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Thread: Restoring a Bailey No. 5 with a weirdly damaged tote

  1. #1
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    Restoring a Bailey No. 5 with a weirdly damaged tote

    In my retirement, and when I have time between tasks on my honey-do list, I enjoy restoring an old plane, and especially enjoy fixing the rosewood totes and knobs usually its the totes that are cracked across the middle or have the top horn broken off. In this post I just wanted to share my experience restoring an old Stanley Bailey No. 5 plane that had unusual damage to the tote.

    So, a couple of months ago I acquired this Bailey No. 5 as a restoration project. Based on the design of the frog and base, and the fact that its a Bailey with no frog adjusting screw, I think its a Type 9 (early 1900s). The condition looked fairly rough, but seemed a doable challenge for restoring back to a good user. Also, it has a corrugated bottom which makes it easier to lap the bottom. I bought this plane on the big auction site been staying away from the flea markets, antique malls, and estate sales due to COVID, but it looks like Ill be soon getting back to the in-person shopping experience.

    Unrestored.jpg

    Overall, after a clean-up, I found the condition of the plane to be rather good for being 100+ years old, but the tote had issues.

    If I had a chance to inspect the tote, I might not have bothered to buy this plane. The tote was loose, leaning a bit to the left, and the brass nut was sunken in below the top surface. After I removed it from the plane, I saw the problem. The very bottom of the tote had split off, apparently along the grain, making the entire tote about shorter than it should be. Because of this, the bottom surface of the tote was a bit concave causing it to not sit squarely on the base, which explains why the tote was leaning to one side. Obviously, the owner made no attempt to repair it, as the top nut was cranked down all the way to the bottom of the threads of the bolt that runs through the tote, I imagine caused by continued attempts to tighten a wobbly tote. Another side effect of that abuse was that the shoulder inside of the hole that the brass nut sits on was compressed down into the tote hence, the nut was sunken into the top. (This made me wonder whether this tote was actually rosewood or some softer wood. It is unusually light in color, but the grain of the wood sure looks like rosewood.)

    I spent part of an afternoon contemplating whether I could to fix this tote and finally worked out a strategy while on the recliner watching a ball game with empty stands.
    First, I carefully flattened the bottom of the tote with coarse sandpaper on a flat surface, then cut a piece of walnut to slightly more than thick and glued it to the bottom with epoxy. The edges of the walnut were then sculpted with a chisel and sandpaper to conform to the sides of the tote. Luckily, I had another Stanley No. 5 with a good tote for comparison, and another trip to the sandpaper allowed me to sand down the walnut a bit more to fine-tune the height of the repaired tote to match the good one.
    To fix the issue with the brass nut sunken into the top of the tote, I located an aluminum spacer that was 7/16 o.d. (the diameter of the brass nut). I had to buy a bag of 10 of these things ($10 from Amazon) to get that size. I cut the spacer to the right length and epoxied it down into the hole. With that, the top of the brass nut now sits flush with the top of the tote. Finally, the tote bolt was straightened, the 2 holes were drilled into the walnut bottom, and a test fit verified that the repair was straight and solid. The tote and knob were then sanded and finished with a coat of shellac as a sealer followed by several applications of Minwax tung oil.

    Im pleased with the results. This plane was easy to adjust (I didnt miss that frog adjustment screw found on the newer Bailey planes) and with a newly sharpened iron, now works like a champ.
    Here are a few shots of the finished plane as well as the repaired tote.

    Restored1.jpgRestored2.jpgRestored3.jpgRestored4.jpg

  2. #2
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    A very nice job of restoring that No. 5. It's been quite a few years since I have done that kind of restoration, but I can still recall the gratification it provided. Your handle repair solution was outstanding. I was never much for repairs on the wood parts, opting for making or swaping a different tote instead, but your solution worked quite well.

  3. #3
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    Nice job James, a few of my repaired totes have had wood added to repair damaged or missing wood.

    Looks like that plane is ready for another century of making shavings.

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

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brady View Post
    A very nice job of restoring that No. 5. It's been quite a few years since I have done that kind of restoration, but I can still recall the gratification it provided. Your handle repair solution was outstanding. I was never much for repairs on the wood parts, opting for making or swaping a different tote instead, but your solution worked quite well.
    Thanks for the compliment Mike. Yes, I get a lot of gratification bringing back to life an old neglected tool that still has potential. It's a nice short-term project. I've given away and sold a few that I've restored and get good feedback. To me, there's something special about the Brazilian rosewood used on the Stanley planes - I always try to make them usable again, even when severely damaged.

  5. #5
    Wow! That is better than new. Im impressed with your attention to detail.

  6. #6
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    Nice work. 10 character limit.

  7. #7
    That looks great and works well. The finish on the metal caught my eye - what did you use to clean and polish is? (Mine come out ok, but not quite that nice.)
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  8. #8
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    I have a #5 Bailey with a repaired tote, it was broken. I cut a section out of the halves, glued a repair section, and then shaped the repair with sandpaper. I applied a clear finish to it. Black engine enamel was used on the rusty body, repairing the japanning.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    That looks great and works well. The finish on the metal caught my eye - what did you use to clean and polish is? (Mine come out ok, but not quite that nice.)
    No real rocket science involved. For the cast iron base, I start with a wire wheel to remove as much debris/rust/corrosion as possible. Then work my way through various grades of sandpaper on a flat surface, usually starting with 80 grit, then to 120. I use zirconia alumina sanding belts cut open flat for this (longer lasting when sanding metal). I will occasionally go to the belt sander for quicker work on high spots, then back to the flat sanding. At that point it's 80% working by hand with finer and finer grades of sandpaper - 220/320/400 to get a smooth and uniform finish. On this particular plane, I continued to 600 and then 1000 grit - kind of a judgement call on when to stop. When to next finer grade of sandpaper doesn't make much difference, that's when to stop (I'm not shooting for a mirror finish). The moment I decide I'm done, I immediately rub on a coating of wax to prevent new rusting.

  10. #10
    Thanks James! The extra work certainly pays off for you.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  11. #11
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    I have plane that had a broken tote, so I cut the cut out both sides of the break, glued a block in, and varnished the repair. I have a plane with a racing stripe.

  12. #12
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    VERY nice work...Well done
    Jerry

  13. #13
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    FYI, this plane is now listed in SMC Classifieds:
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....83#post3121183

  14. #14
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    Fabulous job James. I have this same plane, but no where near as nice as yours. Hope some one who needs a nice jack takes it off your hands. Good luck.

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