Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tuning up the Stanley planes

The planes look nice enough to me, so I won't do much restoration work. But as they came to me they were far from ready to work. Especially the blades need attention, the chipbreakers need to be fitted and the two smaller planes have a concave (hollow) sole.

First the blades. As usual they have rust damage, pitting and the face of the blade is convex. Especially the corners are heavilly dubbed over. This is quite normal with most old planes. I don't know how they worked with them back in the days, but I prefer a little better condition. The dubbing and the pitting make sharpening difficult and the convexity of the face makes fitting the capiron a frustrating experience.

I start with loose SiC grit on a marble floor tile. I have bought a package of these tiles years ago especially for this kind of work. The tiles are very flat. The grit quickly cuts through a lot of nastiness and is easilly replenished when the cutting slows down. After the grit I switch to a 400 Bester waterstone. This is an agressive stone but it loves to loose its flatness in a hurry. No other way then to religously flatten the stone often with a DMT diamond plate. Next up is my 1000 grit Sigma. Also kept flat as good as I can. Each and every step starts with removing the dissimilarities in flatness between the stones. So all in all it is always a lot of work. After the 1000 stone reached every corner of the blade, polishing is a doddle.

Then the capiron. It needs to fit seamlessly on the polished face of the blade. All of them were twisted and had lost a lot of spring tension. Here is how I put a some new spring into it. Clamp it just under the hump in a vise and wack the hump with a block of wood and a big hammer.

And untwisting it is shown in this picture.

And then it's onto an oilstone to lap the face where it meets the blade. This is again a long winded little job, always taking more time then expected. I managed to rescue two capirons and two blades. The third set was too far gone and I have replaced it with a Ray Iles plane blade with a newer capiron.

The frogs of all three planes were fine. I couldn't detect any rocking motion of the frog on the bottom of the plane, so I left it all alone. I had to retighten the rivet holding the lateral lever, which is easilly but carefully done with a small hamer on a corner of the steel vise. Support the rivet on the vise and hammer the top of the rivet with the fin of the hammer until it's a tight but smooth fit again.

Flattening the sole of a plane is a hot subject. Webpages and youtubes full of advice, but I still think my approach is a little different. First, I am lucky this time. The long #6 has a very flat sole with a slight convexity towards the nose and heel. But that's fine and won't harm the performance of the plane. The two smoothers were concave, hollow, and that inhibits the plane to take fine shavings, which is the job of a smoothing plane of course. As usual they have a worn out depression in front of the mouth and a bit of a belly behind it.

I use a flat piece of glass on the flat workbench with some 120 grit glued down on it. I also have a real straight edge which is only used for measuring stuff, never used in combination with a marking knife or anything else that can damage the edges. This is my ultimate reference. And then I use a marker and a smooth cut file.

First I squigle a bunch of lines on the sole of the plane. Then I put it on the sandpaper and move it back and forth a few times to see what I got. I turn the plane over and clamp it carefully (don't crack the sides of the plane!) in the vise. And I file the sanded spots.

In the above picture you can see how I need to file a lot behind the mouth, while I can still see some markings just in front of the mouth, especially in the middle. The file is much quicker then the sandpaper, so it speeds up the work a lot. But you do need to recheck regularly, both with the straight edge and the sandpaper on glass. At last I polish up the sole a bit on the 120 grit sandpaper and something a little finer. I certainly don't go overboard and when the plane is flat enough to be able to take a fine shaving, I call it quits.

For the apearance of the planes I just cleaned them with some mineral spirits and a brush, and a Scotchbrite pad on the rusty spots. I coat the japaning and the small rusty spots with some boiled linseed oil which gives a bit of sheen and protects. One of the knobs looked like a black rubber ball, so I sanded it down, together with the ascociated handle and shellacked a new finish. Luckily I am pretty horrible at finishing, so it still doesn't look like new, but a lot better then beforehand.

That's about it. Testing on some pine.

And a group shot, together with my #7 jointer.

Now I only need a #5 and perhaps I should make a nice cabinet for them.

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