Stanley No4 Part 1 – Cleaning the body

As we continue our Old Tools Series of articles, I thought I would take you guys through the steps I took to recently refurbish and re-tune one of my Stanley No4 hand planes.

I find that I regularly try and grab a bargain or two (or three) on Ebay whenever I see them. If I am honest I always have the intention of refurbishing, tuning and then selling the items on, as often they are in a poor state. However (we all know best intentions can often come up short), I often end up adding the tool to my collection and this has been the case with this No4 Smoothing Plane.

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This plane certainly needed some care, from the body, to the sole to the blade, the plane was begging for a good clean and also checking for square/flat where needed.

I gave one side of the plane a clean just to see how it would turn out. I used some wet and dry (I think 800 grit) to polish up the first side of the plane body.

Using some wet and dry to give the side of the plane a clean

More clening

Looking Good!

This worked really well and gave a decent finish after only a few minutes of cleaning. The next step was to disassemble the unit so that I could see the state of things and assess how much work lay before me.

Disassembled plane, ready for some TLC

For cleaning the nooks and crannys of the plane, I didn’t really want to use water so I opted for some white spirirts (mineral spirits) and a lint-free cloth just to give everything a good wipe down.

White Spirits for cleaning and Glass cleaner for sharpening

White Spirits for cleaning and Glass cleaner for lapping fluid

White spirits is great as it allows you to really clean a surface and be safe in the knowledge that it will evaporate once applied. It is also great for bringing out the grain in your woodworking pieces as you clean any saw dust from them.

NIce and clean

After cleaning the body I moved on to the frog. Now after giving this a good wipe with white spirits, I found that it might actually need a light polish in order to bring it to it’s former glory.

Half of the frog body polished, what a difference!

After polishing half of the frog, it really started to look great (see above) and the adjustment/alignment lever really came to life as well:

DSC_0065After finishing up the frog (making sure all faces that meet the cutting iron are flat), I moved on to the rest of the plane body, focusing on the sides at this point as the sole would need to polished but also made flat through polishing with some more aggressive grits than the wet and dry that I was using.

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The handles of the plane are in pretty good shape and there is no real need to touch them. I have often thought about trying to make my own plane handles and I may do so for this plane further down the line, but for now I wanted to focus on getting the plane clean, flat and sharp.

With the body cleaned and polished, the next step was to work on the sole of the plane. I’ll continue this in part two of this article.

Thanks for reading guys.

~Alistair

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