Hand plane question

Status
Not open for further replies.

skeeter

New User
Charles
I have read a lot on the site about people buying and restoring old hand planes. Seems like the old Stanley planes are the standard. I have been looking on e-bay and found lots of supposedly “old” or “vintage” and yes, “antique”planes. Now, I do not trust e-bay. I remember when you could find a deal there and what people said in their descriptions was true, but not so much now. There also seems to be quite a difference in prices, even on the same model of plane. Without knowing anything about planes, is there a way to know I’m getting a decent plane for my money, or should a novice just but new planes? If new is my best choice, any recommendations on what to buy?

Thanks for any info!
 
Last edited:
M

McRabbet

My first thought is you should bone up on the features and details of the Stanley Plane family -- I'd recommend spending some time on Patrick Leach's site Blood and Gore. This will help you undersstand what you see in planes online (many eBay sellers have decent planes; others put together a "cobbled up" plane), or in your hands. Next, aside from online sources, find a good flea market and check out what is available. Lacking good ones, attend a Mid-West Tool Collectors Association Meeting and go to their tailgate session (you must be a member; it is only $25/year at www.mwtca.org). The next opportunity to attend a great MWTCA meeting is the upcoming National Spring Meeting in Asheville June 13th - 16th or September 15th in Raleigh. You should be able to find a decent user bench plane for $30 or under or block planes for under $25. Look for blade condition (usable sharpening length), condition of the castings and a complete set of parts.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
If you come to one of our free sharpening or hand plane workshops you can see many old and new planes and learn to recognize, refurbish and use them.

I know Wilmington is a long way to drive but it could save hundreds of dollars in the long run.
 

LeftyTom

Tom
Corporate Member
I've scored one plane off ebay, from a seller in NC. I knew I was taking a risk, but for $16 I got another plane. I figure if I cannot make use of it, someone on here surely can. :widea:

Note: said plane has not been tuned up yet. That is still on my to-do list.
 

Bryan S

Bryan
Corporate Member
In addition to the site Mcrabbet suggested http://www.rexmill.com/ is another good source for info. I would also second the sharpening workshop Mike mentioned, if you can do it you will learn a lot. James Davis is a member here that buys and sells hand tools. I got a sweet #5 and a #4 for parts from him a year and a half ago. It can not hurt to contact him and see what he has and he will treat you right.
 

Timmy

New User
Tim
It's hard to judge hand planes on ebay. Pictures aren't always that great. You really have to look for deals though on it, which include bid price and shipping. I saw a lot of 4 planes went for $25, but shipping was almost $40 (someone got sucked in). I'd say keep a good eye out on yard sales and flea markets. Good luck!
 

eyekode

New User
Salem
I would stay away from eBay. First you should find a local NCWW who uses planes regularly and ask for a demo. The goal is to learn how a well tuned plane looks, works and feels.

It should also give you a better idea of what you want. But every shop should at least have a block plane. And I suggest you buy a nice modern one. Either the low angle LV or LN. Yes it will be pricey. But i use my block plane all the time. And as long as you take reasonable care of it the value will not decrease significantly. People snap them In minutes up at 135$ used which is only 30$ off!

You will probably also end up with a jack plane. I have at least 4 :). No need for an expensive one. Good luck, it is a slippery slope :).
Salem
 

eyekode

New User
Salem
LN, LV, and Clifton are better then old ones by far. I would even say the new V3 Woodriver's are better then most older planes. Most of the lower end modern planes are machined poorly of cheap materials and may require significant fetling to make them perform.

Some old planes are quite nice. Some have been abused and should be put out to pasture.

Salem
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
Are the older planes really better than newer ones and, if so, what makes them better?
"Better" is always difficult to define. There are certainly some top of the line plane makers out there today (Lie Nielsen, Lee Valley, etc.) who are producing some very good tools at some very high prices. From what I've seen they are as good (maybe better) as any of the older planes I have in my collection of user planes. So far, however, I have not convinced myself that they are worth the significantly higher prices. For my skill level, my old Stanleys, Miller's Falls, Craftsmans, etc. work just fine, as long as they are well tuned and sharp.

