Sunday, July 31, 2016

Block Plane Rehab

Although I really only need one block plane, I've managed to collect a few more along the way.  I'm probably up to four or five by now, never having paid more than a few bucks each at antique store and yard sales.  That's a good thing, since they one's I've stumbled across aren't particularly high-end tools.  But, with a little bit of love, there's no reason they can't perform just fine at the kind of things that block planes do best- rounding over an edge, cutting a chamfer, and evening out endgrain.  This blog post will illustrate the process I recently used to tune up a plane- your own experience may differ, depending on the tool's condition, but I imagine that this might be a good starting point.

In this case, the plane was complete and there was no real damage to any of the parts- it was mostly dirty and in need of a tuneup!

Before I could get any farther, I had to loosen up the threads underneath the cap so that I
could get the plane apart.  I used 3-In-One oil- and it was nice to have the one with the extender
spout to get into the nooks and crannies.
Ta da!
Part of the tune-up just involved simple cleaning- I used steel wool, paper towels,
an old toothbrush, and some household cleanser.
The blade had been abused and was pretty dinged up.  Fortunately I have a way to bring it back to life quickly and easily.
Using your sharpening method of choice, you'll want to start by flattening the back of the blade.
With the back flattened, you can  work on the bevel- and after that, the microbevel.
I love my Worksharp because it is fast and doesn't demand that you learn a whole new
skill set- just follow a few simple steps and you're in business.
The body of this plane wasn't cast iron, and it was formed from a single piece of  bent
steel- pretty typical on cheap old planes.  The rust wasn't too bad, at least.
Flattening the bottom of the plane is an important step.  You'll want to make sure
the plane is assembled with a normal amount of tension in it.  This will ensure that
the tool is in its regular shape and isn't distorted.  In other words, if you flatten it without
the blade in it, it is possible that you could put in the blade and tighten it, and then end
up with a sole that isn't flat anymore.  I use 120 grit paper.
A flattened sole should show a uniform pattern of sanding scratches with no hollows or crowns.
One last thing- I recommend lubricating the threads to keep the plane's adjustments
easy to use.
I also lightly sanded the sides of the plane.  A coat of paste wax will help to protect the bare metal from corroding.

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