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View Full Version : Surface Grinding a plane sole



James O'Mara
03-06-2003, 11:02 PM
Okay just wanted to hear if I screwed up. I have a couple (3) of stanly bench planes that I got off EBay that I was starting to redo. After getting halfway through lapping the sole flat on the #3 I decided there had to be an easier way. The #5 and #7 bottoms looked worse than the #3. Being that the #5 was the worse I took it to my local machine shop. For $15 they are going to take 0.003" off the bottom and it will be within 0.001 of dead flat with a nice finish. I figure that with a little hand lapping I can get it ever so smooth.

Has anybody ever gone this route before. also, should have I spent extra to have them bring the side to a absolute dead perfect ninety degrees to the base? Or is just lapping the side enough?

Like I said the #5 was pretty bad so if it is just a learning experience, so be it. I plan on having the japanning redone so I will hand lap the bottom over float glass after the baking process. Also the same plane is in need of a replacement lever cap, any good places other than Ebay that I should look. I would like one of the original type 11 with no words.

Thanks all you have been great in helping me get these things restored. Now if I can just get somebody to show me how to tune them in to make full curls.

Jimmy

Bruce Page
03-06-2003, 11:46 PM
Jimmy, Iím not a neander but I use to be a machinist. I canít see why taking .003 would hurt anything at all. If all it takes is .003 to get a good cleanup, then the sole wasnít that bad to begin with. Surface grinding is done in a flood of coolant, so there shouldnít be any problems with the sole loosing any temper.

I also suspect that it will come back from the machine shop pretty close to 90į without having to pay anything extra. To do the grinding, they will either clamp the body to an angle plate or use a vise. Most tooling that is used for grinding is usually pretty accurate.

John Schreiber
03-07-2003, 12:16 AM
Sounds like a real time saver. My only warning is to make sure that when the grinder is going the plane is set up for planing. If there is no iron in place or the handles are removed, the tension on the body will be different from when you are using the plane. The shape of the bottom could change when the handles and iron are snugged down.

Of course a grinder is messy and I'd want to protect any wood handles. A thick coat of wax would probably do it.

Thanks John Schreiber

Bruce Page
03-07-2003, 12:00 PM
Originally posted by John Schreiber
Sounds like a real time saver. My only warning is to make sure that when the grinder is going the plane is set up for planing. If there is no iron in place or the handles are removed, the tension on the body will be different from when you are using the plane. The shape of the bottom could change when the handles and iron are snugged down.

Of course a grinder is messy and I'd want to protect any wood handles. A thick coat of wax would probably do it.

Thanks John Schreiber

John, Iím not sure that thatís true. As I said, Iím not a neander and have never watched the manufacturing of a plane, but I wouldnít think that they would completely assemble the plane before performing the final grinding operation. - Just my opinion.

Steve Schoene
03-07-2003, 2:12 PM
Perhaps thats why a lot of planes need tuning. The presence of frog and pressure from the cap iron and other attachments can affect the flatness of the sole. Therefore the closer you get to operating conditions the more accurate the ground sole will be when in operation.

James O'Mara
03-07-2003, 4:54 PM
That is kind of an odd observation. I just got the "Reclaiming Flea Market Planes" video with Ernie Conover from Woodcraft, in it he states to strip it down completely before lapping the base. I did get it back today and it looks wonderful, glad I gave it a try. However I am now going to send it to Mike at Plane Wood to have it re-japanned and cleaned up a little further. When it gets back I am planning on hand lapping it to a mirror finish, but now I don't know whether to lap it stripped or loaded.

Jimmy

Greg Wease
03-07-2003, 6:57 PM
Both my woodworking instructors and Garrett Hack (The Handplane Book) advise that lapping should be done with the plane fully assembled. The stress of tightening down the frog probably doesn't cause a lot of movement but apparently it is measureable. As for having the sides machined to 90 degrees, did you measure your #3 before and after having the sole flattened? I'm curious how close to 90 it came out without paying extra. If you plan to use a plane with a shooting board it might be worth the extra expense.

Best regards,
Greg Wease

James O'Mara
03-07-2003, 11:42 PM
Unfortunately I did not measure before. When I get back to my tools I will measure the after. I am moved out of my place when an addition is being built. Restoring these plane has been on my list of things to do for quite some time and I figured it was something I could do without having to have much with me. It was only after starting the lapping on the #3 (the best and smallest of the 5 that I want to restore) that I realized how much work it was going to be. Thus the idea of the surface grinder came to me. I am using a 36" x 6" x 1/2" piece of float glass with 4.5" abrasive strips. Now that I watched the video on refurbishing planes I think the silicon carbide and water might be a lot easier. However, on the #7 and #8 I think I am still going to have them surface ground just to make things easy. Afterwards I will hand lap them to get them perfect.

Chuck Wintle
03-10-2003, 4:05 PM
I have a Stanley plane that I hand lapped on a flat stone where I work. I used some spray on glue and stuck strips of emery cloth to the flat stone and it worked starting with a coarse cloth then to a fine emery cloth. And it does make a difference if the palne iron is installed. Just tightening the blade holder to the body of the plane will stress it and change the sole flatness slightly. Overall I was not impressed with the machining done by Stanley when this plane was made. The quality is not there anymore.

Chuck Wintle
03-10-2003, 4:07 PM
I forgot to say that the flatness after handlapping was better than .001 inch.

Don Kugelberg
03-11-2003, 7:26 PM
Just wanted to reinforce your decision to send your plane over to Mike Taylor at Plane Wood. I forwarded him a basket case Union 5C which was rusted and had caked on mud all over it. I just got it back last night. He put it through electrolysis, rejappaned it and provided a new mahogany knob and tote. The plane is now beautiful and will be functional as soon as I finish fettling it. I've already sharpened the blade and can hardly wait to start making shavings with it! I heartily recommend Mike's service. Standard disclaimer applies, I am not affiliated with Plane Woods in any way, just a very satisfied customer!

Philip Duffy
03-15-2003, 3:53 AM
My experience with having two planes worked by a machinst shows that
the end result is quite remarkable. Both planes, a MF and a Stanley will cut a full blade-width shaving about 1/1000 thick across the full blade, from end to end of a board. They are better than a machine! The only caution is that, to get a flat bottom you need flat and true sides before the bottom is worked. In that process some of the markings on the side of my MF were lost. However, the end result is two quite remarkable planes that serve me very well indeed.