A few year back tools were generally bought from retired tradesmen who understood the principles of their tools and how they worked, as a result they would maintain them to a good standard even if they did get a bit rusty through lack of use after their retirement. The work to getting them back in order was a relatively easy process and the time to do this was consistent.
However it seems with the introduction of many new tool sellers over recent years we are finding planes coming in showing signs of extensive buffing or extensive sanding, they may look OK on an image but when running them over our precision bed it shows how bad this practice has become. Perfectly good planes with years of work ahead of them being ruined purely for appearance and a quick profit. How bad this epidemic will get probably depends on those in the trade finally never finding another good used example.
Every usable plane we sell goes through approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hr process.
- The plane sole is lapped on a precision bed to ensure it is in plane and the important three point contact is achieve (Toe, Throat & heel) although 90% – 99% of the total area of the sole is quite normal for us.
- It is then completely stripped apart
- The sole coating is re-coated with durable tested covering
- Frog is cleaned and refurbished
- The Iron is sharpened & honed and cleaned
- Cap Iron is cleaned
- All screws are cleaned
- Handles are stripped of flaky vanish, smoothed and lacquered.
- Lever cap cleaned
- Brass adjuster cleaned and smoothed out for easy adjustment
- All parts are treated with a specially formulated wax
It’s an extremely dirty job and requires the right tools, plenty of spare parts and a considerable amount of elbow grease. We wouldn’t do this unless we felt it was beneficial to the user, those who whose time could be better served doing what they do best.
Back to the original point, the planes that have endured multitude of poor refurbishment attempts, these are often only good for spare parts and their real value is just that, trying to restore these are not viable when you consider the effort and time needed. It’s a fact there are certainly more dogs around than there used to be so your chances of getting one is increasing and once you find one it’s a lesson you will never forget.
So next time you see a Stanley or Record plane online selling for a few quid cheaper regardless of how it looks. it’s never going to be as good as any sold here unless its had the same treatment.