Flattening a Stanley #4 Sole
This week at “Guys Night in the Shop” I brought back a couple of things to do. First I needed to flatten the sole of a rather old Stanley #4 Plane. I am fortunate enough to have access to some really nice tools in this shop, one of which is a Saw Stop Table Saw. For this particular task it wasn’t going to cut anything, I just wanted the flat surface. I backed the blade off considerably before proceeding. We briefly discussed what grits to use for sand paper and found some slightly used sticky backed 120, 180 and 220 in the drawer. I opted to start with the 180 to see how bad it was out of flat and figured that was reasonably safe. After a half dozen passes I noticed a couple of high spots showing and decided to go down to 120 as it was going to take a while. With a dozen passes on 120 I grabbed a red Sharpie and scribbled on the sole to get a better picture of how much work I had to do. It didn’t look to bad at this point, but knew I had a bunch more to go. I brushed the black residue from the sand paper frequently to minimize clogging the paper.
I altered the angle a couple of different times that the plane was passing over the paper to allow the paper the best cutting action. A couple dozen more passes and it was pretty close to where I wanted it. I did a bit more scribbling with the Sharpie and another dozen passes, ok time to switch to a finer grit. I progressed to the 180 with about a dozen passes and the same with the 220. At this point its not perfect, but I got most of the minor scratches out and left a bit at the toe and a circle about 1 1/4” across just behind the mouth. Total time spent on it maybe 30 minutes, mainly due to conversations with the other guys. I don’t think I took it as far as I should have, but this is just based on memory of what I have read for other articles. But I didn’t want to go to far, possibly widening the mouth, I can always go back and do more later if needed. Before progressing each grit, I also put about half a dozen passes on the point of the transition from sole to side as I don’t want them to get to sharp and possibly scrape the wood accidentally.
I put a quick coat of paste wax on the sole, let it dry and wiped it off. I roughly reset the blade and grabbed a piece of very curly maple. With a bit of tweaking on the blade depth I was able to reliably get an extremely thin shaving with a very fine finish. Previously I had only sharpened the blade, nothing else had been done to the plane. I still need to do a bit of cleaning as the depth adjustment is pretty gummed up and difficult to turn, otherwise I would say it’s a great plane for being approximately 100 years old!
Continuing work on my turning saw project. I cut a pair of stretchers out of curly maple, and I must say its an extremely beautiful piece of wood. I ripped the small board that I had on the table saw and trimmed it to length. I then used the smoothing plane that I just flattened the sole of and planed all 4 sides of both stretchers. WOW, such a smooth finish for an extremely figured piece of wood. I then used a marking gauge to set the shoulders for the tenons. I used a chisel and set the score marks deeper, and shaved the waste side of the line with a chisel. This allowed me to use a dovetail saw to cut the shoulders for the tenon, they were quite small so it went quick. I did a tiny bit of cleanup with a chisel and they are nearly ready to use now.