As Bryan suggested, I would contact James Davis and see what he has available. Then I would start scouring flea markets and estate auctions for others. The problem w/ buying something online that you can't inspect closely is that you might get what is known as a "frankenplane". That's one that has been created by taking spare parts from various other planes to assemble a "new" one. It may look good in a picture, but if the parts aren't a perfect match, it won't perform very well.

HTH

Bill
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
My experience has differed from most.

Most of my planes have been purchased on ebay. These include 2-#3, 2-#4, 2-#5, one each #6, #7, #8 Stanley Bailey planes of various vintage. A couple of block planes, one #78 Stanley, A #151 Stanley...

I have now messed with them enough to get them working well (except the #78, can't seem to make that one work 'great').

I guess the point I am trying to make is this, even if you get a lemon from ebay, it still gives you something to work on/with. You gain experience in what to look for and in how to make what you bought work.

If I lived closer to Mike or Bill, I would absolutely take advantage of every one of their workshops. Nothing you read can ever replace that kind of hands on instruction from folks that know what they are doing.

A well tuned and sharp POS old Stanley plane will perform as good as or much better than an out of tune, dull $500 plane, any day of the week. IMHO
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
I'll through my 2 cents worth of confusion into this. I have several "old" (circa 1920s - late 1930s) planes (#4, two #5s, #6 and #7). The #4 Stanley I inherited. Both #5s were bought on e-bay for a total of $25 delivered. One is a Stanley and one is a Marshall Wells. The #6 Stanley was bought on e-bay "buy it now" for $35, and the #7 was bought at a Midwest Tool Collectors Association (MWTCA) meeting for $45. My most recent additions (over a year ago) are a Lee Valley Low Angle Jack with all three blade bevels and a Lee valley scrub plane.

I use all of them a lot in my projects, and consider all worth what I spent in time and money.

If you really want to learn how to use hand planes, then buy a $25 or so Jack (#5) off craigslist, e-bay, or better yet at a MWTCA meet. If buying from e-bay, look for one that has pictures from all sides. Disregard any that have a crack near the mouth of the sole, are covered in rust, or are incomplete (i.e. missing/cracked tote, cap iron, adjustment lever). Preferably one that looks like it has recently been used (little red rust on sole) and preferably one that hasn't just had a recent paint job. Then go to Home Depot and buy a couple of cheap 2" Buck Bros irons for it. Go on line or attend a class/workshop and learn how to sharpen the irons and fettle the plane. After this exercise, you will most likely know how to use it, how much you expect to keep using it, and what to look for in your next purchase, all for less than $50.

If you want to get a plane that works like its supposed to (takes out of the equation the unknown of whether any problem is plane or your technique), want it to give you the gossamer shavings the first time, and think you will use it occasionally, buy a Lee Valley or Lei-Nielsen. Be aware if you start at the top, that is where your expectations will be for any future planes.

Either way, good luck.

Go
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
I too have bought a number of ole Stanley's off of ebay and have been pleased with all of them, after a bit of scrubbing, tuning and sharpening. I don't have the time and patience to visit flea markets and estate auctions to save a few bucks on a plane, ymmv. Nor do I have the cash to buy them new. Gofor's advice is spot on. Pictures make the sale, blurry, dark photos beware. But don't be afraid of a little rust.
For the Stanley Bailey design bench planes, Types 11-15 are considered the best users.
http://home.comcast.net/~rexmill/planes101/typing/plane_typing.txt
This guide from the rexmill site will help with ID'ing them. In general, look for a date(s) cast into the body as a starter. I tend to avoid planes with a polished cap lever with a kidney shaped hole for the screw b/c these are generally on later models though are found on the types 14 and 15, ymmv. Also, avoid planes with missing parts, replacement cost is equal to the cost of the plane, generally speaking. And one more thought, is also avoid planes with a crack or break in the tote/knob. There's plenty out there that are intact.

