Bill Rittner (Hardware City Tools) recently made a knob and tote set out of holly for Catharine Kennedy (Custom Engraving by Catharine Kennedy). Bill had procured enough of the wood to make a second set. Being one who loves customized and personalized tools in my shop, I saw an opportunity to upgrade one of my planes with something pretty special, so I took a bit of money out of my woodworking funds and purchased it.
The idea was to figure out what plane I wanted to put it on and then have Catharine do some engraving on it, as well. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I had trouble deciding what plane I wanted to upgrade. My go-to smoothing plane has a cracked cheek that might not do well with being engraved on, my jointer plane would be quite costly to engrave and might be a bit heavy for the holly tote (not really sure about that, but I’d rather not take the chance), and my #5, a Type 18, isn’t really a favorite of mine, though it does its job well and I haven’t found the need to replace it.
A few weeks ago, I was at an estate sale, where I happened upon an old #5c that seemed to be in good shape. I didn’t have any need for another jack plane, but they only wanted $5 for the thing, so I figured at the least I could buy it and hand it over to a needy member of the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild who was just starting to get into hand tools.
As I was once again going through my planes last night (I don’t have that many, so it doesn’t take long), my eyes rested on the new #5c. I picked it up, wondering if I might not get rid of it. A quick glance at the Woodnet Stanley Type flow chart confirmed what I’d originally thought – it was a Type 13. But after examining it more closely, I noted something odd. It was pretty much completely rust-free! It did have an interesting bronze-like patina to it and the dust left on it from years of sitting idle seemed to be caked on, somehow, but the only rust I found after dis-assembly was on the post inside the knob. That settled it; I pulled out the restoration tools and some blue gloves and went to work.
All of the small parts soaked in low-odor mineral spirits while I cleaned up the body.
The mineral spirits helped, but I didn’t see really good results until I started using an orange-based degreaser, which made me wonder if the plane hadn’t been coated with some sort of rust-preventative 80 years earlier and then sat unused ever since.
The small bits cleaned up nicely, but I was more impressed with the condition of the body…
It has close to 95% of its japanning left, even on the frog.
The tote has a little bit of sapwood on the horn, which always looks nice. I’ll hold on to these in case I need to replace them on a different plane in the future.
I still need to clean up the bottom a little; it doesn’t need to be flattened, but I do want to remove some of the gunk so it doesn’t drag across the wood. Before I send it off to Catharine for engraving (I need to save up a bit first), I’ll clean up the sides a bit more to make sure she has a nice canvas to work off of.
Here is the before again, followed by the after.
I believe my old #5 just got replaced.
Before reassembly, I took some tracings of the two sides so I can start working on engraving ideas. I already have a few worked out, but you’ll have to wait a bit to see them. Sorry. 🙂
(And now you know why it takes so long for me to get anything done in the shop. I have some sort of woodworking-based ADHD.)