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Thread: Old Plane upgrades and enhancements???? pls weigh in

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Old Plane upgrades and enhancements???? pls weigh in

    Ok so you a newb to the world of planes.

    You one day acquire through hand me down or first ebay purchase your first old plane. Lets for the want of a reference say an old No4.

    The bug has bitten.

    Out comes the vaporust and you go to work on the new learning curve.

    Step 1 is the clean up.

    Step 2 is the tune up.

    Step 3 gets you into the world of sharpening .....wow thats a cause for diversion on its own.

    Step 4 has to now testing out your refurbished plane.

    Your buddies throw out all the tips and advice and you follow it diligently.

    Wow finally you taking translucent thin shavings on your test board. What a delight.

    But this is still in your mind an old plane. Old casting, old machining old tech and old materials. YOU are a product of the technology age and tech has come along way in any field. (as you get older you dont think so anymore but thats another story)

    So on your next visit to the worm/heaven store (lv) (yeah its full of worms boring a hole in my head and then my pocket) you happen to stop by the glass plane cabinet.

    I challenge anyone that has been to one of these stores thats a woodworker to tell me they have not done this and stared into the glass cabinet like tiny Tim in the Chrismas Carol story.

    You see the various options and you see the price. Yup there in all its finest dress is the No4 Veritas plane in the same area is the option of new blades and even new chip breakers.

    Now Mr. Fud (that gremlin sitting on your shoulder) (fear uncertainty and doubt) begins to whisper in your ear. (the worm comes alive).

    What if .........that plane is such an improvement over my Stanley.

    .......that i got it wrong on my tune up and even though i have the product of my labor in front of me.......it really could be even better.

    .......that this plane with all its new tech has just got to be better no???

    ........ok what if i just settle for the new technology in terms of blade because you know what they really copied the Stanley casting....yeah right

    Heck the middle ground in this internal discussion says why not try the upgrade router. Heck its a cheap way to get into the water and experience the huge difference that new tech steel blade will bring. And hey remember all the issues you had with that old chip breaker trying to get it to be flat to the blade and polishing the curved top side.

    So you jump in the water...you get the blade and eventually the chipbreaker but still the never ending Mr. Fud is telling you it could be better. The only thing that will put this to rest is buying the plane.

    But then the next worm starts. Which one?

    Is it to be a LV (Veritas) or a LN (Lie Neilson) heck what about a "new premium" Stanley or the "new revision x premium" Woodriver (woodcraft) or hey cross the channel and go for broke an try the "premium" (hit and miss) Clifton planes still made in the UK, and and and there are probably many more i cannot even recall right now.

    So my question is can any of my esteemed members of the Neander community shed some light on the merits, quantify in terms of say 1-10 the benefits of the routes in this path other than following it for the sake of following it or as a collector.?

    I would love to hear your views help me to silence Mr. FUD once and for all.


    Have you bought and tried a new plane blade in an old plane?

    What was your objective experience of the benefits/result?

    Did you feel the cost was worth the benefit? Why?

    Have you compared the old plane to upgraded plane to new plane of the same size/category?

    What do you think is the merit of following the path?

    If you finally broke down and bought a new one did it live up to the expectation and do you feel it was worth it?

    Does your old one still get used.....if so when and why?

    Help me crack this nut once and for all.....or leave me suffering.
    cheers

  2. #2
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    I have drooled over the pictures in the catalogs & on line but so far have stayed with my old planes & routers & chisels. I am not a heavy duty user YET. I have spent time learning a bit of how to sharpen as well as collecting sharpening stones & a work sharp & glass plates & sand paper. My next project will be a tool box to put the tools in. I may some day buy a new hand plane or other hand tool. I prefer the old ones I guess mostly because they have worked so far & because of the way they look.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Hand tools 3.jpg  
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    Wow finally you taking translucent thin shavings on your test board. What a delight.
    I will ask you a question, how do you improve on that? If mine can do that all that left is to use them. For me it's the results, not the 'techness' of the tool.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  4. #4
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    I've found that the greatest improvement that can be made to an old plane is to put a modern blade in it. Modern blades are thicker and made of better steel so they stay sharp longer and don't chatter as easily.

    This assumes you have a decent quality old plane to start with and you fettle the plane (such as flattening the sole).

    Adding a modern chip breaker is nice but does not give a real improvement over an old chip breaker, especially if you prepare your old chip breaker well.

    Modern planes have certain advantages: They are generally well made so they don't require much fettling, the blade and chip breaker is quite good, and the body is generally made of something unbreakable (the cast iron body of an old plane will break if you drop it on a concrete floor). If you have more time than money, you can get an old plane to work quite well, probably as well as a modern plane.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  5. #5
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    I pretty much agree with Mike H. A new, modern steel blade makes a noticeable improvement. All the other so-called upgrades are marginal, by comparison.

