How To Restore an Old Hand Plane


In this video I show how I restored a Stanley Bailey No 7 Jointer Plane from the 1920s back to working order! My goal was not a "like new" restoration, just getting this old thing back into shape to make beautiful things in the shop.

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Check out the tools I use.

Restoring an old tool is basically taking it apart, cleaning everything, and putting it back together, and of course replacing or trying to fix any broken parts.

Like in this one the blade is bent, but I was able to put it in a vise and straighten it by hand, and it needs a new rear tote (that's the back handle).

Bench planes are crazy simple, they're basically a chisel strapped to a base to give you control and even cuts. So as long as the plane isn’t damaged or poorly manufactured, you can get the same results from a restored plane as a new one.

My buddy Rick, at WoodWorkLife, did an indepth video on the topic.

One of the things I like about old tools is the history they have, because this one only has one patent date but no cast ring for the front knob, I know it’s a type 13 which means it was manufactured between 1925-1928. That’s almost 100 years old, to me it’s just really cool to make stuff out of a tool with so much history. Maybe it belonged to a professional carpenter that used it daily, a hobbyist that just played with it, or just sat in someone’s tool box rusting for decades, or all three, the mystery is part of the fun.

This is a Number 7, which is a jointer plane, that just means that’s really long, 22” specifically. Being long gives it more contact surface with whatever it’s cutting and keeps it just cutting the high points and prevents it from riding into low spots.

Because of that, a plane like this is used to make boards flat. If it’s working the face of a board, that’s flattening, if you’re working the edge of the board, that’s jointing, and so longer planes are called jointer planes.

Vinegar is a really safe way to break down rust, I was out of plain white vinegar, so tried some apple cider vinegar to break down the surface rust on the sole and sides. I just soaked some paper towels with it because I didn’t have a container big enough, it worked pretty well.

For a plane to work well it’s really important that the sole be flat. All you need to do this is a flat surface and abrasive. I cut some sanding belts and used my table saw because I know it’s flat. But if you have granite or marble counter tops and aren’t married or don’t want to be married anymore, those would work well too. To keep track of my progress I scribbled some sharpie lines and worked my way through the grits. After I was done I rubbed some paste wax on the surface to keep them from rusting again.

The frog is another really important part of the plane. After I wire brushed it I took it to the sand paper also to flatten the places where the frog sits on the plane body, and where the iron sits on the frog.

I took the small parts to a cup brush in my drill press to clean them, and then buffed out the brass bits. This isn’t critical, but only takes a few minutes and really makes it look nicer.

The front knob was in sound shape, so I just sanded off the old finish and applied new paste wax. The top had chipped off of the rear tote though, so I decided to make a new one out of Bolivian rosewood. I have a separate video on that process, but basically I drilled the holes, bandsawed it out, rough shaped it with rasps, smoothed it out at the spindle sander, and finished it with paste wax.I soaked the plane body in some paint thinner to get rid of the rest of the old finish that I couldn’t scrape off earlier, and then taped off all the screw holes, sides, and where the frog sits and shot it was two coats of Rustoleum hammered finish black paint. I like the hammered paint for stuff like this because I don’t think a smooth paint job looks right on old planes.

The cutting edge of the blade was slanted, so I used my grinder to re-grind it square to the sides. It’s important to go slow, and keep water handy to constantly cool the iron so you don’t lose the hardness. After the grinding I took the iron to my stones and strop to sharpen it.

Everything was pretty much done at this point, so I just put it back together and played with it!