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From Old To New – Stanley No. 4 Hand Plane

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As I’m sure you can tell from my logo, I really really like hand planes. They’re an iconic tool that have served woodworkers for over a decade. After coming across a few that were found in my great uncle and grandfather’s shed, I was instantly intrigued by their use and history. You’ll definitely be seeing more plane-related posts coming in the near future.

Before going down that path, I came across a Stanley No. 4 hand plane at a flea market that was completely rusted. It was missing the blade iron but for $5, I couldn’t pass it up. Considering the wooden handle and tote were in great condition, it was sort of a steal.

The first step was to get rid of the rust on the metal components. My go-to for this was Evapo-Rust. I’ve tried vinegar before to remove rust from another plane and it worked pretty well, but was not seemingly as effective as Evapo-Rust. I would highly suggest checking out Jay Bates’ video on restoring hand planes as well as I definitely took some of his advice the first time around. The PVC tube he puts together worked perfectly as a vessel to let the Evapo-Rust go to work.

I took everything apart and made sure I kept track of the pieces. It’s easy to lose a small screw and put yourself in a frustrating situation.

The chip breaker was looking especially rough.

Thankfully, the Evapo-Rust is an amazing thing and took close to all the rust off. One aspect that I’d like to mention is that I’ve noticed that the metal will turn a bit gray when it comes out of this solution. I’m not entirely sure why and I’m sure it’s based on the chemical reaction that’s taking place but I didn’t look too much further into it. I knew I could sand these pieces to a shine, which you will see shortly. I made sure to rinse every piece thoroughly and then immediately wiped some 3-in-one oil on all the pieces exposed to air to prevent rust.

I decided to move on to the handles next. I sanded them to death with 80 > 120 > 220 > 320 sandpaper. These are usually made out of Rosewood, to the best of my knowledge, and were definitely worth salvaging.

The knob was pretty worn but after wedging a nail punch inside of it, and putting the other end in a drill, I was able to just hold a piece of sandpaper against the spinning piece. It took it down pretty quickly and exposed some nice wood. Who needs a lathe?

I tried to sand the sole a bit but I was noticing some serious pitting. I managed to get some adhesive sandpaper from Klingspor and stretched a few pieces of ascending grits along my bench (a known flat surface – for now anyway). I slid the sole back and forth on these until I was able to see some of this pitting disappear.

This was a serious workout. My arm was dying by the end of this.

Working my way up to 600 grit seemed to really bring out a shine. This was the highest grit I had at the time so it was going to have to do. Some pitting remained near the bottom but it was rather small and negligible. Plus, I was super tired.

Moving on to the rest of the pieces, this required a bit more delicate sanding to make sure you weren’t rounding over any edges you don’t want to.

I didn’t go too overboard with these. I did want to keep some character to this piece… but I knew that I wanted to have a drastic before & after picture to show what can be done when you put in the time. The chip breaker came a long way as well from the original rusty picture above.

I added a coat of BLO to both the knob and tote and added a few coats of spray lacquer for some protection. I had to purchase a new blade as this was missing from the plane originally unfortunately. Now everything was ready for assembly.

I thought it looked pretty great, all things considered. I added a small drop of 3-in-one oil to each of the screw threads to prevent rust. After watching Paul Sellers videos on plane restoration, it’s always a great idea to keep your iron items coated in oil (just a small wipe) to keep the rust away.

Very pretty. However, does it work?

Works like a charm. I ended up giving this one away to a college roommate. It should serve him well in his woodworking endeavors.



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