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Discussion Starter #1
About a year ago I went to visit my uncle. As it turned out, he'd just finished cleaning out the basement of my grandfather's house, and loaded my car down with stuff he thought I might want (and a few things I'd explicitly said I didn't...). Among those were a pair of toolboxes: one full of saws, the other full of hand planes. Of the planes, most were in excellent shape: the Stanley #3 just needed cleaning and sharpening, and the #78 may not ever have been used!

There was one, however, that I really wanted to have working, that needed some work. It's an old, wide, wooden skew rabbet plane, and it had been pretty badly beaten. The iron is ground almost to nothing, and the sole was both out of square to the sides and no longer flat... it actually kind of rippled. I finally got a chance to get it working, and thought I'd post some photos.

Here's a "before":

Rabbet 01 by a_mckenzie_4, on Flickr

You can see that the iron was badly rusted and the corners were fairly well rounded. The first thing to do was to sand down and sharpen the iron. It cuts, too, at least in softwoods. The process was harder than anticipated because most of the rust seems to have occurred during storage, meaning the wedge was firmly rusted in place. I eventually got it out, with some effort. The iron still needs some work, but the back is now reasonably flat, and it's sharp enough to cut fairly well in soft woods. This is about halfway through the process.


Rabbet 02 by a_mckenzie_4, on Flickr

The second step was to deal with the sole. A quick pass over a piece of 80 grit paper proved that it wasn't just out of true, it was out of true inconsistently. At that point, I decided the plane wasn't usable and I was hardly going to make it worse, so I wedge the iron back in, clamped it upside down in my leg vise, and started working it with a Stanley #5. I ended up having to take off about 1/8 of an inch, but the mouth is straight enough that it didn't actually open the mouth any. The corners aren't perfect, but the edges are very close, and the sole is now perfectly square with the right edge. The sides aren't quite parallel, so it's not quite perfect with the left, but that shouldn't ever actually matter.

The sole, refinished:


Rabbet 04 by a_mckenzie_4, on Flickr

And a closeup of just the grain: anyone want to tell me what wood this is? I'm assuming beech, but I really wouldn't know...


Rabbet 05 by a_mckenzie_4, on Flickr

As you can see, I discovered something else unpleasant in the process: the body is cracked, toe to heel, in several places. Those cracks are also open at the top, so I'm not exactly sure what's holding this together. Force of habit is the best I can figure. I'm planning to keep using it until it splits, then glue it back together and either keep using it or, more likely, bring it inside to a retirement as a display piece. I didn't touch anything but the iron, sole, and the piece of the wedge that make contact with the iron, so it still looks just as it did while sitting on my bench.
 

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Looks like beech to me.
 

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I like your minimalist approach to rehab on this plane! Doing any more to it would ruin the look.

If it feels like it is unstable (splitting) while you are using it, you could try rubbing glue into the cracks with your finger. Might just get enough in there to hold it together for many more years of use.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, Tim! I just couldn't bring myself to do more to it. So far it feels quite solid, but I may end up buying some liquid hide glue and rubbing that into the cracks. That feels more in the spirit of the age of the plane than Titebond.

There's one more definitely recoverable plane in the box: it's an old wooden coffin smoother, but someone ground the iron to use it as a scrub. I don't really want it as a scrub, so I'm going to have to regrind the iron and close up the mouth. That will be an interesting project, and not one I'm going to get to any time soon.
 
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