Author Topic: Hand Planes  (Read 277880 times)

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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #225 on: March 22, 2014, 11:18:15 AM »
I can’t think of too many tools, accessories, or attachments that Stanley made to enhance the versatility and/or utility of its hand planes.  With the exception of the hollow and round soles that were not included with the basic Stanley #45 combination plane but could be purchased separately, and the various additional cutter sets that could be added to the #45 and #55 combination planes, most Stanley planes came with everything one needed to use the tool to the extent that it was designed.  The only other plane that comes to mind would be the Stanley #51 chute board plane.  It could be combined with the Stanley chute board, to create the model #52 chute board and plane.  There may have also been a few weather strip planes (for window sash) that came with a single width cutter but were also capable of using other widths that had to be purchased separately.  Anyway, we’ll talk about some of those down the road.  Having mentioned those exceptions (and there could be a few more that I missed), Stanley and most other manufacturer’s were pretty good about including cutters, fences, stops, etc. with their basic plane offerings.  Most of the time, the user had what he/she needed just by purchasing the plane and its respective parts.  There was however, one other accessory that made jointing longer stock a little easier and potentially more accurate, but it was sold separately.

Stanley #386 Jointer Gauge:

At first glance, this tool may look like a “contraption” of sorts.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a jointer gauge.  The #386 was designed to clamp to the side walls of longer bench planes (between sizes 5 and 8) for purposes of aiding in the accuracy of jointing long stock.  It’s actually a well thought out tool.  As you can see, the clamping mechanisms were fairly simple and could be adjusted up and down by means of a knurled screw at each end.  Those screws sit on top of the plane’s arched side wall and allowed the #386 to be attached to almost any point and still follow the side wall’s contour.   The screws were then adjusted to keep the #386 an equal distance from the plane’s sole at the front and back.  Studying the photos below, it’s easy to see how the #386’s fence could be adjusted to produce different angles along the edge of a work piece.  I believe the fence had a working range between 30 degrees and 90 degrees.  With the use of a reliable machinists square, setting the #386’s fence at a right angle to the sole of the plane is pretty easy.  Still, it’s not foolproof.  If your cutting iron is slightly askew in the plane itself, then the results of your first few passes will probably not be a 90 degree corner between the face and edge of the work piece.  You might need to make some little adjustments using the plane’s lateral adjustment lever.  If you’re trying to make an angle that is something other than 90 degrees, then keep checking your results with an accurate measuring tool after every few passes.  The best way to really see what I’m talking about is to use the #386 on a plane.  Hands on experience is really going to be the best teacher in this case.  I’d also recommend picking a specific plane and dedicating it to jointing work.  Square the plane’s iron to the bottom of the plane’s sole with the lateral adjusting lever, set it for a light pass, and then attach the #386 gauge to the plane’s side wall.  Use a square to adjust the fence and make a few passes on some scrap stock.  If you’re happy with the results, then you’re ready to start jointing stock.  It will take a little tinkering to get everything set up just right, but once you have it, leave the #386 mounted on the plane and use that as your “go to” jointer.

I use the set up depicted below to make one last pass over stock that I’ve run across my mechanical/powered jointer.  A super sharp hand plane equipped with the #386 eliminates the microscopic scalloping on the surface of the machined edge and leaves it perfectly smooth.  If you were wondering, I use a Stanley #7C with my #386 jointer gauge.  For some reason, that particular plane, when outfitted with the #386, seems to give me great results every time.  I’ve tried others, but I like THAT plane, so I’ve dedicated it as my go to jointer.  It seems to be the right size, weight and length for me.  The iron is ground and set perfectly for jointing.  Others may like using a longer plane like the #8, or something a little shorter like a #6.  Whatever works best for each individual is the “right” plane.

The #386 was manufactured between 1911 and 1947.  They were usually nickel plated, but like many from the WWII era, they can occasionally be found with a black japanned finish.  The rosewood knob can be installed on either end of the #386 so that the tool itself can be mounted on either side of the plane.  The #386’s fence also has factory installed holes in it for mounting a longer auxiliary wooden fence for added accuracy and for using against the face of a finished surface.  I see these at tool shows and at auctions all the time.  They’re relatively common in various states of condition.  If you decide to buy a #386, make absolutely sure that the clamping mechanisms are complete and free from damage.  If it can’t easily be attached to the plane, it’s worthless.  The #386 is a “try it and see” tool in my book.  It’s not essential for accurately jointing the edges of boards.  Good technique, the properly adjusted plane, and practice eliminate the need for the #386.  On the other hand, it’s fun to use, and once it’s set and installed on a plane, it speeds up the jointing process and delivers very good, easily repeatable results.

