Introduction: How to Restore a Hand Plane

Picture of How to Restore a Hand Plane

I saw an old hand plane in a used tool store and figured I would have a go at restoring it. I think the before and after speaks for itself. One quick note: When looking at old hand tools to restore, exam them before purchase to make sure no major parts are missing or are too badly damaged.

Step 1: Disassembly

Start by taking apart the hand plane and note any broken parts or pieces. Also make sure and note if any parts are missing. If you are missing any parts shop around to find replacements. In my case the handle was broken so I knew I would have to make a new one later.

Step 2: Cleaning & Polishing

Picture of Cleaning & Polishing

This is the bulk of where the work takes place. I started with the main body of the plane. I opted to sandblast away the old paint. This makes pretty quick work of it. A wire brush or wire wheel in a drill would also work well. The brass parts I polished on a buffing wheel along with steel parts. I also took some time to make sure the iron (blade) was razor sharp.

Step 3: Fixing Broken Parts

Picture of Fixing Broken Parts

On my plane the back handle (tote) was broken. I traced the old handle and cut out a new handle from a piece of cherry. Shaping it, sanding it smooth and it was ready for a clear coat of spray lacquer.

Step 4: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Once all of the components were polished and cleaned up I laid all the parts out. Then all of the pieces could be but back in reverse order from when I took them apart.

Step 5: All Done!

Picture of All Done!

Aside from it looking 100 times better than when I started it now functions better than brand new!


Raleigh Flowers (author)2016-12-07

Great Work. Did you put anything on the steel to deter it form oxidizing again? I have an old family plane that i would like to keep some patina on it, but not let it oxidize further. Any help?

thanks - I wiped it down with some boeshield - I have links to it here -

veryrealperson (author)2016-08-13

On the one hand I appreciate the craftsmanship demonstrated through your attention to detail/knowledge. On the other hand I always wonder if such endeavors are a waste of time vs buying something new or working with the less than perfect tool. I just got a few planes to play with but I don't quite get the appeal. It was certainly interesting.

thanks man - for a free plane that I use often, it was well worth my time - had it been a plane that was in the family I would have gone lighter on the restore and left more patina - fun stuff either way

lexhoya (author)2015-07-20

2nd life for a 2nd hand planer. I have a few laying around and I will deifinitely start restoring them, now I've read how 'easy' it is, actually.

nick ferry (author)lexhoya2015-07-20

it's time consuming to take it this far but not technically difficult so I would say give one or two of them a shot - the results are pretty rewarding

remoc8116 (author)nick ferry2016-05-10

If you come across a plane that is rusty I found that Citric acid that you can order in bulk from ebay works amazing, It works better than the many others I have tried and it's cheap....Cover the plane in water, Add 1/2 citric acid powder into the warm water and let soak for 3 hours and go at it with a wire brush of your choosing...

bilden (author)2015-12-28

but WHY remove all patina / its historic connection? Sharpening and restoring functionality doesent have to mean polishing It to look like new. My mothe did that to some copper ware and sure Its a matter of taste but I would suggest give It a thought before going beyond whats needed for function.

pfred2 (author)2015-06-16

Is this a Millers Falls plane?

tmoore4748 (author)pfred22015-12-05

The fact that you even know to ask that question means you really know your stuff. I just restored a 9C for my Dad for Christmas (it's older than I am and he is BY FAR), so hopefully he'll like it. It was this 'ible that inspired me to finally do it, as it's a hand-me-down from my Grandpa, but now it's so nice I can't hold on to it, my shop's too much of a mess for something so nice! Thanks so much for showing us how to do this!

pfred2 (author)tmoore47482015-12-06

Millers Falls isn't that rare. I have a 900B myself that I kind of like. It is heavier than a Stanley #4. The bulk of my plane collection is Stanley though.

gregorio626 (author)pfred22015-06-20

he didn't use the same planer in the before, as he did in the after. look at the handle, there should be a metal rod end visible on both

nick ferry (author)gregorio6262015-06-23

That's probably the best compliment I can receive if you can't even believe that it is the same plane, I must be that good - but it is in fact the same plane - you'll notice from the before pictures a broken tote which I re-made from cherry - you can also see the newly polished brass rod cap on the new handle - there are a few additional pictures on my website if you care to have a gander

It's the same one. he replaced the rear handle with a new piece of wood. I think the "metal rod end" you are referring to is a spot of paint.

nick ferry (author)pfred22015-06-17

It is a Fulton from what I can gather

xbuccaneer (author)2015-07-19

wow... just WOW!

nick ferry (author)xbuccaneer2015-07-19

thanks x-buc!

bell an (author)2015-06-30

truly shining beauty, glory comes back.

nick ferry (author)bell an2015-07-01

thanks - it sure is shiny

BelloPhil (author)2015-06-16

Nice job Nick, I bought a second hand plane with a snapped tote, so like you, made a new one, the hardest part was getting the hole centred to attach it, it is still a bit off centre, but usable!!

nick ferry (author)BelloPhil2015-06-16

Thanks Phil - yeah mine wasn't perfectly centered but did the job just fine - I suppose one could drill it ahead of time but I did it later and like yours turned out fine - I found it fun to restore overall

ryadia (author)nick ferry2015-06-30

I guess its a moot point now but I've replaced a lot of Totes in my time. The best way I found to get them perfectly lined up was to drill the hole before ever shaping one. Obtain the exact angle to cut for the base by screwing the bolt in and using an adjustable square on the sole of the plan, 'eyeing off' the angle the base of the tote needs to be in relation to the hole. Then cutting and shaping the tote to suit. Sorry I haven't any pictures to show you. I'll start taking them in the future. Like you said motivation is all it needs!

nick ferry (author)ryadia2015-06-30

that's a good point - I had thought of doing it that way after I had shaped it - maybe I'll try it on the next one - good tip though

MahmoudTolba (author)2015-06-29

Great Work Nick, keep going :)

nick ferry (author)MahmoudTolba2015-06-29

Thanks Mahmoud, I appreciate the encouragement!

stevenjacks (author)2015-06-16

The main reason I'm asking is because it looks like the metal was painted black before.

pfred2 (author)stevenjacks2015-06-16

Many planes were painted black originally. It is called Japanning. Reading on the net it is an Asphaltum based finish, or roofing tar.

nick ferry (author)stevenjacks2015-06-16

yeah it may look that way but it was just that rusty and dirty

cutprogram1 (author)2015-06-16

I have a bunch of these handed down. I am now on the mission to do tjis and display/use them. Thanks for the inspiration!!! Nice work

nick ferry (author)cutprogram12015-06-16

Thanks - it is pretty darn rewarding to see it go from what looks like junk to what looks like a new plane

Dapegs (author)2015-06-16

Wow, that looks great. I have a few hand tools that now will get cleaned up. Your project was a good kick in the pants to finally get started.

nick ferry (author)Dapegs2015-06-16

I know for me a little motivation always helps - thanks for checking it out!

diy_bloke (author)2015-06-16

looks gorgeous

nick ferry (author)diy_bloke2015-06-16

Thank you!

stevenjacks (author)2015-06-16

Question: with a mirror polish on that type of metal, which looks absolutely killer, will fingerprints stain the metal? And won't the metal rust?

Learning about the differences in various types of metal is high up on my todo list!

nick ferry (author)stevenjacks2015-06-16

Not if you treat it w/ something - I tend to use T-9 Boeshield or paste wax - you for sure do not want to get it wet ever

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to build and make things with my hands. Think it, Build it, and repeat.
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