View Full Version : Tuning/Trueing a hand plane

Chuck Wintle
02-28-2003, 6:16 PM
I want to tune up my hand plane. It's a Stanley Bailey that is made in England. Would it be worth it to have the plane body trued in a mchine shop? The sides are square to the bottom. Also where the plane blade holder sits it looks not to be well machined. Should I have the four points where it sits trued up to be equal? Or am I expecting too much to do this?
Thank you

Wendell Wilkerson
02-28-2003, 7:47 PM
Howdy Charles,

Here's an atricle you might find relevant to your plane tuning project: Handplane Tuning (http://www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/plane_tune.shtml) . I am not an expert at handplane tuning so I won't try to give any other advice. Best of luck.


Dennis McDonaugh
02-28-2003, 9:04 PM
Charles, I have a #5 Jack plane made in England. I bought it before I was "educated" about how much better older Stanley planes are than the new ones. I tuned my plane by truing the sole on 220 sand paper glued to plate glass and filing the burrs off the frog and mouth. Then I made sure the blade was "scary sharp" and I can't tell the difference between it and some older Baileys I have since acquired. I really like the size and since I replaced the plastic handles its a joy to use and look at. Its not hard and you'll really enjoy the experience when you hear that swooosh when you use it.

Alan Hamilton
03-01-2003, 12:55 PM

I wouldn't take any plane of mine to a machine shop unless I found a machinist who was also a wood worker with knowledge about hand planes. An untutored machinist will almost always grind away much more metal than necessary. It's the way they work; they usually aren't called upon to remove the small amounts that will true up a plane sole. Removing too much is very bad--it can alter the stresses in the casting that can undo the flattening in short order.

A piece of plate glass (I got a piece of scrap from my local glaziers: three-eighths inch thick, and thirty inches by eleven inches. It cost me four dollars--and they smoothed and rounded the sides for me!) and some wet and dry paper is all you need. Put the glass on something that is itself flat. Keep the plane set up as though you're going to plane wood, except don't extend the iron (obviously) this keeps the same stresses in the casting that will exist when you're actually using it. Use some machinist's blue, or lay out dye as it is sometimes called, and apply it all over the sole; or, as an alternative, use a permanent marker to draw lines all along the length and width of the sole to create a cross-hatch of half-inch or so squares. When the blue dye or the lines are all gone, the sole is flat. (It's not necessary to get the entire sole dead flat--but I won't confuse the issue with that--besides, I always true up the entire sole of my planes.) It goes much faster than you might think. Once the sole is flat you can work up through the grits to smooth the sole. Finish with some camellia oil, bees wax, paraffin, carnuba, or some similar concoction (NOT automobile wax! It often contains silicon that can cause finishing woes. Avoid using any product that has silicon.). It's really not that hard to do.


Andrew Fairbank
03-19-2003, 5:46 AM
Hi Charles,

Here's a step-by-step picture guide, probably what your're looking for.