I’ll rehab these oldies one more time and pass them on to my
oldest boy who’s interested in luthier work… he’ll be the 5th
generation of craftsman for some of these.
left to right is a Stanley transitional jack, a Stanley 36 razee
smoother, and an old Ohio Tool coffin smoother.
jack and the coffin smoother have new soles, and I’ll do the
Stanley 36 today. Wood planes are a joy to use….they have a warm
feel to them and for a boatbuilder or shipwright working
overhead, are lighter and handier than cast iron planes. They
wear faster, but are much easier to tune.
As the sole wears
unevenly from planing edges and odd shapes, a simple pass
through or over a fine-set hand or power jointer flattens them
back into true. Do that three or four times over the course of a
decade, however, and the mouth widens to the point where fine
shavings are no longer possible. If you look at the Stanley 36,
you can see the mouth is a bit wider than the one on your
favorite cast-iron smoother.
front of the plane wears the fastest, and repeated jointings on
a plane used for coarse work makes them wedge-shaped,
eventually. I could inlay a patch or throat piece into the front
section of the mouth, but that does nothing to correct the wedge
shape, the mortises are time-consuming to cut, and a throat
piece doesn’t support the critical area at the front edge of the
mouth as does the original sole and throat. So instead, I prefer
to attach new soles and recut the throat to the original
specifications or even a bit narrower in the mouth, depending on
how I intend to use the plane.
straight-grained hardwood will do…these original plane bodies
are beech, and I’m using hard Bigleaf Maple for the new soles
today. I also use holly and Madrone, more hard local woods. How
thick should the new sole be?
Thicker than the furthest downward
the iron can be adjusted. Because I’m using the power jointer
for this, I mill the new sole stock almost twice as thick as
needed. For the Stanley 36 in relatively good condition, no
taper is needed to correct wedge-shaped wear, so I plane my sole
I power joint the beech plane body to expose fresh wood
uncontaminated by oil and wax, and glue the sole stock on with
5:1 West System epoxy dyed brown. Get the free Gougeon Brother’s
epoxy pamphlet from West Marine and follow the
instructions…including the use of a high-strength thickener.
good boatbuilder’s epoxy is moisture proof, is almost twice as
strong and flexible as other glues and is the best choice.
Clamping isn’t required… I merely place the glued assembly on a
wax-papered flat surface and set a cast-iron plane atop for
weight over night.