Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Plane Repairs

I have several wooden planes that I've been wanted to close the mouths up a bit on, so with sore ribs preventing me from doing anything very physical, it seemed like a good time to get to work on a couple of these.

(The ribs were initially diagnosed as bruised, but that was upgraded to 'cracked' after my second visit to the doctor. I lost an edge playing hockey and slid into the boards hard.)

Anyways, first up was a cocobolo Krenov style plane with a 1 1/4" blade that I wanted to put a cocobolo insert in, which I did by routing out the bottom in front of the mouth.

When it came to flatten the bottom, I decided to try something a bit different. I had taken a course on metal scraping in Seattle a couple of years ago from  a guy named Forrest Addy. Hand scraping a metal surface will yield a surface flatter than can be achieved by machining or by abrasion/sanding. I had had great success in scraping an old Stanley plane at that time, and thought I would see how the process would work on a wood plane.

 Scraping pattern on bottom of Stanley plane

I modified the procedure only slightly for wood, by using my very thin hand scraper (from Lee Valley I believe). With a granite reference surface, a tube of Prussian Blue oil paint, and a Brayer roller, I was off to the races.

I started scraping immediately after I had passed the bottom of the plane over the jointer, and as a result half the work was to get past the jointer ripples. Note to self: Next time sand off the ripples after jointing!

The process was to roll the dye out on the granite, put the plane down on top of the granite surface (which will mark the high spots with the dye), and then scrape, using the smallest strokes possible ( 1/16"?), all the dye spots off the bottom. Then repeat, until you get a consistent pattern of dye marks across the entire bottom. It took me about ten passes to get to where I wanted it to be.

After a couple scrapings

Getting near the end, fairly even pattern just not dense enough yet.

After the bottom was flat, I very carefully worked the mouth with small files until I achieved a tiny opening. This was rather tedious, but the plane yields full length full width shavings consistently now. I'd judge the procedure a success!

Next was an old beech coffin smoothing plane that I picked up a few years ago. It has good 'bones' and a great heavy old laminated 2" blade on it. I had glued a new sole of quartersawn locust to it some time ago, now was the time to finish the job.

I chose locust for the sole since it is the hardest wood available locally. In retrospect it was not the best choice as it is quite brittle and filing the mouth was too delicate as a result.

This one really taxed my plane tuning skills. The blade angle had become far too steep over the years, so I had to regrind and resharpen. The laminated steel was extremely tough going. The chipbreaker was warped and not closing tightly. The wedge was not holding the blade in evenly. And the new sole was not flat so I tried to flatten it with the same scraping procedure, but unfortunately the blue dye got into the pores of the locust and made lit hard to figure out where to scrape. After an awful lot more fooling around than I had wanted/hoped/expected, I started getting full length full width shavings .0005" thick.

 Time to put these bad boys to work!


  1. Hi Dan -
    I have been following your blog from afar for quite some time. Back in November you had a post about refurbishing a motor. Was wondering if you could provide a little more detail regarding what motor refurbishment entails. I ask because I recently acquired a 1956 Delta drill press from the estate of a former teacher/mentor/friend. The press runs beautifully - very quiet w/ minimal run-out, much nicer than my circa 1998 Delta. It just looks like a rusted turd. I want to restore the press to it's former glory, including refurbing the motor (mostly cosmetic - capacitor cover damaged, moderate rust on the housing). Any info/advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards,
    Matt Petersen
    Danville, Indiana USA

  2. Matt,

    Thanks for the note! Congrats on the 'new' Delta, there is little doubt that these older machines are far superior to the modern ones built overseas.

    Usually the main tasks on a motor rebuild are to take it apart, clean it, repaint it, replace the bearings, replace the cap if the motor wouldn't start, and put it back together. You'll need a bearing puller (cheap) to get the bearings and the pulley off. The bearings will probably be obsolete, but order sealed replacements the exact size from Lynn at Accurate Bearings. I highly recommend you go to owwm.org and search their site for something like 'motor rebuild'. There is a ton of info there for you on motors and drill press rebuilds.


  3. Dan,

    Thanks for the suggestions. The OWVM.org website has already been added to my list of favorites.
    Best regards,

  4. Update: I lied ... it's a circa 1947 drill press (thanks to info gleaned from the OWWM site)! I've already downloaded a parts list, exploded drawing and user manual! The internet ... not just for porn anymore!

  5. owwm.org is a real treasure of info, that is for sure. I assume you have also discovered its sister site, vintagemachinery.org has pictures of many old machines arranged by manufacturer. You will very likely find other photos of the same model machine as you have there.

    Be careful though or you will wind up doing more machinery resto and less woodworking!