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Tuning a Stanley Bailey Bench Plane


1.0 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG 1.1 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG
1. An Antique Stanley/Bailey Plane. Over 100 years ago, when this plane was manufactured, Stanley was making woodworking planes in a variety of shapes and sizes for a multitude of different tasks. This is a #4 1/2 smoothing plane, which, as the name implies, was designed for the purpose of making boards smooth. 2. Stanley/Bailey #4 1/2. With some time and attention, this old tool will return to its former glory. The concept of tuning (or fettling) a plane is pretty straight forward. The sole mut be flat. The chipbreaker, blade, frog and frog reciever (the part of the main casting on which the frog sits) must all make as much contact with one another as possible. Further more, the blade must be sharpened to a razor edge and shaped in an ideal manner for the tasks the plane will be expected to tackle. Taking all of this into account will allow a bench plane to do its job well with a minimal amount of physical exertion from the user.
1.2 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG 1.3 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG
3. The Frog is the interface between the blade and the body (main casting) of the plane. The frog is also the part of the plane that allows for most adjustments: depth adjustment, lateral adjustment as well as the size of the opening in front of the blade. 4. Truing the Bottom of the Frog with 180 grit sandpaper on a flat granite slab.
1.4 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane tuning frog reciever.JPG 1.5 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG
5. Truing the Frog Reciever can be done by attaching some self- adhesive sandpaper to the bottom of the frog then working the frog back and forth accross the frog reciever. 6. Maximum Contact between the frog and main casting will help reduce chatter. When removing material to achieve a better fit for the parts of a plane a balance should be struck between the fit and the overall reduction in mass of those parts. ┬áIn other words, if a plane’s parts are exceptionally out of true, you should avoid removing too much mass from the plane in order to true the surfaces in question.
1.6 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG 1.7 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG
7. Removing the Blade Adjustment Mechanisms with a punch will give me free access to lap the face of the frog. Both the depth adjustment wishbone and the lateral adjuster are attached to the frog with snug fitting pins. I have never damaged a plane while punching out a pin but I do see how this could happen. Placing the frog against a sandbag or a particularly stout portion of your workbench will make removing the pins a lot easier. 8. Lapping the Frog will allow for better contact between the blade and the frog.
1.8 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG 1.9 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane laping the sole.JPG
9. Mostly Flat. In order to completely lap out the distortion and pitting of the frog, I would have to significantly thin the frog. Instead, I’ll settle for mostly flat so I can retain the majority of the frog’s mass. 10. Lapping the Sole with self- adhesive sandpaper on a very flat piece of marble.
2.0 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG 2.1 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane clean and polish.JPG
11. Distorted Sole. A few passes reveals just how distorted this sole is. I’ll keep lapping until the sole is completely flat. Then I’ll lap with progressively finer grits up to 2000 grit. After the sole is lapped and polished it’s generally a good idea to hand buff the sole (and other unfinished parts of the plane) with wax for smooth, oxidation free function. 12. Cleaning up the Hardware is quick. I like to use a drill to rotate the various screws, nuts and threaded rods at high speeds for cleaning and polishing. A drill, in conjunction with a stringed instrument nut slot file, is a quick way to unclog and clean up rusty and gunk filled threads.
2.2 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane replacement blade and chipbreaker.JPG 2.6 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane planing figured maple.JPG
13. Replacement Parts cansave time and frustration. The relativelythin chipbreaker and blade that camewith this plane won’t reduce chatteror hold an edge as well as acontemporary replacement chipbreakerand blade will. The key differencebetween the old and new parts ismass. Combined, these Ron Hock replacement parts are .070″ thickerthan their old stanley counter parts.That extra 1/16″ of mass providesa substantial improvement inperformance. 14. Just Plane Fun. This curly piece of fiddleback maple has a glassy finish, even after 15 minutes of planing (without resharpening the blade).
2.4 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane measuring the chip.JPG 2.5 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane.JPG
15. Thinner than Paper. These wood chips of figured maple are .001″ thick. 16. A Blend of Old and New. An old plane with updated components gets the job done. I reground the replacement blade to a 30 degree angle. Although a steeper bevel angle will require a little more force to push through each cut, it will extend the life of a cutting edge.
2.3 Tuning a Stanley Bench Plane smoothing figured maple.JPG


17. A Type 8 Smoother at Work.