Jim C.   
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 11:35:11 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #226 on: March 22, 2014, 11:18:45 AM »
I couldn't add all the pictures in the previous post, but I wanted to include a few more of the #386's clamping mechanism. 

Jim C. (who was a little long winded and camera crazy today) 

« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 11:24:06 AM by Jim C. »
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Offline Art Rafael

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #227 on: March 22, 2014, 02:56:53 PM »
Thanks, Jim. 

This adds to the research documentation which would be incomplete without your dissertations.  "Long winded" ?  No.  Much and much more can, I'm sure, and should be said if the whole story be told.  And "camera crazy"?  You know how we love and thrive on pictures.  We want more.  Please continue sharing your research.

Ralph

Offline Papaw

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #228 on: March 22, 2014, 04:34:37 PM »
Thanks, Jim. 

This adds to the research documentation which would be incomplete without your dissertations.  "Long winded" ?  No.  Much and much more can, I'm sure, and should be said if the whole story be told.  And "camera crazy"?  You know how we love and thrive on pictures.  We want more.  Please continue sharing your research.

Ralph
Well said, Ralph!
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #229 on: March 22, 2014, 11:20:31 PM »
Hey Ralph and Papaw,

Thanks for your continued support.  I'm really glad that you've been reading along and stuck with the thread this far.  There's more to come. 

Jim C.
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Offline Branson

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #230 on: March 23, 2014, 09:54:17 AM »
Glad to see this essay on the jointer gauge!   I've always wanted to play with one, but never found one I could afford.  I think I'll look a little harder now.

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #231 on: March 23, 2014, 10:58:23 AM »
Hi Branson,

I should also thank you too for keeping up with the thread, and everyone else for that matter.  It's funny that you referred to my last post an "essay."  That makes it sound long.  I think you got right though!!  I did turn it into an essay.  When I finished it, even I thought it was too long.  I usually start these posts off thinking that I'll make a few comments and then add some pictures.  Keep it simple.  Before I start these write ups, I know generally what I want to say.  I want to be detailed, but concise.  If I can throw in a little history, then I try to do that too.  I think I got carried away with this last one.  Anyway, I'm glad you hung in there with it.  I've got some other good planes in store for future posts.  I'll try to keep them brief and too the point....I hope!!

Getting back to the #386, I'd really encourage you to get one and give it a try.  If you like to tinker, and you have a couple hours to play around out in the shop. then the #386 is for you.  Once it's mounted on your perfectly tuned, favorite jointer and set for a specific angle, you will be amazed at how nicely the gauge produces a flat, smooth, repeatable angle.  Mine is usually set at 90 degrees.  I'm very careful not to knock anything out of whack when it's not in use.  It's so easy to pick up a plane outfitted with the #386 make one pass along the edge of the work piece and then keep moving on with the project at hand.  It's almost effortless, and it's kind of fun to use. 

I hear what you're saying about the cost.  They're usually more than just a few dollars even in so-so condition.  Finding a pristine example in an original box will set you back a couple hundred dollars.  A good, undamaged, complete user will probably be closer to $50 or so.  Still not cheap, but a great "gift" to yourself for being a good guy.  Right?  Remember, the lack of nickel plating will not even remotely impact the utility or effectiveness of the tool.  The main thing is to make sure the clamping mechanisms are complete.  The rosewood knob can be replaced with anything you could make on the lathe, and the adjustment screws are most likely a common thread.  If you're interested, I can provide you with all that information.  Make sure that the fence operates correctly and is undamaged, and I think you're good to go.  If you find one in rough shape for a great price, you impress me as the type of guy who could easily fix it up and make it useable.  I hope you get one.

Jim C.             
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 10:25:53 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Branson

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #232 on: March 24, 2014, 08:27:19 AM »
First, I'll join Art and Papaw and encourage you to continue writing your "long winded" pieces.  Anybody don't like 'em don't have to read them through.  They save me lots of research, and I never think you have written too much or included too many pictures (is "too many pictures" possible on Tool Talk?)

