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Thread: Are your old plane irons disposable?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    France
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    Are your old plane irons disposable?

    Dear All, the other day I was sharpening irons for a Preston side rebate 2506 I received.
    As the angles were not correct to my liking I realised I was super careful to take off the minimum amount of metal possible. If these irons are finished/damaged I could potentially find replacements but it would still be tricky.

    Through the years I managed to purchase quite a few Stanley with the V logo or other old logo as well from the UK market, being bench plane or speciality planes such as the 140 block plane.

    I know some people consider a plane iron like a drill bit i.e. not part of the original tool, but this is not my case. I am still using all my planes though, therefore my concerns.

    I am absolutely not interested in resale value, but am just worried about the historical loss. I know this might sound silly for those living in the US, but these planes are scarce in Europe, specially in France where we only had woodies and I find it would be a pity for the tool to be transferred with a silly modern iron after my time with it.


    Do you sometimes use a more recent iron instead of the original one, just for the sake of keeping the historical integrity of the whole tool ? Am I crazy ?

    Thank you for your input

    N.B. I apologise if this was already discussed and would appreciate to be then redirected.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    DuBois, PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel de Pugey View Post
    Dear All, the other day I was sharpening irons for a Preston side rebate 2506 I received.
    As the angles were not correct to my liking I realised I was super careful to take off the minimum amount of metal possible. If these irons are finished/damaged I could potentially find replacements but it would still be tricky.

    Through the years I managed to purchase quite a few Stanley with the V logo or other old logo as well from the UK market, being bench plane or speciality planes such as the 140 block plane.

    I know some people consider a plane iron like a drill bit i.e. not part of the original tool, but this is not my case. I am still using all my planes though, therefore my concerns.

    I am absolutely not interested in resale value, but am just worried about the historical loss. I know this might sound silly for those living in the US, but these planes are scarce in Europe, specially in France where we only had woodies and I find it would be a pity for the tool to be transferred with a silly modern iron after my time with it.


    Do you sometimes use a more recent iron instead of the original one, just for the sake of keeping the historical integrity of the whole tool ? Am I crazy ?

    Thank you for your input

    N.B. I apologise if this was already discussed and would appreciate to be then redirected.
    I'm noy sure of the the length or width of your blades, but sharpened, they make great scrapers!
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Greeley, CO
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    21
    I keep the old plane blades in a drawer because I'm a pack-rat but if I liked the original blade I wouldn't have replaced it with a "silly modern" French made Hock blade.....
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Eric Danstrom; 04-17-2019 at 6:05 PM.

  4. #4
    I replace the original irons with modern, thicker irons. I find they work better. Add to that the improvements in steel, such as the LV PM-V11, and there's more reason to replace the irons - the modern irons stay sharp longer.

    I own planes to use them, not to conserve them for a museum. There are many, many Stanley planes out there. And some are in collections where they're never used (with the original irons).

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Borger, Texas
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    Hi Axel,

    It depends, I like the old irons but may end up going to the modern irons like Mike, but have not yet. I look hard at the prices, and the old Stanley replacement irons used to be pretty cheap.....but don't seem to be as much that way now.

    As it gets to the point that the old irons cost closer to what modern replacement irons cost I will give serious consideration to the new ones. For now, I like how well the old irons seem to work.

    In the case of the old Bedrock 605 that i inherited from my dad, I went to some trouble to get the correct iron to match the type# of the plane to put it back to the original status. Same thing with the old Ohio plane that I inherited from my grandfather. For those two, the family ties outweighed any other considerations. Getting replacement parts to put the old Ohio back to original status was a pain, it needed 5 or more parts if I recall correctly, I looked for parts for maybe a couple of years and paid too much for them. However, that is the only way I was able to get the needed parts.

    That said, I may get replacement irons to actually use in those two planes if the originals start get worn enough that they don't have several years of life left in them. I want to be able to leave those two planes, especially to son-in-laws and grand kids and I want to turn them over with all true to type parts.

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 04-17-2019 at 8:39 PM.

  6. #6
    You are not crazy if you feel the historical provenance of the tool is important. At the same time, you show a respect for the tool and it's past by using it well and properly. To me, that includes using the original iron. But there is nothing wrong with your approach.

    Changing subjects, I see you are in France. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for the damage to your magnificent Notre Dame. I hope to see her restored and proud again in my lifetime.

    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #7
    I normally use the original irons because I like that style iron more than those modern thick ones. If I did replace one for some reason, I would probably keep the old iron.

    I saw Notre Dame when I was 18, which was a few decades ago. I caught part of a video of the spire coming down; it brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't watch any more of it.

