I recently added a couple more planes to my stable. I didn’t own any Stanley “transitional’ planes, though I’ve refurbished a couple for other folks. So I picked up this fair example of a Stanley #36 in an antique/junk shop in Illinois this fall, for $22. It’s a ‘Sweetheart’ model, exact vintage unknown but made between 1919 and 1929 or so. I’ll call it 1925. The beech body was in excellent shape, except for a bit of ‘wind’ in the bottom (normal) and a small crack near the mouth (of no practical importance). The frog, blade, chipbreaker and cap iron were all in good condition.
I paid a little more (ahem) for the E.C.E. Primus #711, which I got off of eBay. This is not old, and of course you can buy these brand new any day of the week for about $260. I paid somewhat less than half of that for this one, which is in essentially perfect condition. My interest in these, and why I wanted to add one to the ‘collection’, is the spring-loaded ‘Regulator’ blade adjustment system. It works unbelievable well – there is absolutely no ‘lash’, or slack, in the blade adjustment screw. Turn the screw, left or right, and the blade instantly responds. Compare this to the average old Stanley (or, I daresay, a Lie-Nielsen right off the shelf), which may have a couple of complete turns of slack when reversing adjustment direction.
The Primus required only polishing the back of the iron and grinding and honing the bevel to put it in service. The Stanley 36 required the same, plus taking the ‘wind’ out of the beech sole — easily done. The frog is movable on these planes, but if you refurbish one, resist the temptation to adjust it for a fine mouth opening. In that position the blade/chipbreaker will be unsupported for much of it’s length, and will chatter like crazy. Adjust the frog so the metal and wood beds line up perfectly, regardless of the mouth opening — it’s the best you can do. If you need a closer mouth, shim the wooden bed or let in an insert.
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