I'm pretty good at keeping a right angle with a plane, but anything that uses coopered joints would make the 386 a dream to have.   As a user, I don't care ifr it has a nickel finish.  And there is a #7 and a #7C sitting in my shop right now.   I'm still keeping my eyes open for one.

Offline scottg

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #233 on: March 24, 2014, 11:42:49 AM »
Hey Mike
 Stanley did not make enough 386 jointer fences.  So they tend to sell for money in any useable condition.
  Fortunately Millers Falls did, and so did a couple others. I use a Millers myself.
 Getting a serviceable jointer fence is not criminally expensive.
   yours Scott 

Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #234 on: March 24, 2014, 04:07:59 PM »
Hey Scottg,

Any chance you could post a picture or two of your Millers Falls jointer gauge?  It would be great if the readers could compare and contrast it with the Stanley version.  It's also nice to get a look at other options/tools that may be more readily available.  Thanks.

Jim C.
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #235 on: March 28, 2014, 04:02:43 PM »
I've been doing a little research on the Millers Falls jointer gauge, and believe that it was model #88.  It seems to be relatively similar to the Stanley #386 regarding its intended function, but a little different in appearance and manner of adjustment.  From what I can tell, it seems to attach to the side of a long bench plane with a cam lever mechanism, versus the clamp mechanism on the Stanley.  Also, whereas the Stanley angle adjustment is a stamped steel slotted arc that's attached to the fence at a pivot point, the Millers Falls version employs a steel rod that's attached on a pivot point to the fence.  The #386 is outfitted with a nickel plated thumb screw to secure its angle adjustment while the #88 appears to have a large knurled nut for the same purpose.  The thumb screw works just fine, but I think I might like the knurled nut more.  What I do like about both jointer gauges is that they can be mounted on a plane and adjusted without the use of other tools, such as wrench, screwdriver, etc.  At least I know that's true of the Stanley version and I don't see anything on the #88 that makes me think otherwise of it.  Having never used the Millers Falls version, I can't say that its features are any better or worse than the Stanley jointer gauge.  If the cam levers work the way I envision them to operate, then attaching the #88 to a bench plane seems rather easy.  I'm still not sure how much up and down adjustment there is with the #88.  The Stanley #386 might be somewhat more versatile in that regard.  As for finding and setting the desired angle of the fence, it seems that both tools would be easy to adjust and secure for accuracy.  I did take a look at Ebay in an effort to at least get an idea of prices and found two for sale.  One looked like it was in top condition in its original box and had a starting bid of $199, and another one had a lot of patina on it and had a starting bid of $40.  I don't know if either one will sell for those prices, but they were not too much different than what I'd expect to pay for a Stanley #386 in similar condition.  I'm sorry that I don't have a Millers Falls example to show you, but with just a little research, finding pictures of them on the Internet is pretty easy.

Jim C.   
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 09:07:38 AM by Jim C. »
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Offline Branson

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #236 on: March 29, 2014, 08:24:53 AM »
The 1904 MF catalog pictures it, but gives no model number, simply calling it "the Perfection Jointer Gauge."   The blurb talks about the "ease and rapidity with which it can be attached to or removed from a plane."  Also mentioned is that it is designed to "provide adjustment to the varying heights of Iron planes."  MF goes on to say that it can be attached to either Iron or wooden planes.  For wooden planes, the cam locks are removed, and "round head wood screws are used in the arm slots instead." Iron, Japanned finish $18 per dozen. 

A later MF catalog also calls it the Perfection Jointer Gauge, and gives the price as $22 per dozen, and gives the finish as black enamel.

The picture in both catalogs is identical. 

Now to find one at either of these prices...

