Old Stanley No. 5

My wife sent me out the other day to find a pair of used filing cabinets and I came home with this little beaut.  It has a chipped handle, but the sole, horn, and blade are all in top-notch shape.   For the record, it has been weeks since I have brought anything home, and I have been looking for this plane for quite some time online.   $15 for this plane?  You dang right I bought it like I stole it!

Have you ever walked into a big box hardware store and noticed all of the power tools and then noticed all of the jigs needed to perform the functions of the power tools?  Say I wanted to chamfer the edge of a countertop:  First I’d need a router, then a bit, and possibly even a router table or a straightedge, depending on the collet setup/etc.  But with a simple block plane, I can do the same job, no accessories needed, no hearing protection needed, and just a simple sweep of the floor.  Not even a vacuum needed since there is no fine dust from high rpm cutting blades.

Another backwards feature of power tools (while I’m on the subject) is that there are power tools to remove the characteristics (read: burns, kerfs, knicks, etc) that the previous power tool gave the piece of wood.   I believe this was done on purpose.   I can easily see the scenario playing out.  The husband is allowed his very own sanctuary (aka woodshop) as long as it helps him complete his Honey DO list.   The wife wants a simple coat rack to mount on the hall.   The husband then thinks this project will only allow him 1/2 hour shop time with his hand tools.   He ponders deeply on how he can increase his shop time on such small projects.  Next thing you know, Mr. Rockwell Dewalt has invented a planer that causes tearout with its blades rotating in a circular motion instead of a linear parallel motion.  Then he creates a tablesaw that rotates so fast the blade causes burn marks and the larger kerf causes an uneven edge.   Then he invents an electrical drill to replace both the egg beater and the bit and brace.  This drill is capable of producing major blowout at the end of a perfect bore.  Now to finish all those mistakes with some sandpaper.  He starts with 80 grit, scratching the daylights out of the grain, but getting rid of most other imperfections.  He moves on up to 100 grit, replacing the larger scratches with multiple tiny scratches.  He then continues with higher grit with similar results.  For the grand finale, he puts on a coat of finish that takes away all characteristics that make wood great (smell, touch, etc), but it does what it is intended, it fills all the voids that were created from the tooling process.  The finish isn’t something that you can wipe on and put to use.  It takes multiple days and multiple coats.   Mr Rockwell Dewalt has created a master process that all of us men are grateful for, he has turned a simple 1/2 hour project into one that can span a week’s worth of evenings.   If done properly, the coat rack can lead into larger projects..such as a dresser!   That’s a lot of sanding.  May take a year if a man works evenings.  He better be smart and take a small vacation from work…should have it done in two weeks…if uninterrupted(chances of that happening?).

Three Cheers for Mr. Rockwell Dewalt!!

Are you now imagining my shop with only hand tools since I have slightly cynical thoughts to their perverse cousins that spin by electricity?   Sorry for the snap to reality.  Here is my planer.

FullSizeRender (1)

With its helical cutterhead, 15″ wide mouth, 1′ deep throat, and 5hp motor, it will make anyone that catches sight of it do the “Tim the Tool Man” grunt.  The downside:  Once the 78 4-sided blades are dull, it costs $150 to have them sharpened and every time I fire it up, I owe a little something to American Electric Power Company.

Back to hand tools:

The Stanley No.5 is more commonly known as a Jack Plane, used to surface lumber.  It was the plane that most carpenters preferred to take to the job because it was the “Jack of all Trades” as far as planes are concerned.  Its primary function is to surface rough lumber, but depending on how deep you set the blade, one can easily use this plane in place of a block, scrub, or jointer plane.

A great deal can be said about the history of a plane when looking at the blade.   The camber that the blade was ground down to and the treatment of the corners can usually dictate what wood/what kind of woodworking it was most used on.   My jack plane blade looks to be unmolested, but I’m about ready to change that.   I deal with all kinds of hard and soft wood, rarely clear.   With that being the case, I’m going to grind a 8″ radius on each side, allowing the plane to shave over knots and varying grade with minimal tearout.   I’m going to keep the same camber, but sharpen her up to snuff on a glass block with high grit and it should be ready to rock!

One thought on “Old Stanley No. 5

  1. Mike Wasson says:

    I agree with your sentiment. A couple of years ago when I cut part of my left index finger off, I began to appreciate the beauty of hand tools more. Not only do I not like the noise but I like the feel and look of the wood when it is hand struck by the hands of a craftsman ,regardless of their skill level. Your apparent knowledge of sharpening will serve you well. Good luck in you pursuits.

    Like

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