Good luck
Sam
 

merrill77

Master Scrap Maker
Chris
Corporate Member
Are the older planes really better than newer ones and, if so, what makes them better?
The answer to this varies widely depending on the specifics.

There are plenty of new planes out there that are junk compared to an old Stanley that is in good shape. There is a direct relationship between price and quality. Cheap new planes are low quality. There are probably exceptions, but I'm not in a position to recommend any. Note that Stanley made its share of junk in the past as well...just because it's Stanley and it's old does not mean it's good.

I have a handful of old Stanley block planes - my 9 1/2 and 60 1/2 are excellent planes. Something like a #80 cabinet scraper is cheap and easy to find on eBay. I have a Stanley 71 1/2 router plane that I got for a song (eBay) because it has a big chip in it. That makes it worthless to collectors, but doesn't affect the usability at all.

OTOH, the high-end plane makers have some planes with both quality and features that exceed what you can get from an old Stanley. I have a Veritas low-angle jack plane that, IMO, is far superior to anything Stanley ever made (did Stanley make a low-angle jack?). The adjuster is excellent. Set screws keep the blade centered and prevents movement. The toe-plate set screw makes it easy to adjust the mouth without any chance of hitting the blade. The sole was perfectly flat right out of the box. With three blades at different angles, I can use low, standard or high-angle setups and handle everything from end grain to highly figured wood all with a single plane. While it was expensive, compared to the time/money required for me to get three older planes up to the performance level of the new Veritas LAJ, it was a pretty good deal. Similarly, there are new block planes that have significant features compared to the traditional designs - such as the new Veritas skew block plane. I don't have one...yet :>


Do you have more time or money? If you have more time, then attend a workshop and then start looking for deals on CL / eBay / flea market, etc. If you have more money than time, buy a high-end plane and start making shavings!
 

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Secretary
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
I have a mixture of old Stanley's (and a couple of other brands that were really good deals) and some new planes like a Lie Nelson #4 smoother with a High Angle frog and a low-angle jack plane from Lee Valley. These are special planes that weren't available in the old versions. But for standard user planes, I have Stanley's in sizes #3 to #8, two of some sizes so I can keep them set up differently.

I get most of the Stanley planes from the Woodwright's Tool Store above the Woodwright's School in Pittsboro. Another source is the super flea market in Hillsville, VA every labor day weekend. Another source, although a little pricier, but with less tuning needed is Jim Bode Tools. I've also picked up a few off of CraigsList. I got a #4 Bailey advertised for $50 for $35 of CL last week. I rank Stanley's quality as Bedrock's are the best, Bailey's are next best and the rest are still good planes. This has mostly to do with the quality and machining of the frog.

Popular Woodworking has some info on tuning hand planes. Try searching their web site along with some of the others already mentioned here.

Good luck and happy hunting. - Ken.
 

fsdogwood

New User
Pinwu
haven't read through this thread yet, but for new planes, the WoodRiver ones from WoodCraft may be an option
 

fsdogwood

New User
Pinwu
I've scored one plane off ebay, from a seller in NC. I knew I was taking a risk, but for $16 I got another plane. I figure if I cannot make use of it, someone on here surely can. :widea:

Note: said plane has not been tuned up yet. That is still on my to-do list.
Most of the time, I'll just sharpening the blade and see how it goes.
 

fsdogwood

New User
Pinwu
In addition to the site Mcrabbet suggested http://www.rexmill.com/ is another good source for info. I would also second the sharpening workshop Mike mentioned, if you can do it you will learn a lot. James Davis is a member here that buys and sells hand tools. I got a sweet #5 and a #4 for parts from him a year and a half ago. It can not hurt to contact him and see what he has and he will treat you right.
Walt Q at http://brasscityrecords.com/toolworks/new tools.html is another source for old tools
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Our Sponsors

LATEST FOR SALE LISTINGS

Top