Offline johnsironsanctuary

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #237 on: March 29, 2014, 09:27:00 AM »
Jim C, Branson and Scott, thank you for this wonderful thread. You have long since gone beyond my knowledge base. That is pretty much why I don't post much, but I have certainly learned a lot With 3800 views, I suspect there are quite a few more like me.  Jim, we know a bit about Scott and Mike and their backgrounds, maybe you could tell us a little about how you got to where you are?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 09:49:26 AM by johnsironsanctuary »
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #238 on: March 29, 2014, 01:19:59 PM »
Are you ready for another block plane?  Ready or not, here goes.  Over the years, most block planes changed very little in form and function from their original marketed designs.  Various improvements and changes were made along the way that allegedly added to a plane’s utility, versatility, and ease of use.  One such improvement (in my opinion) was Stanley’s “knuckle cap.”  It replaced the traditional stippled lever/cam pressure cap design that is so familiar on most Stanley block planes.  From my perspective, the knuckle cap was a step up in user comfort versus the open pressure cap, and is generally easier to mount on the plane itself.  The knuckle cap design provided a solid smooth surface on which the user could rest his/her palm, thus aiding the user’s ability to apply more downward and forward pressure as the plane was put into motion.  To put it simply, I think the knuckle style cap is just more comfortable to use.  I’ve noticed that current hand plane manufacturers, such as Lie-Nielsen, have continued using a closed cap design on their block planes presumably for the same reason.  The more of one’s hand that can be comfortably in contact with the tool will probably add to its accuracy in use.  The knuckle cap might also add a little more weight to the plane, which is generally a good thing.  A heavy plane in motion usually stays in motion, and having a more comfortable cap to push against helps that process.  Let’s take a look.

Stanley #65:

This is really a great block plane and one of my favorites for several reasons.  Its features include a cutting iron bedded at a low angle, an adjustable throat, its weight, and the “knuckle cap.”  Setting the low angle iron for a fine pass and closing the throat makes it ideal for working end grain.  At seven inches long, the plane itself is on the large size when it comes to traditional looking block planes, so it’s relatively heavy.  Again, a heavy plane is generally a good thing.  Finally, the addition of the knuckle cap added to its overall usability and visual appearance.  I know that appearance alone shouldn’t be a major factor in the overall evaluation of the tool, but I must say, it’s a just a great looking plane.

Stanley manufactured the #65 from 1898 to 1969, but it didn’t start out with the knuckle cap.  Early versions of the #65 were produced with a nickel plated stippled lever cam pressure cap.  Somewhere around 1905, Stanley started marketing the #65 with the knuckle cap.  Just by looking at the knuckle cap’s design, it must have been a little more difficult and expensive to manufacture.  There was a lot going on beneath that pretty nickel plated cap.  With various pivot points, rivets, and small connections, the knuckle cap was a real piece of fine and functional engineering.  The knuckle cap remained as a feature on the #65 until about 1960, when Stanley reverted back to outfitting it with the traditional pressure cap (probably to save money).   The plane depicted below is a Type 9, manufactured between 1951 and 1956, near the bitter end of Stanley’s golden age of hand plane production.  The plane itself and its original box do give me some physical clues as to age.  If you notice, I’ve included a close up photograph of the plane’s left side.  The photo shows that the plane has been stamped with ”No.  65.”  Stanley started stamping model numbers on the left side of its block planes in about 1950.  Although I didn’t include detailed photos of the plane’s box, from experience I know that the box itself predates changes that were made to box construction in approximately 1956-57 and later.  Taking those factors into account, I’d reasonably guess that the plane was made in the early 1950s.  The #65 is a plane that’s still available, but not one that I normally see at garage sales and flea markets.  I think in its day, the #65 was probably considered a higher end block plane, and thus possibly rejected as being too expensive by the average DIYer/homeowner.  I think that today, good user quality examples exist, but they are prized by serious woodworkers and traditional cabinetmakers, so competition to acquire them could be stiff.  Still, the #65 is most definitely a plane worth owning and was probably one of Stanley’s best ever!

Jim C.   
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 03:02:09 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline Jim C.

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Re: Hand Planes
« Reply #239 on: March 29, 2014, 01:39:59 PM »
The 1904 MF catalog pictures it, but gives no model number, simply calling it "the Perfection Jointer Gauge."   The blurb talks about the "ease and rapidity with which it can be attached to or removed from a plane."  Also mentioned is that it is designed to "provide adjustment to the varying heights of Iron planes."  MF goes on to say that it can be attached to either Iron or wooden planes.  For wooden planes, the cam locks are removed, and "round head wood screws are used in the arm slots instead." Iron, Japanned finish $18 per dozen. 

A later MF catalog also calls it the Perfection Jointer Gauge, and gives the price as $22 per dozen, and gives the finish as black enamel.

The picture in both catalogs is identical. 

Now to find one at either of these prices...

Well done Branson!!!!  Thanks for the additional information.  GREAT stuff!!!  If you're lucky, you might just find a good "user" for $20 or so.  I hope you do.   

Jim C. (who always appreciates learning more about old hand planes)
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