I don't know how many Planes Stanley must have made, but it seems like I am always running across at least one at every garage sale and flea market. Sadly, not all of them have been nicely looked after over the years and between rust, broken and warped bases and broken wooden handles, many are not worth bringing home except as a collectable piece, but their are exceptions. As much as I love Lie-Nielsen planes and their excellent quality, sometimes it's nice to rescue some of these old planes too.
On a recent tool swap meet adventure I found ... in excellent shape ... a Stanley Bailey #3 Plane. It really caught my eye because it is narrower than the other Stanley planes I have and something about it caught my attention. The price was only $20 for this little gem, at that price I figure I could afford to just bring it home and leave it as an ornament in my shop if nothing else.
After disassembling the plane, I could see it really was in pretty good shape. I set the blade, chip breaker and lever cap so I could concentrate on the base. The base of a plane needs to be ...
flat, flat, flat and I knew this one was good but needed to see how good. A few weeks earlier I had picked up a piece of granite from the counter top store, that I knew was ground flat. I would use this with a bit of spray adhesive on some fine abrasive sheets to makes sure the base was flat.
One trick I learned some time ago was to use a felt pen and put squiggle lines on the base. This way when all the lines have disappeared, the base is flat. I stated off with a bit of water on my abrasive sheet and in no time, the felt pen lines were either gone or so faint you could barely see them. This tells me that now the base is flat enough for use.
Next is the blade. The first thing I like to do with the a plane blade is make sure the back is flat. Even before I started to work on the back of the blade, I could see the quality of the blade was poor, but I would give it a try. As I flipped the blade on it's back and began working it on my abrasive sheets, I could see it was quite arched. I put a small steel rule on it and found it to far outside acceptable levels. I wasn't too disappointed with this because I really felt the blade was so poor I should replace it anyway, but for the video, I went ahead and made an effort to flatten the back.
I have looked around at some of the third party parts for these planes and I think I will probably go with the Lee Valley version of Veritas for the replacement. The blade alone is worth twice what I paid for the plane but with a new blade, the value of the plane and blade will double, but moreover I will end up with an excellent plane.
... well back to the plane project for now, after the back of the blade was somewhat flattened, next the blade needs to be sharpened, which is what I did. I did as good a job as I could on the sharpening, knowing that the blade would be replaced with another.
The final step in sharpening the blade is to take the burr off the back of the blade, which means another course of working the back of the plane. It's amazing how even a bit of work in flattening, sharpening and removing the burr does wonders for a blade.
I decided ... for fun to at least re-assemble and try this plane out. I re-attached the chip breaker and mounted it back in the Stanley plane and fastened it down with the lever cap.
I secured a piece of red oak in my wood vice and started planing ... wow, even this is not bad I thought. Imagine this plane with a new blade ...
Copyright - Colin Knecht