I bought this Record plane in grungy condition to restore. It’s 50 years old. All plane handles are too small for my hands. I had to reshape it some. I flattened the sole too. Degreasing took a while. I could tell it was an engineer that owned and at not a woodworker but the grease kept most of the rust of so I have a good plane with no pitting in any of the surfaces.
The Record 4 1/2 smoothing plane
We actually hold workshops at the New Legacy School of Woodworking specifically on restoring hand tools. This includes setting them up to work too, so its well worth the effort to attend. These hands-on workshops have been popular through the years because in actuality even professional craftsmen don’t know how to sharpen hand tools any more.
I filed the inside corner to increase the hand width a little
First thing I look for is whether there is need to flatten the sole, which in most planes there is. I’ve restored hundreds of smoothing planes just like this one and I can’t remember one that didn’t need some flattening. You see it’s not as some surmise that the iron body of the plane changed and distorted after casting or that the plane wasn’t flattened in the first place, although that can and is often the case with many. I have reflattened my own plane 4 times since I bought it in the 60’s because we often plane oak or cherry or mesquite that’s 1″ or less thick on the edge more than we do the flat faces of a board: fitting doors for instance, or edge joining and planing foursquare. The result after a few years is that a ‘channel’ hollows in the length of the plane that may only be a one thousandth of an inch deep, but none the less it must be removed.
I’ve owned and used my old Stanley 4 1/2 plane for over 40 years and that’s of daily, all-day use. Even though I never grind my plane irons on a mechanical wheel of any kind (except if I’ve hit a nail), I have worked through three full cutting irons and am now on my fourth! And that’s on one plane only. I own four smoothing planes.
This is my old Stanley 4 1/2 plane of 46 years now
Anyway, this sole took ten minutes to flatten. Not too long. The ground bevel on this plane was 20-degrees. Too shallow. But I will leave it and reshape it over the next year as I hone it to a diminishing 30-degree convex bevel. This works so well for my planes and chisels.
The results of an hour’s work-very nice
The plane feels like my old Stanley now but better I think. Hard to say. The results are the same. Forget thick iron retrofits. They may have a very minor benefit, but the downsides are quite hefty.