Re-Tote Your Bench Plane (Part 1)

How many of us have found a nice wooden plane with the tote damaged and passed it by? I know I have many times, well, this time I couldn’t as the price was too good to pass up. The same thing happened to one of the other guys in the shop and I thought why not make a couple of them since we are at it and help each other out. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of them before I started so we have to dive right into the process.

Removing the broken tote from the body of the plane with a chisel.

I started with a chisel and removed the bulk of the handle that was above the plane body. Then I used a forstner bit and drilled out the rest of the old handle. A few more taps with the chisel and the old tote resents were removed.

Pattern traced onto the quarter sawn beech blank.

Luckily I have another tote in good condition on another jointer. I traced the tote onto a piece of tag board to create a pattern. With the pattern cut out it was easy to transfer that onto this nice piece of beech. I pulled out the forstner bits again an placed them in several locations on the pattern to figure out which size would be the closest for the radius. If you are planning to use this pattern in the future don’t forget to write down which size goes where.

Drill out as much of the inner part as possible.

I drilled out all the material I could easily, 3 in the center of the handle, and one at the bottom of the horn. As an afterthought I could have also done the bottom front part where it connects to the plane body. Next I used a chisel to remove any extra material I could from the center making sure not to go past my lines. Thin cuts with the chisel across the grain is definitely helped.


Spindle sander used to cleanup the inside surfaces of the tote.

Here is the new guy in the shop at the spindle sander cleaning up the inside of the tote. Note he has a lot of sanding to do as he didn’t cut much out with the chisel. A little bit more time with a chisel saves a lot of sanding and saw dust in the shop. The more I work with hand tools the less often I have a desire to go to a power tool, but there are just some tasks that are well suited for power.

Bandsaw used to rough out the tote blank.

Back at the bandsaw to remove the outside waste from the tote. We had a fairly wide blade on so we had to use relief cuts on the inside curves, it was still considerably quicker than swapping blades out.

Removing the bandsaw marks from the edges of the tote with a spindle sander.

The two of us were swapping back and forth between the bandsaw and the spindle sander. This time around, I just used the sander to clean up the outside edges a bit. Some of these faces will be mostly removed, but others will be nearly flat.  The closer you cut at the bandsaw to the line the less time you spent at the sander. I think the sawdust collection on the spindle sander is a must, no need to throw any more dust into the air than necessary.

Working with the Gramercy Tools Hand Cut Saw Handle Maker’s Rasp.

Now the manual shaping starts. I started by laying out the rough curves with a pencil in the locations where there were supposed to have curves. I am lucky enough to have a Saw Handle Maker’s Rasp that is perfect for parts of this job. The curve in it gives me more teeth contact, and with the safe edges I have less concern of digging in on the edges. It really doesn’t take to long to get all the rough rounding of the edges complete.

More to come, finish sanding and fitting the tote to the body.


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