The Sleek Black Beauty


Over the weekend I made the rounds to the antique stores in town.  The stated purpose of the trip was to look for copper light fixtures for the house.  I’ve had a hard time finding them online, so I figured I would find EXACTLY what I want at an antique store.  Yeah, right.  This was a thinly disugised tool hunting trip.

No luck with the copper light fixtures, but I did come home with a new plane.  Actually, an old plane.  I picked up this Stanley #8 expecting to find some fatal flaw in it.  The more I looked at it, the more I realized how well this tool has survived the years.

The biggest issue I saw with the plane was that someone had painted everything but the knob and tote black.  It made me remember all of those perfectly good hours I wasted listening to Car Talk on the radio.  If I recall correctly, Tom had a 1964 Dodge Dart which he named “The Sleek Black Beauty”.  The name seemed appropriate for this plane.


The sole seems to be in really good condition.  There is some very minor pitting and a couple of small scratches.  A good lapping might take care of some of that.  I need to find a bigger lapping slab!


The knob and tote are in remarkable condition.  No cracks or repairs and they fit tightly.  Looks like rosewood from here…


I suspect this is the original iron.  Pretty cool that you can see the transition from the hardened steel edge to the body of the iron.  The pitting seems to be contained to the softer steel.  I think I could get away with sharpening this iron and keep using it.  I won’t know for sure until I put it on a stone.


I was gloating to Jonathan at The Alaska Woodworker over my new find.  I sent him a couple of pictures and he asked about patent dates and other markings.  There really wasn’t much on it.  The only thing identifying it as a Stanley was a faint stamp in the top of the lateral adjuster.  I was feeling kinda bummed that I might have an early 1980s vintage.  “Oh, well.  I have a really good user in any case”, I told myself.  Jonathan’s over-the-phone carbon dating put the plane as an early 1900s!  SWEET!

At some point I plan on doing a tune up and light restoration.  That black paint really bugs me.  In the meanwhile, I’ll sharpen the iron and put it to work!

Sharpening chisels


I’ve got the Veritas honing guide and it works great for wide plane irons. Like all non-edge clamping guides, it is difficult to tighten the guide enough to keep a chisel from shifting while sharpening.     

I came up with a simple solution. I have a sheet of 220 grit sandpaper that I use for hand sanding irregular shapes. It is simply folded in half with spray adhesive on the inside. That way both sides have grit and the backing won’t slide against itself. I cut a small piec of the double sided sandpaper and put it under the sharpening guide clamping bar. It gave enough friction to hold my chisel securely without shifting while sharpening. 


Racing wax


I keep a chunk of ski wax on my bench to lubricate my plane soles. I use ski wax instead of paraffin because I want to go faster. It started to look nasty from sitting in the sun and picking up sawdust. 


I scraped off the crud and melted it on the kitchen stove


Then I poured the wax into mini deodorant tubes. I bought these online at Aroma Tools.  They come in a variety of sizes. You could even re-use an old tube of deodorant, just be sure to wash all of the Old Spice out first. 


The only issue I had was that the ski wax is hard and it bonded to the sides of the tube and wouldn’t come out when I turned the knob. My solution was to put the tube in my pocket to let the heat soften the bond. 

This project was easy to do and now my plane wax will stay clean…if I can remember to put the top back on it.