How to Restore a Hand Plane




Introduction: How to Restore a Hand Plane

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

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

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

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

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!

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



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    36 Discussions

    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?

    1 reply

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

    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.

    1 reply

    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

    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.

    2 replies

    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

    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...


    2 years ago

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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

    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.

    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!!