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Stanley 5½ Jack Plane Refurb.

This is an old video, and the text below was originally posted as a blog post on the old website. As I mentioned in AWITW 149 I did this because I could go into more detail in a blog post than I could in the video description on YouTube; it was a short-lived experiment, but I thought I'd repost a few of these for you here, as the information contained remains valid. Let me know what you think! Peter

Direct video link -

So I've never really been a 'hand tool' guy - doing the kind of work I've done for the last twenty years, and particularly for the last five or six when it's mostly been fitted furniture, I just haven't needed them much, and when I say hand tools, I particularly mean edged tools - planes , chisels, saws - because obviously, I have a whole host of stuff specifically made to hit things, tighten things up and screw things down. But when I did my recent Birch Ply and Wenge side table project, I realised my little Stanley smoothing plane wasn't really the tool for the job, and needed something a bit better...


  • If you can pick something up from a boot fair or yard sale for cheap, it may well be salvageable.

  • These are mechanically very simple, so need only a very small toolset to refurbish.

  • I didn't do a full 'restoration' because I just wanted a working tool - but don't let that stop you!

  • You can buy refurbished versions of this plane on eBay for £50, so I probably overpaid - but then I wouldn't have had the pleasure of tidying this one up.

  • I used regular sandpaper, but pretty much any abrasive would do.

  • Date your Stanley hand plane here -

Health & Safety Notes:

All wood dust is hazardous, so be sure to take appropriate precautions; I recommend using dust extraction/collection with all power tools. I'd recommend wearing gloves for this kind of refurb, and I should also have been wearing a mask - the 'iron dust' was particularly unpleasant, especially when blowing my nose a few days later!

Your safety in the workshop is your responsibility; treat tools with respect and if you feel at all uncomfortable carrying out any operation, stop!

Related videos:

Hardwood offcuts shop -

Hardwood and Hand Planes

I know, I know - not really my area of expertise, but ever since I washed up at the Hardwood Offcuts Shop for the Essex Makers Official meet-up and starting picking out odd little bits and pieces of hardwoods for future projects, I've been aware that this is an area that I do need to improve upon - and there are worse places to start than with an old hand plane.

There are loads of these on eBay - some pricey"'vintage, collectable" and some real old tat - so pick and choose a little carefully, or even better, try to pick one up from a car boot fair or yard sale, so you can have a good look at them first. These are very simple mechanically though, and despite the odd bit of damage (lever cap) this one was generally sound - though not quite the 'all it needs is a wipe-over with an oily cloth' the eBay seller suggested!

Stripping, cleaning and oiling was a straightforward process though, despite my hiccup with the knurled brass depth knob - I really didn't want to risk breaking anything by forcing it, but when common sense kicked in and I realised the part I was worried about (the yoke) wasn't under any stress at all - and I could crack on with a bit of brute force.

It was fun to (finally) use my little Dremel-alike that I bought many years ago from B&Q but hadn't found a use for yet, so maybe a genuine Dremel could be on the shopping list for a future purchase; they certainly seem very handy for this kind of thing.

I deliberately didn't spend too long on the sharpening in this vid, because in all seriousness, I've never known supposedly grown men ( and yes, ladies, only men) to lose their minds quite so badly as when it comes to discussing sharpening methods - well, maybe Festool fans/haters come close, but you know what I mean. I use lapping film for sharpening as it works well, and gives a decent area to sharpen with, which is particularly good when you're new to sharpening and perhaps still using a honing guide, as it doesn't matter if the honing guide falls off the back of the sharpening surface.

Anyway, with everything cleaned up, fitted back together and settled, I'm happy with the way it cuts, and I'm looking forwards to using it in anger on an actual propject. And of course, my channel members will be privy to some behind the scenes and over the shoulder action when this happens.

In conclusion

I enjoyed this little refurb - purely a means to an end, to get a working tool - and now I know a bit more about what I'm doing, well maybe I'll fix the wobbly handle on my No.4 - watch out for that in future videos!

One last thing - why is the Frog, called the frog? Well, it's all to do with being close to the throat, apparently...🤷‍♂️

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