Hand Plane Restoration and Tune-Up




Introduction: Hand Plane Restoration and Tune-Up

About: I make things and occasionally post glorified beauty-shots of them here.

Everybody's got an old tool in their garage or workshop somewhere, that maybe their grandfather gave them, while saying something along the lines of: " 'Don't screw this up!', or maybe just 'Keep it nice. I got that in 'Nam.' ". There's a good chance that it's now in a condition that most wouldn't bother to look at it, let alone use it. The reality is that it's probably a great quality tool, and better than most you could buy today (That WWII veteran who hangs out in Harbor Freight, saying things like: "They don't make 'em like they used to, sonny!" is right, by the way...) Here's some pictures and words about a block plane I restored. I hope this helps, or better yet, gives you the kick in the a$$ you need to go work on your own rusty "junk".

Step 1: Disassemble!

Take it apart. No, you don't need a tetanus shot. Man up, and gently take it apart.

Step 2: Bath Time!

Chances are that it's pretty dirty, so clean it. (If you're a "hipster" who likes things to be dirty for the cool look, you should probably stop reading now). Bring it in a bath or shower (extra points for singing to it like a small child at bath time), dip it in a sacred river, or just wash it with tap water and a tiny foam brush... on second thought just do the brush thing. Make sure to wash all parts of the plane.

Step 3: Toxic Bath Time!...?

I noticed a little green paint that wouldn't come off with water, so I had to step my game up. You can use acetone, or alcohol (Isopropyl, sorry to get your hopes up), however I had a can of carb and choke cleaner- Aka: "The Nastiest Sh*t on Planet Earth" on hand. Put a little of your chosen Toxin on a rag and rub the paint off. You're welcome, by the way. I just saved you hours of sanding, and a lifetime of hand cramps.

Step 4: Sand Your Soul!

It's actually spelled sole... It just sounds cooler when the little voice in your head reads it as "soul". Anyway, You'll probably need to flatten the bottom of your plane, which is called the sole. In order to make sure the surface is dead flat, check its pulse. *Cricket, Cricket*. Bad jokes aside, get a flat board or better yet a piece of glass and some fine sandpaper (I used 220 grit). Place the sandpaper on the glass and run the sole of the plane over it until you see that the steel shavings are consistently spread out on the paper. When you see this, finish the sole by moving it in a small circular motion to remove any "grain" it may have received from the sanding. Repeat this on the two other flat sides of the sole to polish. Ideally, you should resurface the bottom of the sole every third sharpening of the blade or so.

Step 5: Sand the Blade

Repeat the sanding process on the front and back sides of the blade. Don't even bother touching the bevel (the angled, sharp part at the front of the blade) yet.

Step 6: 研ぎます(Sharpen)

From what I understand, those squiggly characters up there are Japanese for "Sharpen". (However, knowing my luck, it's probably some derogatory term that will offend half the world... I digress). Why is there Japanese in this Instructable, you ask? You'll hopefully figure that out below...

You'll need to sharpen the blade most likely, so in that case choose whatever method you want out of the millions there are... But I suggest you use a Japanese Waterstone (Now you get it). Japanese Waterstones are so great because as you sharpen, you are removing old gummed up abrasive, and are revealing new magic sharp rock. If you do it right, you'll end up with a mirror polish in which you can see your reflection, and when I do it, I like what I see ;). You can pick up a two-sided 1,000 grit and 6,000 grit stone for around $30 US. (Buy it, almost all Japanese woodworking products are great).


All comments regarding how you are convinced that your specialized sharpening system is better than everyone else's, will be deleted. We like it better when your mouth is closed and keyboard doesn't work, buddy.

Step 7: Touch Up

I used a small foam brush and black spray paint to fix a nick left in the paint. #lifehack

Step 8: Grease the Hog

Because we have made a big no-no and mixed steel with the very dangerous H20 in the cleaning process, it's probably a good idea to make sure we don't encourage any rust. WD-40, Which stands for Water Displacement attempt number 40, will be perfect for this. {Shameless Plug: I have another popular Instructable in which I discuss how WD-40 was sent to our planet as a gift from the heavens, in order to, along side with duct tape, save Humanity. Click on my profile to check it out.} Spray some of the magic fluid on a rag and rub it onto all components of the plane. Let it sit a while and come back to wipe up the excess. You should have a polish that would make that Stanley guy proud (Just give up on that joke if you don't get it the first time).

Step 9: Set Up an Epic Photoshoot

Snap pictures of your work, as if it were a nude goddess in the ruins of an ancient city, lit by the flame of burning rubble. Take pride in posting these images all over your social media, and be sure to let everyone know how accomplished you are by doing such. Then vote for this project to win in the hand tools contest, and follow me on Instructables for more content like this.

Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

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    4 Discussions

    Big Joel
    Big Joel

    4 years ago

    Great instructional! I have a couple old planes , and can't wait to start. Thanks man


    Reply 4 years ago

    No problem! I'm always here to help if you need it! Good luck!


    4 years ago

    do you have any tips on setting up the blade upon re-assembly? I never can quite get it right.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I suggest trying to cut a spacer to put between the blade and the mouth of the sole to keep it consistent... You could also try to measure the distance. It's hard to get the set of the blade right on a block plane like this, because it has no adjustment knob. Hope this helps!