    I particularly like the L-N "Stanley Replacement" blades, and I have them in several of my (for now) 126 planes.

    I've tried the aftermarket chip breakers, but haven't found them to be a significant improvement, unless they're replacing a previously bent, pitted, or distorted one. The originals are quite sufficient.

    Knobs and totes are purely cosmetic - make your own; don't buy them.

    Japanning is cosmetic. Unless it's a collector quality plane (in which case, the collector wants the original finish anyway) new japanning isn't necessary. Black (or the color of your choice) paint is quite adequate - and easier to apply.

    Minor pitting on the sole isn't a killer, either, so long as it's not adjacent the mouth.

    Even a 'precision flattened' sole isn't essential. If it's reasonably flat, and doesn't have hollows adjacent the mouth, then it's probably good enough. Think your grandfather has the granite block and precision abrasives available for flattening? Likely not! I'd doubt he even checked the sole for flatness. He just used the plane. Make a test cut with every plane you buy - BEFORE(!) you start messing with it. You may find that sharpening was all it ever really needed.

    Are the sides perfectly perpendicular to the sole? Unless you're gonna use the plane in a shooting board, it doesn't matter. Leave it alone! Don't waste your time. Do woodworking instead.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    Have you compared the old plane to upgraded plane to new plane of the same size/category?
    Rob,

    I don't think I'll ever buy a brand new high end plane.

    First, I'm a complete klutz, and besides, I don't know enough about planes to really know what I'm doing. I would find some way to ruin the thing.

    Second, if I can buy five (or more!) old for the price of a new, I'll learn a lot about each one as I fix them up. That's how I've learned most of what I know.

    Third, there's a delicate joy in bringing something back into use. I like to think about whoever it was who used it before. It almost feels like we're working together.

    But what the heck, to each his own. Maybe the real truth is I'm just too cheap!

    Yhanks,

    Bill

  7. #7
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    When buying a replacement plane blade, how good is good enough?

    For example, I can buy a LV blade for my Stanley 4.5 for $36.50 or a LN for $55.00.

    Has anyone tried blades from both vendors? Is the LN really worth 50% more than the LV? Or is the LV already a huge step up from my original blades that I'm better off upgrading 3 blades from LV instead of two from LN?
    Measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an axe.

  8. #8
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    Here is my quick take on the matter,

    Why buy new when an old one will work? Now I am not an expert of these monsters, by any means. But I ran some numbers. My #7 cost me around $35, I added a LV blade and breaker for another $55 (or so). Now, I looked real hard at LN, I like the style better than the LV. Price, $465, if I remember.

    According to my math, I can put around $200 in a #7 and still come out ahead. Flat bottom? Not really worried about it. When I worked over mine, I tried to clean it up, not get it perfect flat. People bought these over 100 years ago and used the crap out of them. They didn't know how to tune them up to get the best out of them, they knew how to make a living out of them.

    The way I look at it, buy an old one, use it and have fun with it.
    If you don't take pride in your work, life get's pretty boring.

    Rule of thumb is if you donít know what tool to buy next, then you probably donít need it yet.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Ducar View Post
    When buying a replacement plane blade, how good is good enough?

    For example, I can buy a LV blade for my Stanley 4.5 for $36.50 or a LN for $55.00.

    Has anyone tried blades from both vendors? Is the LN really worth 50% more than the LV? Or is the LV already a huge step up from my original blades that I'm better off upgrading 3 blades from LV instead of two from LN?
    I've bought and used replacement blades from LN, LV and Hock. All work well. There's probably no really good reason but right now, my preference is for the Hock blades. You can get them from Craftsman Studio for a decent price. They always have them on sale.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  10. #10
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    It's complicated. I've had some Stanley sweetheart blades that are absolutely wonderful, and easier to sharpen than the A2 you get from LV or LN.

    As for LV vs LN, I have and use both. Is one better than the other? I don't know.

    A LN No.7 jointer costs an awful lot. Is it worth it? Every penny, but the decision to buy one depends on how much discretionary cash you have. Is it necessary? Absolutely not. A well tuned Stanley will leave the same surface. Is the LN more pleasant to use? IMO, yes. But you may get more pleasure from using an old tool you've tuned yourself than a luxury model new tool that will work great after 10 minutes of honing.

    The A2 blades take longer to hone, and to re-hone. But they stay sharp longer, for the most part. There is some controversy as to the particle size of the steel and whether or not you can get A2 as sharp as 01. I don't know the answer to that. LN does some kind of cryogenic treatment to their irons, I can't recall if LV does. Does it matter? I don't know.

    Bottom line: there's a big difference between want and need, and ultimately what you purchase and use may be based more on finances at the time of purchase than finding the perfect tool and the perfect edge. I have more planes than I need. It's an illness. But I surely do enjoy having them. And as one who keeps an eye on prices, it is money well spent, and dare I say, invested.

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