  8. #8
    Axel, I carefully read through your post. I think I understand exactly (and probably completely agree) with what you are saying.

    Several years ago I would clean up and sometimes refurbish antique and vintage planes. Back then, I used to pull most of my vintage blades and replace them with incredibly inexpensive but good quality replacement blades.

    Most of those planes still have those replacement blades in place and the original antique and vintage blades are just sitting in a stack. I treat the modern blades like a rented mule. I wouldn’t enjoy doing the same to a late 19th century blade, a “V logo Stanley “ or a Sweetheart blade. Just MY personal philosophy for MY tools.

    Unfortunately, the answer to your question is to do what YOU feel comfortable doing with these tools.

    While the style of Stanley planes you describe are somewhat common in the U.S. and some other areas, since there aren’t “many, many, many” of them in France, you may reasonably choose to treat them differently than those of us here would do.

    BTW, I no longer have a source for inexpensive new replacement blades. Faced with that, I would be forced to use the vintage blades or buy a premium replacement blade.
    That will affect my decision in the future.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Longview WA
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    Some of my planes have Hock blades in them. One type 6 #4-1/2 came with a blade that only has STANLEY stamped on it. Some of the type studies place that as being between the blade with a Stanley Patent AP'L 19,92 mark and the Stanley Rule & Level stamped blades. If that is the case, it would be a replacement blade on this plane. The plane didn't look like it was used that much when it was found. Anyway that blade isn't on the plane at this time.

    Other than one blade on an early #113 my oldest blades are the Stanley Patent AP'L 19,92 series.

    Most of my planes have blades that are not necessarily type correct. Though a few of my SW period planes do have a blade that could have been an original to the plane.

    It doesn't matter much to me. The old blades work fine. The new Hock blades tend to hold an edge a bit longer. PMv-11 would likely be the blades to get if you want to avoid sharpening.

    Here is a page with the trademarks if anyone is interested: https://www.antique-used-tools.com/stantms.htm

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 04-18-2019 at 1:29 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #10
    Jim, Thanks, I haven’t looked up those marks in several years. I have had a few of the pre 92 patents and quite a few post 92, but I don’t recall any Stanley only blades. I ‘ll have to dig through what I have.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    Original irons in old planes just means they weren't used very much. Sharpening is a destructive process and using a plane every day will wear through a blade in a couple years; they were not meant to last for generations. I'm sure the plane collectors will insure an adequate supply of old blades for the museums, I feel no qualms about updating to a thicker blade with better steel for actual use.

  12. #12
    I use two plane irons in my daily work that are about 100 years old. Neither is original to the plane it is in. If I wear one of these out I will look for a "Bailey Wood Plane" with a good iron for replacement. I think they are better than what is available today.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Michiana
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    My former user set were all vintage Stanley's, with none newer than about 90 years old. The bench planes all were fitted with Hock irons and the vintage ones saved. The block planes used the vintage irons as they generally saw very light use. When I sold them, the buyers were pleased to get the original irons and I was pleased to sell the Hock irons separately.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    Original irons in old planes just means they weren't used very much. Sharpening is a destructive process and using a plane every day will wear through a blade in a couple years;
    [edited]
    In my opinion what wears most on a blade is people who do not know how to properly sharpen a blade.

    Most of the blades that came to me as very worn had one thing in common, they all appeared to be sharpened on a grinder without any other honing. If someone feels a need to grind a blade every time it becomes dulled, it will likely 'wear out' quickly.

    My blades are seldom sharpened on a grinder or other powered sharpening system. Some of them are sharpened on almost every visit to my shop. To me it seems they will last well beyond my lifetime.

    Recently Chris Schwarz was on The Woodwright's Shop talking about planes. His comment on sharpening a scrub plane blade was interesting. He claimed he sharpens it once a year since, "a scrub plane blade doesn't need to be razor sharp to do its job."

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
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    Jun 2010
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    Someone "up-dated" this old Stanley No. 3c...type 11/12 with a SW iron....
    Ash Tote 2, No. 3c plane.JPG
    Was in use last night...flattening a piece of Ash...no tearout.

    BTW: Millers Falls, on the irons marked "Solid Tool Steel" are actually thicker than the Stanley irons.
    Ash Tote, adjusting edge.JPG
    Which is what the Millers Falls No. 11 Junior Jack plane has onboard. Also used on Ash..
    Ash Tote, wide edge.JPG
    Needed to "joint" this edge a bit....until it was smooth..
    Ash Tote, adjusted edge.JPG
    One of the shavings is laying there, on the vise...

    All the planes I use have their OEM irons on-board....have never found any need to "upgrade" to something not designed to be used in that plane, when it was made. feels like added something from Edelbrock to a mini-van from VW...

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