Fixing a European wooden plane (i) – analysis

The European jointer plane I bought for $20 has some issues. Foremost is the fact that the rear portion of the sole is de-laminating. Likely not that unusual, considering  the style of the “V” joint used, which is simpler than other European methods of laminating a sole to the body of a plane.

Below is view of the wound on the side of the plane, Due to the angle of the grooves (which seems about 70°), it produces a wavy pattern on the side of the plane. This can lead to damage along the ends of the grooves (which can be seen below).

The second issue has to do with some cracks which show up in the ends of the plane. Wooden planes are of course subject to drying, and wood contraction, like any wooden structure. This could have occurred due to a quick construction, or it being stored in a dry environment. Either way, the cracks do not seem to pose a huge problem for the plane, as they have not surfaced. For a tool that is likely 100 years old, this isn’t terrible.

There are no cracks in the throat of the plane. This part of the plane is just grimy.

The third major issue has to do with the plane’s handle, which for one is slightly off-centre (a sign of reduced quality?), and has a slight vertical warp, likely due to the cracking present in the handle.

The handle is joined to the body of the plane with two (rusted) screws. Is this a sign of reduced quality?

Last but not least, the plane blade is covered in corrosion.


2 thoughts on “Fixing a European wooden plane (i) – analysis

  1. rainerspeer says:

    I think the screws on the handle were used later. Actually the handle is attached in a dovetail groove. Maybe that is worn out. If the planer should be used I would make the handle new

  2. gav says:

    If you can remove the handle without damaging the plane too much it may reveal a little of its past with some detective work and facilitate a sound repair. The majority of the planes I have of this type are English- or thereabouts and are let into the body. I do have a German jack (sometimes referred to as a roughing plane in Australia) which was my grandfathers which while configured differently has the front horn rebated in a dovetailed socket and a wooden frog of sorts helping support the blade at the rear with a curved recess for your hand. This appears to be simply glued on flush. The handle on yours looks like the warping has been exacerbated by the grain orientation, if it bears no structural issues and is soundly fixed you could just work with it. I have found with some of my more knocked about wooden planes that the very dry weather we experience is resolved to a large degree with beeswax filling non structural cracks and a good oiling. I do have one though which will probably have a thorough epoxy job for stabilising and making sound ( it is basically a throw away but I can’t bring myself to do it) . As to the rust I have found a good old vinegar bath followed by a scrub and then lapping etc to be cheap and effective but not always the fastest. The steel in my German jack holds a really nice edge. From the pictures I think you are right with the beech identification for the main body . The sole is probably a lot more hard wearing and oily and for some reason I keep thinking of lignum vitae or hornbeam but I could be completely wrong having dipped into the recess of the brain bucket. hope some of this helps.

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