Refurbishing a plane for Africa

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 in Blog | No Comments

On my tool sharpening & maintenance course and beginners woodwork four day course we spend some time refurbishing planes. Often students come on the course without a plane to fettle, to cater for them I usually buy planes on ebay. On my last beginners course I ran out of ebay planes, so there was no plane for Dirk, a student from Belgium, to work on. Fortunately I am also involved in the local Tools for Self Reliance group, so I also have an additional stock of tools to draw on.

Tools for Self Reliance is an excellent charity which collects unwanted tools, refurbishes them and sends them out to crafts people in Africa. TFSR is based around a network of local groups who undertake the collection and refurbishment. As a craftsman who knows the importance of hand tools I have supported TFSR for over 25 years.

refurbishing vintage Stanley 51/2 plane, made between 1910 to 1918

refurbishing vintage Stanley 51/2 plane, made between 1910 to 1918

I selected for Dirk a lovely vintage Stanley 51/2 plane, made between 1910 to 1918, with beautiful undamaged rosewood handles. To start the refurbishment Dirk spent some time flattening the sole of the plane by rubbing it on abrasive stuck to 10mm float glass. When it was flat to a tolerance of .015 inches he then turned his attention to the blade. Flattening the back and then regrinding and honing it. Finally he reshaped and reseated the chip breaker.

It was then time to put the plane to the test. Setting the blade to take a fine cut he tested it on some difficult ripple oak. The plane took some beautiful clean shavings. On less demanding oak the shavings sang of the blade with that beautiful swishing noise you only get from a truly well set up plane.

refurbishing vintage Stanley 51/2 plane

There will be a very fortunate woodworker in Africa in a few months time when the current kit is delivered. Although Dirk could not take the plane home with him he learned some important skills which he will be able to use when he buys his next plane. We might even be bidding against each other on ebay!

PS To find out more about TFSR and where your local group is click here. Supporting TFSR is a practical way of supporting practical people at the grass roots in Africa.

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Thankyou, Chris.


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