Repairing a broken tote

Sometimes when you buy an old plane from an antique dealer or from ebay the tote is cracked in the middle. While the majority of the time, the crack is clean and can be easily glued back together, once in awhile the fibers of the wood are so damaged that simply gluing the two pieces of the tote back together will not work.

Totes crack in the middle because of excess pressure the user puts on the back of the plane. When a plane’s blade is dull and not properly sharpened, more force is needed to make a cut. This extra force puts added stress on the tote and often it will crack in the middle or near the bottom. Fortunately repairing the tote is not all that difficult.

The first thing you need to do is take the two sections of the tote and clean whatever glue residue is left on it from the previous owner trying to fix the tote. The two pieces of this tote here were held wrapped together with electrical tape when I bought the plane.

Next you need to find a scrap piece of rosewood that you can use as a filler. Take each piece of the tote over to a disk sander and sand away the broken fibers so that you have a clean and smooth surface in which  to glue the filler strip to. Now glue the tote back together with the filler strip in the middle using polyurethane glue.

After the glue is dried, file the filler strip so that it matches the profile of the rest of the tote. Take a 1/4″ drill bit and re-drill the hole through the filler strip for the tote screw and brass nut to slide down. Then sand with 220 and 320 grit sandpaper. Apply a coat of shellac to finish the tote.

Tote is repaired and ready for another hundred years of use.

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