Classic Shoulder Plane

record 073

The Record # 073, from the eBay posting

Another milestone in my lifelong quest for excellent hand tools: a Record #073 shoulder plane. A little rusty but complete and completely restorable, purchased from England via eBay. These are the classic production steel shoulder planes, made 1933-1994, based on Edward Preston’s design, that eventually became the model for the current Lie-Nielsen shoulder planes. Four pounds, eight inches in length and 1-1/4″ wide, with an adjustable mouth, these beauties are capable of of incredibly fine cuts. Arguably Lie-Nielsen has made some subtle improvements in their model, but functionally there is no difference  –  and at less than half the cost, I’m very happy with the Record.

The plane arrived with just a light coating of surface rust on part of the body (no pitting). After completely dismantling the few parts, and a thorough cleaning, the rust was dispatched with a bit of steel wool and lube — leaving the patina typical of a fine tool well used and cared for.

Record 073

The Record 073 as-is upon arrival from England

Record 073

A light coating of corrosion, very manageable

Record 073

Record 073 stripped down for cleaning

Record 073

Record 073 restored and ready for action


Transitional Planes

The Stanley ‘transitional’ planes, combining a wooden body with a cast iron frame, frog and standard adjustment mechanism, were made between 1870 and 1940. You see these things pretty commonly in antique shops and flea markets. According to those in the know, they are not particularly valuable in the collectors’ market (which is why you see so many of them, and so few #1′s). Still, a plane is a plane and a potential working tool, so I set out to find a restorable one for a friend who had expressed an interest.

Stanley 26

The Stanley 26 in pieces

I ended up buying this #26, a 15″ plane that dates (a far as I can make out) from 1898 or so. I got it off eBay for about $25 (inc. shipping), maybe not as cheap as could be but the same you would expect to pay in an antique shop.

Stanley 26

"Parts is Parts"

The beech body was in very good shape, an exceptionally dense piece of timber that had none of the severe bottom scoring or end-checking often seen in these things. The metal parts were coated with light surface rust, but cleaned up nicely. Most of the remaining black ‘Japaning’ came off in cleaning, but that’s only important to collectors. The iron and chip breaker turned out to be a little later vintage, about 1910 (based on the imprinted logo), but were in good enough shape to polish and sharpen for normal use.

Stanley 26

Takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Once the metal parts were cleaned and the iron tuned up, I reassembled the plane and trued the bottom (it had just a slight twist in it, again attesting to the quality of the piece of beech). I took a couple of shavings with it, and these pictures of it, and passed it on to my friend who was pleased to get it. He plans to use it as a shooting plane, which would be a nice fit for it given the heft of the beech body.

Now I’m looking for one for myself!