Restoring a Rare Hand Plane | Stanley #4 1/2




About: Hey! This is Molly and Dylan from the YouTube Channel Woodbrew:) We are 20 year old makers, entrepreneurs, and content creators. Happy building!

I restored my grandfather's old 1885 Stanley 4 1/2 hand plane.

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----Products used----

WD40 Industrial Strength Degreaser:

Rust Remover Soak:

Diamond Sharpening Stones:

Buffing compound:

Leather Strop:

Super Glue:

Glue Activator Spray:

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Step 1: Disassemble

Disassemble your hand plane and make sure not to loose any parts.

Step 2: Degrease

Degrease all of the parts. I used this product ( ) to spray on and scrub off with a wire brush.

Step 3: Rust Removal

Place all of the steel parts in a sealed container. You will want to use something to raise the parts up off the bottom. We used nuts and this allowed the solution to remove the rust from the underside of parts. Pour in a rust remover product ( ) and let the parts soak overnight. To speed up the process you can periodically scrub the parts with a wire brush and place them back in the rust remover.

Step 4: Flatten Plane Sole

Use sandpaper and a flat surface to flatten the bottom of the hand plane sole. I chose to flatten the sides as well, but this is not necessary. 400 grit is a good place to start and finish with 800-1000 grit.

Step 5: Paint

If the original paint has worn off, now is a good time to re paint. Use painters tape to mask off any areas you don't want paint. I used a spray can of black semigloss paint.

Step 6: Polish

Polish all of the other small parts. I used a Dremel and buffing compound. This will really bring the shine out on any brass parts.

Step 7: Sharpen the Blade

Use your preferred method of sharpening to sharpen the iron. I used this diamond stone to sharpen

Step 8: Fix Handle

If either handle is broken you can either fix them or create a new one all together. I chose to glue the handle pieces back together and sand them flush. I used this glue

Step 9: Re Assemble

Take all of the pieces and put the hand plane back together. Adjust the blade to barely stick through the bottom of the sole and make sure it is parallel to the plane sole. Lubricate any moving parts with some 3in1 oil.

Step 10: Done!

Time to make some shavings! Your all done!

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    9 Discussions

    Stu Russell

    1 year ago

    Blue Ox in Eureka, California is a working museum for vintage human powered saws, drills, etc. The Smithsonian said its the best collection in the country and tried to buy it. The owner wouldn't sell it. If he did it would gather dust with few people seeing it. It is fantastic, you can walk around, watch the tools being used and talk to the operators.

    I MP

    1 year ago

    For a biodegradable rust remover use cosmetic grade citric acid to soak the rusty parts then use a nylon bristle brush to remove the loose rust particles. I use wet and dry sandpaper sprayed with window cleaner (thank you Paul Sellers) attached to a one foot square of counter top granite from Home Depot to true and sharpen the plane parts.When cleaning things up make sure the cap iron has a true edge. For a scary sharp plane iron finish with 2000 grit wet and dry then hone rh blade on a leather strop. I have restored multiple Stanly all metal planes and Bailey iron wooden bodied transition planes. In my opinion no currently available commercial plane will match the work you can do with a restored plane. Old chisels can also be found and resurrected from the dead to fill that void in your workshop.

    2 replies
    BetsyFartBlossomI MP

    Reply 1 year ago

    Really, you can restore chisels? Please, tell me how. I have a bunch of old rusty ones that I got from estate sales. I love them all. A lot of people don't know that the tools, shovels, hoes, etc., that you buy from the store aren't sharpened. You have to sharpen them to get them to work right. And, a good chisel will do that. I need to resurrect mine, please, How?

    I MPBetsyFartBlossom

    Reply 1 year ago

    Chisels are cutting tools, primarily used on wood but other types of chisels are used on other materials. Restoring a wood chisel is a multi step process from removing the rust to making the chisel true again, sharpening the chisel and the replacing or restoring any damaged or missing handles.Most older ones you will find have suffered some degree of misuse or abuse which will need correction before you being the restoration process itself.

    The steps in the process are similar to restoring and sharpening a plane iron. I do not think that the comment section is the place to take up space to describe them. I do not know the Instructables policy on using specific emails but if it is allowed I can write up the entire process and steps as an electronic file and share it with anyone who is interested.


    1 year ago

    I bought one of these, in perfect condition, except for some rust, at a yard or estate sale. I bought it because the functionality, (which I didn't completely understand, but knew it was some sort of planer) and the beauty of it's form. Now I'm very glad I did. "Friends" are always making fun of me for having old Alpine Sunbeam camshafts and tools like this as decor, but tough 3456. You've shown me a way to perhaps restore it to functionality. I wish I had some real tools, though, but this is so beautiful and the work you did on it is beautiful. Thank you for enlightening me. Thank you for the lesson!!!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hooray! Another estate/yard sale old tool lover. I love to think about who might have used it, what they made and how the recipient loved getting it. Some planes are so beautiful in their style. I like to watch the New Yankee Woodworker and especially The Woodwright's Shop withRoy Underhill. That guy cracks me up. He always has interesting guests, learns stuff, teaches stuff and seems like a really nice guy.


    1 year ago

    Oh! I'm so excited about this! For some reason I love planes! I buy them at estate sales and have all sizes and brands. Of course, most of them are unusable because they are a mess, but now, NOW! I can clean them up and fix them! I am so geeked to get started. I love tools. My brothers can't understand why their sister is so enamored with tools, all tools. I love ladders, too. The older the better:) Thanks for these directions, I'm going to get to fixing my planes this week - or next - depends:)


    1 year ago

    I buy old tools because I love the design and the made-by-hand history behind them, so to speak. Thank you for sharing the tutorial on restoration. Very helpful and inspiring. Time for me now to gather what I need to work on putting these tools - the planers are my favorite - back to work. :) Thanks, again.


    1 year ago

    Very nice job. Restoring older hand tools to their original finish and being usable again is its own reward.