Restoring a Router Plane and Making New Handles




About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion ...

I recently got my first ever router plane but it was rusty, grimy and the iron was no where near sharp. So I thought I'd set about restoring it, getting the rust off, sharpening up the iron and turning new handles for it on my spring pole lathe. If you'd like to check out the video you can see it on my YouTube Channel.

As well as the video I've also written out some detailed instructions below, I hope you enjoy it!

Step 1: Tools and Materials Used


- Toothbrush

- A plastic container that will hold the plane and all its pieces (and also allow the vinegar level to get above the plane)

- Latex gloves

- Flat head screwdriver

- Atomiser

- Steel Wool

- Low grit sandpaper, around 120

- Grinding wheel

- Coarse sharpening stone

- 600/2000 grit water stone for final sharpening

- Strop

- Towel/rag for general cleaning

Optional tools for turning new handles:

- Lathe

- Dividers

- Pencil

- Turning chisels

- Small saw

- Brace or drill and 10mm and 6mm bit.

- Mallet and gouge/chisel

- 240 grit sandpaper


- White vinegar

- Polishing compound

- Oil for sharpening stone

- Wood finish (I used Danish oil)

Step 2: Disassembling the Plane

Please note that this is a Stanley no 71 router plane and so this Instructable may not apply to all router planes.

Most of the disassembling is fairly straightforward, unscrewing the various pieces to get everything free. The one piece that can be a bit of a problem is the handles. They screw off from the plane just fine but if you want to clean the little nuts at the tops of the handles you need to pop them out. I wanted to get them out of there so I could make some new handles. In order to do that I had to place a small piece of wood under the handle and put pressure on the bolt inside to push the nut out of the top of the handle. You might find turning it with a screwdriver at the same time helps to loosen it.

Step 3: Soaking in Vinegar and Washing

I used enough vinegar to cover over the top of the "Stanley" part of the plane. all in all that cost me about £3 which I don't think is much to de rust a tool. Obviously if you have a bundle of tools to clean then this process becomes cheaper.

I soaked the router and all its parts in white vinegar for a whole day, you can see how even before I started scrubbing with a toothbrush that plenty of the rust had already lifted off. So I put on the latex gloves and pulled it from the vinegar, then I started brushing with the toothbrush at the rust. Since it had been soaking for a day it was a fairly easy process and all the rust came away easily for the most part.

After scrubbing all the parts I used some water in an atomiser and sprayed all over the plane and its parts rubbing off the water as I went with a towel.

Step 4: Scrubbing With Steel Wool and Sandpaper

There's bound to still be some rust or griminess in the nooks and crannies of the plane and this is where steel wool and sandpaper is your friend. Start with the steel wool and scrub all over the plane, this should not only help to remove rust but to bring some shine back to the metal also. If there's still some issues you can then move onto sandpaper, be careful though as this is a more rough clean and will wear away at some of the pieces very quickly if you don't do it carefully.

I then found a known flat surface, in this case the top of my shooting board, and slid the plane base over it a few times. Its important to find a flat surface for this stage as you don't want the bottom of the plane to be out of flat at all, having a non flat router plane completely defeats the purpose of the tool.

Step 5: Optional Step 1: Turning the New Handles

These steps are completely optional and I'm sure most people would just leave the handles on their planes but I felt like giving my plane a bit of personalisation. I had some birch I got from a sawmill for next to nothing and noticed it had some spalting on it. So I split it open, carved a piece down to a cylindrical shape and set it up on my spring pole lathe.

Using my dividers I measured the top and the bottom of the handles. I used those measurements to figure out the rough size of the handle I needed and started turning it on the lathe. When I got it down to size I used some 240 grit sandpaper to sand it whilst it was still on the lathe.

Step 6: Optional Step 2 : Suiting the New Handles for the Router

I turned the piece so I could cut it in half, each half being a handle. I placed them one at a time where the handles sit and gave them a couple of taps with the mallet. This gave the handles an indentation of the metal piece that slots into the bottom of the handle. I then used a 10mm drill bit and brace to drill in about 10mm deep and then a 8mm bit the rest of the way for the bolt to go through.

I pushed the bolt in all the way through and out of the top of the handle. Screwing the nut onto the top of the bolt then allowed me to trace the size of the bolt onto the top of the handle and cut out a recess for it to slot into. I used a gouge and a chisel. Once the nut fit inside I was able to screw the handles on.

Step 7: Grinding and Sharpening the Bevel on the Iron/blade

The bevel on the iron was so blunt I had to regrind it using my grinding stone. You can see how I did that on the video, it required some holding to the side to avoid the shaft of the iron hitting the grinding wheel. Once the bevel was re-established I took it to a coarse sharpening stone. Spraying the stone with oil (I used WD-40) I laid it onto the edge of the bench to make room for the shaft of the iron to hang over the edge, using a slow back and forward motion, making sure to keep the iron square (or as square as I could). When a burr of metal was completely overlapping the edge of the blade I did 3 or 4 strokes of the flat edge of the iron on the stone.

I repeated this step with a 600 grit waterstone and then a 2000 grit waterstone. You could do this with sandpaper as well of course.

When I was finished with the waterstone I rubbed some polishing compound on my leather strop. This helps to take any remaining burr off left on the iron and also shines it up. All you have to do is rub the bevel and the bottom side a few times to achieve the desired result.

Step 8: FInishing the Handles and Reassembly

I used Danish oil to finish the handles but I'm sure there's a harder wearing finish out there and everyone has their own preference. I basically used this as its what I had! The reassembly is fairly straightforward and if you get confused just check out some photos online of your particular plane in its assembled form.

All in all I'm very pleased with how it cleaned up and I'm in love with the new handles even though my turning definitely needs work! If you'd like to see the finished iron/blade working like a dream on some wood then check out the end of the video.

If you'd like to see my library of projects and keep up with my current and future projects then head on over and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To help support my growth and interact with myself and other woodworking fans please give the Timber Anew Facebook Page a like.

Any comments at all are greatly appreciated, whether its a thumbs up, a criticism or just a general hello. Thanks a lot for checking out this Instructable.



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    11 Discussions


    1 year ago

    What wood have you used to create the new handles ? It looks beautiful !

    Thanks for sharing.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Its wonderful isn't it! Its spalted Birch, I split it from a log I got from a sawmill that was on the firewood pile.


    1 year ago

    Good job! I did this recently with an Ebay find. I opted to glue a broken handle together rather than turn a new set on my drill press. One thing I did that may not have been a good idea is to lap the sole. It wasn't flat, I'm guessing from the drop that broke the handle. While lapping the sole I ended up taking off the nickel plating.

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    This was an eBay find also, I spent a long time looking for one that was a fair price! Oh that's a shame about the nickel plating, I hope it still works well!


    Reply 1 year ago

    It works great. I use it way more than I thought I would; Stanley no71 is a good tool. Highly recommended to anyone making drawers or boxes. The only issue is that resale value may be lower, but I don't plan on selling it.... ever.


    Reply 1 year ago

    You and me both, I have no intention of selling this at all!


    1 year ago

    This Tool, is what was/is known in UK Carpentry Circles, as a "Granny Tooth", not a Router :)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, known as a "Grannies Tooth" and a router plane, just depends on your location and/or preference I suppose!


    1 year ago

    Beautiful work. Tool restorations like this are some of my personal favorite things to see here on instructables. Thank you for sharing the details :)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it! It was a very satisfying thing to do.