Stanley’s, made between 1888 and 1892. These are both pretty rough and unless you just enjoy fixing up old planes I would recommend finding something better to work on. I chose these planes to show what can be done with a little elbow grease.

One is a number 4 smoother that I picked up at a local antique store while back. When the lady at the store rang it up she charged $4, I told her the price on the tag was $9, she looked at the plane and then at me and said “I think four dollars is enough for that thing”.

The other is a number 10 carriage maker’s rabbet plane that I came from Ed Lebetkin's tools-O-rama above the Woodright’s School.

The first thing I usually do is take the plane completely apart. Check all the bolts and threads, particularly in the plane body. Stripped threads here are tough to deal with, you can use thread repair inserts such as helicoils. This will necessitate getting new bolts as well. The thread pattern on the original bolts don’t seem to be a standard size in my experience, I read somewhere that Stanley had their own custom thread size; this seems to be true.

If the plane you are working on has stripped threads in the body it might be just as advantageous to find another plane. Look over the body for cracks too, particularly around the mouth and the sides or wings. Here again if you find a crack you will probably want to round up another to restore. I would not spend the time and effort involved to fix up cracked plane.

Look over the frog for cracks as well, especially the area around where the lateral adjustment lever mounts and the depth adjustment fork pin. If the plane passes inspection, reassemble, tighten down the frog and handles, put the blade and lever cap on and back the iron all the way up.

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